Howell Shrublands in the New England Tableland and Nandewar Bioregions - Determination to make a minor amendment to Part 3 of Schedule 1 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act

The Scientific Committee, established under the Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995, has made a determination to make a minor amendment to Part 3 of Schedule 1 (Endangered ecological communities) of the Act by inserting the Howell Shrublands in the New England Tableland and Nandewar Bioregions and as a consequence to omit reference to the Howell Shrublands in the Northern Tablelands and Nandewar Bioregions (as described in the final determination of the Scientific Committee which was published on pages 6160 to 6162 in NSW Government Gazette No. 85 dated 7 July 2000). Minor amendments to the Schedules is provided for by Division 5 of Part 2 of the Act.

The Scientific Committee is of the opinion that the amendment is necessary or desirable for the following purposes under section 36A:

(b) to correct any minor error or omission,

(c) to clarify a description of an ecological community (including to reflect new surveys or research information)

The Scientific Committee has found that:

1. The Howell Shrublands in the New England Tableland and Nandewar Bioregions is the name given to the ecological community that is characterised by the following assemblage of species;

Acacia falciformisAcacia granitica
Acacia neriifoliaAcacia triptera
Acacia viscidulaActinotus gibbonsii
Actinotus helianthiAristida jerichoensis
Aristida vagansArthropodium milleflorum
Austrodanthonia bipartitaAustrodanthonia monticola
Babingtonia densifloraBlechnum cartilagineum
Boronia graniticaBrachyscome stuartii
Bulbostylis pyriformisCaesia calliantha
Calandrinia eremaeaCallitris endlicheri
Calytrix tetragonaCassinia laevis
Cassinia quinquefariaCentrolepis strigosa
Cheilanthes sieberiCheistochloa rigida
Chenopodium pumilioChrysocephalum semipapposum
Commelina cyaneaCotula australis
Crassula sieberianaCryptandra amara
Cryptandra amara subsp. floribundaCyathea australis
Cymbopogon refractusCyperus fulvus
Cyperus gracilisDianella caerulea
Dichopogon fimbriatusDigitaria breviglumis
Drosera peltataEchinopogon caespitosus
Einadia hastataEntolasia stricta
Eragrostis browniiEucalyptus caleyi
Eucalyptus dealbataEucalyptus mckieana
Eucalyptus pravaEuchiton sphaericus
Eulalia aureaFicus rubiginosa
Fimbristylis dichotomaGahnia aspera
Glycine clandestinaGonocarpus micranthus
Gonocarpus tetragynus Gonocarpus teucrioides
Goodenia belledifolia Hibbertia kaputarensis
Homoranthus prolixus Hovea lanceolata
Hydrocotyle peduncularis Hypericum gramineum
Isotoma anethifolia Isotoma axillaris

Laxmannia compacta

Laxmannia gracilis

Leionema rotundifolium Lepidosperma laterale
Leptospermum brevipes Leptospermum novae-angliae
Leucopogon melaleucoides Leucopogon muticus
Leucopogon neo-anglicus Lobelia gracilis
Lomandra multiflora Microlaena stipoides
Micromyrtus sessilis Monotaxis macrophylla
Murdannia graminea Notelaea microcarpa
Olearia elliptica Opercularia hispida
Oxalis chnoodes Ozothamnus obcordatus
Paspalidium constrictum Patersonia sericea
Persoonia cornifolia Phebalium rotundifolium
Philotheca myoporoides subsp. conduplicata Plectranthus parviflorus
Pleurosorus subglandulosus Poa sieberiana
Pomax umbellata Portulaca bicolor
Portulaca filifolia Portulaca oleracea
Prostanthera nivea Pterostylis setifera
Ranunculus sessiliflorus Rumex brownii
Sigesbeckia orientalis Solanum cinereum
Solanum opacumSolenogyne bellioides
Stackhousia vimineaStypandra glauca
Trachymene incisa Tripogon loliiformis
Urtica incisa Vittadinia sulcata
Wahlenbergia communisZieria odorifera ms

2. The total species list of the community is considerably larger than that given above, with many species present in only one or two sites or in low abundance. The species composition of a site will be influenced by the size of the site, recent rainfall or drought condition and by its disturbance (including fire) history. The number of species, and the above ground relative abundance of species will change with time since fire, and may also change in response to changes in fire regime (including changes in fire frequency). At any one time, above ground individuals of some species may be absent, but the species may be represented below ground in the soil seed banks or as dormant structures such as bulbs, corms, rhizomes, rootstocks or lignotubers. The list of species given above is of vascular plant species; the community also includes micro-organisms, fungi, cryptogamic plants and a diverse fauna, both vertebrate and invertebrate. These components of the community are poorly documented.

3. Howell Shrublands has been recorded primarily around Copeton Dam and Goonoowigal near Inverell with a small occurrence (about 10 ha) at Warrabah. These occurrences are within the New England Tableland and Nandewar Bioregions.

4. Howell Shrublands are dominated by low shrubs particularly Homoranthus prolixus and Babingtonia densifolia. Occasionally all shrubs may be absent giving a grassland structure or Callitris endlicheri and various eucalypts such as Eucalyptus dealbata and Eucalyptus prava may be present giving the appearance of a low open woodland. Howell Shrublands have been described in Hunter, J. & Clarke, P. (1998) Cunninghamia 5(3) :547-618.

5. Howell Shrublands occur on granitic outcrops and has been recorded on Gilgai Granite (undifferentiated), leucoadamellite and Tingha Granite. The area covered by granite outcrops is likely to be about 500-800 ha of which Howell Shrublands community is likely to actually cover about 100-200 ha.

6. Rare and threatened species in Howell Shrublands include Homoranthus prolixus, Boronia granitica, Eucalyptus mckieana, Monotaxis macrophylla, Leionema rotundifolium and Acacia granitica.

7. The main occurrence of the Howell Shrublands areas are not known to be conserved in any National Parks though it may possibly occur in Copeton State Recreation Area. Part of the small southern occurrence (about 2ha) is conserved in Warrabah National Park.

8. The most significant threat to the Howell Shrublands is grazing by goats. There are large herds throughout the area occupied by the Howell Shrublands community. Rabbits also cause substantial modification to the community. Other impacts are from sheep grazing and clearing, weed invasion, roadworks and powerline constructions. Increased mining activity and inappropriate fire regimes are potential threats.

9. In view the above, the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that Howell Shrublands in the New England Tableland and Nandewar Bioregions is likely to become extinct in nature unless factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate and that listing as an endangered ecological community is warranted.

Professor Lesley Hughes

Chairperson

Scientific Committee

Proposed Gazettal date: 18/04/08

Exhibition period: 18/04/08 – 13/06/08

Page last updated: 28 February 2011