Forestry Tasmania is reducing the level of traditional clearfell harvesting in wet forests. To achieve this, they are phasing in aggregated retention, which maintains patches of forest (>1ha size) in operational coupes for at least one rotation (~80 years). The objective of this method is to retain old growth species and structures to provide wildlife habitat, refuge and seed banks for regeneration. Aggregated retention was developed to emulate natural disturbance regimes and allows old-growth influences to remain within an operational coupe. Retained aggregates may be "island aggregates" which are surrounded by the harvested area or "edge aggregates" which are connected to adjacent native stands.
The aim of my project is to determine if aggregated retention in old growth forestry is an adequate management strategy for conservation of small to medium-sized native mammals. This will be achieved by monitoring mammal use of operational aggregated retention coupes in the Styx and Huon valleys, with clearfell coupes and non-adjacent native forest sites used as control sites. In addition to this, I will evaluate the influence of aggregate characteristics and habitat variables (e.g. vegetation type and cover, presence of hollows and coarse woody debris) on mammal activity, biodiversity, population demographics and diet.
After completing a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science at the University of Sydney, I combined my love of plants and animals for my honours project on plant-herbivore interactions in Royal National Park (Sydney), supervised by Dr Clare McArthur (previously of the University of Tasmania and the CRC for Sustainable Production Forestry). My interest in ecological studies has led me to the wondrous old growth forests of Tasmania, where I will be working closely with Forestry Tasmania to assess the conservation value of aggregated retention within production forests.
Authorised by the Head of School, Plant Science
17 April, 2012