Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland in the South Eastern Highlands, Sydney Basin, South East Corner and NSW South Western Slopes Bioregions - endangered ecological community listing

NSW Scientific Committee - final determination

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has made a Final Determination to list the Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland in the South Eastern Highlands, Sydney Basin, South East Corner and NSW South Western Slopes Bioregions as an ENDANGERED ECOLOGICAL COMMUNITY in Part 3 of Schedule 1 of the Act. Listing of Endangered Ecological Communities is provided for by Part 2 of the Act.

 

NOTE: The Scientific Committee placed a Preliminary Determination regarding this ecological community on public exhibition under the name Tablelands Frost Hollow Grassy Woodlands in the South Eastern Highlands, Sydney Basin, South East Corner and NSW South Western Slopes Bioregions. The Committee considers that Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland in the South Eastern Highlands, Sydney Basin, South East Corner and NSW South Western Slopes Bioregions is a more appropriate name for this ecological community.

 

The Scientific Committee has found that:

 

1. Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland in the South Eastern Highlands, Sydney Basin, South East Corner and NSW South Western Slopes Bioregions (hereinafter called Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland) is the name given to the ecological community characterised by the species assemblage listed in paragraph 2. In NSW all sites are within the South Eastern Highlands, Sydney Basin, South East Corner, and NSW South Western Slopes Bioregions (sensu Thackway and Cresswell 1995).

 

2. Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland is characterised by the following assemblage of species:

 

Acacia dealbata

Acacia melanoxylon

Acaena echinata

Acaena novae-zelandiae

Acaena ovina

Aristida ramosa

Asperula conferta

Asperula scoparia

Austrodanthonia duttoniana

Austrodanthonia laevis

Austrodanthonia pencillata

Austrodanthonia pilosa

Austrostipa bigeniculata

Austrostipa blackii

Austrostipa densiflora

Austrostipa scabra var. falcata

Bothriochloa macra

Carex appressa

Carex inversa

Chrysocephalum apiculatum

Convolvulus angustissimus

Desmodium varians

Dichelachne crinita

Dichelachne micrantha

Dichondra repens

Elymus scaber

Epilobium billardierianum

Eucalyptus aggregata

Eucalyptus dalrympleana subsp. dalrympleana

Eucalyptus dives

Eucalyptus ovata

Eucalyptus pauciflora

Eucalyptus radiata

Eucalyptus rubida

Eucalyptus stellulata

Eucalyptus viminalis

Geranium solanderi

Gonocarpus tetragynus

Haloragis heterophylla

Hydrocotyle laxiflora

Hymenanthera dentata

Hypericum gramineum

Juncus australis

Juncus filicaulis

Juncus subsecundus

Leptorhynchos squamatus

Leptospermum myrtifolium

Lomandra filiformis subsp. filiformis

Melichrus urceolatus

Microlaena stipoides

Plantago varia

Poa labillardieri

Poa meionectes

Poa sieberiana

Schoenus apogon

Scleranthus biflorus

Solenogyne gunnii

Themeda australis

 

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 history. The number of species, and the above ground relative abundance of species will change with fire and grazing regime. 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. Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland typically forms an open-forest, woodland or open woodland that transitions into grassland at low tree cover. The canopy is dominated by Eucalyptus pauciflora (Snow Gum), E. rubida (Candlebark), E. stellulata (Back Sallee) and E. viminalis (Ribbon Gum), either as single species or in combinations. Other more localized Eucalyptus species may also occur within this community such as E. aggregata and E. parvula. A shrub layer may be present and sub-shrubs are often a component of the ground stratum; characteristic species include Hymenanthera dentata and Melichrus urceolatus. The ground layer is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous species including Themeda australis, Poa spp., Austrostipa spp., Austrodanthonia spp., Leptorhynchos squamatus, Chrysocephalum apiculatum, and Asperula conferta. This community may also occur as secondary grassland where the dominant trees have been removed but the ground stratum remains.

 

5. Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland mainly occurs on valley floors, margins of frost hollows, footslopes and undulating hills between approximately 600 and 1400 m in altitude. It occurs on a variety of substrates including granite, basalt, metasediments and Quaternary alluvium. Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland occurs as a part of a mosaic of native vegetation communities including swamps, bogs, wetlands, grasslands and sclerophyll forests. Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland falls within the structural formation of Grassy Woodlands and the vegetation classes of Subalpine Woodlands and Tableland Clay Grassy Woodlands (Keith 2004).

 

6. Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland includes communities described as Frost Hollow Grassy Woodlands (Tozer et al. 2010) and Tablelands and Slopes Herb/Grassland/Woodland VG 153 (Gellie 2005). Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland is included in a number of previously identified map units and vegetation types including Map Units 44 and 45 (NSW NPWS 2003), Broad Vegetation Type (BVT) 25 (DEC 2006a and 2006b), Map Units 11 and 15 (DEC 2006c), and community 5 (Hunter 2002). Various high altitude woodlands of the Australian Alps, South Eastern Highlands and Sydney Basin Bioregions dominated by Eucalyptus pauciflora subsp. niphophila, E. pauciflora subsp. debeuzevillei, and E. lacrimans are not covered by this determination. The Endangered Ecological Community Ribbon Gum, Mountain Gum, Snow Gum Grassy Forest/Woodland of the New England Tableland Bioregion has a similar structure to Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland but differs in its floristic composition. A number of Endangered Ecological Communities are known to inter-grade with the nominated community and are thus considered to be related. These include: White Box Yellow Box Blakely’s Red Gum Woodland (NSW TSC Act 1995 EEC) (Costin 1954; Keith 2004; Fallding 2002); Montane Peatlands and Swamps of the New England Tableland, NSW North Coast, Sydney Basin, South East Corner, South Eastern Highlands and Australian Alps Bioregions (NSW TSC Act 1995 EEC); and Natural Temperate Grassland of the Southern Tablelands of NSW and the Australian Capital Territory (Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 Threatened Ecological Community) (Costin 1954; Keith 2004; Fallding 2002).

 

7. Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland has been recorded from the local government areas of Bathurst, Blayney, Bega Valley, Blue Mountains, Bombala, Cabonne, Cooma-Monaro, Eurobodalla, Goulburn-Mulwaree, Lithgow, Oberon, Orange, Palerang, Shoalhaven, Snowy River, Tumbarumba, Tumut, Upper Lachlan, Wingecarribee and Yass Valley local government areas (within the South Eastern Highlands, Sydney Basin, South East Corner, and NSW South Western Slopes Bioregions [sensu Thackway and Cresswell 1995]) and may occur elsewhere in these Bioregions (Tozer et al. 2010).

 

8. Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland occupies a total estimated extent of 14100 ha which is estimated to be a 72% decline in area since European settlement (Tozer et al. 2010). Clearing for agriculture has fragmented the community and in one region (Lake Bathurst) it has been estimated that no current patch exceeds 60 ha and that 70% of patches are smaller than 20 ha (Gellie 2005). Less than 4000 ha is currently represented in conservation reserves in NSW (Crooks in litt. 2009).

 

9. Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland is known to contain the following threatened animal and plant species listed under State and Commonwealth threatened species legislation:

 

Scientific Name

Common Name

Status

Amphibromus fluitans

 

Vulnerable

Baloskion longipes

 

Vulnerable

Caladenia tessellata

 

Endangered

Calotis glandulosa

 

Vulnerable

Discaria nitida

 

Vulnerable

Diuris aequalis

 

Endangered

Diuris ochroma

 

Endangered

Diuris pedunculata

 

Endangered

Dodonaea procumbens

 

Vulnerable

Eucalyptus aggregata

 

Vulnerable

Eucalyptus parvula

 

Endangered

Eucalyptus saxicola

 

Endangered

Euphrasia collina ssp. muelleri

 

Endangered

Euphrasia scabra

 

Endangered

Leucochrysum albicans var. tricolor

 

Endangered (EPBC)

Monotoca rotundifolia

 

Endangered

Prasophyllum canaliculatum

 

Critically Endangered

Prasophyllum petilum

 

Endangered

Prasophyllum sp. ‘Majors Creek’

 

Critically Endangered

Rulingia prostrata

 

Endangered

Rutidosis leiolepis

 

Vulnerable

Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides

 

Endangered

Swainsona sericea

 

Vulnerable

Thesium australe

 

Vulnerable

Xerochrysum palustre

 

Vulnerable (EPBC)

Callocephalon fimbriatum

Gang-gang Cockatoo

Vulnerable

Climacteris picumnus victoriae

Brown Treecreeper (eastern subspecies)

Vulnerable

Daphoenositta chrysoptera

Varied Sittella

Vulnerable

Hieraaetus morphnoides

Little Eagle

Vulnerable

Petroica boodang

Scarlet Robin

Vulnerable

Melanodryas cucullata cucullata

Hooded Robin (south-eastern form)

Vulnerable

Pyrrholaemus saggitatus

Speckled Warbler

Vulnerable

Stagonopleura guttata

Diamond Firetail

Vulnerable

Ninox strenua

Powerful Owl

Vulnerable

Tyto novaehollandiae

Masked Owl

Vulnerable

Falsistrellus tasmaniensis

Eastern False Pipistrelle

Vulnerable

Myotis macropus

Southern Myotis

Vulnerable

Miniopterus schreibersii oceanensis

Eastern Bentwing-bat

Vulnerable

Scoteanax rueppellii

Greater Broad-nosed Bat

Vulnerable

Dasyurus maculatus

Spotted-tailed Quoll

Vulnerable

Phascogale tapoatafa

Brush-tailed Phascogale

Vulnerable

Cercartetus nanus

Eastern Pygmy-possum

Vulnerable

Petaurus australis

Yellow-bellied Glider

Vulnerable

Petaurus norfolcensis

Squirrel Glider

Vulnerable

Phascolarctos cinereus

Koala

Vulnerable

Aprasia parapulchella

Pink-tailed Legless Lizard

Vulnerable

Suta flagellum

Little Whip Snake

Vulnerable

Varanus rosenbergi

Rosenberg’s Goanna

Vulnerable

Litoria verreauxii alpina

Alpine Tree Frog

Endangered

Paralucia spinifera

Bathurst Copper Butterfly

Endangered

 

10. Threats to Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland include climate change, clearing, fragmentation, fertilizer application, tree dieback, trampling and grazing by domestic livestock, weed invasion and altered fire regimes. Many of these threats are escalating due to the intensification of agriculture, pine plantations, and residential development in southern NSW. Intensive livestock grazing changes the dominance of native grasses and causes their replacement by introduced species (Costin 1954; Hancock 1972; Tremont and McIntyre 1994; McIntyre et al. 2002; Lunt et al. 2007) and, together with simplification of vegetation structure, consequently changes the fauna associated with the plant community (Maron and Lill 2005). In combination with the addition of superphosphate, grazing also leads to an increase in exotic annuals, loss of native tussock grasses and decreased abundance of native forbs (Hobbs and Yates 1999; McIntyre et al. 2002; Prober et al. 2002; Garden et al. 2003; Clarke 2003). Restoration of the ground stratum of temperate grassy communities requires intensive remediation (Prober et al. 2005). The community is threatened by the invasion of exotic perennial grass species including Eragrostis curvula (African Lovegrass), Nassella neesiana (Chilean Needlegrass), and Nassella trichotoma (Serrated Tussock). Other herbaceous exotic species that also threaten this community include Echium plantagineum (Patterson’s Curse), and Hypericum perforatum (St Johns Wort). Woody exotics that threaten this community include Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn), Pinus radiata wildlings (Radiata Pine) and Rubus introduced Rubus spp. (Blackberry) (Williams and Wardle 2005). The dominant feral herbivores are the European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and the Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus) resulting in changes to the structure and composition of the vegetation (Costin 1954). The presence of grazing, feral herbivores, pasture improvement and weeds results in tree death and limits the recruitment of understorey plants and tree species giving rise to the rural tree dieback phenomenon (Hobbs and Yates 1999). Altered fire regimes, and/or climate change, may also change the composition of these communities where the woody component is affected (Leigh and Holgate 1979; Knox and Clarke 2004, 2006; Lunt et al. 2010). Lack of fire may also be limiting the recruitment of herbaceous and woody species as fire is a seed dormancy-breaking cue for many grassy woodland species (Clarke et al. 2000; Hill and French 2003; Clarke and French 2005). ‘Anthropogenic climate change’, ‘Clearing of native vegetation’, ‘Competition and grazing by the feral European Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus (L.)’, ‘High frequency fire resulting in the disruption of life cycle processes in plants and animals and loss of vegetation structure and composition’ and ‘Invasion of native plant communities by exotic perennial grasses’ are listed as Key Threatening Processes under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.

 

11. Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland in the South Eastern Highlands, Sydney Basin, South East Corner and NSW South Western Slopes Bioregions is not eligible to be listed as a Critically Endangered Ecological Community.

 

12. Tablelands Snow Gum, Black Sallee, Candlebark and Ribbon Gum Grassy Woodland in the South Eastern Highlands, Sydney Basin, South East Corner and NSW South Western Slopes Bioregions is eligible to be listed as an Endangered Ecological Community as, in the opinion of the Scientific Committee, it is facing a very high risk of extinction in New South Wales in the near future, as determined in accordance with the following criteria as prescribed by the Threatened Species Conservation Regulation 2010:

 

Clause 17 Reduction in geographic distribution of ecological community

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:

(b)

a large reduction in geographic distribution.

 

Clause 19 Reduction in ecological function of ecological community

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:

(b)

a large reduction in ecological function,

as indicated by any of the following:

(d)

change in community structure,

(e)

change in species composition,

(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: 15/04/11

Exhibition period: 15/04/11 – 10/06/11

 

References:

 

Clarke PJ (2003) Composition of grazed and cleared temperate grassy woodlands in eastern Australia: patterns in space and inferences in time. Journal of Vegetation Science 14, 5-14.

 

Clarke PJ, Davison EA, Fulloon L (2000) Germination and dormancy of grassy woodland and forest species: effects of smoke, heat, darkness and cold. Australian Journal of Botany 48, 687-700.

 

Clarke S, French K (2005) Germination response to heat and smoke of 22 Poaceae species from grassy woodlands. Australian Journal of Botany 55, 445-454.

 

Costin AB (1954) ‘A Study of the Ecosystems of the Monaro Region of New South Wales with Special Reference to Soil Erosion’. Government Printer, Sydney.

 

DEC (2006a) ‘Reconstructed and Extant Distribution of Native Vegetation in the Central West Catchment’. NSW DEC, Dubbo.

 

DEC (2006b) ‘Reconstructed and Extant Distribution of Native Vegetation in the Lachlan Catchment’. NSW DEC, Dubbo.

 

DEC (2006c) ‘The Vegetation of the Western Blue Mountains.’ Unpublished report funded by the Hawkesbury – Nepean Catchment Management Authority. NSW DEC, Hurstville.

 

Fallding M (2002) ‘Planning framework for natural ecosystems of the ACT and NSW Southern Tablelands’. Natural Heritage Trust, NSW NPWS and Land & Environment Planning.

 

Garden DL, Ellis NJS, Rab MA, Langford CM, Johnston WH, Shields C, Murphy T, Holmberg M, Dassanayake KB, Harden S (2003) Fertiliser and grazing effects on production and botanical composition of native grasslands in south-east Australia. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 43, 843-859.

 

Gellie NJH (2005) Native vegetation of the Southern Forests: South-east Highlands, Australian Alps, South-west Slopes and SE Corner bioregions. Cunninghamia 9, 219-253.

 

Hancock WK (1972) ‘Discovering Monaro: a study of man’s impact on his environment’. (Cambridge University Press, Oxford.)

 

Hill SJ, French K (2003) Response of the soil seed-bank of Cumberland Plain Woodland to heating. Austral Ecology 28, 14-22.

 

Hobbs RJ, Yates C (1999) ‘Temperate eucalypt woodlands in Australia: biology, conservation, management and restoration’. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Sydney.

 

Hunter JT (2002) Vegetation and floristics of Mount Canobalas State Recreation Area, Orange, New South Wales. Cunninghamia 7, 501-526.

 

Keith DA (2004) ‘Ocean Shores to Desert Dunes: the native vegetation of New South Wales and the ACT’. Department of Environment and Conservation, Sydney.

 

Knox KJE, Clarke PJ (2004) Fire response syndromes of shrubs in grassy woodlands in the New England Tableland Bioregion. Cunninghamia 8, 348-353.

 

Knox KJE, Clarke PJ (2006) Fire season and intensity affect shrub recruitment in temperate sclerophyllous woodlands. Oecologia 149, 730-739.

 

Leigh JH, Holgate MD (1979) The responses of the understorey of forests and woodlands of the Southern Tablelands to grazing and burning. Australian Journal of Ecology 4, 25-45.

 

Lunt ID, Eldridge DJ, Morgan JW, Witt GB (2007) Turner Review. A framework to predict the effects of livestock grazing and grazing exclusion on conservation values in natural ecosystems in Australia. Australian Journal of Botany 54, 401-415.

 

Lunt ID, Winsemius LM, McDonald SP, Morgan JW, Dehaan RL (2010) How widespread is woody plant encroachment in temperate Australia? Changes in woody vegetation cover in lowland woodland and coastal ecosystems in Victoria from 1989 to 2005, Journal of Biogeography, 37, 722-732

 

McIntyre S, McIvor JG, Heard KM (2002) Managing and Conserving Grassy Woodlands. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.

 

Maron M, Lill A (2005) The influence of livestock grazing and weed invasion on habitat use by birds in grassy woodland remnants. Biological Conservation 124, 439-450.

 

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (2003) ‘The Native Vegetation of the Warragamba Special Area, Part B: vegetation community profiles’. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Central Conservation Programs and Planning Division.

 

Prober SM, Thiele KR, Lunt ID (2002) Identifying ecological barriers to restoration in temperate grassy woodlands: soil changes associated with different degradation states. Australian Journal of Botany 50, 699-712.

 

Prober SM, Thiele KR, Lunt ID, Koen TB (2005) Restoring ecological function in temperate grassy woodlands: manipulating soil nutrients, exotic annuals and native perennial grasses through carbon supplements and spring burns. Journal of Applied Ecology 42, 1073.

 

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. ANCA: Canberra.)

 

Tozer MG, Turner K, Keith DA, Tindall D, Pennay C, Simpson C, MacKenzie B (2010) Native vegetation of southeast NSW: a revised classification and map for the coast and eastern tablelands. Cunninghamia 11, 359-406.

 

Tremont RM, McIntyre S (1994) Natural grassy vegetation and native forbs in temperate Australia: structure, dynamics and life histories. Australian Journal of Botany 42, 641-658.

 

Williams MC, Wardle GM (2005) The influence of vegetation structure and composition on invasibility by Pinus radiata in the Blue Mountains, NSW. Cunninghamia 9, 285-294.

 

Page last updated: 15 April 2011