Bell miner associated dieback

Dieback is a condition in which trees progressively die, from the top downward. The condition spreads through the leaves and branches and often the whole plant will eventually die.

The hardwood forests of north-east NSW are increasingly suffering from a form of dieback. This type of dieback is strongly associated with sap-feeding insects called psyllids and psyllids are strongly associated with the native bell miner or bellbird.

Bell miners are a natural part of eucalypt forests, and they normally have a minor (and positive) impact on forests. However, bell miner populations have increased in size, and the birds have become more widely distributed.

Bell miners have been implicated in the spread of dieback, in addition to other factors such as:

  • tree stress
  • psyllid infestation
  • dense forest understories
  • weed invasion
  • drought
  • logging
  • road construction
  • pasture improvement
  • loss of biodiversity (both plants and animals)
  • soil nutrient changes
  • changing fire patterns
  • changing grazing regimes.

Bell miner associated dieback is spreading though forests on public and private lands from South-East Queensland to Victoria. These forests are regionally and nationally important for plant and animal conservation, tourism, water catchment management, and the production of honey and timber.

An independent review of bell miner associated dieback

A consortium of NSW government departments appointed an independent consultant through an open tender process to synthesise current knowledge of bell miner associated dieback (BMAD) across tenures and provide recommendations that can drive a strategic, whole-of-government cross-tenure approach to managing the issue in NSW.

The consultant was selected based on their extensive experience in conducting systematic reviews, the inclusion in their team of an expert in BMAD and operational forest management, and their commitment to engage stakeholders throughout the review to ensure the final report and recommendations were as robust and objective as possible.

The recommendations from the review have improved our understanding of the links between BMAD and human activities. Public feedback will be sought on the research and next steps.

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Page last updated: 06 October 2017