Eucalypt Woodlands of the Western Australian Wheatbelt

Status: Critically Endangered on the EPBC Act list

This ecological community is composed of eucalypt woodlands that formerly were the most common type of vegetation across the wheatbelt landscape of south-western Western Australia, i.e. inland between the Darling Range and western edge of the goldfields.

Government evidence of impact of climate change:

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  • Approved Conservation Advice - Appendices for the Eucalypt Woodlands of the Western Australian Wheatbelt

    The climate of the region has become drier over recent decades see Appendix C Key threats for further detail.

    Potential impacts of climate change; including altered fire and flooding regimes; decline in tree health due to prolonged drought and heat stress; and poor regeneration and recruitment.

    The nature and composition of the woodlands changes over this vast range; not only due to differences in landscape and climate but also due to human impacts.

    Wildfires and changes to climate also continue to impact on reserves.

    Climate change There have been documented shifts in climate throughout the range of the WA Wheatbelt Woodlands over the past decades.

    In addition to impacts upon agriculture and human society; projected changes in climate will also impact upon natural biodiversity.

    Studies have provided observations or predictions on how biodiversity is likely to be impacted by climate change; a few examples of which are cited below.

    As the severity of climate change increases; there is a greater risk that these species could decline in their extent.

    Any likely impacts due to climate change will be additional to existing stressors; notably the extensive landscape modification and fragmentation across the wheatbelt.

    Nationally listed key threatening processes The following are EPBC listed key threatening processes; current as at February 2015; that are relevant to the WA Wheatbelt Woodland ecological community Competition and land degradation by rabbits Dieback caused by the root rot fungus (Phytophthora cinnamomi) Land clearance Loss and degradation of native plant and animal habitat by invasion of escaped garden plants; including aquatic plants Loss of terrestrial climatic habitat caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases Novel biota and their impact on biodiversity Predation by European red fox Predation by feral cats Predation; habitat degradation; competition and disease transmission by feral pigs.

    Altered fire regimes; notably altered fire frequency; but also changes to fire intensity and season; such as occurs during prescribed burning.

    Frequency of fire is one important consideration in addition to fire intensity and season.

    Lack of fire limits recruitment of plant species; especially those that require heat; smoke or other feature of a fire to stimulate germination and establishment of seedlings.

    Taken together; the projected changes in temperature and rainfall are likely to result in more drought periods and harsher fire weather in the future.