Lower Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest in the Sydney Basin and NSW North Coast Bioregions - Determination to make a minor amendment to Part 2 of Schedule 2 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act

NSW Scientific Committee

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has made a Determination to make a minor amendment to Part 2 of Schedule 2 (Vulnerable ecological communities) of the Act by inserting the Lower Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest in the Sydney Basin and NSW North Coast Bioregions (as described in the determination of the Scientific Committee under Division 5 Part 2) and as a consequence to omit reference to the Lower Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest in the Sydney Basin and NSW North Coast Bioregions (as described in the final determination to list the ecological community) which was published on pages 6573 to 6577 in the NSW Government Gazette No. 82 dated 4 July 2008. Minor amendments to the Schedules are 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 to correct minor errors or omissions in the Determination in relation to the Thackway and Cresswell (1995) reference.

 

The Scientific Committee has found that:

 

1. Lower Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest in the Sydney Basin and NSW North Coast Bioregions is the name given to the ecological community typically occurring on Carboniferous sediments of the Barrington footslopes in the Hunter Valley. The community usually forms a closed forest 15-20m high with emergent trees 20-30m high. Vines are abundant and there is a dense shrub and ground layer. All sites are within the Sydney Basin Bioregion and NSW North Coast Bioregion. Those sites within the NSW North Coast Bioregion are in the southern part of the bioregion. Bioregions are defined in Thackway and Cresswell (1995).

 

2. Lower Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest in the Sydney Basin and NSW North Coast Bioregions is characterised by the following assemblage of species:

 

Adiantum aethiopicum

Alectryon subcinereus

Alectryon tomentosus

Alphitonia excelsa

Aphanopetalum resinosum

Baloghia inophylla

Brachychiton populneus subsp. populneus

Breynia oblongifolia

Capparis arborea

Cayratia clematidea

Claoxylon australe

Clerodendrum tomentosum

Commelina cyanea

Corymbia maculata

Cupaniopsis anacardioides

Dendrocnide excelsa

Dioscorea transversa

Diospyros australis

Doodia aspera

Drypetes australasica

Elaeocarpus obovatus

Elaeodendron australis var. australis

Eucalyptus acmenoides

Eucalyptus punctata

Eustrephus latifolius

Ficus coronata

Gahnia melanocarpa

Geitonoplesium cymosum

Guoia semiglauca

Hibiscus heterophyllus

Jasminum volubile

Lepidosperma laterale

Lomandra longifolia

Maclura cochinchinensis

Mallotus philippensis

Melaleuca styphelioides

Melia azedarach

Melicope micrococca

Morinda jasminoides

Myrsine variabilis

Notelaea longifolia

Olea paniculata

Oplismenus aemulus

Pandorea pandorana subsp. pandorana

Pararchidendron pruinosum var. pruinosum

Parsonsia straminea

Pellaea falcata

Pellaea paradoxa

Peperomia leptostachya

Pittosporum multiflorum

Plectranthus parviflorus

Pouteria australis

Pseuderanthemum variabile

Sarcopetalum harveyanum

Scolopia braunii

Streblus brunonianus

Syzygium australe

Tetrastigma nitens

Triplodenia cunninghamii

 

3. 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.

 

4. Lower Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest typically has a canopy of 15-25m high with 40-80% cover. The most common trees include Elaeocarpus obovatus (Hard Quandong), Alectryon subcinereus (Wild Quince), Baloghia inophylla (Brush Bloodwood), Melia azedarach (White Cedar), Melicope micrococca (Hairy-leaved Doughwood), Scolopia braunii (Flintwood), Streblus brunonianus (Whalebone Tree), Mallotus philippensis (Red Kamala), Capparis arborea (Brush Caper Berry), Olea paniculata (Native Olive), Guioa semiglauca (Guioa), Alectryon tomentosus (Hairy Alectryon), Claoxylon australe (Brittlewood), Elaeodendron australe var. australe (Red Olive Plum), Diospyros australis (Black Plum) and Pararchidendron pruinosum var. pruinosum (Snow Wood). The shrub layer is dense with common species including Notelaea longifolia (Large Mock Olive), Breynia oblongifolia (Coffee Bush), Clerodendrum tomentosum (Hairy Clerodendrum) and Pittosporum revolutum (Hairy Pittosporum). Vines are very abundant and include Pandorea pandorana subsp. pandorana (Wonga Vine), Geitonoplesium cymosum (Scrambling Lily), Cayratia clematidea (Native Grape), Jasminum volubile (Stiff Jasmine) and Maclura cochinchinensis (Cockspur Thorn). The ground cover is often dense and is comprised of forbs, grasses and ferns. The common species include, Commelina cyanea (Scurvy Weed), Dichondra repens (Kidney Weed), Oplismenus aemulus (Basket Grass) and Adiantum aethiopicum (Common Maidenhair).

 

5. Lower Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest typically occurs on Carboniferous sediments of the Barrington footslopes along the northern rim of the Hunter Valley Floor, where it occupies gullies and steep hillslopes with south facing aspects. It is generally found at elevations less than 300 m ASL with a mean annual rainfall less than 900 mm (Peake 2006).

 

6. Areas of Lower Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest have been described by NSW NPWS (2000), Turner & Vernon (1994), DEC in litt. (2006) and Peake (2006). It falls broadly within Alliance VI, Sub-Alliance 23 Ficus-Streblus-Dendrocnide-Cassine in the rainforest classification of Floyd (1990). It shares characteristics with, but is not part of, the Western Sydney Dry Rainforest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion (NSW Scientific Committee 2000), currently listed as an Endangered Ecological Community under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

 

7. Lower Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest has been recorded from the local government areas of Cessnock, Maitland and Port Stephens, and is also likely to occur or have occurred in Muswellbrook, Singleton, Upper Hunter and Dungog (within the Sydney Basin Bioregion and NSW North Coast Bioregion) (sensu Thackway and Cresswell 1995). It may occur elsewhere in the Bioregions.

 

8. Lower Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest has an extent of occurrence of less than 10,000 km2. Within this extent the community has been reduced to small remnants (generally < 10 ha) by clearing. Within the eastern portion of the range of the community, NSW NPWS (2000) estimated that the geographic distribution has been reduced by nearly 70%. The decline over the remaining portion of the range is uncertain but likely to be up to 50% across the whole range. Lower Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest is not known to occur in any conservation reserves. Remnants are mostly located on private property.

 

9. Threats to Lower Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest include clearing and track building, frequent fire, trampling and grazing by cattle and weed invasion. The community is also vulnerable to stochastic events due to its fragmentation and small size of remnant patches. These threats are intensified by the absence of a forest buffer on forest margins (Turner and Vernon 1994). Invasion by the thicket-forming shrub Lantana (Lantana camara) has been demonstrated to increase following disturbances associated with fire or grazing (Gentle and Duggin 1997a). Lantana (Lantana camara) occurs in and around many stands and poses a threat through structural alteration, invasion and allelopathic suppression of rainforest seedlings (Gentle and Duggin 1997b). African Olive (Olea europea subsp. cuspidata) also poses a significant threat through invasion (Peake 2006). 'Anthropogenic climate change', 'Clearing of native vegetation', 'Invasion and establishment of exotic vines and scramblers' and 'Invasion, establishment and spread of Lantana (Lantana camara L. sens. lat)' are listed as Key Threatening Processes under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

 

10. Lower Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest in the Sydney Basin and NSW North Coast Bioregions is not eligible to be listed as an endangered or critically endangered ecological community.

 

11. Lower Hunter Valley Dry Rainforest in the Sydney Basin and NSW North Coast Bioregions is eligible to be listed as a vulnerable ecological community as, in the opinion of the Scientific Committee, it is facing a high risk of extinction in New South Wales in the medium-term future, as determined in accordance with the following criteria as prescribed by the Threatened Species Conservation Regulation 2002.

 

Clause 25

The ecological community has undergone, is observed, estimated, inferred or reasonably suspected to have undergone or is likely to undergo within a time span appropriate to the life cycle and habitat characteristics of its component species:

(c) a moderate reduction in geographic distribution.

 

Clause 26

The ecological community’s geographic distribution is estimated or inferred to be:

(c) moderately restricted,

and the nature of its distribution makes it likely that the action of a threatening process could cause it to decline or degrade in extent or ecological function over a time span appropriate to the life cycle and habitat characteristics of the ecological community’s component species.

 

Clause 27

The ecological community has undergone, is observed, estimated, inferred or reasonably suspected to have undergone or is likely to undergo within a time span appropriate to the life cycle and habitat characteristics of its component species:

(c) a moderate reduction in ecological function,

as indicated by any of the following:

(f) disruption of ecological processes

(g) invasion and establishment of exotic species

(h) degradation of habitat

(i) fragmentation of habitat.

 

 

Dr Richard Major

Chairperson

Scientific Committee

 

Proposed Gazettal date: 14/10/11

Exhibition period: 14/10/11 - 9/12/11

 

Note this ecological community was originally listed in 2008 as indicated in the determination

 

References:

 

Floyd AG (1990) Australian rainforests in New South Wales Vol 2 Surrey Beatty & Sons, NSW.

 

Gentle CB, Duggin JA (1997a) Lantana camara L. invasions in dry rainforest-open forest ecotones: the role of disturbances associated with fire and grazing. Australian Journal of Ecology 22, 298-306.

 

Gentle CB, Duggin JA (1997b) Allelopathy as a competitive strategy in persistent thickets of Lantana camara L. in three Australian forest communities. Plant Ecology 132, 85-85.

 

NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (2000) Vegetation survey and mapping – Lower Hunter and Central Coast Region. Report prepared for the Lower Hunter and Central Coast Regional Environment management Strategy. Version 1.1.

 

NSW Scientific Committee (2000) Final Determination of Western Sydney Dry Rainforest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion.

 

Peake TC (2006) The Vegetation of the Central Hunter Valley, New South Wales. A report on the findings of the Hunter Remnant Vegetation Project. Hunter- Central Rivers Catchment Authority, Paterson.

 

Thackway R, Cresswell ID (1995) An interim biogeographic regionalisation for Australia: a framework for setting priorities in the National Reserve System Cooperative Program. (Version 4.0 Australian Nature Conservation Agency: Canberra).

 

Turner JC, Vernon SL (1994) Rainforest stands between Barrington Tops and the Hunter River, New South Wales. Cunninghamia 3, 465-514.

Page last updated: 14 October 2011