Lowland woodlands have been extensively cleared across eastern Australia with less than five percent of the original extent remaining. In contrast to the rest of Australia, the ACT has retained over a third of its original extent of lowland woodlands.
Much of the lowland woodlands of the ACT are comprised of Box-Gum Grassy Woodland which is a Threatened Ecological Community, both in the ACT and nationally. The ACT has some of the best quality patches of this habitat type in Australia. It is found on public and rural leasehold land throughout the ACT and is generally in an intact condition with a diverse ground layer, mid story shrubs and large hollow bearing trees.
Box-Gum Woodlands have been heavily cleared across south-eastern Australia, as they occur in the best parts of the landscape for agriculture. They are listed by the Australian Government as Critically Endangered as less than 5% of these woodlands remain intact.
The decline of woodlands in Australia has consequences for woodland dependent birds, mammals and reptiles such as Superb Parrot, Brown Treecreeper and Scarlet Robin. Box-Gum woodlands are also home to a huge diversity of plant species, this project will also work to restore the threatened Button Wrinklewort (Rutidosis leptorhynchoides) and Small Purple Pea (Swainsona recta).
In the ACT, we have some of the most intact and well-connected woodland remnants in Australia. Our challenge is to protect and enhance those that remain, as well as connecting and increasing the woodland.
Through a long-standing fifteen-year partnership, we are working with private landholders to fence out woodlands and paddock trees for better management, removing weeds from woodland areas, and planting out blocks, strips, or clumps of native vegetation.
We’re carrying out targeted revegetation to replace declining paddock trees – isolated paddock trees are keystone structures in Box-Gum Woodlands.
Paddock trees contribute a disproportionately large amount to biodiversity in farming landscapes, given the small area they occupy. This includes providing habitat features otherwise absent, such as hollows, providing a distinct microclimate that is important for a range of plants, invertebrates and thus supports other animals, and incredibly important for connectivity in otherwise fragmented areas.
In addition to restoration activity, through careful research we will be introducing new provenances (seed from other locations) of woodland species to ensure climate change adaptation of these ecosystems over the long term.
Ian’s love for the outdoors drove him to study an honours degree at the Australian National University working on Greening Australia’s direct seeding projects around the NSW Southern Tablelands. On graduating he went straight into a full-time position with Greening Australia and today works as a senior program officer in Canberra.