South West Slopes Restoration Study, Australian National University

The South West Slopes (SWS) Restoration Study was established in 2000 to examine how different faunal groups such as birds, possums and reptiles respond to tree plantings and remnant vegetation on farms. The project area is located in the SWS bioregion, southern New South Wales and spans an area from Howlong in the south to Junee in the north. Throughout this region there are 23 selected landscapes (a landscape is a 10,00km² circular unit), each containing two farms – one that has plantings matched up with another farm nearby with remnant native vegetation. These two types of farm are further classified according the amount of tree plantings or remnant vegetation in the surrounding landscape unit. Analyses are being conducted to compare the size, shape, structure and floristic composition of plantings and the diversity of fauna that use them. Work also includes examining the interactive benefits of having tree plantings and remnant vegetation on a farm and how different fauna groups respond to changes in vegetation at different scales and also over time. Key findings from this study include: 1) high numbers of birds of conservation concern living and breeding in tree plantings, including species such as the Diamond Firetail and Speckled Warbler; 2) Large, block-shaped plantings support more bird species than strip plantings; 3) Intersections of strip plantings support similar numbers of bird species as large block plantings; 4) Areas of regrowth native vegetation and coppice regrowth support very different bird communities than old growth woodland; 5) possums and reptiles are strongly dependent on old growth woodland, especially hollow-bearing tree and large logs.

Other work in the South West Slopes Restoration Study includes studies of the responses of reptiles to rocky outcrops; the habitat requirements of the Squirrel Glider; the effectiveness of understory planting in woodland remnants for bird biodiversity; and the extent of vegetation regeneration in old growth temperate woodlands. Further information can be found ‘here

A large number of scientific papers have been published on various aspects of the research in the SWS, including Bird Studies, Reptile Studies and Squirrel Glider Studies.

This video includes the key findings that have come out of the SWS Restoration Study so far. Professor David Lindenmayer, Dr Damian Michael and Mason Crane presented these at the Holbrook Landcare Network biodiversity forum entitled “Wildlife in our landscape – are we making a difference?”