Local Leaders | Yass Area Network: Dead trees and fallen timber are actually a precious resource

Dead trees provide resources, shelter and refuge for plants and animals. Photo: Sonya Duus

Dead trees provide resources, shelter and refuge for plants and animals. Photo: Sonya Duus

If you are asked to visualise a healthy functioning landscape, what do you see?

There is a good chance that water, grass, shrubs and trees would form part of the picture - providing food and shelter for a range of animals, large and small.

It might be a productive farm in your mind's eye, an open woodland, a dense forest, or all three.

In any case, do you see the trunks and limbs of dead trees in your ideal landscape?

It turns out that dead trees and fallen timber are a vital part of healthy ecosystems.

They provide resources, shelter and refuge for plants and animals. Hollows in large dead trees are particularly important nesting sites for wildlife. More than 300 native species rely on tree hollows.

Around one third of bird species (and some bats) tend to only use big trees. Laughing kookaburras, superb parrots and scarlet robins are a few examples.

Unfortunately the number of large old trees with hollows are disappearing. So every large dead tree in our paddocks and woodlands is precious.

Unfortunately the number of large old trees with hollows are disappearing. So every large dead tree in our paddocks and woodlands is precious.

Fallen timber on the ground is also incredibly valuable from an ecosystem perspective.

It creates microenvironments that help to retain soil moisture and collect nutrients. It protects seedlings, stabilises soil, and reduces erosion.

Fallen timber also provides food resources, shelter and habitat for foraging native animals.

Many of us are not used to perceiving dead trees and fallen timber as a major asset in our landscapes.

We might think it looks messy or that its chief value is as firewood.

However, keeping dead trees and fallen timber is one of the greatest things we can do for biodiversity and for the health of our farms.

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This story Dead trees and fallen timber are actually a precious resource first appeared on Goulburn Post.