Contribution of CAR reserves to mature-forest biodiversity in production forest landscapes
Australia’s National Forest Policy is based on a forest biodiversity conservation strategy that relies on a network of CAR (comprehensive, adequate and representative) reserves and complementary ‘off-reserve’ management within the surrounding production forest. To establish its effectiveness, this project compared the biodiversity of birds, beetles and vascular plants in silvicultural regeneration forest plots with near-by mature eucalypt forest plots.
The report found the CAR network is effective in maintaining biodiversity in production forests, and means the biodiversity of mature eucalypt forest is not affected by forestry in the surrounding landscape. Although the species richness and abundance of birds and plants were significantly lower in older silvicultural regeneration plots, differences decreased as intensity of disturbance in the surrounding landscape decreased. Depending on levels of disturbance, silvicultural regeneration forest can recover to have a biodiversity similar to mature forest within 50 years of harvest when surrounded by landscapes that are relatively undisturbed. The closer (up to 400 metres) a regeneration forest plot is to a patch of mature forest the more abundant and/or species rich it becomes.
This study provides a clear set of guidelines for how much, and where, mature forest needs to be retained in tall, wet eucalypt forest landscapes to maintain mature forest biodiversity.