Biodiversity Assessment Technical Report



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List of Tables


Table 3.1: Attributes and classes used in the Central Highlands environmental stratification. 12

Table 3.2: Terrestrial vertebrate fauna survey data, by species group. 18

Table 4.1: Physical attributes used to model and map the pre-1750 extent of EVCs. 21

Table 4.1 cont’d 22

Table 4.2. LCC Melbourne 2 Study EVC names and current EVC names. 24

Table 4.3 Pre-1750 EVC and mapping reliability. 24

Table 4.4 : Representative conservation (percentage reservation status) of EVCs in the Central Highlands study area based on Pre-1750s vegetation mapping. 26

Table 4.4 cont’d 28

Table 4.5: Geographic Representation Units of the Central Highlands and their attributes. 30

Table 4.6: Representative conservation (percentage reservation status) of pre-1750 EVCs in the Central Highlands region by Geographic Representation Unit. 31

32

Table 4.7: Extent and level of protection for different forest growth stages and disturbance categories in the Central Highlands region. 36

Table 4.8: The National Reserve criteria used to assess the conservation status of EVCs. 38

Table 4.9: Endangered, vulnerable and rare Ecological Vegetation Classes in Central Highlands 39

Table 4.9 Cont’d. 41

Table 4.10: Current management actions for threatening processes that affect forest ecosystems. 43

Table 4.10 Cont’d 44

Table 4.10 Cont’d 46

Table 5.1: Conservation Status and Distribution of Rare or Threatened Plants in the Central Highlands Regional Forest Agreement region 52

Table 5.1 Cont’d 54

Table 5.1 Cont’d 55

Table 5.1 Cont’d 56

Table 5.2: Vulnerability analysis for Central Highlands rare or threatened plants 63

Table 5.2 cont’d 65

Table 5.2 cont’d 66

Table 5.3 : Status of management planning for Central Highlands rare or threatened plants. 68

Table 6.1: Terrestrial fauna species included in the assessment. 90

Table 6.1 (cont’d) 91

Table 6.2 : Summary of life history and population dynamics information. 96

Table 6.3: Reservation analysis of priority species in the Central Highlands 100

Table 6.4: summary of impacts of threatening processes on priority fauna species 103

Leadbeater's Possum habitat Zones 108

Table 7.1: Native freshwater fish species in the Central Highlands Region. 126

Table 7.2: Aquatic macroinvertebrates in the Central Highlands region. 127

Table 7.3: Native freshwater decapod crustacea in the Central Highlands. 127

Table 7.3 cont’d 129

Table 7.4: Major surveys conducted for freshwater fish in the Central Highlands prior to 1989. 130

Table 7.5: Major surveys conducted for freshwater fish in the Central Highlands since 1990. 131

Table 7.6: Summary of information on fish survey sites in the Central Highlands from 1973-1994. 131

Table 7.7: Major surveys conducted for aquatic macroinvertebrates in the Central Highlands prior to 1990. 134

Table 7.8: Number of sites sampled as part of the MRHI after 1990 in each catchment in the Central Highlands. 134

Table 7.9: Priority aquatic species included in the life history and population parameter assessment. 135

Table 7.10: Broad disturbance category with potential impacts on aquatic ecosystems 141

Table 7.11: Species affected by each of the disturbance impacts listed in Table 7.10. 142

Table 7.12: Specific Conservation guidelines and activities (apart from the measures outlined above) for priority aquatic species. Fishing regulations from CNR (1995a). 147

Table 7.13: Central Highlands areas where data on fish species are unavailable. 148

Table 7.14: Summary of the adequacy of spawning data for fish species. 149

Table 7.15: Summary of adequacy of movement, habitat preference and tolerance (turbidity and temperature) data for fish species. 149

EVCs of the Central Highlands and their map labels from the Biosis-Frood Pre-1750s mapping 220



1 Introduction

1.1 Background

The National Forest Policy Statement (NFPS) establishes the concept of the Comprehensive Regional Assessment (CRA) process, and lists the protection of biological diversity under The Convention on Biological Diversity as one of the Commonwealth obligations to be included in the assessment. Strategies for conserving biodiversity, as outlined under the NFPS, are:




  • establishment of a dedicated forest reserve system on public land based on the principles of comprehensiveness, adequacy and representativeness;




  • complementary management of public native forests outside conservation reserves which assists biodiversity conservation; and




  • promotion of the management of private forests in sympathy with nature conservation goals (Commonwealth of Australia 1992).

The NFPS identifies the following objectives of biodiversity conservation:




  • to maintain ecological processes and the dynamics of forest ecosystems in their landscape context;




  • to maintain viable examples of forest ecosystems throughout their natural ranges;




  • to maintain viable populations of native forest species throughout their natural ranges; and




  • to maintain the genetic diversity of native forest species.

To achieve these objectives, a set of criteria have been developed to guide the establishment of a national system of Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative (CAR) forest reserves (JANIS 1997). The criteria relating specifically to biodiversity are outlined in Box 1.



Box 1: Summary of the JANIS biodiversity criteria.


  1. As a general criterion, 15% of the pre-1750 distribution of each forest ecosystem should be protected in the CAR reserve system with flexibility considerations applied according to regional circumstances, and recognising that as far as possible and practicable, the proportion of dedicated reserves should be maximised.



  2. Where forest ecosystems are recognised as vulnerable, (e.g. approaching a reduction in areal extent of 70% within a bioregional context or subject to continuing and significant threatening processes), then at least 60% of their remaining extent should be reserved. (Vulnerable ecosystems include those where threatening processes have caused significant changes in species composition, loss or significant decline in species that play a major role within the ecosystem, or significant alteration to ecosystem processes.)



  3. All remaining occurrences of rare and endangered forest ecosystems should be reserved or protected by other means as far as is practicable.



  4. Reserved areas should be replicated across the geographic range of the forest ecosystem to decrease the likelihood that chance events such as wildfire or disease will cause the forest ecosystem to decline.



  5. The reserve system should seek to maximise the area of high quality habitat for all known elements of biodiversity wherever practicable, but with particular reference to:

- the special needs of rare, vulnerable or endangered species;

- special groups of organisms, for example species with complex habitat requirements, or migratory or mobile species;

- areas of high species diversity, natural refugia for flora and fauna, and centres of endemism; and

- those species whose distributions and habitat requirements are not well correlated with any particular forest ecosystem.



  1. Reserves should be large enough to sustain the viability, quality and integrity of populations.



  2. To ensure representativeness, the reserve system should, as far as possible, sample the full range of biological variation within each forest ecosystem, by sampling the range of environmental variation typical of its geographic range and sampling its range of successional stages.



  3. In fragmented landscapes, remnants that contribute to sampling the full range of biodiversity are vital parts of a forest reserve system. The areas should be identified and protected as part of the development of integrated regional conservation strategies.

The Scoping Agreement for the Victoria–Commonwealth Regional Forest Agreement requires that elements of biodiversity at the species and ecosystem levels be identified and threatening processes be reviewed.


The results of this assessment are to be used in identifying a comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR) reserve system that protects forest biodiversity in accordance with nationally agreed criteria. The strategy for conserving biodiversity relies not just on a CAR reserve system, but also on the application of ecologically sustainable forest management practices in off-reserve areas. The results provide a benchmark for monitoring the efficacy of these practices.



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