Dr Craig Nitschke said results of research simulating the impact of climate change on the
“By around 2070-2100, 18 out of 22 species are classified as extremely vulnerable. By this time all trees still have the ability to regenerate above 1500 m in elevation - but none of them could regenerate naturally following disturbance or harvesting below 400 m.” In other words land below 400m could potentially lose its current forest ecosystems. The shortage of land at higher elevations was a major constraint as trees contracted from warmer, lower elevations in order to escape rising temperatures and drought conditions, he added.
However Dr Nitschke said species vulnerability was much lower where forest canopy cover was modified to simulate a stand-modifying harvest or disturbance, which helped to reduce local temperatures. Only 10 of 22 species were rated as extremely vulnerable by 2085 using these techniques.
“Stand-modifying treatments such as shelterwood and selection harvesting rather than clearfell regeneration mechanisms may improve future species resilience. A shift from seed-based regeneration to seedling-based regeneration (planting) could also lift the chances of successful regeneration across the Central Highlands under predicted climate change,” he said.
“We conclude that many forest tree species that currently dominate