Eucalyptus in the Eastern Med: Evidence for wildlife values

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Eucalyptus in the Eastern Med: Evidence for wildlife values

One of the few times I was lucky enough to see a spliuska in Athens was at Eucalyptus in Atikon Alsos, Turkuonia.

For many years I hated eucalyptus. I was a nativist, which means someone who despises non-native species. Well, it happened many years ago when I was a teenager and pure. As I get older, I try to see things in a broader perspective.

The question is what to do with eucalyptus?

After all, not native to Australia, resinous eucalyptus creates completely alien conditions for many terrestrial invertebrates. How do we manage eucalyptus in terms of conservation of fauna and biodiversity?

Here are some notes on the observations in Greece, Cyprus and Turkey.

Current situation:

1. Not everywhere . In the north-east of the Mediterranean (outside Israel) the eucalyptus is not as widespread and abundant as in Iberia; In fact, there are few large farms here. Snows are very harmful to him and many small plants are damaged (for example in mountainous areas and in northern Greece).

2. It does not spread. This is rarely the case with self-preservation. I saw seeds from the deserts of Cyprus (Nicosia, etc.) and Athens, but still single trees (there are no problems like the invasion of acacia in Cyprus or the tree of heaven in the city in Greece). Therefore, unless it is planted, it will not be overgrown.

3. Does not drain wet areas. Due to its extraordinary ability to evaporate, it can cause drying of wetlands. It is usually planted in moist soil. In some places there are forests of large old and rare trees. However, the deep shadows cast by these giant trees in wetlands and coastal areas counteract surface water evaporation.

4. Native plants grow underneath. In my experience, few native plant species thrive in the dense thickets of eucalyptus. This is a general observation that needs empirical confirmation. I saw the last one in Yermasogeia walking in Portugal and Cyprus. The alien acacias were actively growing under the Cypriot eucalyptus. I'm curious if other species are ok; For example, Pistacia lentiscus grows well under these trees. Many native plants have been shown to grow in California, but the number of invertebrates is low.

5. There is little evidence of negative impacts on biodiversity . The use of eucalyptus has been misunderstood in Greece, Turkey and Cyprus as a wildlife problem or foreign invasion. In general, many people think wild trees are poor. Few bird species live in eucalyptus.

Positive remarks on wildlife / biodiversity:

1. Important refuge, refuge, places where birds sleep. I have many large birds hanging out on the eucalyptus statue. Eucalyptus trees are generally preferred to native trees by larger birds of prey: the lesser eagle of Amvrakikos has chosen eucalyptus trees as perching sites for several winters (Zogaris et al. 2003 - Engered Birds of Amvrakikos). Many owls do this. Owls and many other species like Scoop pictured above are common eucalyptus trees. Herons and egrets are here during the migration (I remember the Koutavos grove in Argostoli, which is full of herons during the spring migration).

2. Some birds eat. Although the leaves and resin are said to "repel insects," the flowers attract diptera, butterflies and many insectivorous migratory birds, which I saw feeding on eucalyptus in Athens.

3. Strong tree, all trees are felled by people. Have many large indigenous trees been felled, with non-native species bridging the gap? In Greece and Turkey Quercus itaburensis , Quercus rubor and other large Quercus , Populus , Fraxinus were common coastal trees and are now not very common due to anthropogenic logging. So can eucalyptus fill an empty lot and create a useful landscape? Maybe yes, in terms of wildlife habitat; They provide a rare habitat in the landscape. Eucalyptus is very resistant and grows well in very windy areas (most of the Greek coast is very windy!); That's why these hardy trees and shrubs survive a long time even after many storms. They can also survive small fires and have a very long lifespan of 400 to 600 years.

4. A gigantic tree; It enriches the landscape. Eucalyptus grows rapidly and becomes "stone trees". There are trees like this in Shinya National Park in Attica - they are huge! In the swamps of southern Greece, these trees are rooted in islands, some of which are over 150 years old. In the open landscapes of the south, the open landscape is reminiscent of the elements of the savannah. Many birds use it in the absence of other trees. For example, in the arid regions of the central steppe of Cyprus (the Kotziatis River near Nicosia); Removing these wild trees is a crime.


I don't want to promote eucalyptus planting! I am against it. And fortunately, many Greek arborists do not plant these trees as part of their reforestation activities. Abuse of eucalyptus in coastal areas. Unfortunately, they are strong and resilient and can be "strangled in the wrong place", although native pines, pines, etc. The eucalyptus trees seen live in other farms (planted by the municipality of Saronicos).

So, from that point of view, eucalyptus is dangerous. People shouldn't plant. But the old monument eucalyptus trees shouldn't be torn down just because they are not indigenous. To restore the environment, it is desirable to cut the young trees along the coast (this has already been proposed, for example, in the Pediagios stream in Nicosia). However, keep in mind that large old pines have a lot of fauna and comfort values. This is a great research topic. Many aspects of eucalyptus effects are poorly understood.

View from California:

Also from California: Dove Sachs, 2002. Equal Diversity in Species Communities: Comparison of Native and Exotic Forests in California, Global Ecology and Biogeography, 11: 49-52.

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