The Lowland Grassy Woodland in the South East Corner Bioregion ecological community originally occupied much of the lower parts of the landscape on rolling hills of the coastal river valleys in the NSW part of the South East Corner bioregion. It has been cleared or substantially modified by farming and development and no unmodified examples remain. Remnants are confined to private property or small public reserves such as Travelling Stock Reserves, cemeteries and roadsides.
Lowland Grassy Woodland in the South East Corner Bioregion
Status: Critically Endangered on the EPBC Act list
Government evidence of impact of climate change:
Conservation Advice for Lowland Grassy Woodland in the South East Corner Bioregion
Climate Change Climate change is now understood to pose a serious long term threat to our terrestrial; coastal and aquatic ecosystems and to have the potential to change the ecology of these environments.
The potential large scale impacts of climate change could influence the species composition of this ecological community through their responses to disturbance and the very nature of those disturbances.
Climate change could also possibly influence the future distribution and extent of the ecological community.
Key Threatening Processes that operate in the Lowland Grassy Woodland ecological community include Land clearance (EPBC Act) Clearing of native vegetation (NSW TSC Act) Loss and degradation of native plant and animal habitat by invasion of escaped garden plants; including aquatic plants (EPBC Act) Invasion of native plant communities by exotic perennial grasses (NSW TSC Act) Competition and land degradation by rabbits (EPBC Act) Competition and grazing by the feral European Rabbit; Oryctolagus cuniculus (NSW TSC Act) Loss of Hollow bearing Trees (NSW TSC Act) Removal of dead wood and dead trees (NSW TSC Act) Herbivory and environmental degradation caused by feral deer (NSW TSC Act) Competition from feral honeybees (NSW TSC Act) Predation by European Red Fox (EPBC Act) Predation by the European red fox (Vulpes vulpes) (NSW TSC Act) Predation by feral cats (EPBC Act) Predation by the feral cat (Felis catus) (NSW TSC Act) Loss of terrestrial climatic habitat caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (EPBC Act) Anthropogenic Climate Change (NSW TSC Act) Lowland Grassy Woodland in the South East Corner Bioregion ecological community Appendix F Eligibility for listing against the EPBC Act criteria Criterion 1 Decline in geographic distribution The Lowland Grassy Woodland ecological community has undergone a large reduction in extent since European settlement; largely due to clearing (Keith and Bedward; 1999 Tindall et al.; 2004 Tozer et al.; 2006 Tozer et al.; 2010).
The number and relative abundance of species changes with time since fire; and may also change in response to changes in fire frequency or grazing regime (NSW Scientific Committee; 2007).
The main ongoing threats to the Lowland Grassy Woodland ecological community are weed invasion inappropriate fire regimes inappropriate grazing regimes dieback land clearing; particularly for rural residential development and other impacts associated with fragmentation of remnants.
The impact of ongoing threats such as invasion of exotic species and inappropriate grazing or fire regimes are exacerbated by the very small distribution of the remaining extent of the Lowland Grassy Woodland ecological community.
The integrity of the ecological community and its ability to respond to natural and anthropogenic pressures has been severely reduced due to loss or decline of numerous faunal species; decline of palatable flora species; loss of old trees and associated hollows; clearing; small size and isolation of most remnants; altered fire regimes; and impacts of weeds.
Additionally; inappropriate fire and grazing regimes that alter the species composition of the vegetation in the ecological community and rural residential development continue to be detrimental to the ecological community.
These differences can be related to; in part; evapo transpiration and soil nutrient levels but patterns are complicated by land use and in particular by the frequency and intensity of fire and grazing.
Practices such as grazing or burning can alter floristic composition; by eliminating those species which are most sensitive to a particular regime; especially if the grazing is heavy and continuous or burning occurs at frequent intervals.
Altered fire frequencies within some patches may reduce the viability of some native plant populations.
Themeda triandra declines in the absence of fire and Bursaria spinosa is found in high abundance in low fire frequency sites to the point where the species can dominate much of the landscape (Watson and Morris; 2006).
Ecological consequences are likely to include an increase in fire events; changes in seasonal moisture and reduction in productivity.
The impact of ongoing threats such as invasion of exotic species and inappropriate grazing or fire regimes are exacerbated by the small distribution of the remaining extent of the Lowland Grassy Woodland ecological community.
These include edge effects; degradation of habitat for many species; altered fire regimes and reduced opportunities for pollination and dispersal of plant propagules.
Summary The loss or decline of numerous faunal species; palatable flora species; old trees and associated hollows; combined with the effects of substantial clearing; severe fragmentation; altered fire regimes and the impacts of weeds have seriously reduced the community’s integrity and consequently its ability to respond to natural and anthropogenic pressures.
In addition; inappropriate fire and grazing regimes that alter the species composition of the vegetation in the ecological community and rural residential development continue to be detrimental to the ecological community.
These trees suffer increased mortality related to drought and recurring insect attack as well as occasional lightning strike.
These and other remnant and regrowth trees suffer episodes of elevated mortality related to drought and recurring insect attack (exacerbated by Manorina melanocephala (noisy miner) and M. melanophrys (bell miner) population increase) consistent with rural tree dieback.