Boosting the conservation value of replanted woodlands for biodiversity

Date: 25, Nov, 2019
Author(s):   David Lindenmayer, Mason Crane, Daniel Florance, Wade Blanchard, Chloe Sato, David Smith
Publisher: TSR Hub

Temperate woodlands are among the most heavily cleared and disturbed biomes globally. Some types of temperate woodland have been cleared by up to 99%, with remaining (typically very small) patches often in poor condition. Major restoration programs have been established in an attempt to revegetate heavily cleared landscapes and recover biodiversity. These also address major land degradation problems such as secondary salinity and soil erosion, as well as providing shelter for livestock. In this study, we quantified the effects of livestock grazing on birds and reptiles in 61 restoration plantings in the South West Slopes region of agricultural south-eastern New South Wales. We monitored the plantings in repeated field surveys over a 20-year period to establish relationships between the abundance of animal species and characteristics of the plantings, including whether they had been grazed by livestock. Our findings clearly demonstrated that livestock grazing significantly lowers the diversity of bird and reptiles, through altering the leaf litter in plantings, direct trampling of nests or by changing the ground and shrub layers of vegetation that birds and reptiles use for nesting or foraging or both. We also found that the width and age of plantings had positive effects on biodiversity.