Dendroecological examination of tree decline on the Monaro Tablelands

Widespread death of eucalypts in the Monaro tablelands of NSW is dramatically diminishing tree cover and reducing connectivity of the region's fragmented forest and woodland ecosystems. This dieback is continuing to spread to new areas and previously-unaffected species.

Unlike episodes elsewhere, dieback on the Monaro Tablelands is not restricted to mature remnant trees in farm paddocks. Rather, regrowth and mature trees within intact woodlands as well as in farm paddocks are dying. As such, the Monaro dieback episode is a major cross-tenure land management issue that is reducing shelter for stock and promoting soil erosion as well as weed infestation on private farmland and public reserves.

Death of entire woodlands as well as isolated trees also poses a serious threat to biodiversity conservation at the local and landscape level.

The Monaro Tablelands dieback has not been studied in detail and the ultimate causal factor/s remain unknown. Uncertainty as to the cause, and how best to respond, is generating grave community concern about the region’s long-term ecological and economic future. This research will use tree-ring based analyses to understand the timing of dieback and potential environmental factors driving this dieback process.