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Paddock trees and biodiversity

Isolated and small patches of trees - or paddock trees - are a prominent feature of agricultural landscapes in Australia. For the already highly cleared vegetation communities (e.g. Yellow Box), researchers, including researchers from OEH, have found that small patches of trees (up to 0.5 hectares) represent 40 per cent of remaining woodland cover and are therefore an extremely important focus for conservation and restoration efforts.

Research has also shown that large old paddock trees support more native birds and bats than individual trees within a woodland setting. The fauna take advantage of the different habitats within the cracks and hollows that form as the trees age.

However, isolated and small patches of trees are declining at a rapid rate, due to:

  • natural ageing and death
  • dieback, a sickness in trees which progresses from the tips of the shoots, along the branches, eventually to the trunk
  • low rates of recruitment (regeneration)

Research has concluded that paddock trees could be lost from south east Australia within the next century.

Paddock tree, Image: Deb Saunders

Paddock tree, Image: Deb Saunders

Paddock tree, Image: Damon Oliver

Paddock tree, Image: Damon Oliver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to ‘estimate’ the age of a Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) tree
Diameter at breast heightApproximate age
80 cm 100 years old
100 cm 150 years old
120 cm 220 years old
140 cm 300 years old
600 cm 400 years old
Paddock Trees brochure Foldout A1 Brochure discussing why paddock trees are important, why they are disappearing and how they can be saved. Based on the work of Gibbons & Boak, 2002 (PDF 2.9MB)

‘Scattered paddock trees fact sheet’ published by Central West Local Land Services in Dec 2014.

References

Page last updated: 27 July 2015