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Conservation status of mammals and birds in southwestern Australian forests. II. Are there unstudied, indirect or long-term links between forestry practices and species decline and extinction?

Calver, M.C. and Dell, J. (1998) Conservation status of mammals and birds in southwestern Australian forests. II. Are there unstudied, indirect or long-term links between forestry practices and species decline and extinction? Pacific Conservation Biology, 4 (4). pp. 315-325.

Abstract

There is little evidence in the literature for past or current negative impacts of forestry practices on the mammals and birds of the south-west forests of Western Australia, although there are few relevant, detailed studies. For the conclusion of no major negative impact of forestry practices to be accepted, it must be shown that there are no indirect connections between forestry practices and established causes of fauna decline and that it is unlikely that forestry practices will have delayed impacts on the conservation status of mammals and birds. This paper reviews the literature relevant to these issues and concludes: (i) past forestry practices are linked to the changed fire regimes implicated in the decline of several species, indirectly connecting forestry practices with an established cause of fauna decline, (ii) there are plausible links between forestry and long-term causes of fauna decline that have not been investigated thoroughly. However, these findings need not mean that a native timber industry is incompatible with conservation in the south-west forests. Rather, they highlight the need for mediation between parties in the forest management debate, perhaps using some of the approaches developed recently in eastern Australia and North America. Concurrently, research effort could be directed towards determining the effectiveness of management initiatives already in place to ameliorate forestry impacts, while identifying actions successful elsewhere and setting research priorities to enable their effective implementation in the south-west. Forest managers, past and present, have good reason to be proud of their efforts. Even during earlier eras, when the focus of forest management was largely on timber supply, the need to ensure successful regeneration after logging has acted to conserve the whole jarrah and karri forest ecosystem. Abbott and Christensen (1994). The challenges posed by old growth eucalypt forest management in Australia are unique and by virtue of historical events, lie with our generation. To our advantage is an appreciation of what reforms are required, the availability of adequate knowledge and technology, and an understanding of what is at stake. A move towards ecologically sustainable forest use in Australia's remaining eucalypt forests requires acombination of initiatives including an enhanced conservation reserve network, and markedly enhanced protective measures in unreserved forest ecosystems, irrespective of land tenure. Significant reductions in logging quotas and major changes to current codes of forest practice are required if stated biodiversity conservation goals are to be achieved. Institutional reforms are required to support these changes as is support for long-term ecological research and monitoring. Norton (1996).

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology
Publisher: Surrey Beatty & Sons
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/880
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