Natural regeneration is often used to describe the process of tree and shrub establishment in farmed landscapes. In some contexts it is used in the positive – recruitment of trees in landscapes with declining tree cover – but in others it may be perceived as negative – woody plant thickening.
We see natural regeneration though as having a broader meaning. For us regeneration reflects the rebuilding of the biological and cultural diversity of agricultural landscapes. Natural does not imply an absence of human decision making or management, but rather it reflects the need to harness and understand ecological function and ecosystem processes. This is not a conservative view of the environment, rather it is one in which understanding of ecological processes is used to rebuild and regenerate landscapes. This is not a landscape in which people are absent, rather it is one in which they are very present, but where management and decision-making is based on regenerating biological diversity.
In the long-term, neither paddock trees nor diverse, native perennial pastures can be maintained under high-input grazing systems involving phosphate fertilizer applications. Hence, there is a clear trade-off between productivity, and the provision of ecosystem services and conservation of biodiversity. However, there is growing evidence that low-input grazing systems, that incorporate significant pasture recovery periods and lack fertilizer application, can be compatible with their maintenance and can be profitable. To read more click on the link to our invited paper presented to the Grasslands Society of NSW .
Developing options for conserving native vegetation in agricultural landscapes not only requires knowledge of the relationships between management practices and biota, but also knowledge of the farm production system itself and the role of native vegetation within that. To read more see our book chapter in “Temperate Woodland Conservation and Management” or read a draft of these ideas by downloading the pdf file below.
Chapter 17 (draft)