In the environment, as in many matters, if we recognise a problem then we might then be able to deal with it.
Over some years the Conservation Council and member groups have been working to have the loss of mature native trees recognised as a key threatening process under the Nature Conservation Act 2014.
We held an Environment Exchange on mature native trees in February 2017 and prepared public information on saving mature native trees. A submission to the Scientific Committee was made on behalf of Conservation Council ACT Region; Friends of Grasslands; Australian Native Plant Society Canberra Region; Canberra Ornithologists Group; and Field Naturalists Association of Canberra.
The Scientific Committee considered the submission and sought further advice from us and also from CSIRO scientists, a range of academics, and various other reports and sources. We waited – this was a scientific process rather than a campaign! – and offered assistance and further information and occasionally asked “are we were there yet?”.
Now the Scientific Committee has: “agreed to broaden the threatening process from the loss of hollow bearing trees to the key threatening process of Loss of mature native trees (including hollow bearing trees) and a lack of recruitment”. The instrument containing the advice took effect 27 September.
This will not save all mature native trees but it does recognise that removing them is a problem – a key threatening process no less! There will be an action plan drawn up to outline measures to reduce their removal. As the advice says: “The priority management objective is to reduce the loss of mature native trees and its impact on threatened native species and to improve recruitment of native woodland tree species across the ACT.”
Conservation Issues and Proposed Management Actions include protection such as restricting clearing of mature eucalypts and mature native trees that contain nest hollows and “retention of non-mature native trees across urban and rural landscapes to ensure a future supply of mature trees and avoid lag times”.
The advice also suggests actions to conserve and manage trees across the landscape and for further monitoring and research including on Eucalypt dieback in the ACT and “appropriate provenance for revegetation programs under climate change”.