Restoration of eucalypt grassy woodland: effects of experimental interventions on ground-layer vegetation




McIntyre, S.
Cunningham, R. B.
Donnelly, C. F.
Manning, A. D.

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CSIRO Publishing


We report on the effects of broad-scale restoration treatments on the ground layer of eucalypt grassy woodland in south-eastern Australia. The experiment was conducted in two conservation reserves from which livestock grazing had previously been removed. Changes in biomass, species diversity, ground-cover attributes and life-form were analysed over a 4-year period in relation to the following experimental interventions: (1) reduced kangaroo density, (2) addition of coarse woody debris and (3) fire (a single burn). Reducing kangaroo density doubled total biomass in one reserve, but no effects on exotic biomass, species counts or ground cover attributes were observed. Coarse woody debris also promoted biomass, particularly exotic annual forbs, as well as plant diversity in one of the reserves. The single burn reduced biomass, but changed little else. Overall, we found the main driver of change to be the favourable growth seasons that had followed a period of drought. This resulted in biomass increasing by 67%, (mostly owing to the growth of perennial native grasses), whereas overall native species counts increased by 18%, and exotic species declined by 20% over the 4-year observation period. Strategic management of grazing pressure, use of fire where biomass has accumulated and placement of coarse woody debris in areas of persistent erosion will contribute to improvements in soil and vegetation condition, and gains in biodiversity, in the future.



box-gum woodland, coarse woody debris, Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve, grassland, grazing, kangaroo, Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve, temperate grassland



Australian Journal of Botany


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