Australia’s natural environment and vegetation have gone through severe changes throughout the past 200 years since European settlement.
There has been a large decline in the number of mature trees and native vegetation.
The Coorong-Tatiara district councils have employed a research team from Federation University Ballarat to further investigate the issue.
Not only have the tree numbers decreased, but also the health of remaining plants.
Extensive land clearing through the south-eastern wheat-sheep belts are partly to blame for the tree decline, along with a range of other factors including landscape modification and changes in management practices.
Many tree species have been planted in environments different from those in which they initially evolved.
This has resulted in many Australian trees lacking in nutrition, vigour and physicality.
The research team have developed SA Tree Watch which is a website where local citizens can asses the health of trees in their area and add information to the site.
Research Fellow at the Centre for Environmental Management Dr Nicholas Schulz co-runs the project with Dr Megan Good from Federation University Australia.
Dr Schulz said the connectivity between trees in the landscape is depleting.
"Birds use trees as stepping stones to get through the landscape…they are really important resources for lots of animals.”
Dr Schulz also said the tree decline has an affect on flowers, pollen and nectar and that the consequences diffuse to other industries such as Apiculture.
“The apiarists were the first ones to notice some of the problems, the bee keepers are really keyed into the fact that if the trees aren’t happy the bees aren’t happy.”
Dr Schulz said there is no short term solution and that it will take between 10 and 15 years to see signs of improvement.
He said that at the moment the project is focused on gathering as much data as possible about where the trees are declining in quality and quantity and encourages locals to add any information to SA Tree Watch.
“The public have a lot of knowledge and understanding of trees around them that aren’t doing too well and we want to tap into that.”
To get involved with the project or learn more about the implications of tree decline in the area visit, http://www.satreewatch.com.au/index.php