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Conservation status of mammals and birds in southwestern Australian forests. I. Is there evidence of direct 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. I. Is there evidence of direct links between forestry practices and species decline and extinction? Pacific Conservation Biology, 4 (4). pp. 296-314.

Abstract

Sixteen mammal species and 22 bird species whose distributions extended into southwestern Australian forests before European settlement have been listed as threatened at some time in Commonwealth legislation, State legislation, or action plans of Environment Australia or its predecessors. Confident assessment of the causes of conservation status is hampered by poor base-line data, few studies of putative impacts and a preponderance of circumstantial or anecdotal rather than experimental evidence. However, introduced foxes were implicated in the current conservation status of 62% of the mammal species recognized, while 44% of them were negatively impacted by feral cats, 44% by agricultural clearing and 44% by changed fire regimes. Forestry practices were implicated in the conservation status of only one mammal species. For the bird species recognized, changed fire regimes had the greatest negative impact (45% affected), agricultural clearing affected 41%, draining of wetlands affected 32% and grazing by livestock affected 22%. Forestry practices were not directly implicated in the conservation status of any bird species. While these results suggest that forestry has had minimal direct impact on the mammals and birds of the forests, the conclusion should be treated cautiously because of the poor data. While awaiting a rigorous evaluation, we argue for a strong precautionary approach to forestry in the region. With proper forest management and sound sylvicultural [sic] treatment there is no reason why there should not be built up on the wreckage of the once splendid forests of Western Australia tended forests which will yield for all time 100 cubic feet of timber per acre per year. Lane-Poole (1920). There are many reasons why Australian environmentalists would like to end logging in native forests. The preservation of wilderness, aesthetics, an almost religious identification with old growth forests and the conservation of forest wildlife figure importantly in environmental efforts to restrict logging. Wilderness and a personal identification with trees and undisturbed forests are fundamentally incompatible with logging. Recher (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/881
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