Restoration ecology research

We seek to buy and manage land of high conservation value, that's in the best possible condition. Yet many of our reserves and partnership properties also contain some areas that have been cleared or degraded by former land use or introduced threats such as weeds or feral animals.

Scottsdale Reserve

Scottsdale Reserve, NSW. Photo Peter Saunders

Restoration isn’t just about planting trees. It's a complex process of stimulating natural systems, requiring detailed landscape analysis,understanding of underlying ecosystem ecology, and comprehensive restoration design.

To be successful at large-scale restoration it's vital to study how restoration interventions affect ecological processes, as well as the relationship between restoration actions and the trajectory of ecosystem recovery.

Bush Heritage carries out rigorous analysis of target species and their habitat requirements to ensure that restored landscapes replicate the natural systems needed to support wildlife. For example, the provision of log piles and rocks to our plantings has meant that small lizards have rapidly colonised revegetated areas at Monjebup Reserve.

This research asks:

  • What techniques are required to overcome major transitional changes in degraded ecosystems?
  • How can we increase the effectiveness of restoration through providing habitat features (e.g. rock mounds, rolled wire ‘refuges’, logs etc.)?
  • How can we redress threatening processes other than habitat loss through restoration (e.g. feral predators, weeds, soil erosion)?

Case study: Effectiveness of grassy box woodland restoration at Scottsdale Reserve

Planting at Scottsdale

Planting Yellow box saplings. Photo Annette Ruzicka

Restoration ecology is a driving principle behind the restoration work on Scottsdale Reserve, 75km south of Canberra, where we aim to restore nationally endangered white box grassy woodlands on the southern tablelands of NSW.

The project aims to determine how to encourage long-lived eucalypts, such as white box and yellow box, back into the landscape while simultaneously promoting regeneration and survival of native grasses and understory species. This will also improve habitat for threatened woodland birds, such as the Hooded Robin and Speckled Warbler.

In partnerships with Greening Australia and scientists and students from the Australian National University, we're monitoring and evaluating restoration methods and conditions to maximise survival rates for replanted eucalypts and contribute new knowledge to existing restoration methods.

Key projects

Ecosystem restoration at Monjebup Reserve

Bush Heritage-led research on design and implementation of restoring greenfield sites to functioning ecosystems, replete with fauna habitat and near-complete floristic composition.

Effectiveness of grassy box woodland restoration at Scottsdale Reserve

The methods and outcomes of a large-scale revegetation project to restore 300 hectares of grassy box woodlands is being monitored and evaluated by Dr. David Fruedenberger and students from ANU.

Principles and Standards for Ecological Restoration and Rehabilitation in Australia

Participation in development of national standards for revegetation and restoration being led by the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia.

York gum woodland restoration in the mid-west of Western Australia

Ecosystem functioning and biodiversity will be measured at established and new restoration planting sites and compared with remnant York gum woodlands. Outcomes will assist management of York gum woodland restoration at Eurardy Reserve.

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