Facilitating Regeneration of an Iconic Canopy Species with Specific Niche Requirements

Katinka X. Ruthrof, George Matusick, Leonie E. Valentine, Giles E. St. J. Hardy
2015 Open Journal of Forestry  
Natural regeneration is a critical component of forest ecosystems sustainability. Local extinction can occur without adequate regenerationor seedling recruitment prior to adult senescence. The urban and peri-urban environment is particularly challenging for recruitment. For example, although many forest species have specific requirements involving fire events, few opportunities associated with fire exist in contemporary urban and peri-urban environments. For our study species, Eucalyptus
more » ... , Eucalyptus gomphocephala, en masse recruitment can occur in ashbeds following a hot fire. However, this may not occur following low-intensity, fuel reduction burns that are prescribed for many E. gomphocephala woodlands and forests. Nevertheless, ashbeds could be created by constructing and burning coarse woody debris (CWD) piles. In a series of collaborative case studies involving community groups, NGOs and Local and State Government agencies, we investigated whether seedling recruitment could be facilitated through broadcast seeding after: a) creating CWD piles prior to a low intensity, prescribed burn; b) naturally-occurring ashbeds following a hot summer wildfire; and c) creating CWD piles and then burning the piles only. We found that regeneration of this post-fire, canopy gap regenerator can be facilitated by broadcast seeding naturally occurring or created ashbeds. However, it seems that protection from seed harvesters and herbivores is vital. These case studies provide tools that can be used to preserve the natural demographics in populations with specific regeneration requirements in a range of environments by leveraging natural recruitment processes and community involvement. Importantly, it is the conservation of these urban and peri-urban ecosystems that will be vital in maintaining connection between people and the environment into the future. K. X. Ruthrof et al. 403
doi:10.4236/ojf.2015.54034 fatcat:ab53kdrijzex7oxi24z3bh4qwa