National Tree Day

National Tree DayToday is the 20th anniversary of National Tree Day, the country’s largest community nature-care and tree planting event. Each year over 250,000 people take part in National Tree Day events at 3,000 sites organised by councils, schools, businesses, communities and Toyota Dealers across the country. Since Planet Ark launched National Tree Day in 1996, more than three million participants have planted 21 million native trees, shrubs and grasses.By taking part in National Tree Day, you’ll be joining thousands of individuals in making a difference, connecting with nature, beautifying your local neighbourhood and inspiring positive environmental change.

Carnaby's Black Cockatoo

Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo

To celebrate National Tree Day this Sunday, WWF-Australia, with the help of supporters and volunteers, are planting 3,000 black cockatoo food trees at the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Karakamia Wildlife Sanctuary in the state’s southwest. WWF spokesperson Shenaye Hummerston said planting food trees like banksias, marri and sheoaks would help to bring black cockatoos back from the brink after a dramatic decline in bird populations in recent years.

‘Black cockatoos are well-loved in Western Australia with their characteristic haunting cries and big personalities but they are also under serious threat,’ said WWF-Australia’s Threatened Species Conservation Officer, Shenaye Hummerston. ‘Black cockatoos have lost many of their food trees and homes after many years of land clearing for agriculture and continuing urban development. We need to act now to save these amazing birds from extinction and planting food trees is one way to help do this.’

KarakamiaTwo species of black cockatoo – Carnaby’s and Baudin’s white-tailed black cockatoos – are found only in the internationally-renowned biodiversity hotspot known as Southwest Australia. Karakamia Wildlife Sanctuary, named for the red-tailed black cockatoo (“karak”), is home to all three threatened species of black cockatoos. Southwest Australia has the highest concentration of rare and endangered species in Australia and is considered one of 34 global biodiversity hotpots but land clearing for agriculture and urban development, along with introduced species, have exacted a huge toll.

‘The loss of habitat not only affects the availability of black cockatoo nesting hollows but also food availability. Loss of food is a major contributor to black cockatoo decline,’ Ms Hummerston said.

I will plant some more trees in honour of National Tree Day. Hope you can plant some too! BB14

In Praise of Paddock Trees

Paddock trees 2Picturesque paddock trees, providing shade and shelter for stock and wildlife alike, are an iconic image of rural Australia. We’ve all seen sheep and cattle seeking protection from the baking summer sun, under the spreading boughs of a lone gum tree. Such old-growth giants can be centuries old, the last survivors of long-vanished  forests. They will not last forever though. Thousands have been lost recently in Victoria’s Wimmera, for example. It’s important to properly appreciate their value, so we can protect those we have, and replace those we’ve lost.

Paddock Trees 3Paddock trees are much more than a shady spot for stock to camp under. They provide vital information about what existed prior to massive landscape change – genes, local provenance, microbial communities, soil fungi etc. They act as wildlife corridors, and help to preserve biodiversity and ecosystems. They form a leaf-litter layer for insects to live in. They provide forage, roosts and hollows for bats, birds, possums and koalas.

Buloke Red Tailed Black Cockatoostrees, for example, are the preferred food tree for endangered south-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, but less than two percent of this important food species remains. It takes a hundred years for a Buloke (a type of casuarina) to provide a decent feed, and they are not being replaced at a high enough rate to support Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos into the future. Click here to find out more about a wonderful recovery project aimed at protecting these magnificent birds.

Paddock trees 4Paddock trees also reduce erosion and salinity, enrich soils and provide a seed source for regeneration – the benefit list goes on and on. If these trees continue to disappear, future generations will inherit a vastly different landscape. Landholders, governments … all of us who own or care for paddocks, must rise to the challenge of reversing tree loss in grazing and cropping landscapes, whether the result of active clearing or simple neglect. Old growth paddock trees have taken hundreds of years to grow. They cannot be replaced in a person’s lifetime – we need to protect what remains while we can.

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