The Lavinia Ramsar site is located on the north-east coast of King Island, Tasmania. The boundary of the site forms the Lavinia State Reserve, with major wetlands in the reserve including the Sea Elephant River estuary area, Lake Martha Lavinia, Penny’s Lagoon, and the Nook Swamps. The shifting sands of the Sea Elephant River’s mouth have caused a large back-up of brackish water in the site, creating the saltmarsh which extends up to five kilometres inland. The present landscape is the result of several distinct periods of dune formation. The extensive Nook Swamps, which run roughly parallel to the coast, occupy a flat depression between the newer parallel dunes to the east of the site and the older dunes further inland. Water flows into the wetlands from the catchment through surface channels and groundwater, and leaves mainly from the bar at the mouth of the Sea Elephant River and seepage through the young dune systems emerging as beach springs. The Lavinia State Reserve is one of the few largely unaltered areas of the island and contains much of the remaining native vegetation on King Island. The vegetation communities present on the site include Succulent Saline Herbland, Coastal Grass and Herbfield, Coastal Scrub and King Island Eucalyptus globulus Woodland. The freshwater areas of the Nook Swamps are dominated by swamp forest. Nook Swamps and the surrounding wetlands contain extensive peatlands. The site is an important refuge for a collection of regional and nationally threatened species, including the nationally endangered Orange-bellied Parrot. This parrot is heavily dependent upon the samphire plant, which occurs in the saltmarsh, for food during migration. They also roost at night in the trees and scrub surrounding the Sea Elephant River estuary. Several species of birds which use the reserve are rarely observed on the Tasmanian mainland, including the Dusky Moorhen, Nankeen Kestrel, Rufous Night Heron and the Golden-headed Cisticola. The site is currently used for conservation and recreation, including boating, fishing, camping and off-road driving. There are artefacts of Indigenous Australian occupation on King Island that date back to the last ice age when the island was connected to Tasmania and mainland Australia via the Bassian Plain.
* About the images
We took care to attach appropriate images that are as close to representative of each species as our resources and the availability of images allowed. however, we could not ensure perfect accuaracy in every case. Some images show species that share the same genus but not at the species or subspecies level.
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
Australian Government, Lavinia Ramsar Site, Ecological Character Description
KEY ACTUAL OR POTENTIAL THREATS TO THE SITE Following a thorough review of the relevant documentation; inputs from local land holders and the project Steering Committee; the drivers of the major actual and likely threats to the Lavinia Ramsar Site were identified as Community attitudes Fire Recreation (primarily vehicle use) Catchment impacts on water quality Drainage in the upper catchment Past land clearance Weeds Acid sulphate soils Phytophthora cinnamomi (dieback fungus) Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (chytrid fungus) Feral cats Aquaculture Climate change and Mining.
Hydrological changes caused by drainage and climate change increase the site’s vulnerability to burning during periods of high fire danger.
Climate Change Major impacts of predicted climate changes include those associated with rising sea levels; decreased precipitation and increased temperatures.
Although climate change projections lloydenvironmental ECD for Lavinia Ramsar Site. contain a high level of uncertainty in terms of magnitude; changes in temperature and rainfall statistics at King Island over the last half century are in accord with climate modelling that predicts lower rainfall and higher temperatures across south eastern Australia (Timbal and Jones 2008).
Another issue associated with climate change is the potential influence of local prevailing wind currents on the coastal landforms of the site.
Although changes to rainfall; evaporation and temperature may have some impact on water yield of the catchment; the greatest threat to the ecosystem from dryer conditions due to climate change is likely to be through increased fire risks.
Climate change . increased nutrient concentrations ( increased algal growth). impacts on estuarine fish (as food). reduced inflows and rainfall increased evaporation rates changes to all water dependent ecosystems; increased fire threat. unknown until proposal produced. all Medium 20 50 years Mining .
Threats to the species include land clearing; inappropriate disturbance regimes (e.g. cultivation; grazing; fire); weeds; browsing pressures by native and introduced species; and climate change (via drying out of low lying areas and increased competition from weeds.
Water quality is unlikely to change dramatically (beyond natural variability) unless through climate change.
The major threats identified for the sandsheet ecosystem were fire (increase in frequency) dieback fungus (Phytophthora cinnamomi) and climate change; with the major influence of climate change being an increased risk of fire frequency and or intensity.
In the context of this ECD; key features of the climate experienced by the site are mild temperatures (warm rather than hot summers and cool rather than cold winters); relatively high rainfall; and consistency of rainfall.
These communities could easily change through human disturbance; changes to the fire regime; or climate change.
Fire Fire threatens many components of the Lavinia Ramsar Site.
The most serious threat posed by fire to the ecosystem is that of burning the Nook Swamp.
However; unlike other vegetation communities within the site; saltmarsh does not need burning for its regeneration or maintenance; and even if regeneration was relatively rapid; burning of the saltmarsh vegetation around the Sea Elephant Estuary would have a major impact on the ecological character of the site through the loss of feeding and roosting areas for the orange bellied parrot.
Another major risk from fire is the potential for blowouts (sandy depressions in a sand dune system caused by the removal of sediments by wind).
An inappropriate fire regime could also help the establishment of weed species; leading to changes in the floristic structure and habitat provision of the site.
At the site; this can be largely ascribed to fire impacts. lloydenvironmental ECD for Lavinia Ramsar Site. 7.
The most readily identifiable impact on the ecology of the Lavinia Ramsar site since listing has been the effect of fire regime (frequency and intensity).
These fires indicate that the fire frequency for the site has not changed significantly since listing in 1982.
However; the 2007 fire was quite atypical in that extensive areas of peat were destroyed; as a consequence of the extended drought; so while the frequency of fires may not have altered significantly; their impact on the Lavinia peatlands has.
Figure 27 Northern end of Nook Swamps; 22 March 2007; showing the impact of fire on Melaleuca ericifolia swamp forests exposed partially burnt peat along drainage lines in foreground (source RMCD 2007). lloydenvironmental ECD for Lavinia Ramsar Site.
The burning of the Melaleuca ericifolia swamp forest may indicate a change in hydrology (lowering of water table) allowing the wetland to burn.
It may also indicate a change in fire intensity (possibly aided by a change in hydrology).
In summary; therefore; it cannot be determined whether there has been a change in hydrology and fire regime components of the site.
This habitat is particularly susceptible to the impacts of vehicles being driven through the saltmarsh and Fire is an important component of the site; with different vegetation communities requiring different burning regimes; ranging from 200 years or more between burns for some communities; to less than 30 years for others.
This habitat is particularly susceptible to the impacts of vehicles being driven through the saltmarsh and; Fire is an important component of the site; with different vegetation communities requiring different burning regimes; ranging from 200 years of more between burns for some communities; to less than 30 years for others.
The scrubtit is reliant on mature Melaleuca ericifolia swamp forest and burning of this habitat by wildfires is considered to be the single greatest threat to this species (Donaghey 2011).
The location of the individual units of the King Island scrub complex across the ecosystem is a function of fire history and drainage (see 3.1.4); with the wet heath and wet scrub occurring on poorly drained sites (e.g. areas of impeded drainage on flat plains); whereas the dry heath and dry scrub are situated on better drained sites; such as the rises and crests of Old Dunes (Figure 14).
ECD for Lavinia Ramsar Site. 4.2.5 Fire Regime Fire as a component and process across King Island has changed since European settlement.
Fire regime is a major determinant of vegetation communities at the site and across King Island The mosaic of sedgeland; heath and scrub which covers much of Lavinia N.R. is a function of past fire history.
Fire regime elements include the frequency of recurrence; the (heat) intensity of fires; and the time since the last fire.
This is because (depending on hydrology and soil type) sedgeland might transform into heathland only two to three years post burning and heath may transform into scrub within 6 to 20 years after a fire (Duncan 1986).
The vegetation of the Nook Swamp records a contrasting fire regime to the occasional; patchy fires indicated by the sedge heath scrub mosaic.
The high water table and low fuel loads on the forest floor where this community establishes inhibit the spread of ground fires; except in extremely dry seasons.