Nature conservation

Biodiversity Reform

New England Tableland - biodiversity

Plant communities

Granitic soils derived from the prominent New England batholith support a variety of open forests and woodlands. These mainly consist of silver-top stringybark (Eucalyptus laevopinea), Blakely's red gum (Eucalyptus blakelyi), Youman's stringybark (Eucalyptus youmanii), yellow box (Eucalyptus melliodora), apple box (Eucalyptus bridgesiana), rough-barked apple (Angophora floribunda), black cypress pine (Callitris endlicheri), manna gum (Eucalyptus viminalis) and snow gum (Eucalyptus pauciflora).

The western slopes are dominated by tumbledown gum (Eucalyptus dealbata), western New England blackbutt (Eucalyptus andrewsii), Caley's ironbark (Eucalyptus caleyi), red stringybark (Eucalyptus macrorhynca), McKie's stringybark (Eucalyptus mckiena), white cypress pine (Callitris glaucophylla) and black cypress pine, rough-barked apple and silver-leaved ironbark (Eucalyptus melanophloia nophloia).

Areas at higher altitudes comprise vegetation communities dominated by messmate (Eucalyptus obliqua) and mountain gum (Eucalyptus dalrympleana ssp. heptantha), with snow gum, black sallee (Eucalyptus stellulata) and ribbon gum (Eucalyptus nobilis). Orange gum (Eucalyptus prava) and black cypress pine are widespread in rocky outcrops in the north of the bioregion. Protected high rainfall areas near the Great Escarpment display cool temperate rainforest elements, including Beech (Notofagus moorei) forests. River oak (Casuarina cunninghamiana) lines rivers and streams in the western part of the bioregion below an elevation of 800 m, with sedgelands found in some of the smaller streams.

Vegetation found on basalt-derived soil consists of open forests and woodlands of manna gum, snow gum and black sallee. Cold-air drainage inverts the tree patterns in wide valleys, as the distribution of these species is largely determined by climate parameters.

Vegetation communities growing on basaltic soils consist of New England stringybark (Eucalyptus calignosa) New England blackbutt (Eucalyptus campanulata), and narrow-leaved peppermint (Eucalyptus radiata) on the hills, with yellow box, wattle-leaved peppermint (Eucalyptus acaciiformis), New England peppermint (Eucalyptus nova-anglica), snow gum, black sallee and ribbon gum in the valleys.

Open forest of New England stringybark, yellow box, Blakely's red gum and rough-barked apple occurs on Tertiary sands.

Vegetation growing on soils derived from Permian sedimentary rocks in the west is dominated by white box (Eucalyptus albens), grey box (Eucalyptus moluccana), yellow box and Blakely's red gum, with localised occurrences of mugga (Eucalyptus sideroxylon) on stony ridges. Youman's stringybark, tumble down gum and black cypress pine also occur on sediments with silver-leaved ironbark, white cypress pine and the occasional kurrajong.

Snow gum and black sallee dominate the coldest ridges while ribbon gum, mountain gum, silver-top stringybark, New England blackbutt and narrow-leaved peppermint dominate moist areas on higher ground. New England stringybark, ribbon gum, and cool temperate rainforest elements are found in moist, sheltered gullies.

Significant flora

The New England Tableland Bioregion is botanically significant due to its high plant species diversity and high level of endemism. For instance, more than 70 species of Eucalyptus occur on the tablelands, about a third of which are endemic or near endemic to the bioregion. The New England Tableland Bioregion provides habitat for 68 species listed in the schedules of the TSC Act. Thirty of these species are listed as endangered, 39 are listed as vulnerable and one species, Euphrasia arguta, is considered extinct in the bioregion (NSW NPWS 2001).

Several of these species are also endemic to the bioregion. These include Micromyrtus grandis and Pimelea venosa. M. grandis has been recorded in the Severn River National Park growing in low exposed heath and woodland. It is also listed as endangered on Schedule 1 of the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992. P. venosa is also listed under the NSW TSC Act 1995, and has been recorded in granite country from Deepwater to Tenterfield in the north of the bioregion, but has not been found in recent years.

Significant fauna

The New England Tableland Bioregion, like the Nandewar Bioregion, supports a considerable proportion of the endangered regent honeyeater (Xanthomyza phrygia) population in woodland fragments. Numbers of grassland and ground-feeding insectivorous birds have declined in the bioregion, as have some temperate woodland and forest species, mainly due to changes caused by agriculture (eg. land clearing and habitat fragmentation), a trend which is likely to continue and has occurred across temperate Australia (Australian Terrestrial Biodiversity Assessment 2002).

Ninety-two fauna species listed in the schedules of the TSC Act have been recorded in the New England Tablelands Bioregion (NSW NPWS 2001). Of these, 18 are listed as endangered, 72 are listed as vulnerable and a number of species are considered extinct in the bioregion. This includes the recent extinctions of 2 frog species, Litoria castanea and Litoria piperata.

Significant wetlands

Little Llangothlin Lagoon is at the headwaters of the Oban River and much of the lagoon's catchment is within Little Llangothlin Nature Reserve. The lagoon is considered to be in good condition, although incurring pollution from nearby agricultural lands (Australian Terrestrial Biodiversity Assessment 2002), and supports many waterbirds including ducks, ibis, egrets and even the white-breasted sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) along with vulnerable and rare species including the comb-crested jacana (Irediparra gallinacea) and the blue-billed duck (Oxyura australis) in times of drought (ANCA 1996).

The New England wetlands are representative of shallow, temporary upland lagoons and are considered to be in good condition, despite urban development at nearby Mother of Ducks lagoon. They have a fluctuating water regime, which is important for ecosystem function, and sometimes support the rare stonewort (Charophyte), Nitella hookeri.

The wetlands also provide important habitat for migratory birds and include parts of Little Llangothlin, Mother of Ducks and Dangars Lagoon Nature Reserve. Upland wetlands of the New England Tableland are now listed under the TSC Act as an endangered ecological community.

Round Mountain is in Cathedral Rock National Park and is a representative example of an upland swamp in the New England Tablelands. The swamp is dominated by sedge and like the other wetlands in this bioregion suffers from feral animals and exotic weeds, including blackberry (Rubus sp.).

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Page last updated: 26 April 2016