Potential value of weedy regrowth for rainforest restoration
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In subtropical Australia, regrowth forests in former rainforest landscapes are often dominated by the exotic tree, Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphora). In this paper, we report on research into the value of these regrowth stands for rainforest biota. Our initial surveys indicated that Camphor Laurel stands supported a similar number of rainforest animals as restoration plantings, and usually more than timber plantations. Subsequent surveys found that stands of Camphor Laurel supported a high diversity of fruit-eating birds and had recruited a diverse suite of rainforest plants. More recently, we surveyed stands of Camphor Laurel treated by restoration practitioners using 'patch' or 'selective' removal of exotic plants. We found that both treatment methods accelerated the recruitment of rainforest plants to Camphor Laurel stands, and that treatment was usually much cheaper than the cost of establishing restoration plantings. Recognition of the value of weedy regrowth for native plants and animals, and the potential utility of manipulating weedy regrowth to achieve cost-effective restoration, could increase the likelihood of achieving the large-scale increases in forest cover that will be needed to restore biodiversity and ecosystem services to extensively-cleared regions.
Ecological Management and Restoration