Section 9
Chapter 8,630

European management of remnant grassy forests and woodlands in South-eastern Australia: Past, present and future?

Lunt, I.D.

Victorian Naturalist (South Yarra) 112(6): 239-249


ISSN/ISBN: 0042-5184
Accession: 008629868

The impact of European management practices on grassy forests and woodlands is discussed, and six conclusions are drawn: (1) On the Gippsland Plain in Victoria, the exclusive use of either grazing or burning, coupled with the effects of changing tree densities, has led to an ecological segregation of many plant species. Many species have been depleted in one class of reserves only to survive in another. Similar patterns occur in other grassy forests and woodlands in southeastern Australia. (2) The tiny rail-line and cemetery remnants that tenuously survive in woodland regions protect a suite of species that have been systematically depleted or eliminated from the larger, secure grassy forest and woodland remnants. (3) In order to conserve the small rail-line remnants and their species, the traditional rail-line management of tree removal, grazing exclusion and frequent burning should be continued. (4) The species that repeatedly occur in rail-line or cemetery remnants were presumably common and widespread in the region originally, and most probably also occurred in grassy forest and woodland remnants that occur on similar soils. (5) Species conservation, in some cases, may be hindered at present by policies which prevent species from being introduced to secure reserves unless there are accurate records from the particular reserves. This is a problem since many species were undoubtedly eliminated from some reserves before records were made. (6) Most Victorian remnants of grassy forests and woodlands are being managed as 'grazing ecosystems' with no burning. Consequently, small-scale trials are urgently required to determine the effects on endangered species of grassy forest and woodland management regimes that are characterised by grazing exclusion and frequent burning.

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