Woodlands and birds – Supplement to Wingspan, vol. 15, no. 4
Compiled by Penny Olsen, Michael Weston, Chris Tzaros and Andrew Silcocks
Birds Australia, December 2005
About the report
The State of Australia's Birds presents an overview of the status of Australia's birds, the major threats they face and the conservation actions needed. This third annual report focuses on woodland birds. Woodlands once covered one-third of the continent. The 'great Australian bush', with its kookaburras and magpies, is part of our national identity. Yet, in the south much of the bush has given way to agriculture. In the north, the trees may remain but savannas are degraded by livestock grazing, the effect of which is exacerbated by invasive grasses in combination with inappropriate fire regimes.
It should come as no surprise that woodland plant and animal communities are the most threatened in the nation. Clearing reforms are welcome and restoration is underway, but temperate woodland remnants continue to erode and bird species losses seem probable in coming years. Across the northern woodlands, seed-eaters will continue to decline unless grazing, invasive pasture grasses and fire are better managed. In the agricultural lands the situation is critical, with cessation of incremental clearing, lessening of grazing pressure and restoration of woodlands priorities for action. This includes the return of structural and spatial diversity: trees, shrubs, litter, ground cover and other elements in a patchy mosaic. Putting the bush back into our bushlands.
'Even in countries with such deep rich soils, moist and temperate climate, and extremely favourable constitution for cropping as central and eastern Europe, it is considered by those who have studied the question that one-third of the area should be kept under forest or heath vegetation; for the drier parts of Australia one-half would not be too much.'