Karst springs and associated alkaline fens of the Naracoorte Coastal Plain Bioregion

Status: Endangered on the EPBC Act list

The Karst springs and alkaline fens include plants, animals and other organisms associated with a type of groundwater dependant ecosystem located in the Gambier Karst Province of the Otway Basin in south east South Australia and south west Victoria. Known occurrences of the ecological community are scattered across the near-coastal areas from near Beachport in South Australia to west of Portland Victoria.

Government evidence of impact of climate change:

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  • Conservation Advice for the Karst springs and associated alkaline fens of the Naracoorte Coastal Plain Bioregion

    The seasonal climate predisposes these regions to summer fires but fire regimes are likely to have changed substantially since non Indigenous settlement.

    Climate Timing Ongoing Changes to climate are likely to impact upon the change and ecological community through seasonal shifts in severe temperature; evaporation and rainfall (Limestone Coast weather 2015).

    More extreme climate events such as heat waves and drought will have greater impact upon the outer areas of wetlands and those native species with limited dispersal ability.

    At a minimum; it is important to note climate conditions and what kind of disturbance may have happened within an occurrence; and when that disturbance occurred. OTHER NEARBY LISTED ECOLOGICAL COMMUNITIES Other terrestrial nationally listed threatened ecological communities occur in the same bioregion as the Karst springs and alkaline fens.

    However; choosing sources of seed closer to the margins of their range may increase resilience to climate change. o Ensure commitment to follow up after planting; such as the care of newly planted vegetation including maintaining appropriate hydrological needs; weeding and use removal of tree guards. o Consider the landscape context and other relevant species and communities when planning and undertaking restoration works.

    Remnant wetlands across the national extent (South Australia and Victoria) are impacted by ongoing drainage; weed invasion and declining groundwater levels and flows and declining water quality; exacerbated by climate change.

    In addition; changes in rainfall volumes and seasonality; are likely to continue impacting the ecological community; including increasing drought and storm severity due to climate change.

    They also change over time; for example; in response to disturbance (by drainage; fire; or grazing); or to the climate and weather (e.g. seasons; floods; drought and extreme heat or cold).

    Fire may contribute to species loss and structural changes to the Karst springs and alkaline fens; exacerbated where sites are fragmented and fire impacts a large proportion of a remnant.

    Great care is required when imposing fire in this ecological community e.g. controlled or planned burns; particularly given the diversity of habitat; sensitivity of fauna and threatened plants; and the importance of water quality.

    This is likely to have a direct impact on flows and amplify drought impacts.

    The hydrology of the region where the ecological community occurs has been further impacted by periods of declining rainfall; notably the severe Millennium drought of (BOM 2019).