Shale Gravel Transition Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion - Determination to make a minor amendment to Part 3 of Schedule 1 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 3 of Schedule 1 (Endangered ecological communities) of the Act by inserting the Shale Gravel Transition Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion (as described in the determination of the Scientific Committee under Division 5 Part 2) and as a consequence to omit reference to the Shale Gravel Transition Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion (as described in the final determination to list the ecological community) which was published on pages 2374 to 2378 in the NSW Government Gazette No. 75 dated 19 April 2002. 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. Shale Gravel Transition Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion is the name given to the ecological community characterised by the species assemblage listed in paragraph 2. All sites are within the Sydney Basin Bioregion. Bioregions are defined in Thackway and Cresswell (1995).

 

2. Shale Gravel Transition Forest is characterised by the following assemblage:

 

Acacia falcata

Acacia parramattensis

Aristida vagans

Austrodanthonia tenuior

Brunoniella australis

Bursaria spinosa

Cheilanthes sieberi subsp. sieberi

Daviesia ulicifolia

Desmodium varians

Dianella longifolia

Dianella revoluta var. revoluta

Dichelachne micrantha

Dichondra repens

Echinopogon caespitosus var. caespitosus

Echinopogon ovatus

Entolasia stricta

Eucalyptus fibrosa

Eucalyptus moluccana

Eucalyptus tereticornis

Euchiton sphaericus

Glycine clandestina

Goodenia hederacea subsp. hederacea

Hardenbergia violacea

Hydrocotyle peduncularis

Hypericum gramineum

Laxmannia gracilis

Lepidosperma laterale

Lissanthe strigosa

Lomandra filiformis subsp. filiformis

Lomandra multiflora subsp. multiflora

Melaleuca decora

Microlaena stipoides var. stipoides

Opercularia diphylla

Oxalis perennans

Panicum simile

Paspalidium distans

Pomax umbellata

Poranthera microphylla

Pratia purpurascens

Themeda australis

Tricoryne elatior

Vernonia cinerea var. cinerea

Wahlenbergia gracilis

 

3 The total species list of the flora and fauna of the community is considerably larger than that given in 2 (above), with many species present in only one or two sites or in very small quantity. The community includes invertebrates many of which are poorly known, as well as vertebrates. In any particular site not all of the assemblage listed above may be present. At any one time, some species may only be present as seeds in the soil seed bank with no above-ground individuals present. Invertebrate species may be restricted to soils or canopy trees and shrubs, for example. The species composition of the site will be influenced by the size of the site and by its recent disturbance history. The number of species and the above-ground composition of species will change with time since fire, and may also change in response to changes in fire frequency.

 

4 Shale Gravel Transition Forest is predominantly of open-forest structure, usually with trees of Eucalyptus fibrosa sometimes with E. moluccana and Eucalyptus tereticornis. Melaleuca decora is frequently present in a small tree stratum. A sparse shrub stratum is usually present with species such as Bursaria spinosa, Daviesia ulicifolia and Lissanthe strigosa. Ground-layer species include Microlaena stipoides subsp. stipoides, Cheilanthes sieberi subsp. sieberi, Themeda australis, Opercularia diphylla, Lomandra multiflora subsp. multiflora, Aristida vagans, Pratia purpurascens and Wahlenbergia gracilis.

 

5 Shale Gravel Transition Forest occurs primarily in areas where shallow deposits of Tertiary alluvium overlie shale soils but may also occur in association with localised concentrations of iron-indurated gravel. Shale Gravel Transition Forest grades into Cumberland Plain Woodland as alluvial and ironstone influences decline. On thicker deposits of Tertiary alluvium it grades into Cooks River/Castlereagh Ironbark Forest or Castlereagh Scribbly Gum Woodland. South of the Tertiary alluvial deposits at Holsworthy, this community forms complex mosaics with shale/sandstone transitional communities.

 

6 Shale Gravel Transition Forest is described in NSW NPWS (2000a&b) which lists diagnostic plant species for the community. These species provide a guide to identification of the community, but care should be taken in the application and interpretation of diagnostic plant species because of sampling limitations; the reduction in species diversity in degraded sites; and the fact that some species may only be present at a site at some times as a soil seedbank or as dormant bud/tubers.

 

7 Shale Gravel Transition Forest is or has been known to occur in the Auburn, Bankstown, Baulkham Hills, Blacktown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Holroyd, Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith Local Government Areas, but may occur elsewhere in the Sydney Basin Bioregion. Bioregions are defined in Thackway and Cresswell (1995).

 

8 Disturbed Shale Gravel Transition Forest remnants are considered to form part of the community including where the vegetation would respond to assisted natural regeneration, such as where the natural soil and associated seedbank is still at least partially intact.

 

9 Shale Gravel Transition Forest has been cleared for agriculture and rural development. About 36% of the original distribution of about 7000 ha remains (NSW NPWS 2000a) and much of this is in a degraded state.

 

10 Shale Gravel Transition Forest occurs in Agnes Banks Nature Reserve, Castlereagh Nature Reserve, Scheyville National Park and Windsor Downs Nature Reserve. The area in these reserves is about 3% of the original distribution.

 

11 Much of the remaining area of Shale Gravel Transition Forest has been disturbed by clearing, tracks, weeds invasion and soil disturbance. Continuing threats include invasion of exotic species, illegal dumping, unauthorised access, fragmentation and clearing for urban, rural residential recreational and industrial development.

 

12 In view of the originally restricted distribution of this community, its inadequate representation within conservation reserves, the extensive disturbance and weed invasion that has occurred, and the threats from ongoing development, the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that Shale Gravel Transition Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion is likely to become extinct in nature in New South Wales unless the circumstances and factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate and that the community is eligible for listing as an endangered ecological community.

 

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 2002 as indicated in the determination

 

References

 

NSW NPWS (2000a). Native vegetation maps of the Cumberland Plain, Western SydneyInterpretation guidelines. NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2000.

 

NSW NPSW (2000b). The native vegetation of the Cumberland Plain, Western Sydney – Technical report. NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, 2000.

 

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

 

Page last updated: 14 October 2011