Indicator: Ecological Communities
Results for this indicator are also available for
What the results tell us for Tumbarumba
Thirty-four vegetation communities have been recorded within Tumbarumba Shire, 11 of which are considered of conservation significance. The Shire may also contain occurrences of three ecological communities listed as critically endangered or endangered nationally or within New South Wales (NSW). Three wetlands of national importance are also located within the Shire.
It was not possible to assess accurately changes to the extent and condition of native vegetation in the Shire during the current reporting period. No information was available on vegetation cleared, or vegetation affected by wild fires during the current reporting period
No information was available on whether reservation targets vegetation were met for communities considered to be poorly represented within the broader region's reserve system in the previous reporting period.
No information was available on Voluntary Conservation Agreements or wildlife refuges during the current reporting period. No information was available on activities carried out during the reporting period that enhanced the conservation of ecological communities in the council area.
Vegetation communities in the Shire
Sixty-eight per cent of Tumbarumba Shire is covered by remnant native vegetation (Terra Consulting NSW Pty Ltd 2000). Thirty-four vegetation communities (or ecosystems) have been recorded within the Shire (see Table 1). These communities were classified as part of the Southern Comprehensive Regional Assessment (CRA) program in south-eastern New South Wales (NSW) over 1999 which provided the best coverage and most consistent description of vegetation in the Shire at the time of writing this State of the Environment report (see About the data). These vegetation classifications are still current, however Eden CRA classifications were incorporated (almost unchanged) into the new South Coast - Illawarra Vegetation Integration (SCIVI) classification system (Tozer et.al 2006), and completely overlap the Eden CRA region. SCIVI has superseded the Southern CRA region, however does not fully encompass the Canberra region, overlapping much of the Southern CRA region, but not extending as far west. SCIVI does not include western vegetation classification types therefore was not applicable to this report.
Nine of the forest vegetation communities that occur within the Shire were considered vulnerable in 1999 (see Table 1), i.e. they were approaching 70% clearance of their pre-1750 extent. In the context of the CRA region, an additional two communities were still considered poorly represented within the region's reserve system in 2004. No information is available to determine the number of communities still poorly represented within those regions' reserve systems in 2008.
|Forest vegetation communities||CRA Number||Area(ha)#||Vulnerable*||Poorly Reserved*|
|Alpine Wet Herbfield and Sub-alpine Wet Herb/Grassland/Bog||S129133||23,870|
|Bogong Gum Western Escarpment Shrub/Grass Forest||S88||590|
|Kosciuszko Western Escarpment Cool Temperate Rainforest||S172||110|
|Montane / Sub-Alpine Dry Rocky Shrubland||S36||1,820|
|Montane Acacia/Dry Shrub/Herb/Grass Forest||S97||4,240|
|Montane Dry Shrub/Tussock Forest||S106||4|
|Montane Wet Heath/Bog||S123||30|
|Northern Slopes Dry Grass Woodland||S160||20||+||+||+||+|
|North-Western Montane Dry Shrub/Herb/Grass Forest||S101||24,050|
|South West Slopes Acacia Dry Herb/Grass Forest||S94||10,640||+||+||+||+|
|Sub-alpine Dry Shrub/Herb Woodland||S128||4,320|
|Sub-alpine Shrub/Grass Woodland (120) Sub-alpine Woodlands||S130||36,420|
|Tableland Acacia/Herb/Grass Forest||S104||14,430|
|Tableland and Escarpment Wet Layered Shrub Forest||S58||1,760|
|Tableland Dry Grassy Woodland||S154||10||+||+||+||+|
|Tableland Dry Heath Shrub/Herb/Grass Woodland||S38||10|
|Tableland Tussock Grassland /Sedgeland/ Woodland||S148||730||+||+||+||+|
|Tablelands Dry Shrub/Grass Forest||S110||1||+||+|
|Tablelands Shrub/Tussock Grass Forest||S75||2,430|
|Western Escarpment Dry Shrub Forest||S70||1,570|
|Western Escarpment Moist Shrub/Herb/Grass Forest||S87||47,590|
|Western Montane Acacia Fern/Herb Forest||S82||48,540|
|Western Montane Dry Fern/Grass Forest||S103||1|
|Western Montane Moist Shrub Forest||S98||6,960|
|Western Montane Wet Heath/Herb Grass Woodland||S124||1,650||+||+||+|
|Western Slopes Grass/Herb Dry Forest||S121||16,170||+||+||+|
|Western Slopes Herb/Grass Woodland||S116||100||+||+||+||+|
|Western Slopes Riparian Moist Sedge Woodland||S43||150||+||+||+||+|
|Western Slopes Shrub/Herb/Grass Dry Forest||S120||260||+||+||+||+|
|Western Tableland Dry Shrub Forest||S71||10|
|Western Tablelands Dry Herb/Grass Forest||S108||27,210|
|Western Tablelands Dry Shrub/Grass Forest||S119||150||+||+||+||+|
|Western Tablelands Herb/Grass Dry Forest||S93||20,100||+||+||+||+|
CRA prefix S = forest ecosystems classified under the Southern CRA; # Extent in Shire in 1999, the date of the Southern CRA mapping; * For definitions of Vulnerable and Poorly Reserved, see About the data; Source: NSW Department of Environment and Conservation
Endangered ecological communities
Tumbarumba Shire may contain three ecological communities listed as critically endangered or endangered within NSW or nationally (Note: threatened ecological community lists are generated based on Bioregions and do not entirely overlap LGA boundaries). Two are listed under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, one is listed under the Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Two communities had their final determinations made during the current reporting period (DECC 2008b; DEHWA 2008c).
|Name of ecological community||Status||Date of determination*||Recovery Plan|
|Montane peatlands and swamps of the New England Tableland, NSW North Coast, Sydney Basin, South East Corner, South Eastern Highlands and Australian Alps bioregions||Endangered in NSW*||Final: 17 December 2004||No|
|White Box Yellow Box Blakely's Red Gum woodland||Endangered in NSW*||Final: 15 March 2002||No|
|White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely's Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland||Critically Endangered nationally#||Final: 17 May 2006||In Preparation|
* Determinations (preliminary and final) under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 made by the NSW Scientific Committee; Source: DECC 2004a–c, 2008a–h
Other significant communities or habitats
Three nationally significant wetlands listed in the Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia (DEWHA 2008a) either occur within or intersect the Shire. They are:
- Tomneys Plain—not reserved; surrounding land is timber production, bushland and grazing
- Lake Albina—reserved; surrounding land is National Park
- Lake Cootapatamba—reserved; surrounding land is National Park.
No Ramsar sites (that is, internationally important wetlands) have been declared within the Shire.
The river red gum (Eucalyptus camaldulensis), which constitutes the dominant tree species along the river and creek systems of Tumbarumba Shire, is scheduled in SEPP 44 as a 'feed tree species' for koalas, and the Shire is listed in Schedule 1 of this SEPP (Terra Consulting NSW Pty Ltd 2000).
Vegetation extent and condition
A significant proportion of the original native vegetation within the Shire has been cleared or modified because the district's economy is based largely on agriculture. For example, Yellow Box/Blakely's Red Gum Woodlands and riparian communities, which occur in the area, have been cleared to less than 30% of their 1800 extent (Stein 2003). The Riverina Highlands Regional Vegetation Committee considers the major threatening processes to the future loss of native vegetation within its region are clearing, inappropriate grazing regimes, unsustainable logging, invasive weeds, inappropriate fire regimes, salinity and inappropriate management and gradual decline (Stein 2003).
Pressures on vegetation extent
Loss of native vegetation continues to be one of the greatest threats to Australia’s biodiversity. The clearing of native vegetation is a threatening process operating on both ecosystems and species (DEHWA 2006). Even if all clearing were to cease now, the decline in vegetation condition is likely to continue for many years, because of the lag effects of vegetation fragmentation and pressure from climate change (DECC 2006). The main responses are the Native Vegetation Act 2003 (and supporting Regulations) and improved compliance monitoring. The new legislative regime is expected to provide a means to address this issue.
Clearing was the main pressure on the extent of native vegetation in Tumbarumba Shire during the previous reporting period. Increased fragmentation and clearing have both have been identified as threats to the three endangered ecological communities with occurrences in the Shire. No information is available on the extent of native vegetation clearing in Tumbarumba Shire during the current reporting period. The trend in the overall rate of clearing is difficult to accurately assess (see About the data).
During 2000–2004, 11 forest communities were impacted by regrowth and four by harvesting, five of which were rated vulnerable and nine poorly reserved in July 2000. No information was available on mapped vegetation change relating to extent of native vegetation in the Shire in the current reporting period.
A total of 71.7 hectares of vegetation was approved for clearing within the Murrumbidgee Catchment region, which encompasses Tumbarumba Shire, under the NSW Native Vegetation Act 2003 during the reporting period. No information was available on clearing applications approved, including clearing areas, within the council area during the reporting period.
Pressures on vegetation condition
Wildfire is likely to have been a major broadscale pressure impacting the condition of native vegetation in parts of Tumbarumba Shire during the current reporting period. Approximately 551 hectares of land were affected by control burns in the period 2004–2008. Three separate wildfires occurred within the Shire during the current reporting period, however no information is available on areas burnt by these wildfires.
No information is available on the number of forest communities affected by low intensity fires (generally fuel reduction burns) or by fires of unknown intensity (generally wildfires).
Other factors such as drought and weed invasion, including the spread of noxious weeds such as St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum), Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), Bathurst Burr (Xanthium spinosum), Noogoora Burr (X. occidentale), Paterson's Curse (Echium spp), Willow (Salix spp) and wild pines (Pinus spp.), also asserted broadscale pressure on vegetation condition within the Shire during the current reporting period.
General threats to the condition of the three endangered ecological communities with occurrences in the Shire include (DECC 2008a; DEWHA 2008b):
- land degradation and fragmentation of remnants
- grazing and trampling by stock
- weed invasion
- erosion and sedimentation
- soil disturbance caused by feral animals
- harvesting of firewood and collection of on-ground woody debris
- high frequency or high intensity fires
- climate change.
Peat mining, and changes to water tables and surface flows caused by drainage works or altered flows in catchments, are also considered threats to the endangered montane peatlands and swamps (DECC 2008a).
Conservation and management
Law and policy
Some national and state laws require recovery plans or action plans to be prepared for endangered ecological communities, and for the presence of such communities to be taken into account during decision-making on developments applications. These laws also aim to minimise the effects of threatening processes on endangered ecological communities or prevent communities from becoming endangered. Laws such as the Native Vegetation Act 2003 (enacted during the previous reporting period and replaced the Native Vegetation Conservation Act 1997), also aim to minimise the effects of threatening processes and to protect, conserve and improve the condition of existing native vegetation, particularly at a local and regional level.
Tumbarumba Shire is located within the Murray and Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) areas established under the NSW Catchment Management Authorities Act 2003. Each CMA is required to work in partnership with Local Government as well as other stakeholders, and must develop and administer a regional vegetation management plan. These plans and the catchment blueprints prepared by the catchment management boards which preceded the CMAs, also support the conservation of native ecosystems. The Murray Catchment Blueprint (Murray Catchment Management Board, 2003) and Murrumbidgee Catchment Blueprint (Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Board 2003), completed during the current reporting period, include a range of management actions to restore, maintain or conserve biodiversity values in each catchment area.
Local government legislation, regulations and planning documents such as local environment plans (LEPs) may also provide some protection for ecological communities, or limit or prohibit certain activities that may lead to the further decline of endangered ecological communities.
Five national parks, nature reserves and state conservation areas either fall within or intersect Tumbarumba Shire, covering approximately 219,200 hectares or 50% of its area.
Four new conservation reserves totalling approximately 13,200 hectares were gazetted in the Shire during the previous reporting period, compared with no new reserves in the current period. Additions totalling about 10,300 hectares were made to one reserve in the previous period compared with no additions in the current period. These additions to the reserve network were outcomes of the Southern Regional Forest Agreement.
No information was available on forest communities considered poorly represented within the regional reserve system in 2004 meeting regional reservation targets during the current reporting period. No information was available on forest communities still classed as vulnerable changing their status within the current reporting period.
|Reserve||Date plan adopted|
|Kosciuszko National Park||14 June 2006|
Source: Department of Environment and Climate Change
Fire management plans were prepared for Courabyra NR, while draft fire management plans were prepared for Bogandyera NR, Clarkes Hill NR and Kosciuszko NP.
Council manages the Tumbarumba Common and the ten hectares Police Paddock in Tumbarumba predominantly for conservation (Livermore 2005). The common has a specific conservation area (Livermore 2005).
Other conservation management
The Tumbarumba Shire Council Environmental Management Advisory Committee was established in 2000. The Committee advised council on issues such as wild pines on roadsides, implemented revegetation of a major road cutting and initiated the development of the Tumbarumba Roadside Vegetation Management Plan. A range of priority activities outlined in the plan (Stein 2003) are relevant to the protection of ecological communities.
Under a project also initiated in 2000, the Riverina Highlands Regional Vegetation Management Committee funded, through the Natural Heritage Trust, landholders across the region to manage over 1,500 hectares of native vegetation for its conservation value. Tumbarumba Council currently hosts the project officer.
From 2000–2001, Tumbarumba Council also hosted the Native Vegetation Facilitator for the Upper Murray catchment. The facilitator promoted the importance of native vegetation management and biodiversity within the catchment and Shire area and was involved in a range of activities, including the establishment of the Environmental Management Committee (see Tumbarumba Shire Council website).
One privately owned property in the Shire had a Voluntary Conservation Agreement (VCA) in place, while another four were designated wildlife refuges during the previous reporting period. The VCA covers a total of 14 hectares and the wildlife refuges 2,210 hectares. No information was available on the vegetation communities occurring within the VCA and wildlife refuges, or whether plans of management or schemes of operation had been developed or implemented for them. No information was available on these conservation initiatives during the current reporting period.
Six Landcare groups operated within Tumbarumba Shire. For information on the range of activities occurring there and in the Murray and Murrumbidgee catchments, see the Landcare NSW website. Activities that were nationally funded and undertaken during the reporting period in the Murray and Murrumbidgee catchments (DIPNR 2004) may also have enhanced the conservation of ecological communities in the Shire.
Community groups, council and/or other organisations may have undertaken various projects during the reporting period that enhanced the protection of ecological communities in the Shire. No information was available on these projects.
No information was available on revegetation projects, native vegetation preserved or fencing of remnant vegetation during the current reporting period.
About the data
Forest vegetation communities referred to in this report were derived from the Eden and Southern Comprehensive Regional Assessment (CRA) forest ecosystem mapping. This mapping was undertaken in 1998 and 1999 respectively. All calculations are based on the extant and pre-1750 forest ecosystem layers. The extant forest ecosystem layers reflect the extent of these vegetation communities at the time of mapping.
Under the CRA mapping, a Vulnerable vegetation community was defined as one whose areal extent at the time of mapping was approaching 70% loss of its pre-European extent. A vegetation community was defined as Poorly Reserved when less than 15% of its pre-European extent was located in formal conservation reserves across the CRA region. Further information on the 70% clearing threshold and the 15% reservation threshold is provided in JANIS (1997).
The CRA mapping was used for this report because it provided the most current data which covered the entire extent of the majority of local government areas in the Australian Capital Region. However the mapping data have the following limitations:
- some mapped CRA ecosystem types may be inconsistent with vegetation on the ground because the CRA vegetation types were modelled and limited ground truthing was undertaken in some areas
- the vegetation classifications were focused primarily on forest vegetation types and may poorly reflect non-forest communities
- the vegetation classifications used to describe forest ecosystems were not a widely used system
- the vegetation classification systems used in the Eden and Southern CRAs differ and there may be some duplication of forest types at the borders of these two study areas.
No data were available regarding extant vegetation at 30 June 2008, and hence it was not possible to determine changes in the extent of forest communities within the council area during the current reporting period. Overall vegetation condition assessment across the landscape is difficult to achieve because remote sensing below the canopy level is still not possible (given current technology and cost requirement in achieving statistically significant results from survey) and the complexities of obtaining permission to enter private land for survey staff.
Mapping of the amount of vegetation cleared was not available at a scale suitable for application within LGA’s boundaries, and reflects significant limitations in accurately assessing this indicator. Broadscale analyses under-estimate the overall rate of clearing because current techniques only operate under large map scales. Effectively this means that it only records removal of woody vegetation that is at least two metres tall with a canopy cover of 15% or more, excluding changes in sparse open woodlands and grasslands, which are extensive and among the most affected vegetation types in NSW.
Fine-scale remote-sensing studies allow a more accurate appraisal of clearing rates in woodlands, open woodlands and shrublands, however coverage is limited to particular regions of NSW. Authors using these methods in the NSW State of the Environment Report 2006 indicate that clearing rates are substantially greater (8–10 times higher) than the estimates obtained from the coarse-scale analyses referred to above. However, being regional, they provide an incomplete view of statewide clearing. The availability of accurate vegetation clearing data is of critical importance for future reporting purposes, due to the threat that this pressure represents to biodiversity.
Data on vegetation approved for clearing within Catchment Management Association regions under the NSW Native Vegetation Act 2003 was accessed through the DECC website under the Public register of approved clearing PVPs and development applications. Geographic analysis would reveal locations within LGA boundaries, however this was unavailable during the reporting period. The data collection system was changed in 2006 with the introduction of the new Regulations. These estimates exclude the area of vegetation cleared illegally and clearing carried out legally under statutory exemptions; in 2005, 40% of all clearing was estimated to be illegal in NSW (Audit Office 2006).
Threats to each endangered ecological community was provided by DECC, under the NSW Scientific Committee - final determination page, and/or the Threatened Species, Populations and Ecological Communities endangered ecological communities profile page. The information contained in this database is available on the internet link under DECC 2008a in the references. New parks and additions to existing reserves was provided by DECC upon request, as the website only listed all the parks and reserves created over the last 12 months. Information on park and fire management plans, as well as recovery plans for endangered ecological communities was provided by DECC.
Audit Office 2006, Auditor-General's Report: Performance Audit, Department of Natural Resources – Regulating the Clearing of Native Vegetation, follow-up of 2002 performance audit, Audit Office of NSW, Sydney
DECC – see Department of Environment and Climate Change
Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW) (2008a) NSW Scientific Committee—Final Determination, (search on threatened ecological community - endangered ecological community listing), viewed 20 October 2008, http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/natureconservation.htm
Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW) (2008b) Threatened Species, Populations and Ecological Communities, Final determinations by date, viewed 22 October 2008, http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/committee/FinalDeterminations.htm
Department of Environment and Climate Change (NSW) (2006), NSW State of the Environment Report 2006, Biodiversity http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/soe/soe2006/chapter6/chp_6.1.htm#6.1.60
Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (Commonwealth) (2006), Australia State of the Environment 2006, Pressures on biodiversity http://www.environment.gov.au/soe/2006/publications/report/biodiversity-2.html
Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (Commonwealth) (2008a) Australian Wetlands Database, Department of Environment and Heritage, viewed 22 October 2008, http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/wetlands/search.pl?smode=BOTH
Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (Commonwealth) (2008b), Biodiversity, search on threatened ecological community, viewed October 2008, http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/index.html
Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (Commonwealth) (2008c), EPBC Act List of Threatened Ecological Communities, Final determinations by date, viewed October 2008, http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/index.html
Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (NSW) (2004) 2003/04 Combined NSW Catchment Management Authorities Annual Report, Volume 1: CMA Activities and Achievements, Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources, Sydney.
DEWHA - see Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts
DIPNR - see Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources
Joint ANZECC/MCFFA National Forest Policy Statement Implementation Sub-committee (1997) Nationally Agreed Criteria for the Establishment of a Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative Reserve System for Forests in Australia, Joint ANZECC/MCFFA National Forest Policy Statement Implementation Sub-committee, Commonwealth of Australia.
Livermore, B (2005) Manager, Environmental Services, Tumbarumba Shire Council, personal communication.
Murray Catchment Management Board (2003) Integrated Catchment Management Plan for the Murray Catchment 2002. Murray Catchment Blueprint, NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation, Sydney, online at http://www.dlwc.nsw.gov.au/care/cmb/blueprints/pdf/murray.html.
Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Board (2003) Murrumbidgee Catchment Blueprint, NSW Department of Land and Water Conservation, Sydney, viewed 5 August 2005 http://www.dlwc.nsw.gov.au/care/cmb/blueprints/pdf/murrumbidgee_blueprint.pdf.
Sattler P and Creighton C (eds) (2002) Australian Terrestrial Biodiversity Assessment 2002, National Land and Water Resources Audit on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia, Chapter 4: Threatened Ecosystems and Species, viewed 4 August 2005, http://audit.deh.gov.au/ANRA/vegetation/docs/biodiversity/bio_assess_threat.cfm.
Stein, D (2003) Tumbarumba Shire Roadside Vegetation Management Plan, Tumbarumba Shire Council, Tumbarumba.
Terra Consulting (NSW) Pty Ltd (2000) State of the Environment Report – 1999–2000, Tumbarumba LGA, prepared for Tumbarumba Shire Council, Terra Consulting (NSW) Pty Ltd, Dubbo.
URS Australia Pty Ltd (2004) Final Report – Profile of the Value of the Timber Industry in the South West Slopes Region of New South Wales, prepared for Riverina Regional Development Board, August 2004.
Tozer, M.G., Turner, K., Simpson, C., Keith, D.A., Beukers, P., MacKenzie, B., Tindall, D. & Pennay, C. (2006) Native vegetation of southeast NSW: a revised classification and map for the coast and eastern tablelands. Version 1.0. Department of Environment and Conservation and Department of Natural Resources