Restoration rocks: integrating abiotic and biotic habitat restoration to conserve threatened species and reduce fire fuel load
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With rapid urban expansion, biodiversity conservation and human asset protection often require different regimes for managing wildfire risk. We conducted a controlled, replicated experiment to optimise habitat restoration for the threatened Australian pink-tailed worm-lizard, Aprasia parapulchella while reducing fire fuel load in a rapidly developing urban area. We used dense addition of natural rock (30 % cover) and native grass revegetation (Themeda triandra and Poa sieberiana) to restore critical habitat elements. Combinations of fire and herbicide (Glyphosate) were used to reduce fuel load and invasive exotic species. Rock restoration combined with herbicide application met the widest range of restoration goals: it reduced fire fuel load, increased ant occurrence (the primary prey of A. parapulchella) in the short-term and increased the growth and survival of native grasses. Lizards colonised the restored habitat within a year of treatment. Our study documents an innovative way by which conflicts between biodiversity conservation and human asset protection can be overcome.
KeywordsEcological restoration Fire management Habitat loss Invasive species Urban ecology Wildland-urban interface
This project was supported by funds from the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government. We thank Dylan Kendall, Ros Ransome, Will Osborne, David Wong, ACT Parks and Conservation Service and Greening Australia for support with project planning and implementation. Meredith Cosgrove, Russell Barrett and Keith McDougall assisted with vegetation surveys. Andrew Higgins assisted with soil chemistry analysis.
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