Coastal Swamp Oak (Casuarina glauca) Forest of New South Wales and South East Queensland ecological community

Status: Endangered on the EPBC Act list

This ecological community occurs in sub-tropical, sub-humid and temperate climatic zones from Curtis Island, north of Gladstone, in Queensland to Bermagui in southern New South Wales. It occurs in coastal catchments, mostly at elevations of less than 20 m above sea-level (ASL) that are typically found within 30 km of the coast.

Government evidence of impact of climate change:

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  • Conservation Advice (including listing advice) for the Poplar Box Grassy Woodland on Alluvial Plains

    The range of threats faced by the ecological community include Clearing and fragmentation Weeds Invasive fauna Impacts resulting from agricultural activities; including grazing Changes to hydrology; including from flood mitigation and drainage works Inappropriate fire regimes Impacts resulting from recreational activity and Climate change; particularly sea level rise.

    For example; one study looked at the impacts of climate change sea level rise on Ocybadistes knightorum (black grass dart butterfly); whose food plant and habitat is largely confined to Swamp Oak Coastal Forest and paperbark habitats; and estimated that 85 per cent of the butterfly s current habitat will become unsuitably saline by 2100 (Andren and Cameron; 2014).

    A particular threat to Coastal Swamp Oak Forest resulting from climate change is the threat of sea level rise.

    Latitudinal shift in the distribution of this ecological community is also a plausible response to climate change; but the area to shift into may not be available or suitable; because of coastal development; soil types or competition with other vegetation communities (Paice and Chambers; 2016).

    EPBC Act listed key threatening processes NSW listed key threatening processes Land clearance Clearing of native vegetation Removal of dead wood and dead trees Loss of hollow bearing trees Alteration to the natural flow regimes of rivers and streams and their floodplains and wetlands High frequency fire resulting in the disruption of life cycle processes in plants and animals and loss of vegetation structure and composition Loss of climatic habitat caused by anthropogenic Anthropogenic climate change emissions of greenhouse gases Loss and degradation of native plant and animal Loss and degradation of native plant and animal habitat by invasion of escaped garden plants; habitat by invasion of escaped garden plants; including aquatic plants including aquatic plants Novel biota and their impact on biodiversity Invasion; establishment and spread of Lantana camara Invasion of native plant communities by exotic perennial grasses Invasion of native plant communities by Chrysanthemoides monilifera (bitou bush and boneseed) Invasion and establishment of exotic vines and scramblers Competition from feral honeybees Apis mellifera L.

    The conservation status of the Black Grass dart Butterfly; Ocybadistes knightorum a species at risk from climate change.

    Changes to hydrology; including from flood mitigation and drainage works Inappropriate fire regimes.

    Identify areas of the ecological community subject to high fire frequency and identify options for reducing the frequency of fires.

    Swamp oak as a species is likely to decline with low frequency fire or fire exclusion.

    A number of other characteristic species; including Melaleuca quinquenervia; M. decora; M. ericifolia; M. linariifolia; Eucalyptus botryoides; Alphitonia excelsa; Glycine clandestina and Goodenia ovata; are also likely to decline with low frequency fire (Baker; 2017).

    In Queensland; the more saline elements of the ecological community are considered to require disturbance to maintain structure (Queensland Herbarium; 2016); but changes in the fire regime may result in species decline and changes to vegetation structure; as well as promoting the spread of other species; particularly invasive weeds such as lantana.

    Alternately; Coastal Swamp Oak Forest is also noted as being affected by reduced fire frequencies; with 83 94 per cent of it being underburnt compared to fire interval guidelines (Baker; 2017).