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Keywords:

  • environmental stewardship;
  • scattered trees;
  • Superb Parrot;
  • tree regeneration;
  • whole of paddock rehabilitation;
  • wood-pasture

Summary  Scattered trees, or ‘paddock trees’, are keystone structures, which provide multiple ecological values. However, they are in decline in many places. This has serious implications for species that use them, such as the vulnerable Superb Parrot (Polytelis swainsonii) of south-eastern Australia. We outline three key aspects of the ecology, biology and distribution of the species that illustrate the implications of scattered tree decline. These are that (i) it depends on trees; (ii) it lives across agricultural landscapes; and (iii) it uses scattered tree landscapes dynamically in response to climate variation. We outline the dual challenge of maintaining populations of both scattered trees and the Superb Parrot over large scales and over the long term. Without urgent restoration action, a narrow bottleneck (where there are few mature trees) will make the long-term future of the Superb Parrot precarious in these landscapes. We outline a vision for future landscapes that addresses this challenge, including the development of a form of Australian ‘wood-pasture’. We suggest some ways that might be implemented at two scales. At the farm scale, we suggest (i) protecting what remnant vegetation we currently have; (ii) recruiting future large, old trees; (iii) sequentially setting aside land to ensure whole-of-farm tree regeneration; (iv) use of incentives to encourage restoration actions; and (v) using a revolving land fund to purchase and reorganize farms into economically and ecologically sustainable units. At the landscape scale, we suggest (i) the need for coordination of long-term landscape restoration plans; (ii) the possible collaborative management of adjacent farms to ensure economic and ecological sustainability. We conclude that addressing the large-scale and long-term challenges of restoring scattered trees in landscapes occupied by the Superb Parrot could restore lost or diminished ecological services. This challenge illustrates the need for action at both the farm and the landscape scale that is planned over the short, medium and long term.