Across large areas of the Monaro region of New South Wales, the trees are dying.
Over the last decade, the Manna Gums, Eucalyptus viminalis, have been gradually declining in health and now stand like skeletons in huge tree graveyards.
To combat this, we are developing a rehabilitation strategy for the region, working with scientists, land managers, indigenous groups and the community to bring this landscape back to life.
In 2013, our staff member, Catherine Ross, completed an honours research project from the Australian National University investigating the causes of the Monaro Plains dieback. The affected area covered almost 2000km2, and the trees were being attacked by the Eucalyptus weevil, (Gonipterus sp.) which feeds on the new foliage trees produce when they are experiencing stress.
The underlying cause of that stress has been difficult to pinpoint, but is likely to be a combination of factors including agricultural practices, altered fire regimes and climate change, all of which contribute to the trees’ slow decline.
Unfortunately, most of the trees in the affected area are now dead and there is little sign of recovery or regeneration. The loss of these trees has had a devastating effect on the landscape, many animals such as Koalas rely on Manna Gum and have now disappeared from the region. It is also a significant land management issue, reducing shelter for stock and increasing erosion and weed cover
But now there is hope for the region. We recently received a $499,460 grant from the New South Wales Environment Trust for a 10 year project focussing on developing a rehabilitation strategy for the Monaro.
Our team will be working with scientists from the CSIRO to set up trial planting sites to test a number of possible replacement species that may be more resilient or better adapted to the changing climate. The success of these trial species will be monitored and the results will inform future plantings.
We will also be undertaking cultural burning trials with local indigenous groups at several travelling stock reserves in the affected area, to see if burning can stimulate natural regeneration and help to control weeds and insect pests.
We will be working with Upper Snowy Landcare and the local landholder community to establish plantings that will act as corridors or stepping stones for native wildlife.
For further information about this project or to get involved please contact Nicki Taws at Greening Australia in Canberra: (02) 62533035 or [email protected].
You may like to read the following media articles about this site and the project.