Biodiversity Assessment Technical Report


ISSUES & STATUS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS



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ISSUES & STATUS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS



Threatening processes: The major threats to the species are as a result of its rarity in terms of abundance and the fragmented nature of the populations. Nearly all of the former range of the species has been cleared for agriculture and Curly Sedge is now restricted to a few isolated sites surrounded by farmland. These sites are by no means secure. They are continually threatened by grazing, pasture development and even cropping at a few sites. The Fawthrop Lagoon population near Portland has been destroyed by dredging and subsequent overburden dumping onto the plants, by Portland municipal Council workers (Gullan et al 1990). Canopy closure and the rank growth of weedy grasses threaten the drier sites (Frood 1992). The proposed construction of the F2 extension of the Hume Highway threatens the Craigieburn population with changes in hydrology and sediment load and consequent invasion of Nassella species (Frood pers.comm.). The Bald Hill population is threatened by proposed quarry development and intensive grazing by cattle and sheep(Frood pers.comm.).


Threat

Rating

Threat

Rating

PLANT COMPETITION

2

LACK OF RECRUITMENT

1

ROAD OR RAILWORKS

2

GRAZING BY STOCK

1

MINING OR QUARRYING

1

WEED INVASION

1

SMALL POPULATION SIZE

1

URBAN DEVELOPMENT

1


Reservation: The only currently reserved population occurs at Lake Jollicum Wildlife Reserve south of Streatham in western Victoria. The Victorian Government is negotiating with the owners to acquire the private land at Craigieburn. The Bald Hill population will be protected through management agreements with the landholder (Craigie pers.comm.).

Management: A draft Action Statement is currently being prepared for the species. While current grazing levels are far heavier than desirable, strategic use of grazing may be an appropriate management tool in drier sites to prevent loss of herbland vegetation through rank growth of grass species (Frood 1992).
Buxton Gum Eucalyptus crenulata

Family: Myrtaceae

Description: A small tree, seldom taller than 8 meters, with a dense foliage of glaucous (whitish) leaves reaching almost to ground level. Buxton Gum is distinguished by its small, stem-clasping, heart-shaped, blue-green leaves with crinkly (crenulate) margins. The bark is slightly rough, thin and grey or grey-brown, longitudinally fissured on mature trunks but smooth on branches. During spring, the Buxton Gum has clusters of cream, honey-scented flowers.

Conservation status:

  • ROTAP: endangered

  • VROTS: endangered

  • ESP: Listed

  • FFG: Is listed, with an Action Statement



no of records in Victoria

Victorian range (km)

no of records in region

regional range (km)

% of Aust Majority

Tenure of largest proportion of Central Highlands population

Tenure of next largest proportion of Central Highlands population

34

250

33

108

75-100

conservation reserve

private land



Distribution: Eucalyptus crenulata has been recorded from 33 sites, over a 108 km range, between 65 meters and 270 meters altitude in the Central Highlands. It is currently known only from the Central Highlands and is highly localised. Both the known populations at Yering and Buxton are undergoing demonstrated ongoing decline.

Habitat: The species occurs in lowlands on flat terrain. Riparian Forest on soils that are inundated annually.

Reproduction: The species is adaptable to a range of environmental situations and is capable of regenerating from seed, lignotubers and epicormic buds. Plants are long-lived perennials, surviving for more than 50 years. Location of the seed store is in the soil. Regeneration is continuous, with seed germinating over an extended period. Regeneration may be habitat dependent on particular rare and unpredictable (stochastic) events, e.g. fire, flood, unusual combination of seasonal conditions - between such events the plants may appear to be absent. Most plants survive fire and resprout from dormant buds, either along the stems, at ground level or from underground; but also a significant re-establishment from seed germination.

ISSUES & STATUS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS


Threats: Introduced plants occur at both sites and threaten to invade the understorey and possibly inhibit seedling regrowth. Blackberry(Rubus fruticosa) grows at both sites and Japanese Honeysuckle(Lonicera japonica) grows at the Yering site. Buxton Silver Gum Reserve has not been burnt since the 1939 wildfire, or earlier. A dense ground cover is preventing seedling regeneration, and all mature Buxton Gums are in a poor state of health, possibly because of age, infestation by Coarse Dodder-laurel, and frequent water-logging of their habitat. At Yering, a dense growth of a native tussock grass, Poa labillardieri, inhibits seedling regeneration. Severe insect attacks on Buxton Gums have been noted at both localities. Hybrids of Buxton Gum and Swamp Gum(Eucalyptus ovata) have been recorded at both localities that compete successfully with Buxton Gum, particularly in moist sites. There are probably no more than 500 plants left in the wild. Natural populations are small genetically isolated occurrences and are therefore susceptible to edge and ‘island’ effects. a natural disaster(severe flood, fire or winds) could destroy one or both populations. Changes in adjoining land use could have direct and indirect effects on the ecology of the reserves

Threat

Rating

Threat

Rating

GRAZING BY STOCK

1

SMALL POPULATION SIZE

2

INAPPROPRIATE BURNING REGIME

1

INSECT ATTACK

1

INAPPROPRIATE HYDROLOGY

1

ROAD OR RAILWORKS

1

WEED INVASION

2

PLANT COMPETITION

2


Reservation: One population, covering about 4 ha, is in the 16.9 ha Buxton Silver Gum Reserve, established in 1978 and managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment. Buxton Gums on Crown Land at Yering were incorporated within Spadonis Reserve, which is fenced off from grazing and managed by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

Management: The species has an Action Statement which specifies a program of enrichment planting of existing populations, public education and liasion with landholders and local authorities. Research of appropriate fire management and weed control and studies of species ecology are integrated into the statement. Control of introduced plants is given a high priority.
Strzelecki Gum Eucalyptus strzeleckii

Family: Myrtaceae

Description: A medium sized to tall forest tree to 30m with an open canopy. First branch at 8m or more above ground. Bark smooth throughout, whitish with red brown mottling, with old decorticated bark sometimes persisting about the base as loose, thin sheets or strips. Glossy dark green undulating adult leaves(broad-lanceolate to ovate) and small somewhat obconical fruits. Waxy growth tips occur in intermediate and coppice leaves, as well as on the mature canopy, and are particularly noticeable during spring growth spurts giving the foliage a bluish tinge(Rule 1992).

Conservation status:

  • ROTAP: vulnerable

  • VROTS: vulnerable

  • ESP: Not listed

  • FFG: Has not been nominated




no of records in Victoria

Victorian range (km)

no of records in region

regional range (km)

% of Aust Majority

Tenure of largest proportion of Central Highlands population

Tenure of next largest proportion of Central Highlands population

27

81

16

60

0-25

private land

unknown


Distribution: Eucalyptus strzeleckii has been recorded from 16 sites, over a 60 km range in Central Highlands and its current distribution is highly localised. Most of the populations occur across the western section of the Strzelecki Ranges, but populations extend to Neerim South north of Warragul (Rule 1992). Remnants of Eucalyptus strzeleckii still occupy farms, roadside verges and small segments of public land. Population size remains more or less constant within the CRA region.

Habitat: Eucalyptus strzeleckii favours a range of sites including ridges, slopes and along the banks of streams. Its preferred soils are grey, deep, fertile loams which are seasonally waterlogged. In a few cases it occurs on undulating or flat terrain close to creeks on the periphery of the ranges. Eucalyptus strzeleckii can be associated with a number of species but more often it grows in small but pure stands(Rule 1992).

Reproduction: Eucalyptus strzeleckii flowers in spring. Sexual reproduction, and subsequent establishment from seed is likely in most years and regeneration is continuous, with seed germinating over an extended period. Regeneration can be habitat dependent on particular rare and unpredictable (stochastic) events, e.g. fire, flood, unusual combination of seasonal conditions. Tolerates occasional major ('natural') disturbances and requires such disturbance for the rare opportunity to establish and spread. Plants are long-lived perennials, surviving for more than 50 years. Most plants survive fire and resprout from dormant buds, either along the stems, at ground level or from underground.

ISSUES & STATUS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS



Threatening processes: At the turn of the century the Strzeleckii ranges were heavily timbered, but the demand for farming land bought about the destruction of substantial areas of forest (Rule 1992). Weeds are known to affect extant populations and species habitat. Eucalyptus strzeleckii is not palatable to mammalian species and is usually avoided but may be taken under adverse conditions.

Reservation: As yet, no substantial stands of Eucalyptus strzeleckii have been observed on either public or private land.

Management: Unknown.

Small Pepper-cress Lepidium hyssopifolium



Family: Brassicaceae

Description: Perennial herb to 1m tall, erect with short, fine acicular hairs and many thin branches. Each branch has numerous linear-lanceolate leaves that are pinnatisect, serrate or entire. At the end of each shoot an apical cluster of minute flowers produces a series of silicula(Cropper 1993).

Conservation status:

  • ROTAP: endangered

  • VROTS: endangered

  • ESP: Listed

  • FFG: Is listed, but has no Action Statement




no of records in Victoria

Victorian range (km)

no of records in region

regional range (km)

% of Aust Majority

Tenure of largest proportion of Central Highlands population

Tenure of next largest proportion of Central Highlands population

32

452

10

30

0-25

other public land





Distribution: Lepidium hyssopifolium has been previously found scattered throughout south-east Australia. The species survives at only one locality (Beveridge) within the CRA region, and one other in Victoria at Bolwarrah. It also occurs at several localities in Tasmania (Cropper 1993). Population size often fluctuates significantly.

Habitat: Lepidium hyssopifolium occurs on flat terrain in Fertile Lowlands on soils that are generally dry. All populations are associated with introduced weedy species on land that tends to receive little maintenance such as derelict pasture. The species original habitat included eucalypt woodland with a grassy understorey, low open casuarina woodland with grassy ground cover and tussock grassland (Cropper 1993).

Reproduction: Lepidium hyssopifolium is an opportunist species that colonises disturbed soil. On average, plants live for four years and individuals readily produce thousands of viable seeds each year. Seeds are large and lack wings or plumes to aid in wind dispersal or hooks for attachment to animals. No animals have been seen feeding on seed and it is thought that seed dispersal is limited. Location of the seed store is in the soil where it remains viable for over two years. 'Natural' disturbances, such as fires, floods, or occasional browsing/grazing are tolerated. All (or nearly all) plants are killed by fire, and regeneration is solely from seed (or spores) stored in the soil pre-fire; fire-promoted germination or establishment. However if plants are slashed or mown, the species can quickly come back from buds that are near the soil surface.

ISSUES & STATUS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS



Threatening processes: Lepidium hyssopifolium has been 'reduced to great rarity by loss of habitat and heavy grazing' by cattle and sheep (Scarlett and Cropper 1987) however these processes no longer threaten the existing populations(Cropper 1993). The Beveridge stand is threatened by railway works, excessive disturbance through dumping of rubbish, mining and grazing (Scarlett and Cropper 1987). Consequent searches in 1990 were unable to locate any plants at this site and it is possible that all adult plants have been killed by herbicide spraying(Cropper 1993). The recruitment of the taxon to the reserved major stand is seriously declining. The Bolwarrah stands are threatened by excessive soil disturbance preventing seedling establishment and indiscriminate spraying of pest plants. The species similarity to the introduced Pepper-cress species(known to taint milk), the 'weedy nature' of the species and the degraded habitat in which the stands survive has made it difficult to convince land managers that Lepidium hyssopifolium is a native species. Small Pepper-cress often grows with a range of weeds along roadsides and railway lines increasing the chances of plants being destroyed through maintenance herbicide spraying. Plants at Mooramong have been damaged by the introduced Red-legged Earth Mite(Halotydeus destructor)(Cropper 1993).


Threat

Rating

Threat

Rating

GRAZING BY STOCK

1

ROAD OR RAILWORKS

2

LACK OF KNOWLEDGE

1

URBAN DEVELOPMENT

1

PESTICIDES/HERBICIDES

2

POOR RECRUITMENT

1

MINING OR QUARRYING

1

INSECT ATTACK

1


Reservation: The largest population on Public Land at Bolwarrah has been reserved to preserve the species. Populations have been established at Laverton North Grassland Reserve and Mooramong native grassland owned by the National Trust.

Management: Unknown.
Ridged Groundsel Senecio laticostatus

Family: Asteraceae

Description: An erect forb with mesic leaves: Broad-leaved herb (ie. no woody parts) arising from a "tussock" (ie. clump of foliage arising at much the same point), with or without stolons, with mesic leaves.

Conservation Status:

  • ROTAP: vulnerable

  • VROTS: vulnerable

  • ESP: Listed

  • FFG: Has not been nominated



no of records in Victoria

Victorian range (km)

no of records in region

regional range (km)

% of Aust Majority

Tenure of largest proportion of Central Highlands population

Tenure of next largest proportion of Central Highlands population

3

158

3

158

50-75

private land






Distribution: In the Central Highlands Senecio laticostatus has been recorded from 3 sites, over a 158 km range. The species is highly localised and is now known from only one site along Beynon’s Creek at Western Tyers in the Central Highlands.

Habitat: The extant site is on occasionally flooded flats at the junction of streams, with brown clay-loam soils formed on recent alluvium. The site has been severely disturbed and colonised by blackberry (Rubus fruticosis) but was formerly Eucalyptus viminalis open forest with a dense Poa labillardieri ground stratum (Scarlett 1985).

Reproduction: Senecio laticostatus is a post-fire pioneer of burnt blackberry infestations, occurring in dense patches after autumn burning. All (or nearly all) plants are killed by fire, and regeneration is solely from seed stored in the soil pre-fire. Stands originating from fire persist for two years. The species occasionally invades bare ground after blackberry has been removed by spraying. Seeds are widely dispersed by wind in late summer and autumn, but the species has never been observed in grassland resulting from past clearing or open forest areas fringing the creek flat (Scarlett 1985).

ISSUES & STATUS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS



Threatening processes: Burning in late spring destroys plants and prevents significant regeneration in that year. Colonies may be overtopped by vigorous blackberry growth. At Western Tyers, plants are grazed by wombats, wallabies and rabbits. The long term future of this population dependent on the landholder as conversion of the area to farmland would remove the species(Scarlett 1985).

Reservation: No populations are known to occur on public land.

Management: The population at Western Tyers will continue to receive appropriate fire management for the species unless there is a change in ownership of the property(Scarlett 1985).
Large-fruit Groundsel Senecio macrocarpus

Family: Asteraceae

Description: An erect forb growing to 40 cm high. It has narrow, woolly grey leaves that are alternate and linear, up to 10 cm long and 2 to 4 mm wide. The lower leaves are numerous and densely crowded, while the upper leaves are smaller and more expanded. The large flowerheads (18 mm long) are found at the end of ascending stalks that are up to 6 cm long. There are 50 to 100 yellow florets on each inflorescence, each floret being up to 15 mm long. The brown seed fruits are grow to 6 mm long and have very short dense hairs (Belcher 1983).

Conservation status:

  • ROTAP: vulnerable

  • VROTS: endangered

  • ESP: Listed

  • FFG: Is listed, with an Action Statement



no of records in Victoria

Victorian range (km)

no of records in region

regional range (km)

% of Aust Majority

Tenure of largest proportion of Central Highlands population

Tenure of next largest proportion of Central Highlands population

34

600

3

74

0-25

other public land






Distribution: Senecio macrocarpus has been recorded from 3 sites, over a 74 km range in the Central Highlands, but it is now known only from the Yan Yean Catchment. The species was formerly widespread in western Victoria, but now only 13 populations at 11 locations throughout the state are known. There are old records for areas such as the Wimmera, Skipton, Colac and Casterton, as well as Tasmania, but the species has not been found recently in these areas, and in some cases is thought to no longer exist.

Habitat: In the Central Highlands the Large-fruit Groundsel occurs in grassy woodlands such as Grey Box Open Woodland (on Tertiary sediments) and Long-leaved Box (Eucalyptus goniocalyx) Open Woodland (Scarlett pers. comm.). Fertile Lowlands on flat terrain. Soils are generally dry and derived from Silurian sediments and Quaternary deposits.

Reproduction: Plants flower from September to November, but occasionally also flower in March and April (Scarlett et al 1993). Plants reach sexual maturity at 1 - 5 years. Location of the seed store is in the soil. Regeneration is continuous, with seed germinating over an extended period and can be habitat dependent on particular rare and unpredictable (stochastic) events, e.g. fire, flood, unusual combination of seasonal conditions - between such events the plants may appear to be absent. Most plants survive fire and resprout from dormant buds, either along the stems, at ground level or from underground; but also a significant re-establishment from seed germination.

ISSUES & STATUS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS



Threatening processes: High grazing pressure affects the survival rate of the Large-fruit Groundsel and rabbit grazing is considered a threat to all sites. When the Yan Yean site was surveyed in 1992 the population was thought to have declined rapidly (compared to surveys in 1987), and this is attributed to the high density of kangaroos in the area (Tonkinson pers. comm.). The species can not compete efficiently with weeds and all sites are subject to weed invasion. Site disturbance (apart from fire) is a threat to all sites. It can directly remove vegetation, disturb the soil, introduce weed seeds and provide opportunities for weed growth. The Yan Yean population is close to a track, but no works on this track are planned (Curry pers. comm.). Burning during periods of growth or seed-set can threaten the plant’s survival. Because the ecological requirements of the species are not fully understood, there is a risk of unintentional mismanagement.



Threat

Rating

Threat

Rating

GRAZING BY INTRODUCED HERBIVORES

2

WEED INVASION

2

INAPPROPRIATE BURNING REGIME

1

LACK OF KNOWLEDGE

1

INSECT ATTACK

1









Reservation: The population in the Yan Yean Catchment is managed by Melbourne Water. All populations occur on Crown Land, with one population being located in a conservation reserve (the Deep Lead Flora and Fauna Reserve). The species also occurs in the Bannockburn Cemetery managed by the Bannockburn Cemetery Trust respectively. The remaining extant populations are in rail reserves under the management of the Public Transport Corporation (PTC) around the Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat and Ararat areas.

Management: An Action Statement has been prepared which includes a program of fencing and signposting, appropriate fire management and re-establishment through propagation. Monitoring and research form integral parts of proposed management.

Swollen Swamp Wallaby-grass Amphibromus pithogastrus



Family: Poaceae

Description: Tufted perennial to one metre high. Leaves glabrous and smooth; blade flat or inrolled to 20cm long and 1.5mm to 5mm wide. Amphibromus pithogastrus is distinguished from other species of Amphibromus by the relatively short ligule, swollen lemma and relatively short palea.

Conservation Status:

  • ROTAP: poorly known

  • VROTS: endangered

  • ESP: Not listed

  • FFG: Is listed, but has no Action Statement



no of records in Victoria

Victorian range (km)

no of records in region

regional range (km)

% of Aust Majority

Tenure of largest proportion of Central Highlands population

Tenure of next largest proportion of Central Highlands population

12

273

6

9

?

private land




Distribution: Amphibromus pithogastrus is currently known from one sites in the Central Highlands, on private land at Craigieburn (Frood 1992). Another site occurs on private land at Broadmeadows but is outside the study boundary.

Habitats: Amphibromus pithogastrus generally occurs in damp areas within treeless grassland or sedgeland, but a few of these sites were presumably lightly wooded at European settlement. Soils are basalt derived, ranging from heavy grey clay to black clays or duplex silty soils. The Craigieburn population is comprised of a few plants on a small seasonal soak at the base of a stony rise (Frood 1992).
Reproduction: Plants flower in November. 'Natural' disturbances, such as fires, floods, or occasional browsing/grazing are tolerated, but regeneration is not dependent on such disturbance.

ISSUES & STATUS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS



Threatening processes: While little is known of the original distribution of Swollen Swamp Wallaby-grass, the vast majority of its potential habitat has been effectively destroyed through residential and industrial development, intensive agriculture, fire prevention works and weed invasion. The total known Victorian population consists of less than twenty plants. Amphibromus pithogastrus is a species of marginal wetland habitat. Its dependence on these ephemeral wetland habitats is likely to be a factor in its extreme relative rarity, due to the vulnerability of these habitats to disturbance effects, including availability to grazing animals and weed invasions (anon 1992). A subsequent inspection of the Craigieburn population failed to relocate the species, and there is no guarantee that it has or will survive recent heavy grazing of the site. Plants are at risk from competition due to invasion by Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus), Toowoomba Canary grass (Phalaris aquatica) and Nassella spp. The proposed construction of the F2 extension of the Hume Highway potentially threatens the site with changes in hydrology and sediment load and the consequent invasion of Nassella spp. (Frood pers.comm.).


Threat

Rating

Threat

Rating

SMALL POPULATION SIZE

2

URBAN DEVELOPMENT

2

WEED INVASION

2

GRAZING BY STOCK

2

INAPPROPRIATE BURNING REGIME

1

PLANT COMPETITION

1

ROAD OR RAILWORKS

1

SMALL POPULATION SIZE

1


Reservation: In the Central Highlands the Victorian Government is negotiating with the owners to acquire the private land at Craigieburn (Craigie pers.comm.).

Management: A draft Action Statement is currently being prepared for the species.
Swamp Everlasting Bracteantha sp. aff. subundulata

Family: Asteraceae

Description: Swamp Everlasting is prostrate rhizomatous herb. The bright green lanceolate leaves have a prominent mid-vein. They form clusters at the base of flower stalks, and are scattered alternately along the stalks. Terminal golden-yellow flowers are produced in summer on stalks up to a meter tall. This taxon has not yet been formally described but it is quite distinct in its habitat preference from the Orange Everlasting (Bracteantha subundulata) which is found at high altitudes(Anon 1995).

Conservation Status:

  • ROTAP: Not listed

  • VROTS: vulnerable

  • ESP: Not listed

  • FFG: Is listed, but has no Action Statement



no of records in Victoria

Victorian range (km)

no of records in region

regional range (km)

% of Aust Majority

Tenure of largest proportion of Central Highlands population

Tenure of next largest proportion of Central Highlands population

11

440

1




?

other public land




Distribution: In the Central Highlands, Swamp Everlasting is currently known from a single site at Hernes Swamp near Wallan. A second site at Bayswater North, an outlying suburb east of Melbourne, is just outside the study boundary. The Hernes Swamp population covers approximately one hectare along 1-2 km of rail reserve(Cook pers.comm.). The Bayswater North population may be only a single suckering individual occupying a small area, 10 meters in diameter, on the Proposed Healesville Freeway reserve (Lorimer pers.comm.).

Habitats: Lowland swamps. This taxon occurs in near-coastal sedge swamps with sandy soils and in grassy wetlands with heavy gray clay soils on fertile plains. The Hernes Swamp area is a swamp basin with heavy black clay soils developed on outlying Basalt plain. The species grows there in close proximity to Fine Twig-sedge (Baumea arthrophylla). The Bayswater North population is in a drainage line on alluvial soils developed on Silurian sedimentaries and granodiorite. The vegetation at the site is the Herb-rich Plains Grassy Wetland (West Gippsland), a community listed for protection under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act. Individuals grow in close proximity to Hooker Sedge(Austrofestuca hookeriana) and Paspalum (Paspalum dilatatum) while surrounding dominants include Common Reed (Phragmites australis), Soft Twig-sedge (Baumea rubiginosa) and both native and exotic Juncus and Carex species. The original vegetation is likely to have been swamp scrub with an overstorey of Prickly Tea-tree (Leptospermum continentale) and Swamp Paperbark (Melaleuca ericifolia) (Lorimer pers.comm.).

Reproduction: Plants are perennial. Sexual reproduction, and subsequent establishment from seeds is likely in most years. Asexual reproduction via suckering occurs commonly. Regeneration is not dependent on particular rare or unpredictable (stochastic) events, eg. fire, flood, unusual combination of seasonal conditions. Most plants survive fire and resprout from dormant buds, either along the stems, at ground level or from underground; but also a significant re-establishment from seed germination.

ISSUES & STATUS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS



Threatening processes: Swamp Everlasting has probably declined in abundance and distribution because of its sensitivity to grazing by introduced stock and loss of habitat caused by the draining of wetlands. The sewage treatment plant at Hernes Swamp threatens the site through overflow and consequent eutrophication. The construction of railway track or road maintenance work in the area could damage the population. The Bayswater North population occurs on land owned by Vic Roads and zoned for the construction of the proposed Healesville Freeway. The population is subject to frequent slashing, detrimental to the species, and Vic Roads is considering leasing the reserve area in the short term (Lorimer pers.comm.).


Threat

Rating

Threat

Rating

ROAD OR RAILWORKS

1

EUTROPHICATION

2

SLASHING

2








Reservation: In the Central Highlands the population of Swamp Everlasting is located on railway reserve. The nearby Bayswater North population occurs on land owned by Vicroads zoned for the potential construction of the Healesville Freeway.

Management: Unknown.
Tough Scurf-pea Cullen tenax

( formerly Psoralea tenax )



Family: Fabaceae

Description: Trailing or ascending perennial herb; stems to circa 50cm long, glabrous or with sparse minute appressed hairs. Leaves palmate with five leaflets up to 2.5 cm long. Mauve or bluish flowers in groups of two or three(Walsh and Entwhistle 1996).

Conservation Status:

  • ROTAP: Not listed

  • VROTS: endangered

  • ESP: Not listed

  • FFG: Is listed, but has no Action Statement



no of records in Victoria

Victorian range (km)

no of records in region

regional range (km)

% of Aust Majority

Tenure of largest proportion of Central Highlands population

Tenure of next largest proportion of Central Highlands population

15

460

3

10

?

unknown

unknown

Distribution: Cullen tenax is currently known from a population of over 100 plants associated with a drainage system near Craigieburn and from a few individuals in a minor drainage line near Bald Hill (Frood 1992).

Habitats: Minor drainage lines on sticky dark soils. The mean annual rainfall is around 600 mm with a moderate to pronounced spring maximum. A degree of seasonal waterlogging would occur at most sites. Vegetation is basalt plains grassland with a sparse to moderate cover of Common Tussock Grass (Poa labillardieri). Chilean Needle-grass(*Nassella neesiana) and other weed species are scattered throughout.

Reproduction: The species has been seen flowering throughout most of the year often in apparent response to rain. Plants usually die back to the rootstock each autumn, resprouting in late spring and flowering in midsummer. Plants may reach 1.5 meters in diameter each year (Tonkinson 1989). Sexual reproduction, with establishment from seed occurs only occasionally. It may be limited to a few seasons because of dormancy within the propagules, habitat requirements or because establishment needs the temporary removal of competitors. Regeneration is not dependent on particular rare or unpredictable (stochastic) events, eg. fire, flood, unusual combination of seasonal conditions. All (or nearly all) plants are killed by fire, and regeneration is solely from seed stored in the soil pre-fire.

ISSUES & STATUS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS



Threatening processes: Land clearance, cultivation and heavy grazing have eliminated the species over most of its former range. It has failed to survive in the usual refuges such as railway reserves and roadsides. Regular summer burning is likely to eliminate the species by preventing effective seed set. Many of the weeds present at the site are indicative of high grazing pressure from sheep. Chilean Needle-grass(*Nassella neesiana) is of scattered occurrence throughout the Craigieburn site and has the potential to become a major problem, particularly in the absence of grazing(Frood 1992). The proposed construction of the F2 extension of the Hume Highway threatens the site with changes in hydrology and sediment load and consequent invasion of introduced Nassella spp.(Frood pers.comm.). Heavy grazing by cattle and sheep and a proposed quarry development threaten the Bald Hill Population.


Threat

Rating

Threat

Rating

WEED INVASION

2

GRAZING BY STOCK

1

PLANT COMPETITION

2

ROAD OR RAILWORKS

1

INAPPROPRIATE BURNING REGIME

1








Reservation: The Victorian Government is negotiating to acquire the private land at Craigieburn and the Bald Hill population will be protected through management agreements with the landholder.

Management: A draft Action Statement is currently being prepared for the species. An intermittent grazing regime may be an appropriate short-term management option to maintain an open canopy at the Craigieburn site. In the absence of grazing, weed control and monitoring of a number of herbaceous species would be an essential part of sound management (Frood 1992).
Slender Tree-fern Cyathea cunninghamii

Family: Cyatheaceae

Description: Erect slender tree fern up to 20 m tall and 8-10 cm in diameter. The crown is generally small comprising dark green fronds 1.5-3m in length with the width of secondary primae decreasing abruptly near the tips. Stipe bases are black, crumbly and rough, and persist towards the base of the trunk. Scales of stipe bases are papery and fawn to brown.

Conservation status:

  • ROTAP: rare

  • VROTS: rare

  • ESP: Not listed

  • FFG: Is listed, with a draft Action Statement




no of records in Victoria

Victorian range (km)

no of records in region

regional range (km)

% of Aust Majority

Tenure of largest proportion of Central Highlands population

Tenure of next largest proportion of Central Highlands population

175

700

28

34

0-25(?)

other public land





Distribution: Cyathea cunninghamii occurs at a single site in the Central Highlands, but occurs in other climatically suitable parts of Victora (the Otways, South Gippsland and East Gippsland). Populations are uncommon and typically very small, often comprising just a few individuals.

Habitat: Moist Foothills, Rainforests Confined to deep wet fern gullies and rainforest protected from fire and wind. Individuals are usually observed directly on creek banks with a constant moisture supply. However, the slender trunk can be damaged by flooding so populations tend to be confined to small catchments and headwaters (Lobert et al in prep.).

Reproduction: It has been reported that Cyathea cunninghamii does not become fertile before plants attain a height of about 7m, corresponding to an estimated age of approximately 80 years (Walsh and Entwistle 1994). Sexual reproduction, and subsequent establishment from seeds or spores, is likely in most years. Spores are available for three weeks in March. Although the release of tree-fern spores is prolific and distribution is extensive, little is known about the viability or longevity of the spores. Conditions for germination through to the development of the young tree-fern sporophyte are critical for the survival of tree-ferns on a site. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the species may be light tolerant (Gutowski 1995). All (or nearly all) plants are killed by fire; and colonies often re-establish only via invasion from unburnt sites. Slender Tree-Fern requires long periods without major disturbance for survival and establishment.

ISSUES & STATUS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS



Threatening processes: Slender Tree-fern usually occurs in populations of only one or two plants increasing its susceptibility to threatening processes. Plants may be killed or damaged directly from tree fall; deposited soil or vegetation; building and maintenance of logging roads and uncontrolled fuel reduction burns which unsuccessfully rely on moisture differentials to control their spread (Lobert et al 1991). Slender Tree-fern and its habitat may be affected by a number of factors associated with the establishment of adjacent logging or fire regrowth forests. Canopy disturbance opens up Slender Tree-fern habitat making plants more susceptible to windthrow, and promoting competition from other species. Timber harvesting and roading have the potential to increase the spread of Myrtle-wilt, a lethal fungal disease of Myrtle Beech. Epidemic levels of myrtle wilt have been recorded in the Otway Ranges (Cameron and Turner 1994). Although the impact of fire on Slender Tree-fern has not been studied it has been noted that Slender Tree-fern is uncommon and vanishing, presumably as a result of forest fires (Willis 1962). During the early years of forest regeneration there is an increase in fire risk due to the production and accumulation of large amounts of litter. A second fire during this time destroys the tree seedlings at a stage when the availability of tree seed is at a minimum. This allows fire adapted weed species to gain a bigger hold in the habitat and a serious swing to a fire-prone type of vegetation occurs (Jackson 1968). Vegetation which buffers rainforest may be removed completely or replaced by more fire-prone species (Cameron 1992). The alteration of sediment loads in streams may affect Slender Tree-fern habitat. Roading operations including stream crossings and snig tracks have been shown to significantly increase sediment in streams. Fluctuations in stream flow yields in regrowth forest and corresponding decreases in soil moisture levels may adversely affect Slender Tree-fern and its habitat. Feeder streams in regrowth forest can dry up during severe droughts increasing fire hazards (Yugovic 1991). In the Dandenongs, Cape Ivy (Delairea odorata) and to a lesser extent Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus spp. agg.) exert a pressure on Slender Tree-fern habitat because their smothering infestations prevent germination. Other competing weeds in the Dandenongs include Holly (Ilex aquifolium), Sycamore Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) and Cestrum (Cestrum elegans). Ivy(Hedera helix) has been seen growing on Slender Tree-fern plants. There is a high risk that individual populations of Slender Tree-fern may be wiped out by illegal tree-fern harvesting, especially in the Strzelecki Ranges and there is some risk of damage to colonies by visitors or collectors in the Dandenongs and at Tarra-Bulga National Park.


Threat

Rating

Threat

Rating

PLANT COLLECTION

1

RECREATIONAL DAMAGE

1

INAPPROPRIATE BURNING REGIME

2

INAPPROPRIATE HYDROLOGY

1

DISEASE

1

WEED INVASION

2

SMALL POPULATION SIZE

1

TIMBER HARVESTING

2

ROAD OR RAILWORKS

1








Reservation: The largest population occurs in the Dandenong Ranges along Sassafras Creek, within public land currently managed by the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment. A single plant near the Corranderk Weir is on land managed by Melbourne Water. Substantial populations of Slender Tree-fern occur in the Tarra-Bulga National Park.

Management: A draft Action Statement has been prepared for the species specifying a program of monitoring and research and appropriate conservation measures will be determined in consultation with local Flora staff. Adherence to the Code of Forest Practices is critical to the protection of Slender Tree-fern. Properly constructed roads and snig tracks are to be located as far upstream as is practicable and roading works are not to be located in buffer zones. Adequacy of buffers both prescribed and imposed by topography will be assessed. Logging areas which are likely to contain Slender Tree-fern should be surveyed prior to approval of the Wood Utilisation Plan. Private land holders managing areas containing Slender Tree-fern will be encouraged to establish conservation covenants. All present and future locations of Slender Tree-fern on public land are to be protected by reservation or in special management zones (SMZ) within state forests. A buffer of 100 meters will be established around all sites from which logging will be excluded. The impact of myrtle wilt on Slender Tree-fern habitat will be determined. In areas where Slender Tree-fern occurs on land managed for timber production survey information will be provided to relevant managers for incorporation into coupe plans and an information kit for timber industry staff will be prepared. Forestry officers will be responsible for informing ground staff when operations are likely to take place near Slender Tree-fern habitat. Showing ground staff the plant in the environment is to be encouraged. Collection of Slender Tree-fern for sale should not be allowed to continue. An assessment will be made of the impact of visitors to locations of known populations and the most effective and environmentally acceptable means of removing and controlling weeds.
Gully Grevillea Grevillea barklyana ssp. barklyana

Family: Proteaceae

Description: Tall shrub or slender tree with a closed canopy, 3 to 10m high. The large flat leaves are green above and whitish-velvety beneath and are entire or appear ‘oak like’ by having sharp, pointed lobes (Willis 1972). Numerous silky, red flowers form a one-sided, brush-like inflorescence in late spring.

Conservation status:

  • ROTAP: rare

  • VROTS: rare

  • ESP: Not listed

  • FFG: Is listed, but has no Action Statement



no of records in Victoria

Victorian range (km)

no of records in region

regional range (km)

% of Aust Majority

Tenure of largest proportion of Central Highlands population

Tenure of next largest proportion of Central Highlands population

37

43

37

43

75-100

other public land

conservation reserve



Distribution: Gully Grevillea is confined in Victoria to 3 minor (10’) grids north of Labertouche - an area of no more than 50 square kilometers surrounding the headwaters of the Bunyip and Tarago Rivers, in the catchment of Westernport Bay. The species is highly localised and populations are more or less continuous. Over a thousand plants are known to occur within the Central Highlands and population size rarely fluctuates significantly.

Habitat: Occurs on mountain forest gullies and damp gully slopes on gravelly clay/loam soils that are generally moist (Walsh & Entwisle 1996). Gully Grevillea is frequently a dominant component in the tall, shrubby understorey of Wet Sclerophyll Forest dominated by Eucalyptus regnans. The species spans a broad ecological range from Damp Forest to Cool Temperate Rainforest.

Reproduction: Plants are perennial, surviving for up to 50 years. Location of the seed store is in the soil. Regeneration is continuous, with seed germinating over an extended period. Plants tolerate occasional major ('natural') disturbances and require such disturbance for the rare opportunity to establish and spread. All (or nearly all) plants are killed by fire, and regeneration is solely from seed stored in the canopy or stored in the soil for only a short time pre-fire; fire-promoted germination or establishment.

ISSUES & STATUS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS



Threatening processes: It is unlikely that the species is threatened by wildfire, as many Victorian Proteaceae, including Grevillea are well adapted to wildfire. However, imposed fire regimes of high frequency and low intensity have the potential to locally eliminate populations. As a major proportion of the total population occurs in State Forest zoned for Hardwood production (e.g. Rysons Creek), timber removal and associated forestry activities (including road and track construction) have the potential to threaten this species.


Threat

Rating

Threat

Rating

INAPPROPRIATE BURNING REGIME

1

TIMBER HARVESTING

2


Reservation: Populations occurring on Lawson Creek (in the Bunyip River Catchment) are within the boundaries of Bunyip State Park, a biological reserve.
Management: Draft Action Statement is being prepared. The Central Highlands Draft Forest Management Plan includes a commitment to protect mature individuals wherever possible and to investigate methods to enhance recruitment in order to maintain levels of abundance.
Shiny Phebalium Phebalium wilsonii

Family: Rutaceae

Description: Phebalium wilsonii occurs as a scattered tall shrub or small tree, 6-10m high. The leaves are narrowly elliptic to lanceolate, glossy on the upper surface and densely silvery lepidote on the lower surface. The flowers are axillary in position and have white, scaly petals 3.5mm-5.0mm long. The ovaries are also scaly and stamen filaments are of similar length to the petals. The fruit are obliquely ovoid cocci which can be glabrous at maturity.

Conservation Status:

  • ROTAP: rare

  • VROTS: vulnerable

  • ESP: Not listed

  • FFG: Is listed, but has no Action Statement




no of records in Victoria

Victorian range (km)

no of records in region

regional range (km)

% of Aust Majority

Tenure of largest proportion of Central Highlands population

Tenure of next largest proportion of Central Highlands population

12

47

12

47

75-100

conservation reserve





Distribution: Phebalium wilsonii is currently known from a single site in the O'Shannessy Catchment within the Yarra Ranges National Parl, where approximately 500 plants were observed by Walsh and Albrecht (1988). Shiny Phebalium was previously collected from Woods Point, approximately 35 km east of the type locality, where it appears to have become locally extinct.

Habitat: Eucalyptus regnans (Mountain Ash) tall open forest merging to Nothofagus cunninghamii (Myrtle Beech) Cool Temperate Rainforest, on deep mountain loam soils of granitic origin. The location of Phebalium wilsonii along track margins at the type locality suggests it is an ecotonal species regenerating after disturbance.

Reproduction: Plants are perennial, surviving for up to 50 years. Sexual reproduction, with establishment from seed occurs only occasionally. It may be limited to a few seasons because of dormancy within the propagules, habitat requirements or because establishment needs the temporary removal of competitors. Pulse regeneration, with most seed germinating simultaneously. All (or nearly all) plants are killed by fire, and regeneration is solely from seed (or spores) stored in the canopy or stored in the soil for only a short time pre-fire; fire-promoted germination or establishment. 'Natural' disturbances, such as fires, floods, or occasional browsing/grazing are tolerated, but regeneration is not dependent on such disturbance.


ISSUES AND STATUS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS



Threatening processes: The Woods Point population has apparently become extinct since 1892, following wildfire, land development and gold prospecting. The extremely limited nature of the species distribution and the lack of knowledge on its biology possibly makes it susceptible to inappropriate management and natural disasters.


Threat

Rating

Threat

Rating

SMALL POPULATION SIZE

2

LACK OF KNOWLEDGE

1


Reservation: The only known population is within the O'Shannessy Catchment, a proclaimed water catchment within the Yarra Ranges National Park. Part of the population extends into the Deep Creek Reference Area.

Management: Phebalium wilsonii is believed to be an ecotonal species, well adapted to coping with recurrent natural disturbance and management would need to take this into account (Walsh and Albrecht 1988). Nothing is known about the fire behaviour of the species or other features of its biology which may account for its extremely circumscribed natural distribution. To develop appropriate management it is necessary to determine the ecological requirements of the species.
Fairy Lanterns Thismia rodwayi

Family: Burmanniaceae

Description: Fairy Lanterns is a saprophytic herb 5-30mm high. The flower resembles a glowing amber-coloured lantern and is less than 2cm high. Scale leaves, 5-10mm long the largest ones just below the flower(Walsh N.G. & Entwisle, T.J. 1994).

Conservation Status:

  • ROTAP: rare

  • VROTS: vulnerable

  • ESP: Not listed

  • FFG: Has been nominated




no of records in Victoria

Victorian range (km)

no of records in region

regional range (km)

% of Aust Majority

Tenure of largest proportion of Central Highlands population

Tenure of next largest proportion of Central Highlands population

1

0

1

0

0-25

conservation reserve





Distribution: Thismia rodwayi is currently known from only one site, within the Central Highlands, at Wallaby Creek near Kinglake, within the Kinglake National Park.. Although it is a very attractive plant, it is difficult to find since it is small and can be hidden within the litter layer. The species occurs in stable wet forests which have a wide distribution and have been reasonably well surveyed, indicating that Fairy Lanterns is extremely rare. Searches in the mid 1980’s at sites of former collections at Sherbrooke Forest and Toorongo River have failed to find fairy lanterns.

Habitat: The species is currently known from occurrences in deeply shaded tall open-forest and closed forest and fern gullies on damp humus and leaf litter.

Reproduction: Plants are facultative annuals, biennials or short-lived perennials (1 - 3 years). Sexual reproduction and subsequent establishment is continuous with seed germinating over an extended period. All (or nearly all) plants are killed by fire, and regeneration is solely from seed, although no notable seed or canopy seed store is produced. Re-establishment is often only via invasion from unburnt sites. Fairy Lanterns requires long periods without major disturbance for survival and establishment (e.g. no fires, floods, clearing etc.). Plants grow in a symbiotic relationship with a fungus, which in turn is associated with the rhizosphere of certain forest trees: Blanket Leaf (Bedfordia arborescens), Mush Daisy-bush (Olearia argophylla) and Hazel Pomaderris (Pomaderris aspera). Detached pieces of rhizome can grow and develop to the flowering stage, however nothing is known about the conditions needed for regeneration from seed.

ISSUES & STATUS IN CENTRAL HIGHLANDS


Threatening processes: Fairy Lanterns is extant at only one of the six former sites in Victoria, at Wallaby Creek. The area was burnt by wildfires in 1926 and it is not known whether the species colonised the site from unburnt areas or survived these fires in situ. Scarlett and Ashton recorded approximately seven plants in 1986, and a recent survey by Forbes and Walsh identified only a few plants. There are no obvious threats to the species at this site, however the population has clearly declined.


Threat

Rating




Rating

SMALL POPULATION SIZE

2

LACK OF KNOWLEDGE

2


Reservation: The Wallaby Creek population is within the Kinglake National Park.

Management: Unknown.




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