Draft recovery Plan for Clay pans of the Swan Coastal Plain ecological community May 2017 Foreword



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18.6.2 Recommended recovery actions



1. Liaise with stakeholders to implement recovery
Many of the occurrences of the clay pan communities are managed by authorities other than Parks and Wildlife, or are privately owned. Liaison with all land managers will be required in seeking conservation management and avoiding further loss or damage to the communities. Indigenous groups will also be consulted about relevant on-ground actions in this plan.
Road widening, maintenance activities, fencing or other infrastructure or development activities involving soil or vegetation disturbance in areas where the clay pan communities occur should be planned such that they do not adversely impact on known occurrences.
The locations of clay pan communities in the Perth-Peel area are to be specified in the Strategic Assessment planning document that covers that region and is to form an agreement between the State and the Australian Governments. The document will seek to ensure the conservation of Matters of National Environmental Significance including the clay pan communities, in future development plans for the region. Another document that seeks to ensure protection of specific areas of the clay pans is Bush Forever, a planning document for the Perth Metropolitan Region (Government of Western Australia 2000).
To prevent accidental destruction of the communities, and gain public support for their conservation, information about the community will continue to be provided by local Parks and Wildlife staff to all stakeholders including landholders and managers of land containing the community. This will include information from the TEC database, maps indicating the location of the community, and this recovery plan.
Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Swan, South West, Midwest and Wheatbelt Regions, Moora, Swan Coastal, Perth Hills, Wellington and Blackwood Districts, Species and Communities Branch (SCB))

Cost: $5,000 per year for all liaison (not including vehicle costs)

Completion date: Ongoing
2. Continue to monitor extent and boundaries of occurrences
To date many of the occurrences have been manually mapped or mapped using aerial photographs. Extent and boundary information will continue to be updated on Parks and Wildlife’s corporate threatened ecological communities database.
Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Swan, South West, Midwest and Wheatbelt Regions, Moora, Swan Coastal, Perth Hills, Wellington and Blackwood Districts, Species and Communities Branch)

Cost: $3000 per year

Completion date: Ongoing
3. Encompass monitoring in an adaptive management framework
It is likely that the most important factors that will influence the future health and persistence of the clay pan communities will be weed levels, hydrological parameters, climatic factors such as reduced rainfall, fire intervals and characteristics, and grazing levels. Monitoring that is linked to the vegetation’s responses to these pressures will therefore be most useful in guiding future management.
General monitoring established in the community includes success of weed control in occurrences including Brixton St (occurrences 35, 53), and Meelon Nature Reserve (occurrence 36). This type of detailed monitoring is required to quantify the effects of on-ground management and to plan future management strategies.
Monitoring protocols will be based on those developed through the Resource Condition Monitoring project. For example, Brown and Clarke (2009) specified a monitoring protocol for weeds in a clay pan community. The monitoring will be linked to areas where active management or impacts are anticipated, so analysis of results can be incorporated to improve management of fire, hydrology, grazing by native or feral animals, weed invasion and other factors, as is recommended for an adaptive management framework.
All occurrences contain permanent quadrats (Gibson et al. 1994, 2005; DEP 1996; Parks and Wildlife unpublished data), and these are progressively being relocated and monitored. Data collected includes plant species diversity, vegetation structure and comprehensive species lists. All native and weed species were recorded in quadrats that were initially established. Quantitative data that would provide information about density or cover for each species were not included in standard quadrat monitoring but have been established in specific areas subject to targeted weed control programs. Occurrences will be monitored every five years to provide information on composition, and condition. This information will be added to the TEC database.
Remote sensing data such as ‘Vegetation Trend’ from Landsat TM provides a coarse measure of change in vegetation cover. The interpretation of these data requires ground truthing as factors such as recovery from fire may not otherwise be evident. This remote sensing method may be suitable for some aspects of monitoring in future.
Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Swan, South West, Midwest and Wheatbelt Regions, Moora, Swan Coastal, Perth Hills, Wellington and Blackwood Districts, Species and Communities Branch, SCB)

Cost: $5,000 per year for field survey, specimen identification, and database management

Completion date: Ongoing

4. Develop and implement fire management strategy

Burrows (2008) recommended fire regimes should be determined based on vital attributes, a diversity of frequency, season and intensity, and provide for habitat diversity and a fine-grain mosaic of habitats. The outcomes of implementation of a particular regime on the composition and structure of the community should be quantitatively monitored and results and data analysis incorporated into an adaptive management framework. Vital attribute data should be entered into the Threatened and Priority Flora Database (TPFL) fire response data base. These data are required in particular for perennial herbs and geophytes. Fire history maps also need to be developed for occurrences of the community, and updated annually.


It is likely that some of the clay pan types such as those comprised of shrublands in damplands may be adapted to occasional fire as they contain species that will easily carry fire when vegetation is dry, and some component shrubs would reproduce from seed following fire. The fire response of the major types of clay pan vegetation needs to be determined however. Some clay pan types such as those that are predominantly herbfields under a sparse shrub layer are unlikely to have burnt very often historically.
Burrows et al. (2008) recommended a minimum period between fires that are lethal to fire-sensitive plants (obligate seeders with long juvenile periods) of at least twice the juvenile period of the slowest maturing species. That is, the juvenile period of plant taxa that are killed by fire and only reproduce from seed can be used as a guide to determine minimum inter-fire intervals. In fire sensitive habitats, this may be increased to 3-4 times the juvenile period for fire sensitive species (Barrett et al. 2009).
Appendix 2 indicates the juvenile periods for some taxa in clay pan communities. Most of the clay pan types, except community type 10a that is generally a shrubland, are dominated by annual flora that are largely unaffected by fire as they are annually renewed. Many occurrences also include a shrub layer dominated by species including M. lateritia, M. viminea, Verticordia densiflora, Astartea scoparia, Hakea varia, Pericalymma ellipticum or Regelia ciliata. Some occurrences also include a tree layer with species including Corymbia calophylla, Eucalyptus wandoo or E. rudis. These trees generally survive fire and will resprout. Fire response data in Appendix 2 indicates that the most fire sensitive species in most of the clay pan types are generally the Melaleucas, especially M. viminea and M. lateritia. These species have a maturation time of 60 months. Community type 10a contains a variety of shrubs, some of which are obligate seeders and require a sufficient inter-fire interval to reproduce.
Based on current data, an appropriate inter-fire interval for this community may be a minimum of 10 years, with this community often being dominated by fire sensitive Melaleucas and other shrubs. As the clay pans are wetlands that would have burnt very seldom historically, they are considered fire sensitive habitats, so minimum inter-fire intervals of 15-20 years are advised.
Drying climate also needs to be considered when designing appropriate fire regimes. It is likely that reduced rainfall will cause diminishing growth rates, and plant maturation times will also therefore increase. Longer inter-fire intervals will therefore be desirable.
Given the peri-urban location of most of the clay pans long-term fire exclusion is unlikely due to the frequency of bushfires in bushland with easy access close to human population centres.
Maintenance of existing firebreaks is appropriate where firebreaks are already constructed, unless maintenance is likely to cause spread or intensification of disease or otherwise degrade the community. Careful use of herbicides is the preferred method of maintenance of firebreaks to minimise soil movement and risk of disease spread or intensification in the community. No new firebreaks should be constructed in intact vegetation in occurrences. Local Parks and Wildlife staff will be involved in planning fire break construction and maintenance for the community.
Fire management or response plans have been developed for some occurrences (Brixton St wetlands occurrences 35, 53; Ambergate reserve occurrence 21). Fire fighting authorities need to recognise the importance of not constructing new tracks during their operations, including during bushfires. The use of heavy machinery to create new fire breaks within the community should be avoided to avoid further degrading the community, and chemicals that may be toxic to the community should not be used.
A local Parks and Wildlife staff member will ideally be present during bushfires and controlled burns in remnants that contain occurrences of the community, to advise on protecting the conservation values of the community. Prescribed fire should only be considered for early autumn when plants are not actively growing and flowering as 50% of the flora of these wetland communities are geophytes, perennial herbs and annual herbs. Prescribed fire in winter or spring will probably cause mortality of actively growing geophytes and perennial herbs and prevent seed set in annuals. Much of the flora is dormant from early summer to early autumn.
Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Swan, South West, Midwest and Wheatbelt Regions, Moora, Swan Coastal, Perth Hills, Wellington and Blackwood Districts) in liaison with surrounding landholders

Cost: $7,000 pa

Completion date: Ongoing
5. Implement weed control
A weed management strategy is required that identifies control of highest priority weeds that pose the greatest threat to the community in the early stages of invasion and in vegetation in good-excellent condition, including Watsonia meriana var. bulbillifera, Sparaxis bulbifera, Hyparrhenia hirta, and Tribolium uniolae. Information on the biology of serious weeds of clay pans and some case studies on control can be found in Brown and Brooks (2002) and updated/revised control information at: https://florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/weeds/swanweeds/. Options may include hand weeding or localized application of herbicides that are highly specific to the target species. Much of the floristic diversity in these wetlands is in the herb layer and particular care should be taken to minimize off-target damage.
The window of opportunity for herbicide application in winter-inundated areas of seasonal wetlands can be quite narrow, often just as the wetlands dry but while weeds are still actively growing. In some cases for small localized populations of serious weeds in winter inundated areas hand weeding may be the most appropriate control option.
Summer bushfires or prescribed burns can facilitate invasion of some serious weeds of clay pans (Brown and Brooks 2005, Brown et al. 2009). South African perennial grasses resprout, flower and produce seed post fire. Germinating seedlings are able to establish easily in the post fire environment with reduced competition from native flora, and increases in light and nutrients. Immediately post-fire is also an ideal time to control resprouting clumps and seedlings with grass selective herbicides (Brown and Brooks 2003a) when they are accessible, small, and vulnerable to herbicide application. The use of grass selective herbicides ensures no off-target damage to regenerating native flora.
A number of bulbous and cormous species, particularly watsonia and cape tulip, also flower en masse and set prolific amounts of seed in the post-fire environment. Wherever possible these species should be controlled prior to fire.
Watsonia in particular creates a mat of dead leaves once it has been killed that, along with dense mats of corms, tends to inhibit regeneration of invaded bushland. Once the watsonia plants have been killed a fire will destroy the dead mat of leaves and facilitate regeneration of native flora. In addition while the recommended herbicide for watsonia invading native plant communities, 2-2 DPA, is fairly specific to watsonia it can impact vulnerable new growth of resprouting native flora and germinating native seedlings in the post-fire environment.
Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Swan, South West, Midwest and Wheatbelt Regions, Moora, Swan Coastal, Perth Hills, Wellington and Blackwood Districts)

Cost: $5,000 per year

Completion date: Ongoing
6. Investigate, monitor and manage water quality and hydrology
The limited studies of groundwater and surface water in the clay pan communities indicate a lack of connection between the two systems. Baseline and ongoing hydrological information is required however, to understand and avoid adverse changes to natural hydrological regimes. Data should include water quality information (including, pH, salinity, nutrients, and temperature), and water levels from bores in key occurrences of each of the clay pan communities.
A key requirement is the determination of thresholds of fundamental water level and quality parameters that are required to sustain the clay pan communities. Determining if there are groundwater inputs to some of the clay pan occurrences will also be important for management decisions.
Water sensitive design should be applied to drains through clay pans. The practicality of filling in some drains such as adjacent to the southern portion of the Brixton St wetlands to retain integrity of wetland function as recommended by V & C Semeniuk Research Group (2001) should be investigated.
Changes to hydrology that may result in changes to the natural hydrological regime of the clay pans, groundwater levels and subsequent increase or decrease in run-off, salinity, or pollution should be avoided.
Appropriate buffers should be determined on a case-by-case basis on local scale hydrological data and applied to developments. This will assist in protecting surface water quality and levels and potentially groundwater sources if relevant.
Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Swan, South West, Midwest and Wheatbelt Regions Moora, Swan Coastal, Perth Hills, Wellington and Blackwood Districts, SCB)

Cost: $20,000 per year

Completion date: Ongoing

7. Implement and monitor control of feral and grazing animals

Impacts from grazing in particular in occurrences at Fish Road (Occurrence 2, 76), Forrestdale Lake (Occurrences 33, 34, 46, 47, 80, 86), Nicholson Road (Occurrences 43, 44, 82), Karnup Road (Occurrence 45), Plantation Road (occurrence 87) and Keane Road (Occurrences 88 and 89) Brixton St (occurrences, 35, 53), Ellen Brook (occurrence 31), Bullsbrook (occurrence 8), Austin Bay (occurrences 9-12) by rabbits, horses and kangaroos will be monitored. Feral pig activity has been recorded in Moore River Nature reserve (occurrence 22), Drummond Nature Reserve (occurrences 99, 100), Goonaping Swamp (occurrence 111) and in other nearby wetlands that are likely to be identified as clay pan TECs including Little Darkin and Dobaderry Swamps. Control programs will be implemented for feral animals, and results of control and the ongoing impacts will be monitored as part of action 3.


Impact from kangaroo grazing is a major threat in particular to remnants adjacent to pastures on agricultural lands including Fish Rd (Occurrences 2, 76), Ruabon (occurrence 3), Ambergate (occurrence 21). In addition to control trials for feral animals, grazing exclusion should also be investigated where high kangaroo impact is observed.
Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Swan Coastal and Blackwood District)

Cost: $3,000 per year

Completion date: Ongoing
8. Protect clay pans from physical damage
Illegal off-road vehicle or motor bike activity has been recorded in Julimar State Forest (occurrences 101, 108), Bashford Nature Reserve (Occurrence 104), near Goonaping Swamp (occurrence 111) and within other nearby wetlands that are likely to be identified as clay pan TECs including Little Darkin and Dobaderry Swamps. Access control such as fencing, bollards and signage will be installed wherever practical to control damage by inappropriate off-road vehicle use, and results of controls and the ongoing impacts will be monitored as part of action 3.
Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Perth Hills, Swan Coastal and Blackwood District)

Cost: $20,000 per year

Completion date: Ongoing
9. Identify potential new occurrences
Potential additional occurrences are located in Kenwick and the Shires of Beverley, York, West Arthur and Boyup Brook. Plots will be established in these areas and floristic data analysed to determine affinities to the clay pan types. Areas that align with the floristics of the clay pan types will be added to Parks and Wildlife’s corporate TEC database and appropriate conservation management sought.
Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Swan, South West, Midwest and Wheatbelt Regions, Moora, Swan Coastal, Perth Hills, Wellington and Blackwood Districts, SCB)

Cost: $10,000 in the second year

Completion date: Year 2
10. Map habitat critical to survival
Although habitat critical to survival is described in Section 1, the areas as described have not yet been mapped and that will be completed under this action. In particular this will include determining the area required to maintain hydrological processes in the communities. If any additional occurrences are located, then this habitat will also be determined and mapped for these locations. The application of appropriate buffer zones will also be implemented throughout areas of the clay pan communities to protect the communities from edge effects such as hydrological changes, weed invasion and increased wind velocities.
Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Moora, Swan Coastal, Perth Hills, Wellington and Blackwood Districts, SCB)

Cost: $20,000 in the first and second years

Completion date: Year 1
11. Seek to minimise direct clearing and hydrological change
Some occurrences of the clay pan communities are planned for clearing through approved management plans. For example the clearing of all occurrences in Perth Airport has been endorsed (occurrences 17, 18, 25, Perth Airport Corporation 2014). Additional areas of the community may be at risk from hydrological impact from adjacent development, for example occurrence 19 (Capel), 22 (Moore River), 26-29 (Austin Cove).
Parks and Wildlife will seek to influence the management of bushland that contains occurrences and adjacent lands that are likely to occur in areas that influence the hydrology such that groundwater and surface water processes are maintained within likely limits of tolerance. The limits of tolerance to change in water levels and quality are not known and will only be determined through the application of an adaptive management framework. Hydrology will be managed within an adaptive management framework, with detailed quantitative monitoring of floristic composition and structure linked to areas where there is likely to be significant hydrological change in terms of groundwater or surface water levels or quality.
Parks and Wildlife will continue to negotiate to seek minimal future clearing of the communities.
Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Swan, South West, Midwest and Wheatbelt Regions, Moora, Swan Coastal, Perth Hills, Wellington and Blackwood Districts, SCB)

Cost: $5,000 per annum

Completion date: Ongoing
12. Implement disease hygiene procedures
The disease susceptibility of the clay pan communities is likely to vary greatly depending on local habitat and flora. Risk of introduction of disease will be minimized by ensuring good hygiene procedures. This will involve adequately washing down any equipment and footwear used near or in the clay pans, and restricting access by vehicles and machinery to dry soil conditions. No vehicle access should be allowed onto vegetated areas of the clay pans. Hygiene management plans should be prepared for all occurrences and disease mapping should also occur where relevant.

Responsibility: All personnel accessing occurrences

Cost: $1,000 per annum

Completion date: Ongoing
13. Seek long term protection of the clay pan communities for conservation
If suitable areas that contain the communities become available, Parks and Wildlife will seek to have the remnants that contain the communities, and adequate buffer areas where required, protected through perpetual protection agreements or reserved as conservation reserves vested with the Conservation Commission of WA.
Many occurrences are currently or are proposed for long-term management for conservation. For example, reserve 27165 (occurrences 33, 46, 47, 80, 86, Forrestdale) is currently vested in the City of Armadale, for the purpose of recreation. The City proposes division of the reserve so that areas outside the golf course lease are managed for conservation in future by the Conservation Commission of WA. Under this proposal a large portion of about 100 hectares of the reserve is proposed for conservation.

A series of locations are Bush Forever sites that are proposed for future conservation management that contain clay pan communities (for example occurrences 4, 13, 41, 54, 55, 56, 79, 92, 93 Kenwick), and suitable management will be sought for these areas.



Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Swan, South West, Midwest and Wheatbelt Regions, Moora, Swan Coastal, Perth Hills, Wellington and Blackwood Districts, SCB)

Cost: $2,000 per year

Completion date: Ongoing
14. Ensure best practice land management in areas of competing interests
Ellen Brook Nature Reserve (occurrence 31) was created for the protection and recovery of the critically endangered Pseudemydura umbrina (western swamp tortoise). Moore River and Lake Wannamal Nature Reserves that contain clay pan occurrences 22, 102, 103, 106, 107 are also translocation sites for the tortoise. Impacts of recovery actions for the tortoise within the reserves such as soil disturbance, altered localised hydrology and some weed control methods have potential to negatively impact on the clay pan vegetation. Linked monitoring of hydrology, flora, and vegetation is required to identify best practice management options and maintain vegetation condition.
Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Swan, South West, Midwest and Wheatbelt Regions, Moora, Swan Coastal, Perth Hills, Wellington and Blackwood Districts, SCB)

Cost: $20,000 per year

Completion date: Ongoing
15. Develop management guidelines
Up to date management guidelines are required for each major bushland area that contains the community. The management guidelines will include a weed map, weed control strategy, and a detailed fire management strategy, as described in other actions.
If site-based management guidelines for areas that contain the clay pan communities are not already being prepared or implemented, Parks and Wildlife will seek involvement in the cooperative preparation of guidelines for occurrences that include management considerations as listed in this plan.
Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Moora, Swan Coastal, Perth Hills, Wellington and Blackwood Districts, SCB) and land managers

Cost: $10,000 in year 3

Completion date: Year 3
16. Report on recovery plan implementation
Reporting will be part of annual reports prepared by the Recovery Team for the Department of Parks and Wildlife, and will include results of analysis of monitoring within an adaptive management framework. A final report will be presented as part of the next review and update of the recovery plan, if deemed necessary.
Responsibility: Department of Parks and Wildlife (Swan, South West, Midwest and Wheatbelt Regions, Moora, Swan Coastal, Perth Hills, Wellington and Blackwood Districts, SCB)

Cost: $2,000 per year, $10,000 in fifth year

Completion date: Year 1

7. TERM OF PLAN

The plan will operate from 2015 to 2020 but will remain in force until withdrawn or replaced. It is intended that, if the ecological communities are still ranked vulnerable or endangered in Western Australia after five years, the need for further recovery actions and for an updated recovery plan will be evaluated.
The outcomes of the plan will be evaluated by the Midwest, Swan, Wheatbelt and South West region threatened flora and communities recovery teams.
8. REFERENCES
Australian Network for Plant Conservation (2012). Myrtle Rust – a new threat to Australia’s biodiversity. Recognition, reporting, risk assessment, impacts and management Version 3.1 (June 2012). ANPC Inc, Sydney.

Brown, K. and Brooks, K. (2002). Bushland Weeds: A Practical Guide to their Management. Environmental Weeds Action Network. Greenwood, WA.



Brown, K., and Brooks, K. (2003a). Management of the South African grass Tribolium uniolae (Lf) Renvoize invading threatened plant communities in the Brixton Street Wetlands. Plant Protection Quarterly, 18 (3), 99.

Brown, K., and Brooks, K. (2003b). Sparaxis bulbifera (Iridaceae) invading a clay based wetland on the Swan Coastal Plain-control methods and observations on the reproductive biology. Plant Protection Quarterly. 18 (1), 26-29.

Brown, K. and Clark, V.T. (2009). Monitoring Protocol: Weed control within Brixton Street Wetlands Herb Rich Shrublands in clay pans (FCT 8) Threatened Ecological Community. Department of Environment and Conservation, Western Australia.

Brown K., Paczkowska G., Huston, B., and Withnell, N. (2008). Managing Watsonia invasion in the threatened plant communities of south-west Australia's clay-based wetlands. Australasian Plant Conservation 17 (No. 1).

Burrows N.D. (2008). Linking fire ecology and fire management in south-west Australian forest landscapes. Forest Ecology and Management. 255: 2394–2406.

Burrows N.D., Wardell-Johnston, G. and Ward, G. (2008). Post fire juvenile periods of plants in south-west Australian forests and implications for fire management. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia. 91: 163-174.

Chow, W., R. Vogwill, and M. Forbes. (2010). Floristic Values and Hydrological Threats to Freshwater Clay pans in Drummond Nature Reserve, Western Australia. Australasian Plant Conservation: Journal of the Australian Network for Plant Conservation. 18, 13-14.

Churchward, H.M. and McArthur, W.M. (1980). Landforms and Soils of the Darling System. In: Atlas of Natural Resources, Darling System, Western Australia. Perth, Pinjarra and Collie Sheets. Department of Conservation and Environment, Western Australia.



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