Vegetation and Flora Survey Report

CE  Critically Endangered

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Critically Endangered  

Taxa which at a particular time if, at that time, it is facing an extremely high risk of 

extinction in the wild in the immediate future, as determined in accordance with the 

prescribed criteria. 


Taxa which is not critically endangered and it is facing a very high risk of extinction in the 

wild in the immediate or near future, as determined in accordance with the prescribed 



Taxa which is not critically endangered or endangered and is facing a high risk of extinction 

in the wild in the medium-term future, as determined in accordance with the prescribed 



Conservation Dependent 

Taxa which at a particular time if, at that time, the species is the focus of a specific 

conservation program, the cessation of which would result in the species becoming 

vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered within a period of 5 years.  


Flora and Vegetation 













2.4 Vegetation 


The survey area is located in the Irwin and Carnarvon Botanical Districts, which are sections of the 

South-Western and Eremaean Botanical Provinces, respectively. The dominant vegetation system of the 

survey area is referred to as the Tamala System. The typical vegetation of the Tamala System is a unique 

formation termed “tree heath” or heath with scattered trees. Nothing resembling this formation has been 

found elsewhere in the State (Beard 1976).  


The proposed development occurs on the boundary of the Southwestern and Eremaean Botanical 

Provinces as defined by Beard (1976). This major floristic boundary was first mapped by Diels (1906) 

and later by Gardner (1944) and Gardner and Bennetts (1956).  This boundary has been acknowledged by 

Beard (1976) and Gibson et al. (2000) as representing the boundary between the complex and species rich 

heathlands and woodlands of southwestern Australia and the less diverse Acacia shrublands of the 

Carnarvon Basin (Beard 1976, Gibson et al. 2000).   


In other work by Thackway and Cresswell (1995), the boundaries near Peron Peninsula, Edel Land and 

Dirk Hartog Island were modified for the national mapping survey. 


The detailed floristic studies undertaken in the Irwin and Carnarvon areas (Trudgen and Keighery 1995, 

Gibson  et al. 2000 and Keighery et al. 2000) enabled a comparison of data collected with species 

representation in the local and regional context.



Local and Regional Significance 

Plant communities are referred to as locally significant where the presence of Priority Flora species has 

been recorded, where they provide a range extension of a particular taxon from previously recorded 

locations, or where they are very restricted to one or two locations or occur as small isolated 

communities. In addition, communities that exhibit unusually high structural and species diversity are 

also of local significance (E.M. Mattiske, pers. comm.). 


Plant communities are referred to as regionally significant where they are limited to specific landform 

types, are uncommon or restricted plant community types within the regional context, or support 

populations of Declared Rare Flora (E.M. Mattiske, pers. comm.). 

2.6 Threatened 



Communities are described as ‘Threatened Ecological Communities’ (TECs) if they have been defined by 

the Western Australian Threatened Ecological Communities Scientific Advisory Committee and found to 

be Presumed Totally Destroyed (PD), Critically Endangered (CR), Endangered (EN) or Vulnerable (VU). 

For definitions of TEC categories and criteria refer to English and Blyth (1997). Selected plant 

communities have also been listed as “Threatened Ecological Communities” under the EPBC Act (1999).  

The TECs at the national level are defined on the Environment Australia website ( 

Flora and Vegetation 














The specific objectives of the vegetation study were to: 


Collect and identify the vascular plant species present in the area; 


Review the biogeographical pattern and conservation status of the vascular plant species 

recorded by reference to current literature and current listings (The West Australian 

Herbarium (2005a, 2005b) and the Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 

(EPBC Act, 1999) and with plant collections held at the State Herbarium; 


Define and prepare a vegetation map of the plant communities present in the Amy Zone


Review the local and regional significance of the plant communities recorded in the Coburn 

survey area; 


Establish permanent vegetation plots, within a range of the previously defined plant 

communities within the survey area, recording all vascular plant species and their percentage 

foliage cover, within each permanent vegetation plot; and 


Submit a report that summarises the findings. 





Flora and Vegetation 

An initial search for the Declared Rare and Priority flora species known to occur in the region was made 

using the West Australian Herbarium database compiled by the West Australian Herbarium (2005a, 



Mattiske Consulting Pty Ltd conducted the following vegetation surveys for Gunson Resources over a 15 

month period: 


August 2003 - A spring survey that covered the northern portion of the Amy Zone and the 

northern access route; 


April 2004 - An autumn survey in which 56 permanent vegetation monitoring plots were 

established and a 5km southern extension of the Amy Zone was mapped; 


September 2004 - A spring survey to collect annual species that covered the entire Amy 

Zone; and  


November 2004 - A survey of the southern access road and the construction camp and two 

additional extensions of the survey area (Area 3 and 4).  


During each survey the flora was described and collected systematically at a series of sites that were 

chosen on the basis of differences in floristic composition and structure. Further collecting was 

undertaken at additional sites in equivalent plant communities. At each site the following floristic and 

environmental notes were made: topography, percentage litter cover, soil ratio, percentage of bare 

ground, outcropping rocks and their type, pebble type and size, and time since fire. For each species 

recorded, the average height and percent foliage cover of species both alive and dead was noted. 


In the April 2004 survey, 56 permanent vegetation monitoring plots were established within the survey 

area. The location of each plot was selected to maximise the coverage of the 18 plant communities that 

were defined in the area.  At least one vegetation monitoring plot was placed in the vicinity of the 

vertebrate fauna monitoring sites. Each 10m x 10m vegetation monitoring plot was pegged using 107cm 

aluminium fence droppers to mark each of the four corners. The plots were established in a north-south 

orientation, with a tag labelling the plot number on the northwest corner peg. A photograph of each plot 

was taken from the northwest corner. In each plot, floristic and environmental notes were made as 

described above. 





Flora and Vegetation 















All plant specimens collected during the field surveys were dried and fumigated in accordance with the 

requirements of the West Australian Herbarium.  The plant species were identified and then compared 

with pressed specimens housed at the West Australian Herbarium. Where appropriate, plant taxonomists 

with specialist skills were consulted.  Nomenclature of the species recorded follows the West Australian 

Herbarium (2005a, 2005b). 




Survey Limitations  


The main study limitations on the survey work undertaken were the lack of seasonal rainfall events and 

the difficulty of access into some of the survey areas.  Every attempt was made to address the coverage of 

seasonal conditions through targeted surveys in August 2003, April 2004, September 2004 and November 

2004. Additional surveys are planned in coming months, and in view of recent rainfall events in the Shark 

Bay area there will be the opportunity to undertake additional collecting of flora in the survey area. 


The  difficulty of access into some sections of the survey area placed additional restrictions on the 

coverage of the survey area.  This was in part addressed by extensive foot traverses, however in some 

denser vegetation access by foot was influenced by the density of the vegetation. Nevertheless the area 

was covered by selecting representative areas for sampling from the aerial photographs. 


The base data for Figure 16 was reliant on information from GeoScience and it was apparent from field 

studies that the location of the higher dunes on Figure 16 are not accurate and therefore the location of 

these dunes should not be relied upon in any deliberation of extent of species on landforms from Figure 




5.1 Flora 

A total of 231 taxa (including subspecies and varieties) from 132 genera and 51 families were recorded 

within the survey area (Appendix A). Some species were not identified to the species or variety level due 

to the paucity of flowering and fruiting specimens. The most common families recorded were Myrtaceae 

(27 taxa), Asteraceae (23 taxa), Poaceae (19 taxa), Mimosaceae (17 taxa), Chenopodiaceae (15 taxa) and 

Proteaceae (14 taxa), a floral composition typical of the intermediate zone between the Southwestern and 

Eremaean Botanical Provinces. 


Based on information available through the West Australian Herbarium (Department of Conservation and 

Land Management, 2005) several species recorded in recent surveys represent extensions to their known 

range. These were Acacia rigens, Austrostipa macalpinei, Daviesia divaricata subsp. ?lanulosa (ms), 

Dicrastylis soliparma, Grevillea acacioides, Grevillea stenostachya (P3)  and Trachymene coerulea 

subsp. leucopetala, as well as the introduced species Avellinia michelii. 


A range of species present in the survey area is endemic to the Shark Bay region. These include Acacia 

drepanophylla  (P3), Acacia galeata, Adenanthos acanthophyllus, Baeckea sp. Nanga (A.S. George 

11346) (pn), Calothamnus formosus subsp. formosus, Conostylis candicans subsp. flavifolia, Eucalyptus 

roycei, Eucalyptus selachiana, Grevillea rogersoniana (P3), Lamarchea hakeifolia var. hakeifolia, 

Macarthuria intricata (P3), Malleostemon pedunculatus and Melaleuca eulobata


Flora and Vegetation 















Many of the species that occur in the survey area are at the periphery of their current known geographic 

range (based on CALM FloraBase 2005 records). Some species are at the northern limit of their 

distribution in the Irwin Botanical Region, while other species are at the western and southern limit of 

their distribution in the Carnarvon Botanical District. Species at their southern and western limit are 

Acacia grasbyi, Acacia tetragonophylla, Acacia xiphophylla, Alectryon oleifolius subsp. oleifolius, 

Alyogyne pinoniana var. pinoniana, Atriplex vesicaria subsp. variabilis, Brachychiton gregorii

Eucalyptus fruticosa, Marsdenia australis, Pembertonia latisquamea, Pityrodia cuneata, Senna 

artemisioides subsp. filifolia, Tetragonia cristata and Triodia plurinervata. Similarly, species at the 

northern limit of their distribution include Actinobole condensatum, Amyema miraculosa subsp. 

miraculosa, Anthotroche walcottii, Beaufortia aestiva, Beaufortia sprengelioides, Calothamnus 

blepharospermus, Calytrix brevifolia, Conospermum mircoflorum, Dampiera incana var. fuscescens, 

Eremaea dendroidea, Eremophila oldfieldii subsp. oldfieldii, Eucalyptus obtusiflora subsp. obtusiflora, 

Keraudrenia hermanniifolia, Lechenaultia linarioides, Melaleuca campanae, Melaleuca leiopyxis, 

Mirbelia  sp. Denham (pn), Olearia revoluta, Persoonia acicularis, Physopsis chryosophylla (P3), 

Pileanthus vernicosus, Pityrodia atriplicina, Scholtzia sp. Folly Hill (P2), Solanum hesperium, 

Thryptomene strongylophylla, Trachymene coerulea subsp. leucopetala and Triodia danthonioides.  The 

overlapping ranges of these species illustrate the significance of this area as a boundary between two 

botanical provinces. This unique feature of the Shark Bay flora has also been highlighted in the surveys 

by Trudgen and Keighery (1995) and Gibson et al. (2000) (Appendix A).   


The flowering times are summarised in Appendix C for the species recorded in the recent surveys on the 

survey area.  This list should assist in future planning of seed for rehabilitation areas. 


In the initial surveys only three introduced species were recorded, namely Lamarckia aurea (Goldentop)

Brassica tournefortii (Mediterranean Turnip)  and Asphodelus fistulosus (Onion Weed). One other 

species,  Senecio  sp., identified only to genus level, may or may not be an introduced species, as some 

Senecio species are introduced. In the September 2004 survey an additional 12 introduced species were 

collected that had germinated after winter rainfall. These were Aira caryophyllea (Silvery Hairgrass)

Avellinia michelii, Bromus japonicus var. vestitus, Rostraria pumila, Schismus barbatus (Kelch Grass)

Calandrinia ciliata, Pentaschistis airoides (False Hairgrass), Sisymbrium erysimoides (Smooth Mustard)

Cuscuta epithymum (Lesser Dodder), Hypochaeris glabra (Smooth Catsear), Sonchus oleraceus 

(Common Sowthistle)  and  Urospermum picroides (False Hawkbit). None of the introduced species 

recorded are listed as Declared Plants, as defined by the Department of Agriculture (2005). 


Rare and Priority Flora 

No plant taxa recorded in the survey plots are gazetted as Declared Rare Flora pursuant to subsection (2) 

of section 23F of the Wildlife Conservation Act (1950). No plant taxa listed as Threatened pursuant to 

Schedule 1 of the Environmental Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act, 1999) were 

recorded in the survey plots. 


Eucalyptus beardiana which is listed as a Declared Rare Flora pursuant to subsection (2) of section 23F 

of the Wildlife Conservation Act (1950) and as Endangered pursuant to Schedule 1 of the Environmental 

Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999) has been recorded previously within the survey area.  


Nine Priority Flora species were recorded from the Coburn survey area. The distribution and habitat of 

these species within the survey area and the broader geographic region is discussed below. The precise 

locations of these species in the survey area are listed in Table 3 and shown on Vegetation Maps 2 to 15. 

Additional locations for some of these species were also extracted from the Department of Conservation 

and Land Management databases and these are presented in Figure 16.  The following summaries reflect 

records collected during the recent surveys by Mattiske Consulting Pty Ltd. 







Flora and Vegetation 















Acacia subrigida (P2)  

This erect shrub is classified as Priority 2 as it has only been recorded from several locations and is 

often found as a scattered or uncommon shrub. In the Coburn survey area it was recorded at four 

locations in Communities S1, S2, S3 and S5, It occurred as a dominant element of Community S5. 

The populations of Acacia subrigida occurring in the survey area may have particular conservation 

significance as they may have affinities with a wide phyllode variant that has been previously 

recorded nearby (6km west of Overlander-Denham road towards Tamala Station (Maslin 2001)). 

This northern population of Acacia subrigida may represent a distinct taxon. However, further 

taxonomic investigation is required. 



Eremophila occidens (ms) (P2)  

This shrub to 1.5m is classified as Priority 2 as it has only been recorded from two isolated areas at 

Shark Bay and North West Cape (total of four collections). In the Coburn survey area, it is a 

relatively common shrub found at seven locations across three widespread communities (S1, S2 

and S3). As the known distribution of this species is highly restricted, the number of individuals 

within the survey area represents a significant proportion of the total species.  



Scholtzia sp. Folly Hill (P2)  

This species is classified as Priority 2 as it has only been recorded from six locations within the 

northern section of the Geraldton Sand Plains and Shark Bay. In the Coburn survey area it was 

found only once in a mature and open shrubland (Community S2), which suggests it is a late 

successional species. 



Acacia drepanophylla (P3) 

This species typically occurs as a small tree and is classified as a Priority 3 species as it has a 

restricted distribution between Hamelin Pool and to an area just south of the Billabong Roadhouse 

on the North West Coastal Highway (total of 28 collections). Within the Coburn survey area it was 

recorded from eight locations across four plant communities. It was most abundant in 

Communities S8 and S9, where it was a co-dominant with Acacia xiphophylla, and  Acacia 

ramulosa var. ramulosa occurring on loam soils over limestone. It was also occasionally recorded 

as a shrub in Communities S7 and E3. The two potential haul roads will have the greatest impact 

on this species where they dissect Communities S8 and S9 at their eastern end. 



Grevillea rogersoniana (P3) 

This conspicuous shrub or small tree is classified, as Priority 3 as it is endemic to Shark Bay and 

Peron Peninsula (total of 30 collections). In the Coburn survey area it was recorded at five 

locations across Communities S1, S2 and S3, but was most commonly found when shrublands 

were tall and open. 



Grevillea stenostachya (P3)  

This dense, pungent shrub is classified as Priority 3 as it has a narrow distribution from 25 

locations. The presence of this species in the survey area is particularly significant as it represents 

a 70km extension to the west of its known range near Murchison. It was locally abundant in the 

three locations in which it was recorded, in the Communities E6 and S7. 



Macarthuria intricata (P3)   

This small intricately branched shrub is classified as Priority 3 as it has only been recorded at nine 

locations and is endemic to the Shark Bay area. In the Coburn survey area it was uncommon and 

found only in Communities S2 and S10. 



Physopsis chrysophylla (P3)  

This erect shrub is classified as Priority 3 as it has only been recorded from 20 locations in the 

northern section of the Geraldton Sand Plains. In the Coburn survey area it was relatively common 

in Communities S1, S2, and S3 and was a dominant species in Community S10. 



Jacksonia dendrospinosa (P4)  

This small tree is classified as Priority 4 as it has only been recorded from nine locations in the 

northern section of the Geraldton Sand Plains. In the Coburn survey area it was uncommon and 

restricted to mature, open shrublands (Community S2), suggesting it is a late successional species. 

Flora and Vegetation 














 Other Rare and Priority Flora that were recorded in the Shark Bay region by Trudgen and Keighery 

(1995) and Gibson et al. (2000), and which were not recorded in the survey area, are shown in Table 4.  


Table 3: 

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