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Grassroots Grants projects kick off

  • 1.  Grassroots Grants projects kick off

    Posted 27-10-2023 12:07
    Edited by Gabrielle Stacey 27-10-2023 12:08
    Grassroots Grants projects kick off

    Source: Hills and Fleurieu Landscape October 2023 Newsletter

    Andy Kavanagh on the site of his Grassroots Grants project at Echunga. 
    Photo credit: Jim Mead

    Projects funded by the Hills and Fleurieu Grassroots Grants program are starting to kick off across the region. One example is Andy Kavanagh's attempt to address stringybark die back.
    Andy is working with the Echunga Community Group to battle dieback in stringybark trees on his property.
    He is pictured on site with previous plantings, as he has been working on protecting stringybark trees there for a number of years.

    Andy was advised of a theory by a bird expert that a woodland bird species that predated on the borer lavae which attacks the trees has become extinct in the Adelaide Hills. This has allowed the borer lavae to attack the trees without predation by these birds. The dieback shows how even one small element missing from a natural system can lead to dire consequences. 

    Dr Greg Guerin and his team from the University of Adelaide Waite Institute and UniSA are also studying possible causes of the dieback. 

    Greg's team are seeing that many stringybarks are being killed by borer larvae (which cause extensive ringbarking) but have found that borer outbreaks and infestations are also promoted by underlying tree stress, such as from drought periods (notably 2017-2019 in recent years) and interaction with soil type and topography. (shallow, compacted soils may make trees more vulnerable).

    Greg's team has no doubt that in modified forests, cycling of organic matter may have also been interrupted. Below ground, mycorrhizal fungi interactions may be disturbed or influenced by grazing, fire or drought. Improving soil carbon content and promoting beneficial soil biota to create better conditions for greater mycorrhizal fungi interactions may benefit the trees.

    In the meantime, creating habitat for insectivorous birds might go some way to controlling the numbers of the borer lavae, with new plantings replacing stringybarks that have been lost. That's where Andy's project comes in.

    Visit the Landscape SA Hills and Fleurieu Website for more information on Grassroots Grants and their other fantastic work 


    [City] NSW