Mountain Journal has previously reported on the extensive dieback of eucalypts that has happened across much of the Monaro Plains in southern NSW. Previous reports have suggested that the dieback is related to climate change.
This article is from the ABC, and the reporter is Alice Matthews
A decade-long effort has begun to regrow and replace dying Eucalyptus trees on the Monaro Plains in south eastern New South Wales.
The dieback spanned about 2, 000 square kilometres, an area larger than the Australian Capital Territory, and baffled scientists.
“It really does look like a tree graveyard,” Nicki Taws from Greening Australia said.
The Government has committed almost $500, 000 towards a 10-year conservation project investigating the dieback.
“The trees seem to be killed off by a Eucalypt Weevil… It’s a native insect and we really don’t understand why it proliferated to such an extent that it can now kill the trees it’s feeding on,” Ms Taws said.
She added the two native species, the Eucalyptus tree and the Weevil, should be able to coexist together.
“It suggests there’s some other underlying cause that’s stressed the trees to the point they can’t survive the insect attack.”
Greening Australia in concert with the CSRIO and Local Land Services will target 24 sites with trials, cultural burning and planting incentives.
Plans to find resilient species
Ms Taws said the mass loss was devastating and ecologically disastrous.
“It’s literally an area where woodland and forest have been turned into grassland or shrub land or very, very scattered Eucalyptus,” she said.
“For the birds and other fauna that depend on these trees they literally cannot live in that area anymore.”
Ms Taws added it was continuing to impact land holders.
“To watch a whole landscape dying around you has quite a devastating impact on these people, not to mention farm production, the loss of shade and shelter for their stock,” she said.
The comeback program will try to determine how to regrow or replace the trees.
“We’re hoping to find some eucalyptus that will be resilient to the insect attack and to the underlying causes that might be related to this such as a long term shift in the climate,” she said.
“And maybe we can uncover some of the underlying land management [methods] that might assist the trees to grow in the area where they’ve been dying.”