Skip to Content
Southern Fleurieu

Biodiversity:  Natural regeneration of trees

High Priority

What is this issue

Lack of tree recruitment due to high grazing pressures.

Impacts of the issue

  • Loss of habitat for woodland birds and other fauna species
  • Decline in connectivity of existing patches of remnant vegetation
  • Affects production values due to the loss of shelter for livestock


  • Moderate to high grazing pressure or continuous grazing (grazing of seedlings)
  • Loss of large paddock trees through senescence
  • Incremental clearing for development and agriculture
  • Large fires
  • Competition with weeds
  • Rainfall variability
  • Degradation of soil, including compaction (associated with land use history)
  • Historic clearing resulting in small population sizes and isolated trees, and poor seed quality


  • Over-grazing
  • Soil erosion
  • Poor land use history
  • High nutrient levels
  • Lack of resources / time / money / competing priorities
  • Limited time to manage planting sites
  • Lack of resources to maintain sites after initial restoration efforts

Climate impacts and adaptation needs

Risk increases with the number of dry years, leading to drop in recruitment and reduced survivorship. Increased risk plants fail to set seed therefore there is less native seed available for future revegetation projects.  Adaptation strategies include education, increased planting and protection of new trees, consideration of use of alternative species. Ensuring restoration actions are ‘climate-ready’ now is important to the future viability and longevity of plantings.

Who plays a role

  • Conservation Volunteers Australia
  • Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources
  • Green Army groups
  • Greening Australia
  • Landcare groups
  • Landholders
  • Local Action Planning groups
  • Local Government (District Council of Yankalilla, City of Victor Harbor, Alexandrina Council)
  • SA Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board
  • State Flora
  • Trees for Life

Strategies and Actions

Protect and retain existing trees and promote natural tree recruitment

  • Investigate barriers to natural tree regeneration in different landscape and land use contexts
  • Engage landholders in practices that allow for tree recruitment, such as reduced livestock grazing pressure or rotational grazing on grazing properties
  • Manage pest herbivores to reduce total grazing pressure
  • Protect naturally recruited tree seedlings where present by temporarily excluding stock, fencing-off or using tree guards until seedlings are established above grazing height
  • Continue to investigate effective incentives for landholders to manage areas for conservation

Undertake active restoration (including revegetation) in intensively managed landscapes where natural recruitment is unlikely

  • Prioritise areas to target restoration for maximum biodiversity benefit
  • Coordinate restoration activities with NRM delivery partners to improve landscape-scale outcomes
  • Facilitate discussion with practitioners on climate-ready restoration practices, including changes to seed provenance and species selection guidelines, and use of seed orchards
  • Engage landholders in tree planting on farms and provide information on best practice methods (such as species selection, use of tree guards, weed control, grazing exclusion, appropriate planting densities, and follow up maintenance)
  • Continue to support a low-cost model of seedling provision (LAPs & others)
  • Include monitoring and maintenance of revegetation sites in project planning
  • Work with funding bodies to develop more realistic and flexible timeframes for delivery of revegetation activities, including site maintenance over the first few years
  • Continue to explore innovative approaches to restoration

Raise awareness of the values of native vegetation

  • Promote the benefits of native vegetation (ecological, economic and social)