Source: Reported and updated annually in the OE for Sutherland Shire.
Due to Australia’s high rate of extinctions and the large number of threatened species located within the Sutherland Shire, we have a vital role to play in preserving Australia’s threatened species.
The lack of accurate historical records for the Shire mean that it is difficult to determine if there has been any local extinctions since European settlement, however it is likely that a few species, such as the Eastern Quoll and the Regent Honeyeater, have disappeared from the area.
Changes in Urban Birds
Prior to European settlement it is estimated that the County of Cumberland supported 283 species of birds. Today 11 of these are extinct and 76 have decreased in range or abundance.
4.3 Threatened Species Legislation Threatened species are listed under several pieces of legislation. The most relevant ones for the Sutherland Shire are the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act (1992).
The Threatened Species Conservation (TSC) Act (1995) amends the Environmental Planning and Assessment (EP&A) Act (1979) to require the consideration of endangered species in planning matters. The TSC Act places a responsibility on Council to consider the impact of its decisions and actions on threatened species. Consideration needs to be given to threatened species during the development control process, during the formulation of planning instruments and during the management of Council controlled lands.
4.4 Council’s Role There are a number of actions and tasks available that Council may implement to conserve the Shire’s threatened flora and fauna.
Develop and maintain an accurate database of threatened species within the Sutherland Shire. Tasks:
* Identify and obtain relevant existing flora and fauna databases.
* Identify data gaps in areas of knowledge.
* Complete studies to complete database.
* Update database on regular basis (minimum yearly, to coincide with State of Environment Report).
* Identify species most at risk for priority action.
Identify critical habitat for threatened species. Tasks:
* Identify, describe and map areas where habitat and potential habitat exists for identified threatened species.
* Identify and describe areas that constitute habitat critical for the survival of these threatened species.
* Apply for listing of these areas as critical habitat under the Threatened Species Conservation Act.
Identify key processes and actions that threaten the long term viability of threatened species and communities. Tasks:
* Examine trends in populations of threatened species to identify key threatening processes.
* Prioritise threatening process for ameliorative action, based on magnitude of identified impact, viability of impacted populations and communities, environmental benefit, and cost to the community.
* Apply for listing of these threatening processes under the Threatened Species Conservation Act.
Develop management policies and practices that promote the conservation of threatened species, communities and their habitat, and ameliorate or eliminate processes which threaten these species or communities. Tasks:
* Propagate threatened and significant plants at Council’s nursery, for use in Council planting programs and supply to the community.
* Assist and cooperate with the NPWS in the formulation of Recovery Plans and Threat Abatement Plans.
* Enforcement of Council’s Tree Preservation Order.
* Assist NPWS by controlling fox and feral cats on Council managed and controlled land.
* Effectively manage weeds in areas of private and public ownership, through direct action, regulation, and education.
* Ensure that adequate ecological assessments are performed for developments, rezonings and Council actions in natural areas, including the consideration of impacts on threatened species, communities or threatened species habitat.
* Provide appropriate statutory protection for threatened communities and threatened species habitat.
Encourage and co-ordinate community participation in the conservation of threatened species and communities, and their habitat. Tasks:
* Promote community involvement in restoration and protection programs for threatened species habitat and threatened communities, through programs such as Bushcare.
* Make information on threatened species, communities and their habitat available to the community through the State of the Environment Report, and other educational material.
* Encourage planting of threatened plant species by providing these plants to the community as part of the tree issue program.
5.0 MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL OF EXOTIC SPECIES 5.1 Objective * To manage the degradation of natural habitats by the invasion of exotic plant species. * To manage the impacts of predation and competition on native fauna by introduced species. * To effectively implement the Noxious Weeds Act 1993. * To encourage community involvement and cooperation in the management of exotic species.
5.2 Exotic Species of the Sutherland Shire Exotic species fall into two major categories, these being plants and animals. Exotic plants are more commonly known as weeds, while exotic animals are known as feral animals. While non invasive exotic plants may be acceptable in urban gardens away from bushland areas, invasive garden escapes are causing increasing problems in the Shire’s bushland.
5.2.1 Weed Species of the Sutherland Shire While the Shire is blessed with vast areas of natural bushland, it is under threat from invasion by weeds. Weeds are entering bushland from urban fringes, along roadways and creeks, waterways and drains. Once weeds become established in an area they become increasingly difficult to control and remove.
Weeds invade bushland, decreasing the habitat value of the area, displacing native species and decreasing the visual amenity of the area. They choke streams and drainage lines, resulting in increased flooding. They may also cause health problems such as poisoning and asthma.
Several weeds are classified as noxious under the Noxious Weeds Act 1993. These are listed by the NSW Department of Agriculture for regions in NSW. Other weeds that cause specific problems in the Sutherland Shire have been listed as environmental weeds.
the presence of the weed on land must be notified to the local control authority immediately, and the weed must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
the weed must be fully and continuously suppressed and destroyed.
the weed must be prevented from spreading and its number and distribution reduced.
the action specified in the declaration must be taken in respect of the weed.
Councils are able to nominate specific weeds that are threatening their area under the W4 Category, however Sutherland Shire Council is yet to nominate any weeds under this category. Instead Council have noted several weeds as environmental weeds. These are weeds that cause problems within bushland in our area. While there is no legislative requirement to control these weeds, active management to eradicate and manage them is encouraged.
The exact extent of the weed problem in the Shire is not known, but it is estimated that an average of 12% of the total reserve area of the Shire is weed infested. The lack of detailed historical records makes it difficult to determine how much the problem has increased in recent years. However, it is acknowledged that the problem is increasing every year. For example, in 1988 there were only 5 known sites of Asthma Weed in the Shire, but by 1993 there were over 40 known sites (Rogers pers com).
5.2.2 Feral Animals of the Sutherland Shire There are a number of feral animals that inhabit the bushland areas of the Sutherland Shire. Just like weeds these feral animals reduce the habitat value of an area of bushland. They may prey directly on native species, or out compete them for food, shelter and other resources. Feral animals may also graze on or damage many of the Australian native flora or prevent effective pollination.
Feral Animals of the Sutherland Shire
Prey on native birds, marsupials and reptiles. Out competes native carnivores.
Prey on native birds, marsupials and reptiles. Domestic cats hunting in bushland are a major problem.
Graze on young shoots and seedlings disrupting revegetation after fire. May ringbark trees when scraping juvenile skin from antlers.
Compete with native wildlife for food and shelter. Graze on shoots and seedlings disrupting regeneration. Reduce ground cover and promote soil erosion.
Rats & Mice
Displace native marsupial mice and rats.
Prey on small ground dwelling birds. Destroy habitats around watercourses by rooting and wallowing.
Prey on young native fish and tadpole species.
Bottom feeding habit increases water turbidity, making it unsuitable for many native species. Out competes native fish.
Breeds with native duck species decreasing genetic integrity.
Out competes native birds for food and shelter.
Compete with native bees birds and marsupials for food and shelter. May not effectively pollinate plants.
There are no accurate records of the number and distribution of feral animals in the Sutherland Shire. Most of the feral species have been present for many years with few if any new introductions in the past few years. There are however likely to be increased impacts from predation by cats as new areas are developed and the domestic cat population in these areas increases.
5.3 Exotic Species Legislation Legislation relating to exotic species is largely confined to the Noxious Weeds Act 1993, with little other specific legislation.
The Noxious Weeds Act 1993, enables plants to be declared noxious throughout the whole or part of the State. The Act requires varying levels of control and eradication to be applied to noxious plants depending on their classification. Public Authorities may serve notice on occupiers of weed infested sites requiring them to carry out their weed control responsibilities. Public authorities have a lesser responsibility to control weeds to the extent necessary to prevent them invading adjoining lands.
Legislation relating to the control and management of noxious animals (Rural Lands Protection Act 1989) applies in rural lands protection districts only and does not include the Sutherland Shire.
The Local Government Act 1993, makes provision for the issuing of order to restrict the number of certain animals that may be kept on a property. The Companion Animals Act (1998) provides Council with the responsibility for dog and cat registration and control of a range of companion animals.
Introduced plants now account for about 15% of our total flora.
5.4 Council’s Role There are a number of actions and tasks that Council may implement to manage and control the impacts of exotic species in the Sutherland Shire.
Develop and maintain an accurate database of weeds in the Sutherland Shire. Tasks: * Identify and obtain existing databases, relating to noxious and environmental weeds.
* Identify data gaps in existing databases.
* Commission and complete studies to address knowledge gaps. Information should include location, species involved and extent of infestation.
* Update database on a regular basis (minimum yearly to coincide with State of the Environment Report)