It’s the small things

Native trees, climate change and ants are just some of the topics on the agenda at a free community event in Dorrigo on Friday, November 11.

Nigel Andrew is the president of the Ecological Society of Australia and Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of New England.

Nigel Andrew is the president of the Ecological Society of Australia and Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of New England.

Three esteemed speakers will discuss all things big and small, and, a local landholder will explain how he and his wife are providing habitat for wildlife - including the all important macroinvertebrates.

Nigel Andrew is the president of the Ecological Society of Australia and Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of New England. He will speak on assessing insect responses to climate change.

“One of the great challenges in predicting how biological organisms will respond to a rapidly changing climate is determining if the responses of organisms are idiosyncratic, or whether general statements can be made based on evolutionary relationships, or ecological associations,” Assoc Prof Andrew said.

“I will also assess the role of insect conservation in preserving species and ecological services.”

Nigel said insects are amazing and most are tiny, but they are so ancient and abundant that they play essential roles in ecosystems and agriculture.

“Like everything else, insects will be affected by climate change,” he said.

“Will many insect species be able to move or adapt quickly enough to survive and keep providing ecosystem services?

“How can insects be used to assess how climate change interacts with land use management and land cover and assist in making appropriate land management decisions?

“These are key questions in determining the way forward for our environment.”

Joining Assoc Prof Andrew is Nigel Cotsell, a senior team leader with the ecosystems and threatened species regional operations group of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH). Mr Costell will present his findings on a comprehensive camera trap study that was set up to examine tree hollow usage by wildlife in the canopy of trees.

“Eighty cameras directed at tree hollows were deployed across eight sites in nine species of eucalypt in north-east NSW,” Mr Cotsell said.

“There are limitations to undertaking camera trap studies in the high canopy of trees; however, the wealth of data that can be obtained can add substantially to our understanding of arboreal wildlife.

“A closer examination of isolated old trees and high-value arboreal habitat on the coastal floodplain and their importance to wildlife seems to be of critical importance if we are to maintain and enhance terrestrial landscapes that have high-quality habitat for arboreal species.

“Similarly, the functional role of large trees in the landscape matrix is very poorly understood. Given the recent emphasis and investment in protecting threatened species nationally, the spatial relationship and the importance of old trees needs to be more closely examined.

“A strong policy and legislative response is required, but this will not transpire unless there is a better understanding of the dynamics of tree hollows and their importance to wildlife across the broader landscape.

“There are ongoing human demands being placed on the eucalypt forests of the Australian landscape. What is abundantly clear is that future targeted research and long-term monitoring programs of old, isolated trees are essential if we are to understand and interpret the legacies of past forest management practices.

“This information will give us a better understanding of how current land uses are impacting on Australia’s native arboreal fauna.”

EDO’s Nina Lucas.

EDO’s Nina Lucas.

Addressing the legal framework for private conservation mechanisms, is the EDO’s Nina Lucas.

Ms Lucas will also provide an update on the NSW Government’s biodiversity law reforms and what these mean for private conservation.

This not-to-be-missed conservation talk is organised by the Jaliigirr Biodiversity Alliance and Bellinger Landcare and supported by the NSW Environmental Trust. Numbers are limited and registration is essential. Phone Bellinger Landcare on 6655 0588, or email Natasha English to find out more information at