Use of fire, cultivation and coarse woody debris as restoration techniques in Tasmanian dry forests


Tanya Bailey
University of Tasmania

Received the Australian Flora Foundation Young Scientist Award for her poster at ESA 2008, the Ecological Society of Australia Conference on 1 – 5 December 2008 at the University of Sydney.

Authors: Tanya Bailey1,2,3, Neil Davidson1,3,4,5, Dugald Close1,3,4

1School of Plant Science, University of Tasmania, private bag 55, Hobart 7001
2School of Geography and Environmental Studies
3CRC for Forestry
4Bushfire CRC
5Greening Australia

The lack of eucalypt recruitment is a key factor in the decline of forest remnants in the low rainfall agricultural regions of Tasmania. We conducted a survey of naturally regenerating forests and showed the importance of fire and coarse woody debris in the provision of safe microsites for seedling establishment:
• 93% of seedlings were in ash beds or partial ash beds
• The majority of seedlings had some form of physical protection with 84.4% of seedlings sheltered by woody debris such as large logs, branches and stumps
• The average distance of a seedling from protection was 17.5 ± 5cm
• The average extent of protection was 225 degrees
• The majority of microsites had northerly aspects. This knowledge is being applied in patch-scale field restoration trials in which treatments of hot fire, cultivation and importing woody debris are used to recreate microsites for seed germination and seedling establishment.  At 12 sites throughout the Tasmanian Midlands patch–scale treatments have been applied factorially in 16, 5m x 5m plots within degraded dry forests. Half the plots have had two large logs placed across them, 60 cm apart and oriented east-west. Seedlings of two local species of eucalypts, Eucalyptus amygdalina and E. viminalis, have been planted beside and between the logs. Locally collected eucalypt seed has been sown beside and between logs on one side of each plot while the other side of the plot has been left bare to receive natural seed rain.  If successful, the application of these techniques at a broad scale will make an important contribution to management of declining forest remnants to facilitate regeneration.