Biodiversity Assessment Technical Report


Flora species assessment 5.1 Introduction



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5 Flora species assessment

5.1 Introduction


Assessment of the Central Highlands flora has involved an analysis of the distribution and viability of individual species and their populations within the region. The purpose of this assessment is to assist in determining whether:
 viable populations of all terrestrial and aquatic plant species are maintained throughout their natural range in the region;

 representative populations of each species are included in the reserve system; and

 populations and their habitats both within and outside the reserve system are subject to management appropriate for their long-term maintenance.
A total of approximately 2,000 species of vascular plants have been recorded for the Central Highlands region, including 67 species of conservation significance and 500 exotic species.

5.1.1 Priority flora species


The focus of assessment of flora species in the Central Highlands has been on those taxa which have been identified as being at risk because of rarity, depletion or the continued action of threatening processes. Rare or threatened species are often at the forefront of the debate regarding the balance between conservation and resource utilisation. They are significant because their intrinsic value as unique forms of life and their potential utility is enhanced by their rarity and the higher likelihood of their permanent loss. In addition, the fate of rare or threatened species may also indicate the health of the ecosystems and communities on which they depend and the direct or indirect impact of human activities on these ecosystems and communities.
Rare or threatened plants may exhibit a range of life histories, life-forms, reproductive strategies and distribution patterns. Included among the plants considered rare or threatened in the Central Highlands region are:

  • long-lived trees and short-lived herbs;

  • endemics which may be locally abundant but occur in a restricted area and those which occur over a large area but are rarely common;

  • sub-alpine and lowland species;

  • forest-dependent species, grassland species, heathland species; and

  • species which are naturally rare but appear stable and species which were more common at the time of European settlement but which have declined significantly since, usually as a result of habitat loss or degradation.

This review of the conservation of rare or threatened species in the Central Highlands region addresses:



  • plants listed as threatened under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (FFG Act),

  • plants listed as presumed extinct, endangered or vulnerable under the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992 (ESP Act),

  • plants included in the Victorian Rare or Threatened Species list for plants (VROTS), and

  • plants included in the national list of Rare or Threatened Australian Plants (ROTAP) (Briggs and Leigh 1995).

Non-vascular plants have not been considered in this assessment, nor have those taxa where their continuing occurrence within the Central Highlands could not be confirmed in terms of accurate identification or location, or where they are hybrids.



5.2 Life history and population parameters for priority flora species

5.2.1 Assessment methods


For each of the plants evaluated in this review, the following questions were considered:

  • how abundant is the plant, in which habitat(s) does it occur, and what is its pattern of distribution;

  • how vulnerable is it to further decline and extinction; and

  • what management action has taken place, or is envisaged, to protect the taxon.

NRE databases, expert opinion and available scientific literature were used to compile the following information for each species: conservation status (according to each of the lists mentioned above); the approximate proportion each species’ total Australian range that occurs within the Central Highlands region; the number of Victorian and Central Highlands records held within NRE databases; the number of populations and individuals known to occur in the Central Highlands region; any trends which may be apparent in the demography of the plant; the geographic range of the plant within the Central Highlands region; the locations of the largest number and the second largest number of individuals in regard to land tenure, (based on records confirmed within past 10 years) within the Central Highlands region.


The land tenure categories used are conservation reserves (National Parks, State Parks, Flora Reserves, Flora and Fauna Reserves), other public land (State forest including Special Protection Zone, Special Management Zone and General Management Zone, public land reserved for other purposes and uncommitted public land), and private land.
These data are presented in Table 5.1. More details for plants listed under the FFG Act or ESP Act can be found in Appendix E.
It should be noted that while a number of species are listed as being found on ‘other public land’, the Ecological Vegetation Class in which they occur are not suitable for timber harvesting or are riparian vegetation types which are excluded from timber harvesting.

5.2.2 Patterns of abundance, distribution and habitat


Several distinct groups of plants emerge when considering abundance, distribution and habitat:

Plants of sub-alpine habitats which are highly localised and naturally rare


In the Central Highlands, sub-alpine habitats are restricted to the Baw Baw Plateau, Lake Mountain, Mt Bullfight and Mt Torbreck. Such habitats are also relatively uncommon in Victoria and Australia in general, and therefore tend to support a higher proportion of rare or threatened plants than more common and/or extensive habitats. In the Central Highlands, such plants include Richea victoriana, Tasmannia vickeriana, Monotoca oreophila, Coprosma moorei, Coprosma perpusilla var perpusilla, Brachyscom obovata, Erigeron pappocromus var oblongata, Epacris glacialis, Epacris coriacea, Lycopodium scariosum, Juncus antarcticus and Mitrasacme montana.

Plants of moist forests which are endemic to the Central Highlands and which may be locally common


Any region of the size of the Central Highlands is likely to contain the major populations of plants which have adapted to the prevailing environmental conditions to the point where they may be locally common, but which are nevertheless considered rare on a statewide basis. Included in this category are Persoonia arborea, Wittsteinia vacciniacea, Carex alsophila, Oxalis magellanica and Lastreopsis hispida.
Table 5.1: Conservation Status and Distribution of Rare or Threatened Plants in the Central Highlands Regional Forest Agreement region

(a) Plants listed as threatened under the Commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992

Plant

Conservation Status

Victorian distribution

Central Highlands distribution

Tenure of Central Highlands population




ESP

ROTAP

FFG

VROTS

no of Vic records

Victorian range (km)

no of CH records

regional range (km)

% of Aust range

Largest proportion of population

Next largest proportion of population

Astelia australiana

V

V

yes

v

45

279

37

41

75-100

other public land

-

Caladenia rosella

E

E

yes

e

7

291

3

2

25-50

private land

conservation reserve

Eucalyptus crenulata

E

E

yes

e

34

250

33

108

75-100

conservation reserve

private land

Lepidium hyssopifolium

E

E

yes

e

32

452

6

30

0-25

other public land

-

Senecio laticostatus

V

V

no

v

3

158

3

158

50-75

private land

-

Senecio macrocarpus

V

V

yes

e

34

600

3

74

0-25

other public land

-

Note: ESP categories are endangered (E) or vulnerable (V)

(b) Plants listed as threatened under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (in addition to those listed above).

Plant

Conservation Status

Victorian distribution

Central Highlands distribution

Tenure of Central Highlands population




ESP

ROTAP

FFG

VROTS

no of Vic records

Victorian range (km)

no of CH records

regional range (km)

% of Aust range

Largest proportion of population

Next largest proportion of population

Amphibromus pithogastris

No

K

yes

e

3

200

1

0

50-75

private land

-

Bracteantha sp. aff. subundulata

No

-

yes

v

11

440

2

62

25-50

other public land

-

Caladenia concolor

No

V

yes

v

11

447

3

40

0-25

private land

-

Carex tasmanica

No

V

yes

v

20

371

11

11

0-25

private land

-

Cullen tenax

No

-

yes

e

15

460

4

17

0-25

private land

-

Cyathea cunninghamii

No

R

yes

r

175

700

28

34

0-25

other public land

-

Grevillea barklyana ssp. barklyana

No

R

yes

r

37

43

37

43

75-100

other public land

conservation reserve

Phebalium wilsonii

No

R

yes

v

12

47

12

47

75-100

conservation reserve

-

Thismia rodwayi

No

R

yes

v

1

0

1

0

0-25

conservation reserve

-

Table 5.1 Cont’d

(c) Other Victorian Rare Or Threatened Species

Plant

Conservation Status

Victorian distribution

Central Highlands distribution

Tenure of Central Highlands population




ESP

ROTAP

FFG

VROTS

no of Vic records

Victorian range (km)

no of CH records

regional range (km)

% of Aust range

Largest proportion of population

Next largest proportion of population

Acacia howittii

No

R

no

r

42

856

7

148

0-25

private land

-

Asplenium terrestre ssp. terrestre

No

-

no

r

96

321

2

3

0-25

other public land

-

Astrotricha parvifolia

No

R

no

r

15

136

1

0

0-25

conservation reserve

-

Beyeria viscosa

No

-

no

r

39

240

0

0

0-25

conservation reserve

-

Brachyscome obovata

No

-

no

r

25

253

17

62

25-50

conservation reserve

-

Burnettia cuneata

No

R

no

r

43

904

21

85

0-25

private land

-

Caladenia flavovirens

No

-

no

r

14

807

2

4

25-50

private land

-

Caladenia lindleyana

No

K

no

r

8

334

8

39

50-75

conservation reserve

private land

Carex alsophila

No

-

no

r

60

86

60

86

75-100

other public land

conservation reserve

Coprosma moorei

No

-

no

r

10

117

4

8

25-50

other public land

conservation reserve

Coprosma perpusilla ssp. perpusilla

No

-

no

r

13

11

13

11

25-50

conservation reserve

other public land

Desmodium varians

No

-

no

r

63

516

20

128

0-25

private land

-

Epacris coriacea

No

-

no

r

3

228

1

0

0-25

other public land

-

Epacris glacialis

No

-

no

r

37

155

2

1

0-25

other public land

-

Epilobium pallidiflorum

No

-

no

d

80

883

42

161

0-25

private land

conservation reserve

Erigeron pappocromus var. oblongatus

No

-

no

v

3

1

3

1

0-25

other public land

conservation reserve

Eucalyptus alligatrix ssp. alligatrix

No

R

no

r

34

567

7

123

0-25

conservation reserve

other public land

Eucalyptus neglecta

No

R

no

r

52

239

6

13

0-25

other public land

-

Eucalyptus pauciflora ssp. acerina

No

-

no

r

5

7

5

7

75-100

conservation reserve

other public land

Eucalyptus strzeleckii

No

V

no

v

27

81

16

60

0-25

private land

-

Eucalyptus yarraensis

No

R

reject

r

63

835

25

79

0-25

private land

other public land

Euchiton umbricolus

No

-

no

r

21

324

4

48

0-25

other public land

private land

Fimbristylis velata

No

-

no

r

3

586

2

0

0-25

other public land

-

Gahnia grandis

No

-

no

v

10

136

5

15

0-25

conservation reserve

private land

Table 5.1 Cont’d

Plant

Conservation Status

Victorian distribution

Central Highlands distribution

Tenure of Central Highlands population




ESP

ROTAP

FFG

VROTS

no of Vic records

Victorian range (km)

no of CH records

regional range (km)

% of Aust range

Largest proportion of population

Next largest proportion of population

Grevillea repens

No

R

no

r

42

328

23

68

50-75

conservation reserve

other public land

Huperzia australiana

No

-

no

r

21

245

13

60

0-25

other public land

conservation reserve

Huperzia varia

No

-

no

v

13

663

3

5

0-25

other public land

-

Hypsela tridens

No

-

no

v

6

202

2

0

0-25

other public land

-

Juncus antarcticus

No

-

no

v

3

146

1

0

0-25

conservation reserve

-

Lastreopsis hispida

No

-

no

r

61

275

10

17

0-25

other public land

-

Lindsaea microphylla

No

-

no

r

60

368

1

0

0-25

conservation reserve

other public land

Lomandra longifolia ssp. exilis

No

-

no

r

253

1083

1

0

0-25

private land

-

Lycopodium scariosum

No

-

no

r

15

148

11

13

0-25

conservation reserve

other public land

Pultenaea weindorferi

No

R

reject

r

40

182

32

44

50-75

conservation reserve

other public land private land

Mitrasacme montana

No

-

no

r

12

79

7

5

0-25

conservation reserve

other public land

Monotoca oreophila

No

R

no

r

7

84

6

10

75-100

other public land

conservation reserve

Oxalis magellanica

No

-

no

r

47

603

39

81

50-75

other public land

conservation reserve

Ozothamnus rogersianus

No

-

no

r

4

532

1

0

25-50

other public land

conservation reserve

Persoonia arborea

No

-

reject

r

205

92

205

92

75-100

other public land

conservation reserve

Poa labillardieri var. acris

No

-

no

k

21

706

11

107

0-25

other public land

conservation reserve

Prasophyllum lindleyanum

No

-

reject

v

40

867

14

95

0-25

conservation reserve

-

Pteris comans

No

-

-

r

3

70

3

70

0-25

conservation reserve

private land

Pterostylis grandiflora

No

-

no

r

25

472

12

127

0-25

other public land

conservation reserve

Richea victoriana

No

-

no

r

1

0

1

0

75-100

conservation reserve

-

Spiranthes sinensis

No

-

no

d

18

708

3

79

0-25

private land

other public land

Table 5.1 Cont’d




ESP

ROTAP

FFG

VROTS

no of Vic records

Victorian range (km)

no of CH records

regional range (km)

% of Aust range

Largest proportion of population

Next largest proportion of population

Taraxacum aristum

No

R

reject

r

23

298

2

55

0-25

other public land

private land

Tasmannia vickeriana

No

R

no

r

1

0

1

0

75-100

conservation reserve

-

Tetratheca stenocarpa

No

R

no

r

80

147

79

125

75-100

conservation reserve

other public land

Thelymitra circumsepta

No

-

no

v

12

625

1

0

0-25

other public land

-

Tmesipteris elongata ssp. elongata

No

-

no

v

12

321

1

0

0-25

other public land

-

Tmesipteris ovata

No

-

no

r

54

478

4

35

0-25

other public land

private land

Wittsteinia vacciniacea

No

-

no

r

132

76

133

76

75-100

other public land

conservation reserve

Notes: ‘reject’ in FFG column indicates species considered for listing but rejected by the FFG Committee as not meeting criteria.

ROTAP categories: R - rare; V - vulnerable; E - endangered; K - insufficiently known.

VROT categories: e - endangered; v - vulnerable; r - rare; d = depleted; k - insufficiently known.

Plants which are widespread but rarely common




Wet forests and rainforest

These plants typically have narrow habitat requirements - fern gullies, rainforests - but may occur in other regions where these habitats are found, such as East Gippsland, the Otways and Tasmania. Included in this category are Tmesipteris spp, Huperzia varia, Cyathea cunninghamii, Thismia rodwayi and Gahnia grandis.
Dry and damp forests

Several rare or threatened species of dry forest habitats occur sparsely in the Central Highlands: Ozothamnus rogersianus, Lindsaea microphylla, Acacia howittii, Eucalyptus neglecta, Eucalyptus alligatrix and Pteris comans.

Plants of moist forests which are Central Highlands endemics and occur in a few, scattered populations

Some of the rare or threatened plants of the Central Highlands appear never to have been common, even though their preferred habitat appears to be relatively common. Subtle but critical habitat differences may in part explain this phenomenon, as might elimination from suitable habitat by one or a series of catastrophic events. Included in this group are Eucalyptus crenulata, Astelia australiana, Grevillea barklyana ssp. barklyana and Phebalium wilsonii.


Plants of a variety of habitats which are marginal to the Central Highlands

Habitats such as grasslands, grassy woodlands and riverine plains occur within the Central Highlands region, but are marginal to it, being more widespread beyond the region. Several of the rare or threatened species being considered here occur in these habitats including - Senecio macrocarpus, Senecio laticostatus, Hypsela tridens, Carex tasmanica, Cullen tenax and Amphibromus fluitans.


Plants of habitats which have been depleted in the Central Highlands

At the time of European settlement, the Central Highlands contained a range of vegetated habitats such as river valleys and lower slopes which have been substantially cleared in the intervening period. Notable in this context are the lower sections of the Yarra, Goulburn (including the Yea and Acheron valleys) and La Trobe Rivers. Plants which occurred in these habitats are more likely to be rare or threatened species as a result of the clearing. Included in this category are Eucalyptus yarraensis, Eucalyptus strzeleckii, Epilobium pallidiflorum, Pultenaea weindorferi and Burnettia cuneata.




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