Golf courses and woodlands

To: "Conole, Lawrie" <>
Subject: Golf courses and woodlands
From: Stephen Ambrose <>
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 1997 12:28:46 +1100
Thanks Lawrie for these comments. I very strongly support your idea that we 
discourage the change of prime bird (and other wildlife) habitat such as 
woodlands into
golf courses. One of the reasons I started talking to the golf industry about 
environment 2 years ago was to discourage the clearing of valuable habitat for 

Unfortunately, I think there is still a long way to go before every golf course
developer and local government will listen to our environmental reasoning, but 
the tide
is changing because of strong public opinion. So, it is up to us as ambassadors 
of the
environment to keep up this public pressure.

You asked how good golf courses are for other biota? This is a question that is
currently being investigated in part by other research and conservation groups. 
instance, I know that frog and native plant surveys have just been initiated as 
a result
of a turfgrass conference that I attended in Sydney 18 months ago, although I 
think they are as extensive as the Birds On Golf Courses Project. Such details 
can be
obtained from the Australian Turfgrass Research Institute in Concorde, NSW, 
which has an
inventory of such projects.

I was also very interested to hear recently about some interesting botanical 
from Frankston Golf Course in Victoria. By cutting back stands of ti-tree on 
the edges
of fairways, some native shrubs in the understorey started regenerating. 
Several species
were thought to be locally extinct because the surrounding landscape had been 
degraded or cleared. The course superintendent was sufficiently knowledgeable to
recognise the significance of this regrowth and there are now healthy stands of 
plants on the golf course. So, here is an example of a golf course that has 
wildlife species other than birds which may have otherwise disappeared if the 
land had
been cleared for other purposes.

Dr Stephen Ambrose
Research and Conservation Manager.

Birds Australia (formerly Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union).
Australian Bird Research Centre,
415 Riversdale Road,
Hawthorn East,
VIC   3123.

Tel:    (03) 9882 2622.
Fax:    (03) 9882 2677.
Email:  S.Ambrose <>  (at work)
          (at home)

Conole, Lawrie wrote:
> > I refer you to my message that I sent to Birding-Aus earlier today.
> > Birds Australia IS
> > actively involved in advising golf clubs about making their courses
> > more suitable for
> > birds and other wildlife. YOU and everyone else can help in this
> > process by taking part
> > in the Birds On Golf Courses Project (see p20 of the March 1997 issue
> > of Wingspan).
> >
> I think the golf course thread has just about outlived its use-by date.
> However, I'd still make the point that we (including Birds Australia or
> not) should still recognise that golf courses REPLACE bird habitat in
> many places, rather than AUGMENT it.  I can think of only one golf
> course (out of a dozen or so) that was initiated on farmland in my area,
> rather than being carved out of native vegetation (it's gone broke BTW).
> The reason why some golf courses are good for birding (ie. some birds
> are easy to see there) is that the habitat that the golf course was
> plonked into was good (or better) for birding too.  In most cases, even
> if they are "birdy", golf courses are less complete habitats than what
> they replaced; and in any case what about other biota than birds?  How
> many golf courses are good places to see native mammals or butterflies
> or frogs ....... ?
> > I also repeat my earlier point that the Australian golfing industry is
> > drawing up a code
> > of best practice for environmental management of their courses. This
> > has been due
> >
> What about best practice when planning the course?  That is, why put it
> in that woodland, when it could be put on that clapped-out bit of
> farmland????
> It's fine & desirable to try and have an input into managing existing
> golf courses with environmental sympathy, but I think we should also be
> trying to instill that way of thinking BEFORE the off.
> Lawrie Conole
> Geelong, Victoria, Australia

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