By: Michael Fox
At the March Habitat Brisbane Citywide Meeting Dr Ross Goldingay shared valuable insights into fragmentation of Glider habitat in urban areas and Professor Carla Catterall showed us how the unloved Camphor Laurel can be a valuable friend in forest restoration.
Ross has used Squirrel Gliders to model the impact of habitat fragmentation caused by the urban matrix of houses and roads in Brisbane. Genetic evidence collected at sites isolated by the Gateway Freeway showed no interbreeding, while sites even a narrow link between two sites allowed interbreeding, that is, Gliders were successfully moving between habitat remnants.
I was particularly interested in these results both Squirrel and Sugars Gliders are found in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. Lindenmayer and Fischer(1) describe Isolated bushland remnants as island habitats while Tallamy(2) states that “Tiny habitat islands have high rates of species extinction.” Increased species loss in isolated patches of bushland comes through predation (foxes, domestic cats) or bushfire. One Sugar Glider has already been killed this year by a domestic cat in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.
Ross’s research showing regular use of glider polls and rope crossings by gilders and possums gives me hope that building links through the urban matrix is feasible. Linking wildlife corridors down Fox and Firefly Gullies with Mimosa Creek across Klumpp Road may be simpler and lower cost than I expected.
Ross has generously provided a copy of his presentation – BCC_HabitatBrisbane_Goldingay
Novel ecosystems case study – camphor laurel regrowth
Professor Carla Catterall’s presentation showed us novel approaches to forest restoration that can inform our Bushcare activities.
Reforestation consists of:
Spontaneous (passive) regrowth
• establishes without assistance;
• can be slow
• seedlings actively planted;
• done for various reasons;
• higher cost;
• faster initial establishment.
Our love-hate relationship with Camphor Laurels in Fox Gully means I was particularly interested to hear that there may be another way of looking at these environmental weeds. Carla’s presentation challenged us to consider novel ways to make use past human environmental impacts to facilitate reforestation, with the key message “keep an open mind.”
The Camphor case study of the “Big Scrub” in northern NSW, originally a 750sq km rainforest (c. 1800), shows that in 1958 less than 0.1% remained uncleared. In 2004, 25% of the area was forest regrowth dominated by Camphor Laurel, introduced from China.
I, like most people, thought of Camphor Laurel as major environmental weed, a high priority for removal. However, this is a good example of the importance of Carla’s “keep an open mind”.
Research of the value of Camphor Laurel (summary of presentation slides):
Is Camphor regrowth desirable reforestation or undesirable weed invasion?
(Survey of plants and fruit eating birds in 24 camphor patches >3 ha)
Camphor regrowth used by:
– 34 species frugivorous birds:
– 10 high quality seed-dispersers; and
– regionally threatened Rose-crowned Fruit-dove found at 92% of sites.
Camphor regrowth canopy actually supports rather than suppresses native plant regeneration.
Camphor regrowth promotes recovery of soil properties in former pasture areas.
Certainly a different way of looking at a despised environmental weed … Keep our minds open.
Thanks to Carla for sharing a copy of her presentation Catterall BCC Habitat Brisb talk_web publish Mar13
The most active and innovative Natural Area Group in Brisbane. – Wayne Cameron
So wonderful to hear that Camphor is a friend not a foe. Apparently they are also useful for koalas too.