Focus on intact temperate woodland
Great Western Woodlands workshop. Photo courtesy Liz Fox.
‘This is the last opportunity on Earth for anyone to look at the ecology of an intact temperate woodland’ – strong scene setting words from Professor Harry Recher when a large group of researchers gathered at the WA Ecology Centre for a Birdlife Australia/Nature Conservancy workshop on bird research and management in the Great Western Woodlands. Liz Fox presented the results from three years of survey work across the area, which has mobilised hundreds of volunteers, while Harry spoke to his study of foraging behaviour at key sites since 1997, noting that ‘heavy episodic rain drives the whole system’. The Birdlife Survey work led by Liz has provided a comprehensive ‘bird benchmark’ for the area, but clearly needs to be continued before the long term trends and needs are clear. The work has confirmed the chilling fact that habitat decline elsewhere makes the Woodlands the main remaining occurrence of some birds, such as Gilberts Whistler and the Shy Heath Wren. And exciting to hear that continental scale connectivity continues, with birds from some species, such as grey fantails and purple crowned lorikeets, travelling thousands of kilometres to spend time in the Great Western Woodlands.