Monarto Zoo is playing host to an overgrazed land restoration study led by the University of Adelaide, with partners including Zoos South Australia and the University of Queensland.
The purpose of the study, which will take 30 years to complete, is to identify the most effective methods in restoring overgrazed land back to native woodland. 10 hectares of previously farmed land is being planted with a variety of native species at different planting densities. The focus for this study is on the restoration of the woodland areas of the Mount Lofty Ranges.
Environment Institute member and Project Leader Professor Corey Bradshaw says, “Across Australia we’ve lost 40% of our forest cover, but in the Mount Lofty Ranges we’ve lost 90% and the fragments that are left are so small that they don’t provide adequate habitats for native fauna. We’ve already lost about 130 species of plants and animals and there are major extinctions to come.
“What we are asking is how many different species – and in what densities – are required to restore a native woodland from an over-grazed paddock, to provide the biggest long-term biodiversity and carbon benefits simultaneously for the lowest cost.”
Zoos SA Australian Conservation Manager Dr Phillip Ainsley says, “We want to understand what produces the best carbon production outcomes and biodiversity responses and do this in the best and most cost effective way possible.”
The plantings will be based around the Mallee box gum, South Australian blue gum and various shrubby species. Survival and growth rates will be monitored along with the presence of native fauna – invertebrates, reptiles and eventually birds.
More from Prof Corey Bradshaw can be found on his blog Conservation Bytes.