Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands 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 Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands 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 Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands in the Sydney Basin Bioregion (as described in the final determination to list the ecological community) which was published on pages 3709 to 3713 in the NSW Government Gazette No. 97 dated 15 June 2001. 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. Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands in the Sydney Basin Bioregion is the name given to the ecological community characterised by the species assemblage listed in 2 below. It occurs on clay soils on Wianamatta Shale in the Southern Highlands. All sites are within the Sydney Basin Bioregion. Bioregions are defined in Thackway and Cresswell (1995).


2. Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands includes vegetation ranging from open-forest to woodland and scrub though it was predominantly woodland. Remnants may now be of variable structure due to clearing and disturbance. Typical trees include Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus macarthurii, Eucalyptus pauciflora, Eucalyptus globoidea, Eucalyptus cypellocarpa, Eucalyptus quadrangulata, Eucalyptus amplifolia, Eucalyptus ovata. Other trees include Eucalyptus smithii, Eucalyptus obliqua, Eucalyptus fastigata, Eucalyptus viminalis, Eucalyptus elata, Eucalyptus punctata, Eucalyptus tereticornis, Eucalyptus mannifera and Eucalyptus cinerea.


The understorey is variable with small trees including Acacia melanoxylon, Acacia binervata and Pittosporum undulatum, shrubs such as Indigofera australis, Leucopogon juniperinus, Olearia microphylla and Bursaria spinosa. Ground species may include Hardenbergia violacea, Lomandra longifolia, Pteridium esculentum, Themeda australis, Dichelachne crinita and Microlaena stipoides.


Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands is characterised by the following assemblage:


Acacia binervata

Acacia buxifolia

Acacia decurrens

Acacia falciformis

Acacia implexa

Acacia longifolia

Acacia mearnsii

Acacia melanoxylon

Acacia parramattensis

Acacia penninervis

Acacia rubida

Acacia stricta

Amperea xiphoclada

Asperula conferta

Austrodanthonia pilosa

Austrodanthonia racemosa

Austrostipa rudis

Billardiera scandens

Blechnum cartilagineum

Bracteantha bracteata

Bursaria spinosa

Calochlaena dubia

Cassinia aculeata

Clematis aristata

Dianella laevis

Dichelachne crinita

Dillwynia ramosissima

Echinopogon caespitosus

Eucalyptus amplifolia

Eucalyptus cinerea

Eucalyptus cypellocarpa

Eucalyptus dives

Eucalyptus elata

Eucalyptus fastigata

Eucalyptus globoidea

Eucalyptus macarthurii

Eucalyptus mannifera

Eucalyptus obliqua

Eucalyptus ovata

Eucalyptus pauciflora

Eucalyptus piperita

Eucalyptus punctata

Eucalyptus quadrangulata

Eucalyptus radiata

Eucalyptus rubida

Eucalyptus smithii

Eucalyptus tereticornis

Eucalyptus viminalis

Eustrephus latifolius

Exocarpos cupressiformis

Geranium homeanum

Geranium solanderi

Goodenia ovata

Hardenbergia violacea

Helichrysum elatum

Helichrysum scorpiodes

Hibbertia empetrifolia

Imperata cylindrica

Indigofera australis

Leptospermum polygalifolium

Leucopogon juniperinus

Leucopogon lanceolatus

Lomandra longifolia

Melaleuca linariifolia

Microlaena stipoides

Olearia microphylla

Patersonia glabrata

Persoonia linearis

Pittosporum undulatum

Plectanthrus parviflorus

Podolobium ilicifolium

Polyscias sambucifolia

Pratia purpurascens

Pteridium esculentum

Pultenaea blakelyi

Pultenaea flexilis

Rubus parvifolius

Schoenus melanostachys

Senecio hispidulus

Senecio minimus

Stackhousia monogyna

Themeda australis

Tricoryne simplex

Veronica plebeia

Viola betonicifolia

Viola hederacea

Zieria smithii


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, seeds of some species may only be present in the soil seed bank with no above-ground individuals present. Invertebrate species may be restricted to soils or canopy trees and shrubs. 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. Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands is found on clay soils derived from Wianamatta Shale on the Southern Highlands, south of Colo Vale, extending from west of Mittagong, eastwards to the Illawarra Escarpment, south to Bundanoon and south-west to Canyonleigh. Elevation ranges from about 600 m to about 800 m. Rainfall ranges from 1400 mm in the east to 900 mm per annum in the west. Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands for parts of this area are described in Fisher, Ryan & Lembit (1995) and Benson & Howell (1994)


5. Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands is or has been known to occur in the Wingecarribee Local Government Area, but may occur elsewhere in the Sydney Basin Bioregion. Bioregions are defined in Thackway and Cresswell (1995).


6. Disturbed Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands remnants are considered to form part of the community including areas where the vegetation would respond to assisted natural regeneration, such as where the natural soil and associated seedbank is still at least partially intact.


7. Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands has been extensively cleared for agriculture and rural development. Remnants are mostly small isolated pockets. About 2000 ha, or less than 5% of the original extent now remains (Benson & Howell, 1994).


8. Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands has been reported from the Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve, and the Hammock Hill and Old Bowral Airfield council reserves. There are small areas on the edges of the Metropolitan Catchment Area.


9. Animal species of conservation significance possibly occurring in Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands include Giant Burrowing Frog, Heleioporus australiacus; Rosenberg’s Goanna, Varanus rosenbergi; Glossy Black Cockatoo, Calyptorhynchus lathami; Powerful Owl, Ninox strenua; Regent Honeyeater, Xanthomyza phrygia; and Yellow-bellied Glider, Petaurus australis.


10. Much of the remaining area of Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands is highly fragmented with much of it occurring on private land. Many remnants are in poor condition, including in some reserves, with aging trees, lack of regeneration and weed invasion. Ongoing threats include clearing for agriculture, hobby farming and replacement with european landscape e.g. pines, grazing that kills saplings and understorey species, ringbarking by stock, firewood cutting and invasion by exotic species.


11. In view of the restricted and fragmented 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 Southern Highlands Shale Woodlands 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


Scientific Committee


Proposed Gazettal date: 14/10/11

Exhibition period: 14/10/11 – 9/12/11


Note this ecological community was originally listed in 2001 as indicated in the determination




Benson, D. & Howell, J. (1994) Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Vegetation Mapping – Moss Vale – Kiama draft 1:100 000 vegetation map sheets. (Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney).


Fisher, M., Ryan, K. & Lembit, R. (1995) The natural vegetation of the Burragorang 1:100 000 map sheet. Cunninghamia 4(2): 143-215.


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