Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999


Appendix C – Eligibility for listing against the EPBC Act criteria



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Appendix C – Eligibility for listing against the EPBC Act criteria


This Appendix presents the detailed analysis relevant to the listing criteria in regard to the South East Coastal Plain Grassland.

Criterion 1 – Decline in geographic distribution


Grassy woodlands, interspersed with patches of open grassland, seasonal wetland and swampy shrubland, once occurred extensively across the plains in the south Gippsland region. Much of this area has been heavily modified for agriculture or urban and peri-urban land uses. The original extent of South East Coastal Plain Grassland is uncertain. For the best known (and most extensive) regions around Yarram and Western Port Bay, only about 25 ha is estimated to remain, of which less than 15 ha is essentially intact (DSE, 2004a). This estimate is believed to represent no more than 0.1% of the original distribution (Cook, cited in DSE, 2004a), indicating the ecological community has declined by over 99%. It is assumed that the decline of these more extensive and better surveyed regions is indicative of decline across the entire extent of the ecological community.

The Committee considers that a decline in the geographic distribution of greater than 90% indicates the ecological community has undergone a very severe decline in geographic distribution. Therefore, the ecological community has been demonstrated to have met the relevant elements of Criterion 1 to make it eligible for listing as critically endangered.


Criterion 2 – Small geographic distribution coupled with demonstrable threat


This criterion aims to identify ecological communities that are geographically restricted to some extent. Three indicative measures apply: extent of occurrence (i.e. the total geographic range of the ecological community); area of occupancy (i.e. the area actually occupied by the ecological community within its natural range); and patch size distribution, which is indicative of the degree of fragmentation. It is recognised that an ecological community with a distribution that is small, either naturally or that has become so through modification, has an inherently higher risk of extinction if it continues to be subject to ongoing threats that may cause it to be lost in the future. That the ecological community is subject to ongoing and demonstrable threats is detailed in Appendix B.
Extent of occurrence

The extent of occurrence stretches across the South East Coastal Plain from around Yarram to west of Port Fairy, a distance of about 400 kilometres. This is indicative of a restricted geographic distribution. It is also notable that the ecological community occurs in highly disjunct occurrences centred on sites around Yarram, and Koo-Wee-Rup – Pakenham. Grassland remnants appear to be mostly absent in the landscape between these disjunct occurrences with the exception of small roadside remnants on the Bass Coast. The known occurrences on the eastern side of Port Phillip Bay and to the west of Port Phillip Bay are also isolated.
Area of occupancy

The ecological community has been estimated to occupy a total area of 15-25 ha (DSE, 2004a). However, this estimate does not include the sites on the eastern side of Port Phillip Bay or to the west of Port Phillip Bay and also may not allow for all the sites in the Koo-Wee-Rup to Pakenham area, although these remnants also are few and of similarly small extent. The estimated area of occupancy of the ecological community is likely to be <100 ha, which is indicative of a very restricted geographic distribution.
Patch size distribution

All of the known patches of the ecological community are of small size – less than 10 ha. Therefore the patch size distribution is consistent with a very restricted geographic distribution.

Fragmented ecological communities are likely to be more susceptible to disturbances and adverse influences from the surrounding environment. This happens regardless of whether fragmentation arises naturally or from landscape modification and disturbance. However, the degree of fragmentation may influence the nature and severity of threats faced by the ecological community, its resilience to a particular disturbance and the nature of the surrounding landscape and, therefore, the degree to which reduction in community integrity is expressed.

The Committee considers that the ecological community has a very restricted geographic distribution on the basis of its fragmented and small patches and its small area of occupancy. The Committee considers that the demonstrable ongoing threats detailed in Appendix B could cause the ecological community to become lost in the immediate future. Therefore, the Committee considers that the ecological community has been demonstrated to have met the relevant elements of Criterion 2 to make it eligible for listing as critically endangered under this criterion.

Criterion 3 – Loss or decline of functionally important species


Given the biology of this ecological community and many of its component species are poorly known, it is not possible to identify a functionally important species or group of species. Also, there are no quantitative data available to assess species declines within this ecological community relevant to this criterion. As there are insufficient data available, the ecological community is therefore not eligible for listing under this criterion.

Criterion 4 – Reduction in community integrity


Data on the degree of degradation and loss of community integrity are generally lacking for this ecological community. The key relevant data available relate to the high degree of fragmentation, noted under Criterion 2, above.

Despite the lack of detailed information, several sites show evidence of degradation.

Weed invasion is apparent at many sites. In particular, ongoing encroachment of native shrubs into grassland is clearly evident at Darriman Bushland Reserve, the Officer site and, to a lesser extent, the Parkside Aerodrome grassland. Infestations of blackberry, a potentially serious weed, are evident at the Clyde – Tooradin rail verge site.

Known losses have occurred at some sites. The construction of buildings at Parkside Aerodrome removed an unknown extent of the grassland. It is presumed the Pakenham Grassland Reserve originally occurred as a much larger remnant subject to relatively low disturbance when the airfield was operational. However, the grassland site is now completely surrounded by suburban housing and subject to the degradational influences associated with close human impacts.

Although the grassland remnant at Alberton Cemetery is recognised as unique through signage, it continues to face inappropriate management. For instance, there has been dumping of weeds and soil directly into intact remnants and plantings of exotic species around the grassland.

The observations above refer to the best remaining patches of the ecological community and demonstrate there has been an ongoing reduction in community integrity. The Committee considers the reduction in integrity across the ecological community’s distribution to be severe. Therefore, the ecological community has been demonstrated to have met the relevant elements of Criterion 4 to make it eligible for listing as endangered.


Criterion 5 – Rate of continuing detrimental change


There are no quantitative data available to assess this ecological community under this criterion. Therefore, it is not eligible for listing under this criterion.

Criterion 6 – Quantitative analysis showing probability of extinction


There are no quantitative data available to assess this ecological community under this criterion. Therefore, it is not eligible for listing under this criterion.

Bibliography


Anon (1992). Nomination of a Community for Listing onto Schedule Two of the Flora & Fauna Guarantee Act (1988): Plains Grassland (South Gippsland).

Biosis Research (post-2009). Gilbert Block: Offset Management Plan.

BoM [Bureau of Meteorology] (2013). Climate Data Online.
Viewed: October 2013
Available on the internet at:
http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/data/?ref=ftr

Brett Lane & Associates (2006). Pakenham Grassland Reserve Management Plan, Report No. 5128. Brett Lane & Associates Pty Ltd, North Carlton, Victoria.

Cook, D. and Yugovic, J. (2003). Clyde–Tooradin Grassland Re-discovered, in The Victorian Naturalist, 120: 104–166.

Davies, J., Oates, A. and Trumbull-Ward, A. 2002. Ecological Vegetation Class Mapping in Gippsland at 1:25000. Final Report. Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Traralgon, Victoria.

Department of the Environment (2014). Protected Matters Search Tool.
Viewed 17 March 2014
Available on the Internet at:
http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/pmst/index.html

DEPI [Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Victoria] (2014). Ecological Vegetation Classes by Bioregion.


Viewed 31 July 2014
Available on the Internet at:
http://www.dse.vic.gov.au/conservation-and-environment/ecological-vegetation-class-evc-benchmarks-by-bioregion

DSE [Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria] (2004a). Flora and Fauna Guarantee Action Statement No. 182: Central Gippsland Plains Grassland Forest Red Gum Grassy Woodland, Northern Plains Grassland, South Gippsland Plains Grassland and Western (Basalt) Plains Grassland. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne.

DSE (2004b). Biodiversity Action Planning: Landscape Plan for the Gippsland Plain Bioregion Yarram Landscape Zone. Draft for comment, August 2004. Department of Sustainability and Environment, East Melbourne.

DSE (2005). EVC/Bioregion Benchmark for Vegetation Quality Assessment – Gippsland Plain Bioregion – EVC 132_62: South Gippsland Plains Grassland. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne.

DSE (2007). Clyde Grassland, Gippsland Plains – Significant Gippsland Plains Grassland and Plains Grassy Wetland Community. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne.

DSE (2008). Gippsland Vegetation Types: Ecological Vegetation Classes. EVC 132 Plains Grassland. Department of Sustainability and Environment, Melbourne.


Viewed: September 2013
Available on the Internet at:
http://vro.dpi.vic.gov.au/dpi/vro/wgregn.nsf/pages/wg_vegetation_evc132. Accessed September 2013.

Dwyer, S. (2013). Grasslands in the Anderson – Wonthaggi Bass Coast Area, unpublished.

Dwyer, S. (2013). Personal communication by telephone, 26 September 2013 and email, 27 September 2013, Environmental Consultant, Indigenous Design.

FFG-SAC [Flora and Fauna Guarantee – Scientific Advisory Committee] (1994). Final Recommendation on a Nomination for Listing: Plains Grassland (South Gippsland) Community.

Frood, D. (1994). ‘South Gippsland’, in Conservation of Lowland Native Grasslands in South-eastern Australia (eds K. McDougall, and J.B. Kirkpatrick), pp. 113–115. World Wide Fund for Nature Australia.

Indigenous Design Environmental Services (2014). Darriman Grassland Fauna List. Unpublished.

Imbery, B. (2007). Assessment of Land Uses and Native Vegetation within Yarram Aerodrome. Report for Wellington Shire Council. Indigenous Design Land Management, Research, Victoria.

Lester, K. (2013). Personal communication, 24 September 2013, Senior Biodiversity Officer –Environment & Water, Port Phillip Region, Regional Services, Department of Environment and Sustainability.

MacLennan, F. and Taylor, S. (1994). Some of the Local Native Plants of Darriman Bushland Reserve, Darriman (C.A. 9D, Section 3, Parish of Darriman). Surveyed by F. MacLennan and S. Taylor, November 1994. Unpublished.

Sinclair, S. (2007). Native grassland at Safety Beach, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, in The Victorian Naturalist, 124 (3): 132-149.

Sinclair, S. (2014). Personal communication via written comments, 19 June 2014, Plant Ecologist, Arthur Rylah Institute, Department of Environment and Sustainability.

Specht, R.L. (1970). Vegetation. In The Australian Environment (ed. G.W. Leeper), pp. 44–67. CSIRO, Melbourne.

Taylor, S. (1991). Species List Vascular Plants, Alberton Cemetary [sic]. Unpublished.

TSSC [Threatened Species Scientific Committee] (2008). Advice to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) on an amendment to the list of threatened ecological communities under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Gippsland Red Gum (E. tereticornis subsp. mediana) Grassy Woodland and Associated Native Grassland. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra.


Available on the Internet at:
http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/communities/pubs/73-listing-advice.pdf

TSSC [Threatened Species Scientific Committee] (2012). Advice to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (the Committee) on an amendment to the list of threatened ecological communities under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Seasonal Herbaceous Wetlands (Freshwater) of Temperate Lowland Plains. Department for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Canberra.


Available on the Internet at:
http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/communities/pubs/97-conservation-advice.pdf

Yugovic, J. (2006). Indigenous flora of Pakenham Grassland (Interim List), compiled by Jeff Yugovic, Biosis Research, January 2006.

Yugovic, J. (2011). Ecology of the Kooweerup Swamp and associated grasslands, in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 123(2): 172–188.

Yugovic, J. (2013). Personal communication by telephone, 8 November 2013, consultant ecologist, Biosis Research.

Yugovic, J. (2014). Personal communication via written comments, 30 June 2014, consultant ecologist, Biosis Research.

Yugovic, J. and Mitchell, S. (2005). Vegetation mapping of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp and adjacent grasslands, Biosis Research, Port Melbourne.



1 Interim Biogeographical Regionalisation of Australia, version 7. IBRA regions are large geographically distinct areas of similar climate, geology, landform, vegetation and animal communities. Version 7 divides Australia into 89 bioregions and 419 subregions, including offshore islands.


2 Specht’s (1970) structural classification of vegetation identifies a woodland or shrubland to be very sparse if it has a projective foliage cover of less than 10%. The five per cent maximum cover for trees and larger shrubs outlined here is an arbitrary threshold that allows for their presence well within the minimum woodland cover.

3 Based either on a current flora survey or known from a previous reliable survey at the site.

Draft Conservation Advice – Natural Damp Grasslands of the South East Coastal Plain Bioregion

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