Burnett Mary Regional Group, PO Box 501, Bundaberg QLD 4670
The Burnett Mary Region of Queensland’s mid-north coast covers an area of 62,842 square kilometres,
and contains some of the state’s most diverse wetland areas, with a mix of subtropical, temperate and
tropical ecosystems. All of the catchments within this region feed directly into the Great Barrier Reef
Marine Park, a protected off shore marine zone that extends north to Cairns.
Evidence over the past few decades has shown a system-wide decline of coral reefs in the Great Barrier
Reef (Bellwood et al., 2004), with evidence increasingly pointing to a combination of natural events and
neighboring land use pressure through increased sediment and nutrient flows as the likely cause
(Fabricius et al. 2003; Telesnicki et al.1995). Research in Queensland’s coastal catchments indicates
Australian Network for Plant Conservation 8
large quantities of sediments and associated nutrients and pesticides are washed from agricultural areas
Wetlands are an integral part of our landscape providing a multitude of natural values and services.
They hold diverse environmental and biodiversity values, providing essential habitat for fish, water bird
and plant species. They have historical and cultural significance for both indigenous and non-indigenous
Australians, and they have widely recognized educational and recreational values.
It is not always the case that wetlands are recognized for their value in terms of farm productivity.
Correctly managed wetlands can provide significant benefits for farm productivity. This includes erosion
and flood management, seasonal foraging, shelter belts, pest management, increased groundwater
recharge, improved irrigation and stock water, increased land values and increased farm biodiversity.
Reef Rescue is a five year, $200 million partnership (Government, industry and Natural Resource
Management groups) aimed at reducing the amounts of sediment, fertilisers and pesticides reaching the
Great Barrier Reef lagoon. For the Burnett Mary Regional Group, Reef Rescue includes engaging with
the four targeted industry groups; Dairy, Horticulture, Grazing and Cane, to provide extension support to
landholders and industry field officers. Incorporating wetlands into this initiative has allowed for
landholders to recognize the importance of managing on-farm natural resources, and the additional
values wetlands can provide within a farm production system.
Wetland projects that have been carried out by landholders within the Burnett Mary region under Reef.
Fencing of riparian zones and freshwater palustrine wetlands to decrease grazing pressure
Provision of off-creek watering
Installation of treatment-train structures such as settling ponds and sediment traps
Reinstating wetlands within the landscape
Restoration of riparian zones
Remediation of farm crossings to decrease effects on fish migration
This year Reef Rescue has again provided incentive funds for wetlands, and the challenge remains to
systems can and should be integrated into production system management.
Conservation genetics of Acacia karina, a narrow-range species endemic
to the Banded Ironstone Ranges of the Midwest region of Western
Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority, Fraser Avenue, West Perth WA 6005
School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands WA
The Midwest region of Western Australia has an exceptionally high diversity of Acacia species, many
with a restricted distribution and high conservation value. The area is also the focus of mineral
exploration and extraction, creating a conflict between economic and biodiversity values. Acacia karina
Maslin is a recently described, narrow-range, conservation priority-listed species endemic to the Blue
Hill Banded Ironstone Ranges of the Midwest region of south-west Western Australia. The species is
directly impacted by mining activities on Mt Karara and the surrounding area. We are undertaking a
conservation genetic study to assess the impact of mining activities on genetic diversity and key
population processes such as mating, within this species, and to provide a genetic basis for its
management and conservation. Genetic variation at nuclear microsatellite markers has been assessed
within and among 20 populations of A. karina. Weak but significant genetic structure has been found
across the range of A. karina. Mating system studies have revealed high outcrossing in these
populations, emphasizing the importance of pollen dispersal and pollinators in impacted populations.
Preliminary results from a common garden study of seedlings grown from wild collected seeds have
revealed a genetic basis to the patterns of morphological variation detected. Results are interpreted in
the context of the future management of genetic diversity and processes of impacted populations of A.
Science Division Department of Environment and Conservation, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre WA 6983
University of Western Australia, Crawley WA 6009
Although natural recruitment in many south-west ecosystems in WA depends on major disturbances
such as fire, which temporally reduce competition and increase available resources, rare flora
translocations are often into mature habitat. In this talk I will present the results from a case study on
rare and common Hakea species (Proteaceae) from contrasting habitats in the SW of Western Australia.
Glasshouse experiments showed that two rare Hakea species, which are restricted to shallow-soil
ironstone communities, had a specialized root system morphology that is likely to increase their chance
to locate cracks and crevices in the underlying rock. This would greatly increase their chances to access
water before the onset of summer drought and thus give them a competitive advantage. A subsequent
transplant experiment in the ironstone habitat, in which small patches of existing vegetation were
removed, showed that the ironstone species had much higher survival rates than the common species. I
believe that competition for cracks is a major selection force in these shallow soil environments and that
removal of some existing vegetation may be a prerequisite for translocation success.
Making the transition from regional-scale conservation design to local-
scale conservation action
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville QLD
4811. Email: email@example.com
The process of systematic conservation planning involves many important transitions. Following the
design stage, conservation areas on paper or computer screens must be turned into actions on the
ground or in the water, shaped by cost, effectiveness and local acceptability. This transition has been
difficult for conservation planners, requiring the reconciliation of two spatial scales of analysis and
decision-making and even two worldviews. Yet, both regional-scale design and local-scale action are
crucial to achieving conservation goals, and both have complementary strengths and limitations.
Regional designs have three main advantages. First, they allow planners to consider the relationships
between individual areas, including complementarity and connectivity, so that systems are more than
the sum of their parts. Second, they allow planners to explore spatial and temporal options for
conservation. Third, they facilitate integration of conservation priorities into initiatives with broader
objectives, including land use planning. The disadvantage of regional designs, with numerous potential
causes, is their poor record of translation into local actions. Local actions, typically not guided by
regional designs, have several related advantages. They are motivated, understood and supported by
local communities. They are also informed by detailed knowledge of biodiversity and socio-economic
variables that is impossible to collect consistently across most planning regions. The disadvantages of
local actions include their tendency to form collections rather than systems. Reconciling these two
scales of operation requires new thinking and new tools but also new institutional arrangements. These
and other implications are discussed.
Soil nutrients and ecological restoration of temperate Australian
CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Private Bag 5, Wembley WA 6913
Many Australian ecosystems have evolved under characteristically low soil nutrient levels. In this talk I
will emphasize the importance of attention to soil nutrients for ecological restoration, in the light of
changes to soil nutrient levels that can occur during degradation. In some environments, especially
agricultural landscapes, enrichment of nutrients such as available nitrogen or phosphorus often occurs
through grazing, fertilization, or other disturbance, leading to weed invasion and loss of native plant
species. In these circumstances, successful restoration is dependent on depletion of soil nutrients. This
can be difficult to achieve, but emerging approaches include topsoil stripping, biomass removal
(cropping), carbon addition and importantly, re-establishment of native species that lock-up excess
nutrients. These techniques are unlikely to be appropriate everywhere, however. In other environments,
water and nitrogen availability are major limits to plant growth and can constrain effective restoration. A
number of workers have shown that natural patterns of heterogeneity in semi-arid landscapes, such as
plants can grow more effectively. Disruption of these patterns, e.g. through overgrazing, can result in
‘leakage’ of nutrients and water from the system. Restoration approaches in semi-arid environments
thus focus on restoring ‘soil functional fertility’, by restoring the capacity of the landscape to capture and
store water and nutrients. To conclude, it is important to understand how soil nutrient levels have
changed in candidate restoration areas, as this can determine whether nutrient-depleting or nutrient-
conserving approaches to restoration are needed.
Ecological, social and economic filters: hurdles of restoration and
planning for the future
, Marleen Buizer
and Leonie Valentine
Western Australia Centre of Excellence for Climate Change and Forest and Woodland Health, Murdoch University,
Since European settlement, public lands - for example, National Parks - have been degraded by various
anthropogenic disturbances which have resulted in significant changes to the ecosystem structure and
function. This large-scale degradation has lead to a growing desire to develop techniques to restore
these lands. Given the enormous and challenging task of undertaking restoration, we wanted to highlight
the various challenges that are encountered when undertaking restoration on public lands, using the
Ludlow Tuart Forest National Park as a case study. Restoration activities within the Ludlow Tuart Forest
are now in the fourth year. The first year began with small scale restoration trials and has now expanded
to 10-20 ha per annum with simultaneous restoration research embedded to drive the following year of
restoration activities. Restoration on public lands faces enormous challenges. Many of these can be
explained through ecological, social and economic filters. However, one of the most interesting and
surprising hurdles encountered is the lack of involvement of the public in the on-ground restoration of
public lands. This is a particularly challenging hurdle that needs to be overcome in order to undertake
larger scale restoration on public lands. Awareness of these various filters and hurdles can assist with
longer term planning of the restoration process. Sharing some of the economic, social and ecological
filters and hurdles that we encountered will assist other managers and researchers looking at planning
larger-scale restoration of degraded public lands.
Adaptive management for the containment and eradication of
Phytophthora cinnamomi infestations within native plant communities
from the Fitzgerald River National Park
, Dunstan, W.
, Hartley, R.
, Paap, T.
, Dunne, C.P.
Department of Environment and Conservation, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre WA 6983
School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Murdoch University, South Street, Murdoch WA 6150
The introduced plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi is a ‘Key Threatening Process to Australia’s
the pathogen is widespread, significant high conservation value ecosystems are still non-infested and
require substantial protection. In contrast with most other large reserves in the southwest of Western
Australia, the Fitzgerald River National Park (FRNP) biosphere remains relatively unaffected by P.
off Pabelup drive, are located within the Park boundaries and pose a significant threat to the biodiversity
values of this internationally recognised biosphere.
Recently P. cinnamomi has been successfully eradicated on a small experimental scale from Cape
Riche near the FRNP that has a similar native plant community and environmental conditions (Dunstan
et al. 2010). This current project aims to further develop this eradication technique to contain and
eradicate the Pabelup infestation, by scaling up the different control techniques and adapting the
approach to account for the differences in site conditions and the epidemiology of the pathogen.
The project has significant management challenges that include: difficulty in mapping the occurrence of
the pathogen; surface water movement that could transport the pathogen; variable soil characteristics,
topography, vegetation and hydrology; and animal vectors. An adaptive management approach has
been utilised that will employ additional new techniques to manage the site, including: feral animal
exclusion fences; digital elevation models and hydrology projections; the removal of localized host plants
that can harbour the pathogen; and geo-textile membranes to capture and treat pathogen inoculum in
the surface water, while limiting the ability of surface water to pool and inoculum levels to increase.
 Dunstan, W. A., Rudman, T., Shearer, B. L., Moore, N. A., Paap, T., Calver, M. C., Dell, B., Hardy, G.
E. St. J., Containment and spot eradication of a highly destructive, invasive plant pathogen
(Phytophthora cinnamomi) in natural ecosystems. Biol. Invasions
Department of Environment and Conservation, Locked Bag 2, Manjimup WA 6258
The management of threatened flora in Western Australia during wildfires and prescribed burns has
been hampered by a lack of knowledge about how they respond to fire. In addition, it is becoming
increasingly evident that many of these species require a disturbance event to regenerate and by
protecting them from fire we may be limiting their opportunities for long term survival.
This project aims to collate and analyse the monitoring data for threatened species that have been burnt
and determine their fire response category. Data has been accessed from the DEC corporate
threatened flora monitoring database (DEFL), district records, recruitment burns, fire history GIS
analysis and information in published scientific papers, books and personal observations. This dataset
will help to quantify the variation in responses related to fire intensity, season, population and site.
The reliability of some monitoring information is uncertain due to discrepancies with fire history records,
the proportion of the population that was burnt, if at all, and the lack of consistent monitoring of burnt
populations until first flowering and reliable fruiting. There are many gaps in the data.
From initial analysis, the majority of threatened species responded to fire by re-seeding while about a
quarter responded by re-sprouting, with variations in fire response between populations. A surprising
proportion of species responded to soil disturbance without fire while some showed no response to fire
and failed to regenerate. This information will be used to develop fire management guidelines for
individual species and for the fire response categories identified.
The importance of targeted taxonomy for plant conservation
Kelly A. Shepherd
Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Environment & Conservation,
Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery
In contrast to the clichéd image of an outmoded science in steady decline, plant taxonomy in a
biodiverse state like Western Australia remains as relevant today as ever. New taxa are constantly being
discovered as taxonomists work with collections lodged in herbaria and undertake targeted field work. In
more recent times, methods such as DNA sequencing and morphometric analyses are being employed
to resolve more intractable taxonomic conundrums. A large number of potentially new species, many of
which are of conservation concern, have also been discovered through surveys associated with mineral
exploration during the recent mining boom. The naming and describing of these potentially new species
is central to their conservation. While phrase-names are included on the State’s plant census and listed
online via FloraBase, there is often little other information publicly available about these plants. Thus,
land managers may struggle to recognise these new taxa let alone have the necessary data to ensure
their appropriate management. A lack of resourcing also hinders the timely resolution of their taxonomic
status. In the face of ongoing development activity and the large number of unnamed species of
conservation concern in Western Australia, the Department of Environment and Conservation has
provided focused funding in recent years for field work and targeted taxonomy through Specific Nature
Conservation Projects. This, in combination with increased collaboration with land managers and
consultants, has resulted in a more timely resolution of many new species.
Adaptation and restoration - should we source seeds locally, or not?
Kings Park & UWA School of Plant Biology, BCC, Kings Park, Fraser Avenue, West Perth WA 6005
South-western Western Australia is a world biodiversity hotspot, characteristically harbouring large
numbers of species, often with restricted ranges. Large scale projects aim to restore hundreds of
hectares of this biodiverse vegetation each year, following activities such as mining, with seed as the
main resource used to achieve such restorations. Since seed is often obtained from remnant native
vegetation it is often a highly limited resource, and habitat specificity and adaptation to local climatic
conditions may further restrict seed sourcing opportunities. In this talk, I will explore how adaptation is
spatially structured in south west Western Australia, using two species of native Jarrah forest
understorey legumes as model species, one which is morphologically uniform, the other morphologically
diverse. I will also discuss whether adaptability is predictable using genetic markers. Should seed
sourcing decisions in a biodiversity hotspot should continue to be based around the concept of local
Granite flora of Southern Queensland – Recovery planning in action
Queensland Murray-Darling Committee, PO Box 6243, Toowoomba QLD 4350
The Stanthorpe Plateau is a sub-region at the northern extent of the New England Tablelands of eastern
Australia. The plateau experiences a relatively cool climate compared to south-east Queensland due to
elevations between 600-1500m. A high degree of habitat diversity results from unique topography and
The recovery and conservation of rare and threatened flora of the granite belt on the Stanthorpe Plateau
has been the subject of much attention in the past decade, with strong partnerships developing between
local community representatives, the regional NRM body, NGOs and government agents. The
Queensland Murray Darling Committee has committed to a long term Granite Flora Program since 2005,
providing seed funding to establish the Stanthorpe Rare Wildflower Consortium. Through this
Consortium, the Stanthorpe Plateau Rare Flora Recovery Plan 2007-2011 was presented in 2006. The
Recovery Plan has since directed around $130,000 of public investment into extensive community
awareness and skill raising activities, strategic conservation planning and incentives for action with
councils and private land owners.
In 2009/10 a further $175,000 Caring for our Country project pulled together considerable conservation
outcomes for 28 priority flora species and their communities in the Granite Belt. This latest project was
successful in delivering a range of outputs all focussed around better defining the ecological range,
threats, conservation and management needs of the target species.
The presentation will highlight the successes of the CfoC project, and how community participation and
ownership are key components in successful conservation projects. I will also discuss future investment
and management actions needed to deliver the ultimate goal of recovery planning – that these plants
are no longer deemed endangered but are being managed for self-sustaining populations.