In the future, how will restorationists think about the past?

The extinct Toolache Wallaby, as painted by John Gould. Source:  Wikipedia.

The extinct Toolache Wallaby, as painted by John Gould. Source: Wikipedia.

It’s easy to argue that history has a bigger influence on why we restore ecosystems than on how we restore them. As climate change intensifies, that distinction can only grow. Continue reading

Climate change and natural areas: 90 things we don’t want to lose


It’s a simple philosophy. The things we share are the things we save. The topics we discuss are the topics we deal with. The ideals we neglect? They fade away.

What would you miss the most, if climate change made it disappear from your favourite natural area? Continue reading

The night the cold killed the mallee: extreme events & climate change

tent in frostMy toes knows it’s cold outside. Me nose knows too. And me ear. Our thin nylon tent holds little warmth.

Last night the mercury fell to –2°C in the mallee. Cold on the extremities, but not cold in the extreme. Cold in the extreme? Last seen, winter ’82.

Every winter, the small town of Ouyen – a grain silo, roadhouse, general store and little more – gets about 18 frosts. Most years, the coldest night is a chilly –1°C. Thirty two years ago, the mercury plummeted.

Continue reading

50 shades of green: cooling the suburbs

Bendigo StreetscapeHow 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

Snapshots of change: repeat photography competition

Tree dieback Mt Pilot

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

Drought, dieback and insect attack

Drought death Mt Pilot

Drought-killed Acacia, Callitris and Eucalyptus saplings at Mt Pilot in north-east Victoria. The tall dead trees in the background were killed by an earlier fire.

In 2010, Craig Allen and colleagues published ‘the first global assessment of recent tree mortality attributed to drought and heat stress’ (Allen et al. 2010). In this fantastic paper, the authors collated examples of tree die-off (or mortality) from around the world and – in a very long sentence – they concluded:

… studies compiled here suggest that at least some of the world’s forested ecosystems already may be responding to climate change, and raise concern that forests may become increasingly vulnerable to higher background tree mortality rates and die-off in response to future warming and drought, even in environments that are not normally considered water-limited.

Given that pessimistic prognosis, it’s worth asking; how are trees faring here, in our own backyard? Continue reading