Bringing back the dead with old ecology photos

Mallee Swale Eucalypts Wyperfeld 1982 Cheal

Take a close look at the coppicing trees in the old photo above. Notice anything unusual?

Perhaps it looks like any other stand of burnt mallee? Perhaps it does. But most of the trees aren’t resprouting after a fire. They aren’t recovering from drought, insect attack or damage by humans either. What could have caused the damage? 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

Join the dots with Australia’s best ecology blogs

Ursa_Major_constellationWhen you gaze to the heavens, do you see a flying fish, a winged horse, a sea monster, water carrier, or perhaps a heavenly air pump? Or, like me, do you see a beautiful scatter of unconnected, blinking lights?

Now lower your gaze and join the dots between your favourite ecology blogs. How many tiny constellations do you see? Would anybody else draw a star chart quite like yours? Continue reading

Why do we plant and remove urban trees?

Garden magazines 2What does the future hold for the urban forest? What is the urban forest? The term – like green infrastructure – suggests an integrated entity, perhaps collectively planned and managed. But most urban trees are in private gardens, not public spaces, and gardening is a personal, individualistic pastime, not a collective enterprise.

If the seeds of the urban forest are sown in a million home gardens, then we need to know how residents relate to garden trees. Let’s take a peek into the frontal lobes and back yards of our neighbours, and ask: why do we plant and remove urban trees? Continue reading