They say, if you can’t monitor it, you can’t manage it. This is certainly the case at the TERN Warra Tall Eucalypt SuperSite–Australia’s oldest Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) site—where the ecological understandings coming out of the site have been instrumental in the development of a new forest conservation planning system.
Research from the site is being used to guide Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s forest retention strategies and native forest harvesting plans and help make sure forest management is ecologically sustainable.
Dr Marie Yee, Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s Senior Conservation Planner and her colleagues have used the learnings from TERN's Warra SuperSite to develop and operationalise a new, novel way of implementing a biodiversity landscape approach to forest management (image courtesy of Marie Yee)
The TERN Warra LTER site—the southernmost LTER site in East-Asia-Pacific—is situated in one of the most productive terrestrial ecosystems in the world, in the cool, temperate wet forest biome. This site uniquely spans environmental, altitudinal and socio-ecological gradients, from the ancient gondwanic alpine conifer forests to the lowland new world temperate eucalypt forests, and extends from the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area in the west to the public native forests managed for timber production in the east.
There has been a plethora of research output from Warra, from understanding the fundamental ecological processes and dynamics in tall wet eucalypt forest, and detailed baseline monitoring of biota including the cryptic species, to multidisciplinary research aimed at understanding the responses of this biota to natural wildfire disturbance processes compared to anthropogenic disturbance regimes.
Dr Marie Yee, Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s Senior Conservation Planner.
Marie and her colleagues at Sustainable Timber Tasmania, the state forest manager, have used these learnings to develop and operationalise the Landscape Context Planning System—a new, novel way of implementing a biodiversity landscape approach.
The system uses GIS technology to enable routine reporting on the environmental and socio-ecological attributes of the landscape at multiple spatial scales, including monitoring land tenure, forest heterogeneity, forest maturity, habitat fragmentation, forest connectivity, and the cumulative effect of past, present and future harvest operations on biodiversity values.
Contextual information of each landscape is used to help assess the current conservation priority and future conservation risk of the area, set forest retention targets and guide long term harvesting plans.
Marie also says that the Landscape Context Planning System has the capacity to adapt to the latest data and monitoring at the TERN site, such that forest management can keep up with new information, unexpected perturbations, and emerging ecological trends.
Marie’s work in forest conservation is a fantastic example of how on-the-ground data collection by TERN’s research infrastructure and facilitation of landmark science research is directly transferrable into sustainable management outcomes. TERN looks forward to furthering our support of Sustainable Timber Tasmania’s work and all our other industry partners who rely on the data and research from TERN.
Published in TERN newsletter August 2019