ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

River red gum floristics and vegetation monitoring, (2019-2020)

Funding

Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Contract variation, $196,787

Extension on project: River red gum floristics and vegetation monitoring, (2017-2018) NSW Office of Environment & Heritage, $186,471.  Total project value $394,040.

Researchers

Associate Professor Peter Spooner (project leader)

Research Theme(s)

Biodiversity Conservation

Description

River red gum Photo by Craig DunneThe Murray Valley National Park is located east of Mathoura NSW, on the Edwards and Murray Rivers. The park was gazetted in 2010, and contains a rich and diverse flora and fauna, where stands of River red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) forests dominate. Of management concern are areas of high tree stem densities, where River red gums have densely regenerated following changes in disturbance regimes. As a result, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (Science Division: Dr Emma Gorrod project lead) has implemented an ecological thinning experiment, with an aim to determine if tree thinning can deliver improved conservation outcomes in dense stands.

For this tree thinning experiment, it is hypothesised that reduced densities of River red gums will prevent further declines in the condition of the Red gum canopy.  By lowering competition, it is envisaged that in the long-term, tree thinning will fast-forward the process for remaining trees to become larger, and provide more tree hollows and other resources vital for fauna habitat. Given ongoing river regulation and the likelihood of future droughts resulting from climate change, the NSW DPIE experimental monitoring plan is designed to include river flooding as an experimental factor. The monitoring program will continue until 2022.

Since 2015, the ILWS has provided significant support to NSW DPIE to carry out the ecological monitoring program (Dr Peter Spooner program leader).  Fieldwork re-commenced in September 2019, with the following team members; Josh Hodges (SES Phd candidate), Ché Parker, Nathan Storch, Bill Szaraz, Samara Schulz (Kleinfelder) and Aaron Mulcahy (Focus Flora Surveys). The team measured vegetation floristic and structural attributes in 198 plots (stratified by three thinning treatments) scattered throughout the park. Despite ongoing local bushfire alerts, the team successfully completed the data collection in Feb 2020.

Outcomes

The floristic and vegetation surveys are providing important field data/evidence for the ecological thinning trial, the results of which will advise and inform future management actions in the park.

Contact:

Associate Professor Peter Spooner email
Charles Sturt University Port Macquarie

March 2020