The Grassy Box Woodlands Conservation Management Network: Picking up the pieces in fragmented woodlands
By Suzanne M. Prober 1, Kevin R. Thiele 1 and Erica Higginson 2
1Ecological Interactions (Martins Creek, Bonang Road via Orbost,Victoria 3888, Australia. Tel.: 61-3-51540124. Email: )
2NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (PO Box 1967, Hurstville, 2220)
Australia’s conservation estate has traditionally been seen as a collection of National Parks and Nature Reserves. While these are central to the conservation of many ecological communities, many critically important natural areas remain, and are always likely to remain, outside such traditional reserves.
This is particularly true for fragmented ecological communities that were once extensive but are now represented by many small, widely scattered remnants in varying states of ecological health. Often there is no available small subset of large remnants that can adequately represent such ecological communities in a National Park system; instead, a large set of mostly small remnants is needed to represent the original ecosystem in the conservation estate.
A key to adequate conservation of fragmented ecological communities is the coordinated protection and management of sets of remnants. As we have discussed in earlier papers (Thiele & Prober 1999, 2000), permanent protection and ongoing management support are important in this approach. Furthermore, acquisition and management of remnants by a centralized agency can be unnecessary or even undesirable. It is often more appropriate to maintain current ownership and management, and to obtain protection through instruments such as conservation covenants or local government planning systems (Younget al.1996; Binning & Young 1997).
We describe the Grassy Box Woodlands Conservation Management Network (CMN) that we are establishing along the above lines for the conservation of Grassy Box Woodlands in New South Wales. The broader applicability of the CMN concept is illustrated by examples of programs that are developing along similar lines in other fragmented ecological communities or habitats (see Box 1).