Overview

About the Site

The tall, wet Eucalyptus obliqua forests predominate, and are part of the cool, temperate wet forest biome. These forests are among the most productive terrestrial ecosystems in the world and their management generates a disproportionately high social and political interest. The site also includes some areas of moorland, temperate rainforest, riparian and montane conifer forest and scrubs.

The Warra Long Term Ecological Research site of 15,900 ha was designated in 1995 to encourage long-term ecological research and monitoring in wet eucalypt forests in Tasmania.

The site is situated partly in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area and partly on Permanent Timber Production Zone land. In 2010 Warra became a member site of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (www.tern.org.au) that was established under the Australian government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme.

Research activities on the site are overseen by the Warra Policy Committee comprising members from nine LTER site partners from Tasmanian and national research and land management agencies.

Background

Warra Tall Eucalypt was established as a Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) site in 1998, and is one of Australia’s most scientifically productive. It is a hub for intensive, multi-disciplinary research to understand the fundamental ecological processes in E. obliqua forests and the long-term effects that management has on those processes in contrast with natural disturbance.

Current research is focussing on the bio-physical processes that support the biota and how they fluctuate across scales both spatial and temporal.

Detailed knowledge exists for many elements of the biota at Warra Tall Eucalypt their habitats, their distribution and their response to disturbance.

Importantly, research done at Warra Tall Eucalypt has directly driven improvements in forest management more generally, e.g. the introduction of variable retention silviculture in mature tall, wet eucalypt forests.

The Warra Tall Eucalypt SuperSite is partly within the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, which is managed for conservation, and partly within State forest, which is managed for multiple purposes including wood production.

Cool temperate forests cover about half of Tasmania, Australia’s southernmost state, and are recognised globally as a valuable asset for nature conservation and for timber production.

Forty percent of the native forest area is protected in reserves, and much of the rest supports a major timber industry. Long-term research at Warra is helping ecologists and foresters to develop the ecological and silvicultural understanding that underpins sustainable forest management.

Goals

In particular, Warra is about:

  • encouraging long-term ecological research and monitoring by providing appropriate infrastructure; and thereby enabling research to contribute to sustainable management of Tasmania’s forests;
  • developing an understanding of the ecological processes at a range of scales, from single trees to entire catchments and from seconds to centuries;
  • developing a better understanding of biodiversity and geodiversity patterns across the landscape;
  • determining the effects of different forest management practices on biodiversity and ecological processes;
  • developing ecological indicators for monitoring environmental change and the sustainability of forest management;
  • studying experimental management regimes and identifying those that could be developed as viable and sustainable alternatives to current practices;
  • enabling researchers from a range of disciplines to collaborate on joint projects and data-sharing;
  • linking Tasmanian forest research with national and international programs sharing a long-term ecological research focus.

 

(Portion of text are from the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network’s Tall Eucalypt Forest site)