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Science: surveys and research at Mount Zero-Taravale
At Mount Zero-Taravle, AWC measures a suite of indicators of ecological health by undertaking each year more than 2,000 live trap nights, 24 vegetation surveys and at least 1,500 camera trap nights.
The impact of fire is measured using satellite imagery while populations of feral herbivores are estimated by aerial census.
A key research focus is the restoration of wet sclerophyll forests. Wet sclerophyll forests usually support a grassy, understorey maintained by frequent low intensity fire. In recent decades, exclusion of fire has led to rainforest invasion resulting in a closed canopy that suppresses the grassy understorey and inhibits the recruitment of eucalypts, greatly reducing its value as habitat for specialised fauna.
Rehabilitation of these invaded forests requires the reintroduction of fire, however this not feasible where the rainforest understorey has replaced the fire-carrying grass. The efficacy of alternative restoration treatments such as mechanical thinning of dense understorey vegetation is currently the subject of experiment work on Mount Zero-Taravale. To date, over 100 ha of wet sclerophyll forest has been subject to restoration treatment (understorey thinning and subsequent reintroduction of fire). Fauna and vegetation are being monitored on the treated sites, along with matched control sites and reference sites, in a rigorous experimental before-and-after design.