Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Private Land Is Better for Birds than Conservation Reserves

Private land can help protect Australia’s endangered bird populations as effectively as the nation’s best performing conservation reserves, according to a study published in Ecography.

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Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and The Australian National University have found that unprotected areas are faring far better than old conservation reserves as sanctuaries for Australia’s woodland birds. This is because some private lands contain more flat and fertile habitats where woodland birds prosper, say Professor David Lindenmayer and Ms Laura Rayner of CEED and ANU.

“Our study focused on Canberra’s protected areas, many of which were established prior to 1995,” Rayner says. “We found that while these long-established reserves are effective in maintaining woody vegetation cover, they are less effective when it comes to protecting woodland bird populations.”

Rayner says that the older protected areas have fewer endangered birds as well as lower and declining species richness than private lands or reserves established after 1995. “This is because many of the older reserves were created for their scenic value instead of biodiversity. Most were established on hilltops or ridges near to the urban centre, so woodland birds are unlikely to thrive in these environments.”

On the other hand, private, non-reserved areas that have high quality woodlands have been extremely effective in keeping the endangered birds. “The endangered bird population in these areas is comparable with well-maintained newer...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.