The increasing density of shrubs and trees across a landscape

Land and Water Australia
Publication Type:
2009, pp. 1 - 16
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Woody thickening is a global phenomenon whereby the density of trees and woody shrubs is increasing in the landscape. Although most commonly seen in arid and semi-arid landscapes, it also occurs in other environments. This process has a number of impacts on landscape function. Woody thickening can be a naturally occurring phenomenon but is being enhanced by climate change, changes in fire regimes and other human land use activity. Woody thickening influences carbon storage and carbon accounting by increasing the biomass present in a landscape. Water balances are impacted through increases in evapotranspiration, which leaves less water available for stream flow. Nitrogen cycling is also affected. Furthermore, reduced grass growth results in less food production for livestock. Woody thickening may play a role in ameliorating salinisation of soil and groundwater by preventing rises in water tables.
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