tree lucerne, weeds and biodiversity

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: tree lucerne, weeds and biodiversity
From: "Paul Peake" <>
Date: Sat, 25 Jul 1998 19:04:15 +1000
Hi folks, time for another diatribe:

I once heard E.O. Wilson, one of the world's greatest scientists,
ecologists and conservation biologists, say that the three greatest causes
of biodiversity decline worldwide are (in descending order): habitat
destruction (in particular, clearing), introduction of exotic organisms,
and harvesting (of wild plants and animals).  I could write a book about
the first of these but managed to get a small sample of my thoughts down to
the relatively short posting of a couple of days ago.

Now Cilla Kinross has very generously provided me with the opportunity to
try and get my thoughts on the second greatest threat to biodiversity down
in a paragraph or two.  There are thousands of examples of weeds leading to
the demise of birds and other animals and plants.  Superb Lyrebirds at
Sherbrooke Forest near Melbourne, and Grey-crowned Babblers and
Plains-Wanderers in the Riverina are a couple of avian examples from this
part of the world that spring to mind immediately.  I have little doubt
that there would be many more published examples if it wasn't
overwhelmingly self-evident most of the time.

According to Carr et al. (1992) 'Environmental Weeds in Victoria',
Tagasate/Tree Lucerne (they give the scientific name as Cytisus palmensis)
is a very serious environmental weed in this State.  Like around 75% of our
environmental weeds, it has been deliberately introduced by Europeans. 
Given this, I presume that whoever is even considering recommending
planting of this species must have a mountain of flawless arguments as to
its benefits.  COULD WE PLEASE HEAR THEM?  Alleged benefits to a couple of
species is barely an ant-hill of evidence in light of the risks, and
numerous problems of the sort flagged by Michael Norris will need to be
addressed if the alleged benefits are to be unambiguously demonstrated.

What do other birding-aussers think? 



P.S.  If any one wants to start up a thread about the benefits for
conservation of wildlife harvesting, I'll be waiting, ...

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