Comment on listing assessment
Proposed Conservation Status: Critically endangered
Distribution: Limited to Tasmania
- Draft Conservation Advice (incorporating listing advice) for the Tasmanian Forests and Woodlands dominated by black gum or Brookers gum (Eucalyptus ovata / E. brookeriana) (PDF - 2.35 MB) | (DOCX - 6.88 MB)
- Guide for Tasmanian Forests and Woodlands dominated by Eucalyptus ovata (black gum) or E. brookeriana (Brookers gum) (PDF - 1.36 MB) | (DOCX - 2.83 MB)
- Guidelines for Nominating and Assessing Threatened Ecological Communities(PDF - 621.63 KB) | (DOCX - 136.38 KB)
About the ecological community under assessment
Each year on behalf of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, the Department of the Environment and Energy invites public nominations for items that merit listing as nationally threatened under the national environment law. The “Eucalyptus ovata woodland and forest in Tasmania” was nominated for listing as a threatened ecological community in 2013 and was prioritised for assessment that year. The proposed ecological community was considered to represent an important gap in the current list of nationally significant ecosystems.
As nominated, the “Eucalyptus ovata forest and woodland in Tasmania” covers native forests and woodlands where Black gum (Eucalyptus ovata) is the main tree canopy species present. In compiling this assessment, advice from experts and agencies familiar with these forests recommended that the ecological community should also include forests and woodlands that have Brookers gum (Eucalyptus brookeriana) as the main tree canopy species.
Black gum and Brookers gum are closely related species that look very similar and can be confused in the field. Both tree species typically occur on damp to wet sites, and both forest types are on Tasmania’s list of Threatened Native Vegetation Communities. By including Brookers gum with Black gum in the one proposed national ecological community, it is recognised they are similar in appearance, habitat and function, and also avoids some of the uncertainties associated with identifying which of the two tree species may be present. The name of the ecological community has been updated, accordingly, to: “Tasmanian forests and woodlands dominated by black gum or Brookers gum (Eucalyptus ovata / E. brookeriana)”.
The ecological community represents a type of eucalypt forest and woodland that typically occurs on poorly draining, damp sites such as flats, depressions, drainage lines and gullies. It is restricted to Tasmania, mostly occurring in the northern and eastern regions, including the Bass Strait islands. The Brookers gum forests are most common in the wet forests of north-western Tasmania and King Island, while the Black gum forests occur across the northern slopes, east coast, Midlands and south-east. Much of the landscape where the ecological community originally occurred has been cleared and modified for agriculture, forestry or urban/infrastructure land uses.
The forest understorey typically has a range of native shrubs and sedges, though there are minor heathy and grassy variants of Black gum forests. The Brookers gum component is a wet forest that sometimes includes rainforest species. The forest provides vital habitat for many animals, some of which are threatened, for instance the spotted quoll and the swift parrot.
This assessment was due for completion by 31 December 2016 but pending likely extension to the deadline (to mid-2017) to allow for consultation and finalisation of the assessment.
Invitation to comment
The EPBC Act requires the Threatened Species Scientific Committee to undertake public consultation on nominations accepted for a full scientific assessment. The Committee particularly seeks comments on whether a nominated item is eligible for listing under the proposed conservation status, but also invites other relevant comments and information about the “Tasmanian forests and woodlands dominated by black gum or Brookers gum (Eucalyptus ovata / E. brookeriana)”.
The draft scientific assessment, or Conservation Advice, recommends that the ecological community may be eligible for listing as critically endangered, based on evidence that it has declined by at least 90%. The forest now exists as mostly small, scattered fragments that are further impacted by weed invasion, changes to natural drainage and altered fire regimes. The loss of forest tree cover has contributed to serious problems of salinity, erosion and altered habitat for native animals.
The Department welcomes the views of experts, land managers, other stakeholders and the general public on the draft Conservation Advice for the ecological community.
A Guide for Consultation is available to help you understand the listing assessment for this ecological community and the potential implications of listing under the EPBC Act.
The Guidelines for Nominating and Assessing Ecological Communities are also available to explain the criteria and concepts by which an ecological community can be determined as threatened in a particular conservation category.
A set of Questions to guide your comments is also provided, below.
Please advise other relevant key people or groups in your networks about this opportunity for comment. We would greatly appreciated your help to get input from other agencies and groups involved with biodiversity conservation, land management, primary industries and planning.
Questions to guide comments
- Does the draft description in the draft conservation advice clearly and accurately describe the proposed ecological community? If not, how should it be amended to help with on-ground identification and management?
- Are the lists of characteristic species accurate? If not, what should be added or removed?
- The draft conservation advice outlines several TASVEG vegetation communities that correspond to the ecological community (these are outlined in the draft advice). Do you agree with these corresponding units - should any be added to, or deleted, from the description, or do you have any relevant extra information on these?
- Is the description (particularly the key diagnostic characteristics) sufficient to differentiate the ecological community from other ecological communities in Tasmania? If not, how should it be modified?
- The assessment includes condition thresholds that help to determine when the patches of the community may be too degraded to be considered as nationally significant. Are the condition thresholds suitable for identifying patches of the ecological community that are of sufficient quality to warrant national legal protection? If not, how should they be modified?
- The key threats to the ecological community are detailed in Appendix C. In your opinion, are the key threats currently affecting the ecological community, or threats likely to affect the community in the future, adequately identified? If not, please provide details.
- Are you aware of additional data or other clear evidence of these threats and their likely impacts on the ecological community in the immediate, medium or long-term future?
- The draft conservation advice concludes that the ecological community merits listing as Critically endangered. What do you propose is the appropriate conservation category for the ecological community, and the reasons supporting this? If you propose an alternative conservation status please provide supporting evidence for why it applies to this ecological community.
- Do you have any further comments or information about the ecological community that should be considered for the Conservation Advice?
Please support your comments with information and data, preferably supported by published studies or observations. If some of that information is not published, would you be willing to be quoted as an expert or source (“personal communication”)?
All comments received will be forwarded to both the Committee and the Minister for the Environment and Energy. Information in the draft advice, as well as other information received by the Department will be used by the Committee to determine the threatened status and advise the Minister on whether or not to amend the list of threatened ecological communities under the EPBC Act.
The public consultation period closes on Friday, 27 January 2017.
Please use the contact details, below, if you want more advice or help about this assessment. If you wish to comment, please send your comments quoting the ecological community name to:
Mail: The Director
Ecological Communities Section
Department of the Environment and Energy
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601
Privacy and confidentiality in regard to comments received
Submissions received will be forwarded to the Threatened Species Scientific Committee and, subsequently, to the Minister for the Environment and Energy.
Information contained in any comments will be stored and used by the department in compliance with its obligations under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).
If you wish your comments to remain confidential, you should clearly mark the relevant part(s) of your comments as ‘confidential’. Notwithstanding any obligations of confidentiality, the department may be required by law or parliamentary process to disclose, or allow disclosure of, any information contained in or relating to any comments (including personal and/or confidential information), including in response to a request by a House or a Committee of the Parliament of the Commonwealth or under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth).