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A Survey of Roadside 

Conservation Values in 

the Shire of Esperance 

 

 

 



 

 

and Roadside Management 



Guidelines 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 2002 

 

Roadside Conservation Committee

 


 

 

 



 

CONTENTS 

 

Introduction 



       3 

Values 


of 

Roadsides      4 

Roadside Conservation in Esperance  

 

 



 

Legislation 



       6 

Assessment 

Process      8 

Methods 



      8 

- Quantifying Conservation Values   

 

 



- Mapping Conservation Values 

 

 



 

Survey 



Data 

Results      11 

Management 

Techniques 

     18 

Code 


of 

Practice 

      19 

Tree 


Roads 

       19 

Flora Roads and Roads Important for Conservation 

 

20 



Special 

Environment 

Areas 

     20 


Roadside Management Planning and Strategies   

 

22 



Roadside 

Action 


Plans 

     25 


References 

       26 



 

 

 



 

FIGURES 


Figure 1. 

Climate statistics 

Figure 2. 

Road reserve widths in the Shire of Esperance 

Figure 3. 

Width of vegetated roadside 

Figure 4. 

Conservation status of roadsides in the  

Shire of Esperance 

Figure 5. 

Native vegetation on roadsides 

Figure 6. 

Extent of native vegetation 

Figure 7. 

Number of native species 

Figure 8. 

Weed infestation 

Figure 9. 

Value as a biological corridor 

Figure 10. 

Predominant adjoining land use 

Figure 11. 

Weed occurance along roadsides in the Shire of Esperance

  

Figure 12. 



SEA site marker 

Figure 13. 

Marking sites in the field 

 

TABLES 



Table 1. 

Colour codes used to depict the conservation  

status of roadsides 

Table 2. 

Summary of roadside conditions in the Shire  

of Esperance   

 

APPENDICES 



Appendix 1.  Definitions of remnant vegetation types 

Appendix 2.  Standard survey sheet 

Appendix 3.  Raw data used to calculate conservation values 

Appendix 4.  Plant species in the Shire of Esperance 

 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 



A survey of the roadside conservation values in the Shire of Esperance and roadside management guidelines  

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INTRODUCTION  

 

The Shire of Esperance covers an area of 42, 450 square km and supports a population 



of approximately 13,500 people. The area experiences a mediterranean climate with an 

average annual rainfall of 619 mm. Seasonal temperatures are characterised by warm 

summers, with maxima averaging from the mid to high twenties, and mild winters, with 

maxima in the mid teens. Mean daily maximum and minimum temperatures and rainfall 

statistics are shown below. 

Figure 1 – Mean daily maximum and minimum temperature (

o

C) and rainfall (mm) in the 

Shire of Esperance 

 

Esperance is located 725 km south east of Perth in Western Australia’s south-coast land 



division. The major agricultural pursuits and industries in the area are grain and cereal 

growing, sheep, cattle, pigs, fishing and fish processing, saltworks and viticulture. 

Tourism is also an important industry, with the area’s spectacular natural resources

such as magnificent coastal areas and wildflowers, being a major attraction. Pink lake, 

wind farms, the museum and recreational areas are salient features of the area.  

 

The WA herbarium records more than 800 species of plants from the Shire of 



Esperance. Of these, 132 are Acacia species. 150 are Eucalypt species, 25 are Boronia 

species, and 18 are Dryandra species. 



 

 

0.0



5.0

10.0


15.0

20.0


25.0

30.0


Jan

Feb


Mar

Apr


May

Jun


Jul

Aug


Sep

Oct


Nov

Dec


Month

Temperature

0.0

20.0


40.0

60.0


80.0

100.0


120.0

Rainfall


Mean daily maximum temperature - deg C

Mean daily minimum temperature - deg C

Mean monthly rainfall - mm


A survey of the roadside conservation values in the Shire of Esperance and roadside management guidelines  

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VALUES OF ROADSIDES 

 

Since the settlement of Western Australia by Europeans, large areas of native 



vegetation in the south west of the state have been cleared for agriculture, roads, 

settlements, and other development. The fragmentation of the more or less continuous 

expanse of native vegetation communities by clearing has resulted in the isolation of 

plant and animal populations, restricted by man-made biogeographical islands of small 

remnants. They are prone to food shortages, disease and reduced genetic diversity. 

However, the presence of native vegetation along roadsides can often assist in 

alleviating this isolation effect by providing connectivity between bush remnants, thereby 

facilitating the movement of biota across the landscape.  

 

Remnant vegetation includes more than just trees. Trees, shrubs and ground covers 



(creepers, grasses and herbs) combine to provide valuable food and shelter for different 

types of wildlife. Existing native vegetation will require less maintenance if left 

undisturbed. 

 

Trees are good – bush is better  

Local indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses on the roadside are valuable because they: 

are often the only remaining example of original vegetation within extensively 



cleared areas; 

are easier to maintain and generally less fire prone than introduced 



vegetation; 

provide habitat for many native species of plants, mammals, reptiles, 



amphibians and invertebrates; 

provide wildlife corridors linking other areas of native vegetation; 



often contain rare and endangered plants and animals. Currently, roadside 

plants represent more than 80 per cent of the known populations of 40 of the 

declared rare species, and three of these are known only to exist in roadside 

populations; 

provide the basis for our important wildflower tourism industry. The aesthetic 



appeal of well-maintained roadsides should not be overlooked, and they have 

the potential to improve local tourism and provide a sense of place; 

often contain sites of historic or cultural significance



provide windbreaks and stock shelter areas for adjoining farmland by helping 

to stabilise temperature and reduce evaporation. 

assist with erosion and salinity control, and not only in the land adjoining the 



road reserve per se;  

are generally far less of a fire threat than annual weeds; 



A survey of the roadside conservation values in the Shire of Esperance and roadside management guidelines  

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provide a benchmark for the study of soil change throughout the 



advancement of agriculture; 

are a vital source of local seed for revegetation projects in the absence of 



other alternatives;  

provide a valuable source of seed for regeneration projects. This is especially 



pertinent to shrub species, as clearing and grazing beneath farm trees often 

removes this layer



Approval of the local shire and a CALM permit are required prior to 

collection

 

In a time of rapid change, where the demands placed on the natural world are many, it is 



vital that there is a coordinated management of lands across all tenures and boundaries 

to ensure the sustainability and integrity of the natural biota and ecosystem processes, 

agricultural lands and service infrastructure.  

 

 



Roadsides are the vital link ……………………. and a priceless community asset. 

 

 

ROADSIDE CONSERVATION IN ESPERANCE 

 

Wide Road Reserves 



 

Historically, road reserves were measured in chains (approximately 20 metres) and were 

usually only one chain wide, particularly in agricultlural areas. Natural vegetation that 

occurs within narrow roadsides can be highly susceptible to disturbance, weed invasion 

and increased edge effects. Wider, more continuous stretches of vegetation act more 

effectively as wildlife corridors and provide more shelter and food than narrower ones.  

 

In rural areas of Western Australia, wide road reserves were formed as part of a 



government policy to create reserves for the preservation of wildflowers and flora 

conservation. This government policy was put in place in 1952 and remains in force 

today.  

 

The road network in the Shire of Esperance comprises a number of wide road reserves, 



and often the width of vegetation is greater than 20m on either side of the road (See 

figures 2 and 3). These unique areas provide habitat, enable connectivity throughout the 

landscape, and improve the overall biodiversity of the Shire. For these reasons alone, 

they deserve careful management.  

 


A survey of the roadside conservation values in the Shire of Esperance and roadside management guidelines  

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Some of the notable roads requiring special management and protection in the Shire of 

Esperance include: 

 

Merivale road 



 

Dempster road 

 

Wittenoom road 



 

Grass Patch road 

 

Meyer road 



 

Scaddan road 

 

Parmango road 



 

Norwood road 

 

Ridgeland road 



 

Coolinup road 

 

Muntz road 



 

Henke road 

 

Kettle road 



 

Howick road 

 

Griffith road 



 

Mills road 

 

Bishop road 



 

Cascade road 

 

Field road 



 

River road 

 

Springdale road 



 

Note - This is by no means a complete list of the wide road reserves in the Shire of Esperance. Please 

consult the Roadside Conservation Values map to identify a complete list of high conservation roadsides. 

 

With increasingly larger capacity vehicles and greater volumes of traffic along these 



roads, the subsequent widening of the running surface along particular roads further 

diminishes the amount of native vegetation along roadsides.  

 

Commercial Harvesting of Native Seed and Wildflowers 

 

The Shire of Esperance currently allows the harvesting of native plant material within 



road reserves for commercial purposes. Under the Wildlife Conservation Act the 

Department of Conservation and Land Management may issue a licence following Shire 

approval.  

 

Harvesting native plant material from roadsides 



 

further depletes the already scarce resource,  

 

takes away from the integrity of the roadside,  



 

reduces the number of seed bearing flowers, 

 

reduces the ability of the area to regenerate after disturbances such as fire, and 



 

threatens all roadside communities with the potential introduction and spread of two 

major threats – Phytophthora dieback and weeds. 

 

Phytophthora Dieback 



The Phytophthora species dieback is made up of several types of introduced fungi. 

About one third of native plants in Western Australia’s south-west are susceptible, 

including species of Banksia, Hakea, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, Verticordia, Acacia and 

Grevillea.  

The Phytophthora fungus infects the roots and inhibits the uptake of water and nutrients, 

eventually causing death. It is more widespread and severe in the higher rainfall zone 

and waterlogged sites. Esperance is a known Phytophthora dieback risk area. 


A survey of the roadside conservation values in the Shire of Esperance and roadside management guidelines  

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Phytophthora spreads by the movement of spores in water, or by the spread of infected 

soil. The spores can be introduced to uninfected areas by human activities, particularly 

through the soil carried on vehicle tyres or footwear. 

Human activities, such as harvesting seed or wildflowers, have the potential to spread 



Phytophthora fungi. Currently, there is no practical method of eradicating Phytophthora 

once it is established in an area. 

 

Weeds 

 

Weeds are plants that are growing outside their natural range and competing with native 

plants for nutrients, space, water and light. Weeds often invade roadsides and interfere 

with the growth and survival of native plants. The effect of weed infestations on native 

plant populations is severe, and causes flow on effects for native fauna. Once native 

plants begin to diminish, due to heavy competition, native fauna suffers due to reduced 

availability of habitat and food. 

 

Once weeds become established in an area, they become a long-term management 



issue, costing many dollars to control or eradicate. 

 

Various weeds were recorded and mapped, as part of the roadside survey, and their 



locations within road reserves can be observed in the weed overlays provided with the 

Roadside Conservation Values map. They include Veldt grass, African Lovegrass, Wild 

Radish, Bridal Creeper, Boxthorn and Victorian Tea Tree, see Figure 11. 

 

 



 

 


A survey of the roadside conservation values in the Shire of Esperance and roadside management guidelines  

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LEGISLATION 

 

Uncertainty often exists in the minds of many with regard to the ‘ownership’, control and 



management of the roadside. When a public road is created, a corridor of land is 

dedicated for a road, i.e. a road reserve. The road formation and its associated 

infrastructure are accommodated for within the road reserve. The remaining area on 

each side of the road is called the road verge or roadside. It is in the control and 

management responsibilities of this area (and the plants and animals residing within it) 

that the uncertainty exists. 

 

With the proclamation of the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 the responsibility for flora 



conservation, including the control of harvesting of protected flora (this includes seed), 

was given to the Minister of the Crown responsible for Fisheries and Wildlife and the 

Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. With the formation of the Department of 

Conservation and Land Management in 1984 and the accompanying Conservation and 



Land Management Act 1984, the conservation and management of all native wildlife 

passed to the Minister responsible for that Department and the Department itself. As a 

consequence the Department of Conservation and Land Management has the authority 

to exert controls. 



 

In addition to the general provisions relating to protected flora under the Wildlife 



Conservation Act, special protection is afforded to flora that is declared as rare or 

threatened under section 23F of the Wildlife Conservation Act.  

 

The legislation pertaining to the management of road reserves is complex and includes 



those listed below. 

 

State legislation 



i

Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 

i

Agriculture and Related Resources Protection Act 1976 

i

Bush Fires Act 1954 

i

Conservation and Land Management Act 1984 

i

Environmental Protection Act 1986 

i

Heritage of WA Act 1990 

i

Land Act 1933 

i

Local Government Act 1995 

i

Main Roads Act 1930 

i

Mining Act 1978 

i

Soil and Land Conservation Act 1945 


A survey of the roadside conservation values in the Shire of Esperance and roadside management guidelines  

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i

State Energy Commission Supply Act 1979 

i

Water Authority Act 1987 

i

Wildlife Conservation Act 1950-1979 

 

Commonwealth Legislation 



i

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 

 

Other legislation also applies to the activities on roadsides which may affect the clearing 



of vegetation or other disturbance to the roadside.  

 

It is recommended that a cautionary approach be taken when working within roadsides 



or special environment areas, and that the relevant authority be contacted if there is any 

doubt about the management or protection of heritage or conservation values present in 

the roadsides. 

 


A survey of the roadside conservation values in the Shire of Esperance and roadside management guidelines  

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ASSESSMENT PROCESS  

 

Methods 

The methods to assess and calculate the conservation value of the roadside reserves 

are described in Hussey (1991). The process involves scoring a set of pre-selected 

attributes, which, when combined, represent a roadside's conservation status. A list of 

these attributes is presented on a standard survey sheet, see Appendix 2. This provides 

both a convenient and uniform method of scoring. Ideally, the survey is undertaken by a 

group of local volunteers, who, aided by their knowledge of the area, are able to provide 

an accurate and cost effective method of data collection. Community participation also 

ensures a sense of ownership of the end product, which increases the likelihood of its 

acceptance and use by the local community and road managers (Lamont and Blyth, 

1995).  

 

Fieldwork was carried out throughout 1999 and 2001. The enthusiastic efforts of the 



volunteer surveyors, of project coordinator Coral Turley and the support provided by the 

Shire of Esperance ensured that this project was successfully completed. It is now 

hoped that the data collected will be used by all sectors of the community who have an 

interest in the roadside environment. 

 

Quantifying Conservation Values 

 

The following attributes were used to produce a quantitative measure of conservation 



value: 

-  native vegetation on roadside; 

-  extent of native vegetation along roadside; 

-  number of native species; 

- weed 

infestation; 



-  value as a biological corridor; and 

-  predominant adjoining land use. 

 

Each of these attributes was given a score ranging from 0 to 2 points. Their combined 



scores provided a conservation score ranging from 0 to 12. The conservation values, in 

the form of conservation status categories, are represented by the following colour 

codes  

 

Conservation Value 



Conservation Status 

Colour Code 

9 – 12 


High

Dark Green  

7 – 8  

Medium High



Light Green  

5 – 6  


Medium Low

Dark Yellow  

0 – 4  

Low


Light Yellow  

 

Table 1: Colour codes used to depict the conservation status of roadsides. 



A survey of the roadside conservation values in the Shire of Esperance and roadside management guidelines  

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The following attributes were also noted but did not contribute to the conservation value 



score: 

• 

width of road reserve; 



• 

width of vegetated roadside; 

• 

presence of utilities/disturbances; 



• 

dominant native species; 

• 

dominant weeds; 



• 

fauna observed; 

• 

general comments. 



 

It is felt that the recording of these attributes will provide a community database that 

would provide information useful in many spheres local government and community 

interest. 

 

Mapping Conservation Values 

 

A computer generated map (using a Geographic Information System, or GIS), depicting 

the conservation status of the roadside vegetation and the width of the road reserves 

within the Shire of Esperance was produced at a scale of 1:250 000, and 1:100 000 for 

dense areas. The data used to produce both the map and the following figures and 

tables are presented in Appendix 3.  

 

Data obtained from the Department of Conservation and Land Management and the 



Department of Agriculture was used in the base map, and depicts the location of 

remnant vegetation on both the Crown estate and privately owned land.  

 

The roadside conservation values map initially provides an inventory of the status quo of 



the condition of the roadside vegetation. This is important as quality of roadside 

vegetation has far reaching implications for sustaining biodiversity, tourism and 

Landcare values. Moreover the data and map can be incorporated as a management 

and planning tool for managing the roadsides per se, as it enables the condition of 

roadside vegetation to be easily assessed. This information can then be used to identify 

environmentally sensitive areas, high conservation roadsides or strategically important 

areas, and thus ensure their conservation. Conversely, it enables degraded areas to be 

identified as areas important for strategic rehabilitation or in need of specific 

management techniques and weed control programs. 


A survey of the roadside conservation values in the Shire of Esperance and roadside management guidelines  

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The map can also be used as a reference to overlay transparencies of other information 

relevant to roadside conservation. This enables the roadside vegetation to be assessed 

in the context of its importance to the shire’s overall conservation network. Other 

overlays, such as the degree of weed infestation, or the location of environmentally 

sensitive areas or future planned developments, could also be produced as an aid to 

roadside management. 

 

As well as providing a road reserve planning and management tool, the survey data can 



also be used for: 

• 

regional or district fire management plans; 



• 

tourist routes - roads depicted as high conservation value would provide visitors to 

the district with an insight to the flora of the district; 

• 

Landcare / Bushcare projects - would be able to incorporate the information from this 



survey into 'whole of' landscape projects. 

A survey of the roadside conservation values in the Shire of Esperance and roadside management guidelines  

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