White box yellow box Blakely's red gum woodland - endangered ecological community listing

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has made a Final Determination to list the White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland as an ENDANGERED ECOLOGICAL COMMUNITY on Part 3 of Schedule 1 of the Act. The listing of Endangered Ecological Communities is provided for by Part 2 of the Act.

Note: This determination has been superseded by the 2011 Minor Amendment Determination.

The Scientific Committee previously made a Preliminary Determination to support the proposal to list the White Box-Yellow Box Woodland. The Scientific Committee considers that the White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland is a more appropriate name for this Community.

The Scientific Committee has found that:

1. White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland is the name given to the ecological community characterised by the assemblage of species listed in paragraph 3. White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland is found on relatively fertile soils on the tablelands and western slopes of NSW and generally occurs between the 400 and 800 mm isohyets extending from the western slopes, at an altitude of c. 170m to c. 1200 m, on the northern tablelands (Beadle 1981). The community occurs within the NSW North Coast, New England Tableland, Nandewar, Brigalow Belt South, Sydney Basin, South Eastern Highlands and NSW South Western Slopes Bioregions.

2. White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland includes those woodlands where the characteristic tree species include one or more of the following species in varying proportions and combinations - Eucalyptus albens (White Box), Eucalyptus melliodora (Yellow Box) or Eucalyptus blakelyi (Blakely's Red Gum). Grass and herbaceous species generally characterise the ground layer. In some locations, the tree overstorey may be absent as a result of past clearing or thinning and at these locations only an understorey may be present. Shrubs are generally sparse or absent, though they may be locally common.

3. White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland is characterised by the following assemblage of species.

  • Acacia buxifolia
  • Acacia implexa
  • Acacia paradoxa
  • Allocasuarina verticillata
  • Alectryon oleifolius
  • Aristida behriana
  • Aristida ramosa
  • Asperula conferta
  • Atalaya hemiglauca
  • Austrodanthonia auriculata
  • Austrodanthonia bipartita
  • Austrodanthonia racemosa
  • Austrodanthonia richardsonii
  • Austrostipa aristiglumis
  • Austrostipa blackii
  • Austrostipa nodosa
  • Austrostipa scabra
  • Bothriochla macra
  • Brachychiton populneus
  • Brachyloma daphnoides
  • Bracteantha viscosa
  • Brunoniella australis
  • Bulbine bulbosa
  • Bursaria spinosa
  • Callitris endlicheri
  • Callitris glaucophylla
  • Capparis mitchellii
  • Cassinia longifolia
  • Cassinia quinquefaria
  • Cheilanthes sieberi
  • Chloris trucata
  • Chloris ventricosa
  • Chrysocephalum apiculatum
  • Cymbopogon refractus
  • Dianella longifolia
  • Dianella revoluta
  • Dichanthium sericeum
  • Dichelachne micrantha
  • Dichelacne sciurea
  • Diuris dendrobioides
  • Dodonaea viscosa
  • Echinopogon caespitosus
  • Ehretia membranifolia
  • Elymus scaber
  • Eremophila mitchellii
  • Eucalyptus blakelyi
  • Eucalyptus albens
  • Eucalyptus bridgesiana
  • Eucalyptus conica
  • Eucalyptus goniocalyx
  • Eucalyptus melliodora
  • Eucalyptus microcarpa
  • Eucalyptus nortonii
  • Eulalia aurea
  • Exocarpos cupressiformis
  • Geijera parviflora
  • Geranium solanderi
  • Glycine clandestina
  • Glycine tabacina
  • Glycine tomentella
  • Gonocarpus elatus
  • Goodenia pinnatifida
  • Hibbertia linearis
  • Hibbertia obtusifolia
  • Hypericum gramineum
  • Jacksonia scoparia
  • Jasminum lineare
  • Jasminum suavissimum
  • Leptorhynchos squamatus
  • Lissanthe strigosa
  • Lomandra filiformis
  • Melichrus urceolatus
  • Microseris lanceolata
  • Notelaea microcarpa
  • Olearia elliptica
  • Olearia viscidula
  • Oxalis perennans
  • Pandorea pandorana
  • Panicum queenslandicum
  • Parsonsia eucalyptophylla
  • Pimelea curviflora
  • Plantago debilis
  • Plantago gaudichaudii
  • Poa labillardieri
  • Poa sieberiana
  • Rostellularia adscendens
  • Rumex brownii
  • Sida corrugata
  • Sorghum leiocladum
  • Stackhousia monogyna
  • Stackhousia viminea
  • Swainsona galegifolia
  • Templetonia stenophylla
  • Themeda australis
  • Wahlenbergia communis

The total flora and fauna species list for the community is considerably larger than that given above, with many species present in only some sites or in very small quantity. 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. The species composition of the site will be influenced by the size of the site, recent rainfall or drought conditions, its disturbance history and geographic and topographic location. The community is an important habitat for a diverse fauna (vertebrates and invertebrates), but detailed records are not available from most stands and the invertebrate fauna is poorly known.

4. Woodlands with Eucalyptus albens are most common on the undulating country of the slopes region while Eucalyptus blakelyi and Eucalyptus melliodora predominate in grassy woodlands on the tablelands. Drier woodland areas dominated by Eucalyptus albens often form mosaics with areas dominated by Eucalyptus blakelyi and Eucalyptus melliodora occurring in more moist situations, while areas subject to waterlogging may be treeless. E microcarpa is often found in association with E. melliodora and E. albens on the south western slopes. Woodlands including Eucalyptus crebra, Eucalyptus dawsonii and Eucalyptus moluccana (and intergrades with Eucalyptus albens), for example in the Merriwa plateau, Goulburn River National Park and western Wollemi National Park, are also included. Intergrades between Eucalyptus blakelyi and Eucalyptus tereticornis may also occur here.

5. Latitudinal and climatic gradients in the patterns of species present are found across the range of the community (eg. see Prober 1996 for variation in White Box). This is reflected in a gradual change in herb and grass species from northern to southern NSW (eg. Prober 1996). Within White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland, species such as Rostellularia adscendens, Chloris ventricosa, Austrodanthonia racemosa, Brunoniella australis, Cymbopogon refractus, Swainsona galegifolia, Notelaea microcaripa, Stackhousia viminea, Olearia elliptica, Jasminum suavissimum, Plantago gaudichaudii, Dichanthium sericeum, Plantago debilis and Wahlenbergia communis are generally more restricted to more northern areas (eg. Prober 1996). Some other species in White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland were generally restricted to southern areas. These include Gonocarpus elatus, Austrostipa blackii, Aristida behriana, Bracteantha viscosa, Austrodanthonia auriculata and Austrostipa nodosa (Prober 1996).

6. White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland includes vegetation described as Eucalyptus albens alliance and E. melliodora / E. blakelyi alliance in Beadle (1981), the Eucalyptus albens alliance in Moore (1953a,b), the grassy white box woodlands of Prober and Thiele (1993,1995) and Prober (1996) and the Grassy white box woodland of the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. In the southern tablelands and parts of the southwest slopes, White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland are described in Thomas et al. (2000).

7. Related communities are the Eucalyptus microcarpa, Eucalyptus pilligaensis Grey Box/ Eucalyptus populnea Poplar Box communities of the western slopes and plains and the Eucalyptus moluccana, Grey Box, communities of the Clarence, lower Hunter Valley and Western Sydney. These are not covered by this Determination. Similarly the natural temperate grasslands and the Eucalyptus pauciflora grassy woodlands of the cooler parts of the southern tablelands are not covered by this Determination.

8. White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland has been drastically reduced in area and highly fragmented because of clearance for cropping and pasture improvement. Austin et al. (2000) found the community had been reduced to less than 1% of its pre-European extent in the Central Lachlan region. Comparable degrees of reduction have been documented for NSW south western slopes and southern Tablelands (estimated <4% remaining, Thomas et. al. 2000), and for the Holbrook area (estimated <7% remaining, Gibbons and Boak (2000). Gibbons and Boak (2000) found remnants of woodlands dominated by Eucalyptus albens, E. melliodora and E. blakelyi were severely fragmented. Further remnants of the community are degraded as a consequence of their disturbance history. Some remnants of these communities survive with the trees partly of wholly removed by post European activities, and conversely, often remnants of these communities survive with these tree species largely intact but with the shrub or ground layers degraded to varying degrees through grazing or pasture modification. Remnants are subject to varying degrees of threat that jeopardise their viability. These threats include: further clearing (for cropping, pasture improvement or other development); deterioration of remnant condition (caused by firewood cutting, increased livestock grazing, weed invasion, inappropriate fire regimes, soil disturbance and increased nutrient loads); degradation of the landscape in which remnants occur (including soil acidification, salinity, and loss of connectivity between remnants).

9. The understorey may be highly modified by grazing history and disturbance. A number of native species appear not to tolerate grazing by domestic stock and are confined to the least disturbed remnants (Dianella revoluta, Diuris dendrobioides, Microseris lanceolata, Pimelea curviflora, Templetonia stenophylla (Prober & Thiele 1995). Dominant pasture species typically change from Themeda australis, Austrostipa aristiglumis and Poa spp. to Austrostipa falcata, Austrodanthonia spp. and Bothriochla macra as grazing intensity increases (Moore 1953a). This may reflect differences in palatability of these species and their ability to tolerate grazing pressure. Light grazing and burning may also be a problem and lead to Aristida ramosa dominance (Lodge & Whalley 1989).

10. The condition of remnants ranges from relatively good to highly degraded, such as paddock remnants with weedy understories and only a few hardy natives left. A number of less degraded remnants have survived in Travelling Stock Routes, cemeteries and reserves, although because of past and present management practices understorey species composition may differ between the two land uses. Some remnants of the community may consist of only an intact overstorey or an intact understorey, but may still have high conservation value due to the flora and fauna they support. Other sites may be important faunal habitat, have significant occurrences of particular species, form part of corridors or have the potential for recovery. The conservation value of remnants may be independent of remnant size.

11. Disturbed remnants are still considered to form part of the community including remnants where the vegetation, either understorey, overstorey or both, would, under appropriate management, respond to assisted natural regeneration, such as where the natural soil and associated seed bank are still at least partially intact.

12. The community is poorly represented in conservation reserves. There are small occurrences of White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland in Border Ranges National Park, Goobang National Park, Goulburn River National Park, Manobalai Nature Reserve, Mt Kaputar National Park, Oxley Wild Rivers National Park, Queanbeyan Nature Reserve, Towari National Park, Warrumbungle National Park, Wingen Maid Nature Reserve and Wollemi National Park. The community also occurs in the following State Conservation Areas, Copeton State Conservation Area, Lake Glenbawn State Conservation Area and Lake Keepit State Conservation Area.

13. Fauna species of conservation significance found in some stands of White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland include,

  • Aprasia parapulchella - Pink-tailed Legless Lizard
  • Burhinus grallarius - Bush Stone-curlew
  • Cacatua leadbeateri - Major Mitchell's Cockatoo
  • Climacteris picumnus victoriae - Brown Treecreeper
  • Dasyurus maculatus - Spotted-tailed Quoll
  • Delma impar - Striped Legless Lizard
  • Grantiella picta - Painted Honeyeater
  • Hoplocephalus bitorquatus - Pale-headed Snake
  • Lathamus discolor - Swift Parrot
  • Lophoictinia isura - Square-tailed Kite
  • Melanodryas cucullata cucullata - Hooded Robin
  • Melithreptus gularis gularis - Black-chinned Honeyeater
  • Neophema pulchella - Turquoise Parrot
  • Ninox connivens - Barking Owl
  • Petaurus norfolcensis - Squirrel Glider
  • Phascolarctos cinereus - Koala
  • Polytelis swainsonii - Superb Parrot
  • Pomatostomus temporalis temporalis - Grey-crowned Babbler
  • Pyrrholaemus sagittata - Speckled Warbler
  • Saccolaimus flaviventris - Yellow-bellied Sheathtail-bat
  • Stagonopleura guttata - Diamond Firetail
  • Synemon plana - Golden Sun Moth
  • Tyto novaehollandiae - Masked Owl
  • Varanus rosenbergi - Rosenberg's Goanna
  • Xanthomyza phrygia - Regent Honeyeater
A number of plant species of conservation significance are likely to occur in White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland
  • Ammobium craspedioides
  • Bothriochloa biloba
  • Dichanthium setosum
  • Discaria pubescens
  • Diuris spp.
  • Prasophyllum petilum
  • Pterostylis spp.
  • Rutidosis leptorhynchoides
  • Swainsona spp.

A number of key threatening processes also occur in White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland. These include: Clearing of native vegetation, Predation by the European Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, Predation by the Feral Cat, Felis catus.

14. In view of the small size of existing remnants, and the threat of further clearing, disturbance and degradation, the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum Woodland 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 listing as an endangered ecological community is warranted.

Proposed Gazettal date: 15/03/02

Exhibition period: 15/03/02 - 19/04/02


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Beadle, N.C.W. (1981) The Vegetation of Australia. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Gibbons, P. & Boak, M. (2000) The importance of paddock trees for regional conservation in agricultural landscapes. A discussion paper for consideration by Riverina Highlands Regional Vegetation Committee. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Southern Directorate unpublished report.

Lodge,G.M. & Whalley, R.D.B. (1989) Native and natural pastures on the northern slopes and tablelands of New South Wales: a review and annotated bibliography. Technical Bulletin 35, NSW Agriculture.

Moore, C.W.E. (1953a) The vegetation of the south-eastern Riverina, New South Wales. I. The climax communities. Australian Journal of Botany 1, 489-547.

Moore, C.W.E. (1953b) The vegetation of the south-eastern Riverina, New South Wales. II. The disclimax communities. Australian Journal of Botany 1, 548-567.

Prober, S.M. (1996) Conservation of the grassy white box woodlands: rangewide floristic variation and implications for reserve design. Australian Journal of Botany 44, 57-77.

Prober, S.M. & Thiele, K.R. (1993) The ecology and genetics of remnant grassy white box woodlands in relation to their conservation. Victorian Naturalist 110, 30-36.

Prober, S.M. & Thiele, K.R. (1995) Conservation of grassy white box woodlands: relative contributions of size and disturbance to floristic composition and diversity of remnants. Australian Journal of Botany 43, 349-366.

Thomas, V., Gellie, N. & Harrison, T. (2000) Forest ecosystem classification and mapping for the Southern CRA region, Volume II Appendices. NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, Southern Directorate. A report undertaken for the NSW CRA/RFA Steering Committee.