Five priority areas for threatened and priority species and ecological communities management and recovery were identified for the Fitzgerald Biosphere as areas of high species density using the habitat critical (Figure and Figure ) and Threatened Species Density Grids as were developed for the Regional Strategic Management Plan (Gilfillan et al. 2009b) (Appendix 5).
These priority areas will be the primary focus for the management and recovery of threatened species in the Biosphere, but do not preclude recovery and management actions from being implemented in other areas of the Biosphere as required. These five priority areas, as shown Figure , are described below.
The Barren Ranges refers to a chain of rugged quartzite ranges and hills scattered across the coastal plain of the FRNP. The most prominent features of these ranges are the East, Mid and West Mount Barrens. The Barren Ranges is a priority area as it supports a high number of threatened species, particularly flora and ecological communities. Nine threatened flora species and the one TEC are restricted to the range. The Barren Ranges is part of the Quartzite landscape unit and is significant for its refugial habitat and therefore supports high numbers of endemic species.
The woodlands of the Cocanarup Timber Reserve and surrounding UCL make up a priority area as it supports breeding habitat for the Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo and as a reintroduction site for Numbats. This area is primarily a Depositional Dynamic landscape in the catchment for the Phillip River that is in association with the Greenstone landscape unit of the Ravensthorpe Range.
The northern Fitzgerald River National Park is a priority area as it is significant habitat for many threatened fauna species. This area includes Depositional Dynamic and Eocene landscape units and is the interface between the Yilgarn Block in the north and the Marine Plain to the south. This complex landscape provides a diverse range of habitat types.
The Ravensthorpe Range and nearby Bandalup Hill is a priority area as a high number of threatened and priority flora and ecological communities occur there. The only fauna species endemic to the Biosphere, the skink (Lerista viduata), is restricted to the Ravensthorpe Range. This area is the Greenstone landscape unit and is significant for its high diversity of flora species and high level of endemism. The Range has a high diversity of vegetation communities due to its varied geology, soils and terrain. As this area contains intense mineralization, mining and exploration activities are a significant threat to the threatened species and ecological communities.
The Pallinup River forms the western boundary of the Fitzgerald Biosphere. This area includes significant areas of native vegetation that form a key connectivity to the coastal corridor (Figure ). This area is primarily a Depositional Eocene landscape which supports a number of threatened and priority species.
Figure : The five Priority Areas for threatened species in the Fitzgerald Biosphere.
Macro Corridors in the Fitzgerald Biosphere
Connectivity of remnant vegetation across a landscape is extremely important for threatened species as it allows for movement between remnant vegetation patches. The WesternAustralian South Coast Macro Corridor Project (Wilkins et al. 2006) identifies the macro corridors and their nature conservation values for the south coast, as shown for the Fitzgerald Biosphere in Figure . The most significant corridors in the Fitzgerald Biosphere are:
Coastal Corridor: relatively intact except around the towns of Hopetoun and Bremer Bay
Forest to Fitzgerald Corridor: generally not well connected and currently exists as a series of stepping stones. The Gondwana Link project is focused on restoring ecological connections between the Stirling Range and Fitzgerald River National Parks (Gondwana Link 2008).
Fitzgerald River Corridor: corridor of small reserves along the Fitzgerald River connects FRNP and Lake Magenta NR.
Ravensthorpe Range: remnant vegetation (primarily UCL) forms a corridor between FRNP and the Southern Goldfields region.
These corridors identify the broad areas where protection of remnant vegetation and revegetation projects should be focused, to retain and enhance vegetation connectivity across the Biosphere.
Figure : The macro corridors in the Fitzgerald Biosphere as identified by the South Coast Macro Corridor Project (Wilkins et al. 2006). These are the existing large scale corridors (mapped with 3x3km grid cells) connecting the larger areas of remnant vegetation with significant conservation value. Some of the corridors are relatively continuous while others, such as the Forest to Fitzgerald Corridor, are fragmented.
Under the EPBC Act a threatening process is defined as a factor that threatens or may threaten the survival, abundance or evolutionary development of a native species or ecological community. The threatening processes that are currently of most significant concern in the Fitzgerald Biosphere were identified through a combination of expert opinion, public consultation and published literature.
The threatening processes of most significant concern to threatened species and ecological communities in the Fitzgerald Biosphere are:
Section 5 discusses how each of these threatening processes affects the threatened species and ecological communities in the Fitzgerald Biosphere. Specific threats to each individual species are included in the Species Profiles in Appendix 2.
Three additional factors were identified as currently hampering the efficient and effective implementation of recovery efforts for threatened species and threat abatement in the Biosphere:
lack of appreciation of the values of the Biosphere amongst the community and