Natural Damp Grasslands of the South East Coastal Plain Bioregion
The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) was established under the EPBC Act and has obligations to present advice to the Minister for the Environment (the Minister) in relation to the listing and conservation of threatened ecological communities, including under sections 189, 194N and 266B of the EPBC Act.
2. The Committee provided its advice on the Natural Damp Grasslands of the South East CoastalPlain Bioregionecological community to the Minister as a draft of this conservation advice. In 2014, the Minister the Committee’s advice, .
3. The Minister amended the list of threatened ecological communities under section 184 of the EPBC Act to include the Natural Damp Grasslands of the South East CoastalPlain Bioregionecological community in the <critically endangered> category. Part of the ecological community is also listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 in Victoria, as the Plains Grassland (South Gippsland) Community.
4. A draft description for this ecological community was made available for expert and public comment for a minimum of 30 business days. The Committee and Minister had regard to all public and expert comment that was relevant to the consideration of the ecological community.
5. This conservation advice has been developed based on the best available information at the time it was ; this includes scientific literature, advice from consultations, existing plans, records or management prescriptions for this ecological community.
Table of Contents
1.The Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) was established under the EPBC Act and has obligations to present advice to the Minister for the Environment (the Minister) in relation to the listing and conservation of threatened ecological communities, including under sections 189, 194N and 266B of the EPBC Act. 1
1.Description of the ecological community 4
1.1Name of the ecological community 4
1.2Location and physical environment 4
Some sites may also contain non-grassland native vegetation on the margins of the grassland or interspersed as pockets within the grassland. These are detailed in Appendix B. 5
1.4.1Trees and large woody shrubs] 6
1.4.2Ground layer [grasses, forbs and low (< 1 m tall) shrubs and herbs] 7
1.6Key diagnostic characteristics and condition thresholds 10
1.6.1Step 1 Key diagnostic characteristics 11
1.6.2Step 2 Condition thresholds 12
1.6.3Additional considerations 12
1.7Surrounding environment and landscape context 13
1.8Areas critical to the survival of the ecological community 14
1.9Geographic extent and distribution 15
1.10National context and existing protection 16
2.Summary of threats 16
3.Summary of eligibility for listing against EPBC Act criteria 16
4.Priority research and conservation actions 18
4.1Research and monitoring priorities 18
4.2Priority recovery and threat abatement actions 18
4.3Existing management statements and plans 20
4.4Recovery plan recommendation 21
The South East Coastal Plain Grassland appears to occur as a naturally fragmented ecological community and has a restricted distribution within each of its main disjunct occurrences. Although this appears to be its natural situation, the degree of fragmentation renders the ecological community susceptible to localised adverse environmental events. The small size of patches, with most being under 10 hectares in size with large perimeter to area ratios, means that weeds and other disturbances can more easily extend into the core of patches leading to progressive degradation of an entire patch. 39
The ecological community is a type of grassland ranging to open grassy woodland with scattered trees and shrubs that occurs in the South East Coastal Plain IBRA bioregion1 of Victoria. It is generally found on heavy grey silty–loamy soils and tends to occur on floodplains that receive higher rainfall and have poor drainage, becoming seasonally waterlogged. The grassland has a variable floristic composition but generally is dominated by tussock grasses, notably Themeda triandra (kangaroo grass) on the drier sites or Poa labillardierei (tussock grass), on wetter sites. A range of other grasses and forbs occur, including forbs associated with damp sites, with species composition depending on season and moisture availability at a site. Where trees are present, they are typically a sparse cover of eucalypt species associated with damp sites, such as Eucalyptus viminalis (manna gum) or E. ovata (swamp gum), but characteristically exclude E. tereticornis (Gippsland red gum) which occurs on the drier parts of the Gippsland Plain subregion. Non-eucalypt trees may include Allocasuarina verticillata (drooping she-oak), Acacia melanoxylon (blackwood) and A. mearnsii (black wattle). Historically Banksia marginata was also prominent (Sinclair, pers. comm., 2014).
1.1Name of the ecological community
The name of the national ecological community is the Natural Damp Grasslands of the South East Coastal Plain Bioregion (hereafter referred to as South East Coastal Plain Grassland or the ecological community). This name is consistent with those applied to other nationally listed grassland communities and refers to the dominant vegetation structure and location that characterise the ecological community.
A part of this ecological community is listed in Victoria under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1998 as a threatened community under the name ‘Plains Grassland (South Gippsland) Community’.