Federal and State legislation applicable to the conservation of native flora and fauna includes, but is
not limited to, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), the
Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (WC Act) and the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act).
Section 4a of the EP Act requires that developments take into account the following principles
applicable to native flora and fauna:
Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should
not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.
The present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the
environment is maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations.
Conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental
Furthermore, vegetation and flora surveys undertaken as part of the environmental impact
assessment (EIA) process are required to address the following:
Surveys as an Element of Biodiversity Protection (EPA, 2002); and
Guidance Statement No. 51: Terrestrial Flora and Vegetation Surveys for Environmental Impact
Native flora and fauna in Western Australia are protected at a Federal level under the EPBC Act and
at a State level under the WC Act.
The EPBC Act was developed to provide for the protection of the environment, especially those
aspects of the environment that are Matters of National Environmental Significance, to promote
ecologically sustainable development through the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of
natural resources; and to promote the conservation of biodiversity. The EPBC Act includes provisions
to protect native species (in particular to prevent the extinction and promote the recovery of
OPR Rail Development – Vegetation and Flora Assessment
threatened species) and to ensure the conservation of migratory species. In addition to the
ecologically sustainable development, dictating that decision‐making processes should effectively
integrate both long‐term and short‐term economic, environmental, social and equitable
The WC Act was developed to provide for the conservation and protection of wildlife in Western
Australia. Under Section 14 of this Act, all fauna and flora within Western Australia are protected;
however, the Minister may, via a notice published in the Government Gazette, declare a list of flora
taxa identified as likely to become extinct, or as rare, or otherwise in need of special protection. The
current listing was gazetted on the 5
of August 2008 (WC Act, 2008(2)).
The EPA’s objectives with regards to the management of native flora and vegetation are to:
Avoid adverse impacts on biological diversity comprising the different plants and animals and
Protect Declared Rare Flora (DRF) consistent with the provisions of the WC Act.
Protect other flora species of conservation significance.
to the EPA to assess the impact of the development on the vegetation and flora of the Study Area,
thereby ensuring that these objectives will be upheld.
Specifically, this survey was to satisfy the requirements documented in the EPA’s Guidance
Statement 51 and Position Statement No. 3, thus providing:
recent published and unpublished records.
An inventory of species of biological and conservation significance recorded or likely to occur
conducted in the area relevant to the current study.
A review of regional and biogeographical significance, including the conservation status of
within the Study Area (to be included in a separate report).
OPR Proposed Rail Corridor
Name: GD A 1994 MGA Zone 50
Projection: Transverse Mercator
Datum: GDA 1994
Unique Map ID: A024
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The Study Area is located within Beard’s (1976) Eremaean and South‐western Botanical Provinces.
Beard (1976) describes the climate associated with these provinces as desert (with bimodal summer
and winter rainfall), and Mediterranean (dry warm Mediterranean near the coast and semi‐desert
Mediterranean further east).
Three Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) weather stations were selected to provide an indication of the
local climatic conditions along the Study Area:
Geraldton’s Mediterranean climate is described as hot and dry in summer and mild and wet in
winter. The climate is strongly influenced by a sub‐tropical ridge (high pressure) and the west coast
trough (low pressure), and seasonal extremes in weather are experienced (Figure 2.1).
The mean annual rainfall for Geraldton is 447.5 mm falling over 86 rainfall days. The wettest period
is from May to August, when a mean of 327.4 mm falls over 51 rainfall days; approximately 73% of
the mean annual rainfall. The wettest month is June with a mean of 100.1 mm falling over 14 rainfall
days (Figure 2.1).
February is the hottest month with a mean maximum temperature of 32.5°C. July temperatures
range from a mean maximum of 19.5°C to a mean minimum of 9.5°C (Figure 2.1) (BOM, 2009).
Min. temperature (°C)
Figure 2.1 – Climatic Summary Data (Geraldton Airport)
Rainfall in the six months preceding the Section 5 survey (August 2009) was 251.4 mm, 62.5 mm
below the long‐term mean for those months (Table 2.1). During 2008, 22% less rain than the long‐
term mean was recorded at Geraldton Airport (BOM, 2009).
Rainfall in the six months preceding the phase two transect survey for section 5 (October 2009) was
357.8 mm, 26.2 mm less the long‐term mean for those months.
Table 2.1 – Rainfall Preceding the Section 5 Survey (Geraldton Airport Records)
rainfall records: 1941 to 2009.
Mullewa has a Mediterranean climate and its mean annual rainfall of 337.3 mm falls over 64 rainfall
days. Most of the annual rainfall for Mullewa occurs from May to August (64%), with 214.9 mm
falling over 39 rainfall days (Table 2.1).
January is the hottest month with a mean maximum temperature of 36.7°C, while the coolest month
is July with mean temperatures ranging from a maximum of 18.7°C to a minimum of 7.0°C (Figure
2.2) (BOM, 2009).
Max. temperature (°C)
Min. temperature (°C)
Climatic Summary Data (Mullewa)
Rainfall in the six months preceding the Section 3 and Section 4 surveys (April/May 2009) was 51.1
mm, 28.1 mm below the long‐term mean for those months (Table 2.2). However, during 2008, 14%
more rain than the long‐term mean was recorded at Mullewa (BOM, 2009).
Rainfall in the six months preceding the phase two transect survey for section 3 (September 2009)
was 235.1 mm, 20.4 mm below the long‐term mean for those months and section 4 (October, 2009)
was 265.2 mm, 7.1 mm above the long‐term mean for those months (Table 2.2) (BOM, 2009).
Table 2.2 – Rainfall Preceding the Section 3 and Section 4 Surveys (Mullewa Records)
2009 and Section 4 = October 2009). **Mean monthly rainfall records: 1896 to 2009.
The Meekatharra climate is described as dry with hot summers and mild winters, and is strongly
influenced by a band of high pressure known as the sub‐tropical ridge. The ridge is located to the
south for most of the year, occasionally moving close enough to enable cold fronts to pass over the
area; however, most cold fronts bring little rain. The reliable rainfall periods are associated with
tropical cloud bands from May to July (Figure 2.3).
Mean annual rainfall for Meekatharra is 235.8 mm, although there is considerable variation in annual
rainfall for the area. The wettest summer month is February when a mean of 35.9 mm of rain falls,
while June is the wettest winter month with 30.8 mm of rain (Figure 2.3).
The hottest month is January with a mean maximum temperature of 38.3°C, however, hot, dry north‐
east to north‐west winds often result in temperatures above 41°C. July temperatures range from a
mean maximum of 19°C to a mean minimum of 7.4°C, and the overnight temperature may drop
below 5°C (Figure 2.3) (BOM, 2009).
Figure 2.3 – Climatic Summary Data (Meekatharra Airport)
Rainfall in the six months preceding the phase one quadrat surveys for section 1 and section 2 (June
2009) was 70 mm, 78.6 mm below the long‐term mean for those months (Table 2.3). However,
during 2008, 28% more rain than the long‐term mean was recorded at Meekatharra Airport (BOM,
Rainfall in the six months preceding the phase two transect survey for section 1 (September 2009)
preceding the phase two transect survey for section 2 (March 2010) was 21.8 mm, 100.4 mm below
the long term mean for those months (Table 2.3) (BOM, 2009).
Table 2.3 – Rainfall Preceding the Section 1 and Section 2 Surveys (Meekatharra Aiport Records)
Total Monthly Rainfall (mm)
September 2009, Phase 2; Section 2 survey = March 2010). **Mean monthly rainfall records from 1944 to 2009.
The Study Area dissects Beard’s (1976) Greenough and Murchison Province. The Greenough
Province incorporates the Geraldton Region, which describes the Freehold land area, and the
Murchison Province incorporates the Upper Murchison and Yalgoo subregions, which describes the
Pastoral land area.
The geology, landforms and soils of these areas are discussed below.
Playford et al. (1970) describe four main physiographic units on the mainland of the Geraldton
region: the Victoria Plateau, the Greenough Flats, the river drainage systems, and the coastal belt.
The Victoria Plateau is a gently undulating sandplain approximately 240 m above sea level. Laterite is
overlain by sand, and is exposed at dissected margins of the sandplain. Sand dunes are present in
some areas, and flat‐topped mesas have been formed by remnants of the plateau. The Greenough
Flats form the floodplain near the mouth of the Greenough River. The river drainage systems include
the Greenough, Chapman, Hutt and Bowes Rivers. The coastal belt unit includes a band of coastal
limestone and sand dunes.
Tille (2006) describes the Greenough Province, which incorporates part of Beard & Burn’s (1976)
Geraldton area, as a “laterised plateau (dissected at the fringes) on the sedimentary rocks of the
Perth Basin and gneiss of the Northampton Complex”, with soils of “yellow deep sands and pale deep
sands, with some gravelly pale deep sands and red‐brown hardpan shallow loams”.
Geology, Landforms and Soils of the Pastoral Land Area
The Murchison Province, which incorporates Beard’s (1976) Murchison region, is described by Tille
(2006) as an area of “hardpan wash plains and sandplains (with some stony plains, hills, mesas and
salt lakes) on the granitic rocks and greenstone of the Yilgarn Craton”. While the soils are described
as “red loamy earths, red sandy earths, red shallow loams, red deep sands and red‐brown hardpan
shallow loams (with some red shallow sands and red shallow sandy duplexes)” (Tille, 2006).
Most of the western boundary of the Yilgarn Block was formed by the Darling Fault (Beard, 1976).
The Perth Basin lies to the west of the Yilgarn Block and contains mostly sedimentary rocks of
sandstone and shale. The Northampton Block is a formation of the Perth Basin, composed of