Future bleak for Australian Gum Tree

Australia’s iconic eucalyptus trees are at risk of disappearing because of climate change, a new study suggests.

Researchers from several Australian universities contributed to the report, which found the habitat of more than 90 per cent of eucalypts was likely to decrease. Within 60 years, 16 species were expected to lose their natural environments.

The study also revealed 2.4 per cent of the 657 eucalyptus species were expected to disappear completely by 2085, while the remaining species were expected to be concentrated around coastal areas.

University of Melbourne project researcher Heini Kujala said increased conservation efforts would be required in places where the climate was still suitable for eucalypts.

“This will mean that for many rare species, conservation efforts will increasingly focus on coastal regions where human population density is also highest. This may lead to increased conflicts between conseravtion and different land use needs in the future,” Dr Kujala said.

Dr Kujala said many other species would also suffer if eucalypts disappeared. Those species would move towards the coast if that was where the eucalypts were, she said.

“Many other species groups, such as birds and mammals, that are dependent on eucalypts, are also likely to follow,” he said.

University of Canberra ecologist Bernd Gruber said eucalypts in southern Australia would be hit particularly hard if temperatures increased by three degrees over the next 60 years.

“At least 16 species would have suitable climatic zones disappear altogether,” he said.