Comment — Economics of a nest-box program for the conservation of an endangered species: a re-appraisal

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Spring et al. (D.A. Spring, M. Bevers, J.O.S. Kennedy, and D. Harley. 2001. Can. J. For. Res. 31: 1992–2003) recently published a paper on the economics of a nest-box program for the endangered arboreal marsupial, Leadbeater's possum (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri) in southeastern Australian forests. While their paper is a useful one, there are some important limitations of nest-box programs that need to be highlighted. In the case of Leadbeater's possum, we have undertaken extensive nest-box studies in Victoria mountain ash (Eucalyptus regnans F. Muell.) forests, where the vast majority of populations of the species now occur. Although large numbers of nest boxes have been deployed, very few have actually been occupied, which is a major problem since the effectiveness of any nest-box program will depend on patterns of use by the target species. Given very low levels of nest-box occupancy, harvesting regimes such as those that lead to on-site tree retention are needed to better conserve hollow-dependent species like Leadbeater's possum. Moreover, the need for nest boxes in the first place indicates that logging practices are presently not ecologically sustainable, and modified forestry practices need to be adopted.

Récemment, Spring et al. (D.A. Spring, M. Bevers, J.O.S. Kennedy et D. Harley. 2001. Can. J. For. Res. 31 : 1992–2003) ont publié un article traitant des aspects économiques d'un programme de nichoirs pour l'opossum de Leadbeater (Gymnobelideus leadbeateri), un marsupial des forêts du sud-est de l'Australie. Bien que leur article soit utile, plusieurs limites des programmes de nichoirs doivent être soulignées. Dans le cas de l'opossum de Leadbeater, nous avons entrepris des études approfondies avec des nichoirs dans des forêts d'eucalyptus géant (Eucalyptus regnans F. Muell.) qui abritent la grande majorité des populations actuelles de cette espèce. Malgré que de grands nombres de nichoirs aient été déployés, très peu ont en fait été occupés, ce qui constitue un problème majeur étant donné que l'efficacité d'un programme de nichoirs dépend de la façon dont l'espèce ciblée les utilise. Étant donné le très faible niveau d'utilisation des nichoirs, des régimes de récolte forestière avec rétention d'arbres sont nécessaires pour mieux conserver les espèces dépendantes des cavités telles que l'opossum de Leadbeater. De plus, le besoin de nichoirs indique par le fait même que les pratiques forestières actuelles ne sont pas durables du point de vue écologique et qu'elles doivent être modifiées.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Discussion

Publication date: December 1, 2002

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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