Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Value of Dead Trees

To some, woodland and parkland cleared of dead trees, logs and stumps etc, might be called aesthetically attractive, to others such a scenario is akin to a desert!

In 2001, the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council prepared a report in which it stated that … ‘ongoing removal of dead trees and woody debris on the ground caused by human activity has been recognised as a factor contributing to loss of biological diversity’.
Dead trees contain hollows and crevices for a myriad of wildlife.
 As much as 40% of Australian woodland wildlife is dependent on dead wood material. Dead trees and logs play an essential role in woodland, parkland, forest and wetland ecosystems.
Logs on the ground are an essential part of woodland biodiversity.
Logs and dead trees have lots of hollows, cracks and crevices of various sizes where animals may live, breed or shelter. In Victoria more than 60 species of mammals and birds are directly reliant on hollows – the list is expanded somewhat when the reptiles and invertebrates are included.  The loss of hollow bearing trees from Victorian native forests is listed as a potentially threatening process under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.
Buff-rumped Thornbills seem to particularly 
inhabit woodland containing logs and stumps.

Many of our birds, mammals 
and reptiles need hollows in dead trees.

Hollows, cracks and crevices aside, dead trees and logs play a vital role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem by returning nutrients to the soil, insulation for the micro-organisms in the soil, providing a barrier to erosion by wind and rain, etc. Many mosses, lichens and fungi would not survive without dead woody material.
Fungi, mosses and lichens play their 
role in returning nutrients to the ecosystem.
Every tree dies eventually but its ecological value lasts long after the last leaf has fallen!

Further reading:-
Dead Wood and Wildlife – Dept of Conservation and Land Management WA.
Removal of dead wood and trees a key threatening process – NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.
The value of dead wood to wildlife and agriculture – DNRE Vic.
The Value of Habitat Trees – Land forWildlife Q.

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