CONSERVATION OF THREATENED FLORA IN THE WILD - DECEMBER 1992
Department of Conservation and Land Management Policy Statement No. 9
1. OPERATIONAL OBJECTIVE
To conserve threatened flora in the wild in Western Australia and to comply with Section 23F of the
Wildlife Conservation Act.
The term "threatened flora" is used to mean any plant taxon which is threatened with extinction and
declared under Section 23F of the Wildlife Conservation Act as "rare flora" (i.e. "is likely to become
extinct or is rare or otherwise in need of special protection").
"Interim Wildlife Management Guidelines" means guidelines approved by the Director of Nature
Conservation for the management and protection of threatened or harvested taxa where no full Wildlife
Management Program has been prepared.
"Wildlife Management Program" means a publication produced by CALM providing detailed
information and guidance for the management and protection of threatened or harvested species or
groups of those species. Programs for threatened taxa are sometimes referred to as "Species Recovery
3. BACKGROUND The Department of Conservation and Land Management has statutory responsibilities for endangered
flora conservation. This is a major concern because:
Western Australia has a flora that is exceptionally rich in localised and rare endemic plant
species. Moreover, areas where rare species are concentrated coincide predominantly with
the wheatbelt and other areas where there has been extensive clearing or modification of the
Section 23F of the Wildlife Conservation Act prohibits the taking (injury or destruction) of
declared threatened (rare) flora by any person on any land throughout the State without the
consent in writing of the Minister. A breach of this provision may lead to a fine of up to $10 000.
The flora provisions of the Act are binding on the Crown.
Officers of the Department need to know how to identify declared threatened flora, to know
where it occurs, and to know how best to manage it. Moreover, the Act prescribes that threatened
flora be protected on all categories of land throughout the State. Hence, the legislation requires
officers of the Department to advise and otherwise deal with a broad spectrum of land owners and
users. Threatened flora conservation is thus an issue of high public profile, and one where the
Department's activities are subject to intense public scrutiny.
The Schedule of Declared Rare Flora The Schedule of Declared Rare (Threatened Flora) is reviewed annually.
Plants which are protected flora declared under the Wildlife Conservation Act may be recommended for
gazettal as declared rare (threatened) flora if they satisfy the following criteria
(i) The taxon (species, subspecies, variety) is well-defined, readily identified and represented by a
voucher specimen in a State or National Herbarium. It need not necessarily be formally described
under conventions in the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature, but such a description is
preferred and should be undertaken as soon as possible after listing on the schedule.
(ii) Have been searched for thoroughly in the wild by competent botanists during the past five years
in most likely habitats, according to guidelines approved by the Executive Director (see
(iii) Searches have established that the plant in the wild is either:
or (b) in danger of extinction; or (c) deemed to be threatened and in need of special protection;
or (d) presumed extinct (i.e. the taxon has not been collected from the wild, or
otherwise verified, over the past 50 years despite thorough searching, or of
which all known wild populations have been destroyed more recently).
(iv) In the case of hybrids, or suspected hybrids, the following criteria must also be satisfied:
(a) they must be a distinct entity, that is, the progeny are consistent within the agreed taxonomic limits
for that taxon group;
(b) they must be self perpetuating, that is, not reliant on the parent stock for replacement; and
(c) they are the product of a natural event, that is, both parents are naturally occurring and cross
fertilisation was by natural means.
(Plants which occur on land reserved for nature conservation may be considered less in need of special
protection than those on land designated for other purposes).
The status of a threatened plant in cultivation has no bearing on this matter. The legislation refers only
to the status of plants in the wild.
Plants may be deleted from the schedule of declared rare (threatened) flora where:
(a) recent botanical survey as defined in (ii) above has shown that the taxon is not rare, in danger
of extinction or otherwise in need of special protection;
(b) the taxon is shown to be a hybrid that does not comply with the inclusion criteria; and
(c) the taxon is no longer threatened because it has been adequately protected by reservation of
land where it occurs, or because its population numbers have increased beyond the danger
"Taking" Threatened Flora
In the Wildlife Conservation Act (subsection 6 (1)) the following definition is given:
"to take" in relation to any flora includes to gather, pluck, cut, pull up, destroy, dig up, remove or injure the
flora or to cause or permit the same to be done by any means;"
Thus, taking declared threatened flora would include not only direct injury or destruction by human hand or
machine but such activities as allowing stock to graze on the flora, introducing pathogens that attack it,
altering water tables such that the flora is deprived of adequate soil moisture or is inundated, allowing air
pollutants to harm foliage etc.
In the case of threatened plants which need fire for regeneration, burning at an appropriate time may not
adversely affect the survival of the population. However, burning would injure existing plants and
constitutes "taking" under the Act. Therefore, Ministerial approval is required prior to conducting a burn
which involves any species of endangered flora.
The Department will:
Identify, locate and seek to conserve threatened flora.
Undertake research into the taxonomy, population biology, ecology, protection and propagation of
Implement management practices to conserve threatened flora and its habitat.
Publicise the need for conservation of threatened flora, and encourage involvement in
conservation from all sectors of the community.
Liaise with other land management and research agencies and private land owners to enhance the
study and conservation of threatened flora.
Develop and manage a geographic data base for threatened flora at its headquarters and at regional
and district offices.
To accomplish the Department objective and policies, staff will:
5.1 Establish a consultative committee with the Western Australian Herbarium, Kings Park Board,
tertiary institutions and other relevant organisations to ensure that research and management of
declared threatened flora are coordinated.
Develop Wildlife Management Programs and Interim Wildlife Management Guidelines, for
threatened plant taxa, and appoint fixed term "recovery teams" for their implementation.
Undertake training in Departmental obligations to conserve and manage threatened flora.
Nominate Threatened Flora Officers (additional to District Wildlife Officers) in each region and
district who shall be responsible for identifying, locating, mapping, training staff, overseeing
management programs and providing liaison and advice on threatened flora.
Establish and maintain field herbaria, photographic collections, map records and other aids
concerning threatened flora at each ranger station and district and regional office.
5.6 Arrange an inspection to establish whether declared threatened flora are present before
undertaking any activity on CALM land that involves permanent destruction (i.e. clearing for
road-making, building, mining or other purposes) of native flora.
Ensure that no known declared threatened flora is destroyed, damaged, or otherwise injured by
Departmental staff or their contractors without first obtaining a ministerial permit so to do.
Ensure that any burning program (for fire protection purposes) will not cause irreparable damage
to species of threatened flora known to be susceptible to fire.
5.9 Observe other operational guidelines for protection of endangered flora on CALM lands as
detailed in Administrative Instruction No. 24 "Protection Endangered (Threatened) Flora in
5.10 Monitor known populations of threatened flora.
5.11 Maintain a geographic and biological data base on threatened flora
5.12 Develop management programs for species of threatened flora.
5.13 Collect seed and propagate threatened flora in Departmental nurseries. Replant propagated
material in the wild under an approved management programs or approved Interim Wildlife
5.14 Undertake research on the distribution, taxonomy, genetic systems, population biology, ecology,
protection and propagation of threatened flora.
5.15 Assist private property owners and other land management agencies in the protection and
conservation of threatened flora.
5.16 Acquire land through donation, exchange or purchase to protect threatened flora where land
and/or funds are available.
5.17 Maintain a system for listing and delisting flora on the declared threatened schedule.
5.18 Publicise information on threatened flora (without disclosing precise locations) and encourage
community involvement in the conservation of threatened flora.
5.19 Maintain, through the Wildlife Branch, central records of all correspondence, discoveries of
threatened flora populations, basic information on susceptibility to fire or dependence on fire for
regeneration, applications for ministerial permits and other matters to do with declared threatened
5.20 Refer enforcement matters regarding the taking of declared threatened flora to the appropriate
District Wildlife Officer.
APPENDIX IV GUIDELINES FOR SURVEYS OF PLANTS PROPOSED FOR ADDITION OR DELETION TO THE SCHEDULE OF DECLARED THREATENED FLORA
These guidelines were developed in conjunction with new criteria for additions and deletions to the
Schedule of declared flora.
Criterion (ii) for additions states:
The taxon "has been searched for thoroughly in the wild by competent botanists during the
past five years in most likely habitats, according to guidelines approved by the Executive
The intensity of survey necessary to understand the conservation status of a plant varies according to a
number of factors. Important considerations are:
A taxon extending over 10 km of terrain will take less time to survey than one that occurs
over 100 km.
Taxa confined to specific localised habitats (eg. granite outcrops) will require less time to
survey than those more catholic in habitat preference.
Large conspicuous perennial plants (eg. eucalypts) can be identified and counted more
quickly than small inconspicuous annuals.
Seasonality and identification
Some plants are identifiable and conspicuous on vegetative features at any time of year.
Others only stand out during flowering or fruiting, which may be confined to just a few
weeks in the year, and may also be dependent on good seasonal conditions.
Some plants only germinate and/or flower following disturbance events such as bushfire or
earthworks, and hence can only be surveyed after such events.
Based on these considerations, and the accumulated survey experience of many botanists and other
CALM officers who have searched for hundreds of Western Australian plants over the past decade,
the following matrix provides guidelines as to the duration of search necessary for plants to be
considered for addition or deletion to the schedule of declared threatened flora.
Extremes of plant taxa in terms of ease and seasonality of identification are given.
Recommended period of full time field survey
identifiable any time
with difficulty over
period in certain years
over several years
over a decade
over a decade
*e.g. large perennial plants identifiable any time on vegetative characteristics - Eucalyptus crucis,
# eg. short-lived small annuals with inconspicuous flowers - Hydrocotyle spp., annual sedges etc.
Having completed surveys according to the above guidelines, the next phase in considering listing on
the schedule is described under Criterion for additions (iii).
"Such recent botanical survey has shown that the taxon in the wild is either rare, or in danger of
extinction or in need of special protection".
These three categories of endangered flora are defined below.
Less than a few thousand plants of the taxon exist in the wild.
The taxon is in serious risk of disappearing from the wild state within one or two decades if present
land use and other causal factors continue to operate.
In need of special protection
The taxon is not presently in danger of extinction but is at risk over a longer period through continued
depletion, or largely occurs on sites likely to experience changes in land use which would threaten its
survival in the wild.
The taxon has not been collected in the wild, or otherwise verified, over the past 50 years (from the
date of listing) despite thorough searching, or of which all of the known wild populations have been
destroyed more recently, and is presumed to be extinct.