Tourism brochures would have us believe that almost every Australian city is a ‘city of gardens’. Since tourism marketeers are just real estate agents on uppers, it’s reasonable to ask sceptically, ‘which cities do have the most green space?’ or more simply, ‘which cities have the most trees?’ Continue reading
How many trees are in your suburb: lots, a few, not enough? What about that suburb over the river, are there more trees there? As summer heatwaves hit, the benefits from shady urban trees grow more and more obvious. But why do some suburbs have more trees and shade than others? Is it a matter of ecology, history, policy, or the people who live there? Do the folks down the road just hate trees too much? Continue reading
I know what you didn’t do last summer. You forgot to take a photo.
Remember how dry it was last summer? Drought-stressed trees shed their leaves on dry hill slopes across central Victoria. Many readers submitted their observations of dieback to an earlier blog post.
What happened to those trees? Did they re-grow their canopy during the year, coppice and re-sprout, or did they die, leaving gaps for other plants of the same or different species. More importantly, in years to come, how will we know how each patch changed? Continue reading
A friend once asked, ‘why do botanists have such terrible gardens?’
The question might have triggered a long discussion, had we not just left my house. I changed the subject instead. Years later, I think I’ve worked out a credible response. It’s partly about scale. The scales at which people see gardens and ecosystems.
Take grasslands for example. Continue reading
I could ask ‘what was your first field guide?’ but my first field guides belonged to my parents, not me. So instead I’ll ask, ‘what was the first field guide you remember using?’
I remember two: Trees of Victoria by Leon Costermans – a permanent resident of the car glove box – and Birds of the Ranges by the Gould League. I am indebted to the authors and illustrators of both. Without them, I may have led a different life.
Our Costermans bore the hallmark of a truly great field guide; after years of abuse, we stripped it of every skerrick of re-sale value. One summer, someone put a block of copha in the car glove box to protect it from the sun. When discovered weeks later, everything floated in a pool of coconut fat. It was awesome. Costermans was indestructible. Like the trees inside it, we created the world’s first rip-proof, water-proof, scented, and highly combustible, field guide to eucalypts.
What makes a field guide truly great? Continue reading
Dear readers, welcome to my last blog for the year. I hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s stories. Continue reading
Would you search for changes at the global scale, or at continental, regional or local scales? More importantly, would you expect to see the same trend or different trends if you examined changes at many scales?
At the global scale, biological diversity on Planet Earth is on the skids. Thousands of species face extinction and over a thousand hectares of forest are cleared every hour. Species diversity is falling because species are going extinct faster than new species can evolve. And we’re causing it.
At the continental scale, we see the opposite pattern. Continue reading