This comes on top of the protracted millennium drought of 1996 to 2010, the effects of which are still being felt where kookaburras and superb fairy wrens declined and have not properly recovered since. As reported in today’s The Age, ecologist Dr Dale Nimmo has said more than half our bird species experienced a substantial reduction in their population.
This decline affects the broader ecosystem as birds play a key function as pollinators and pest controllers.
In a paper co-written by Dr Nimmo, he and his colleagues outline the importance for species of adequate tree cover which enhances their resilience in tough times such as during a drought. The more tree cover you have, according to Dr Nimmo, the more birds are able to survive a drought.
In the report the authors say that woodland bird communities in landscapes with larger areas of tree cover retained a larger proportion of their species richness during the Millennium Drought. Vegetation cover can influence the resistance, resilience and stability of species in an extreme weather event, events that are becoming more common as a result of climate change.
The impact of climate change, with more droughts and other extreme weather events, makes it all the more important that we protect, restore and enhance Australia’s native vegetation.