Mistletoe Removal in Box Woodland

To: birding-aus posts <>
Subject: Mistletoe Removal in Box Woodland
From: David McDonald <>
Date: Sat, 25 Jul 1998 21:51:03 +1000
The Canberra Ornithologists Group is soon to commence a new study of the
birds of the remaining box woodlands areas of the ACT. In this context,
today I chatted with a landholder who holds the lease over a box
woodland area in the ACT. He lightly grazes the block with sheep and has
looked after the area well for many years. Indeed, under his management
it has the reputation of being one of the best preserved box woodland
areas of the Southern Tablelands. He has kindly agreed to our conducting
the study on his block, but asks about mistletoe. He points out that
many large, old Yellow Boxes and Blakeley's Red Gums have died in the
recent drought, and that many or perhaps most of them are infested with
mistletoe. He wonders if a full-on removal of the mistletoe, by cutting
it out, will help the trees to cope with the stresses they are
experiencing now and will experience in the future. He acknowledges the
financial support from Environment ACT for soil conservation projects,
etc., and (I think) for some mistletoe removal, but would like to know
more about the role of mistletoe in this environment and whether it is
worth pushing for more intensive mistletoe removal. (It is an expensive
business to hire a cherry-picker for this purpose.)

What do list members think? Obviously a complete removal of mistletoe
from a more-or-less isolated box woodland block would modify the natural
flora composition, and impact on the birds that use mistletoe. (But none
is dependent on those species, except for Mistletoe Birds, and I think
that they are rare in that area.) Is it an appropriate management
strategy for heavily stressed remnant box woodlands?

David McDonald

David McDonald
PO Box 1355, Woden ACT 2606, Australia
Tel: +61 2 6231 8904 (h); +61 2 6249 5618 (w)
Fax: +61 2 6249 0740

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