Comment on listing assessment
Proposed Conservation Status: Endangered
Distribution: New South Wales and Queensland
- Draft Conservation Advice (incorporating listing advice) for the Poplar Box Grassy Woodlands on Alluvial Plains (PDF - 2.7 MB) | (DOCX - 2.49 MB)
- Guide for the Poplar Box Grassy Woodland on Alluvial Plains (PDF - 1.51 MB) | (DOCX - 6.8 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 and Minister for the Environment, the Department invites public nominations for items that merit listing as nationally threatened under national environment law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act). The “Poplar Box Grassy Woodland on Alluvial Plains” 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. It occurs nearby several other woodland and grassland ecological communities that already receive priority environmental management actions because they are nationally listed, such as Coolibah - Black Box Woodlands listed in 2011 (which often occurs more inward from Poplar Box woodlands on the floodplains in some locations).
The ecological community is a type of temperate to semi-arid grassy eucalypt woodland that is sparsely scattered inland of the Great Dividing Range from around Cowra in NSW to near Collinsville in Queensland. This eucalypt woodland is mainly associated with alluvial plains including back plains, higher terraces and levees along rivers, ephemeral watercourses and depressions. The ecological community varies from a grassy woodland to grassy open woodland with an overstorey dominated by Eucalyptus populnea (poplar/bimble box) and an understorey mostly composed of native perennial forbs and grasses but may include some shrubs and sedges, depending on the season, rainfall and location in the landscape. Patches of the ecological community generally lack a substantial mid (tall shrub) layer. Shrubby forms of poplar box woodland typically occur on lower nutrient sandier soils, and are not part of the proposed national ecological community. Much of the landscape where the ecological community originally occurred has been cleared and modified for agriculture, mining and energy, or peri-urban/infrastructure land uses.
The woodland provides vital habitat for many animals, some of which are threatened, for instance the koala, superb parrot and bridled nailtail wallaby.
This assessment has an extended completion deadline of 28 April 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 and to consider comments on whether a nominated item is eligible for listing, and under what conservation status. The Committee also invites other relevant comments and information about the “Poplar Box Grassy Woodland on Alluvial Plains”.
The draft scientific assessment, within a draft Conservation Advice, recommends that the ecological community may be eligible for listing as endangered, based on evidence that it has declined by at least 76% in extent and many remaining patches have been severely degraded. The woodland mostly exists as scattered remnants that are further impacted by invasive weeds and animals, changes to natural drainage and altered fire regimes. The loss of tree cover has contributed to salinity, erosion and altered habitat for native species.
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 people or groups in your networks about this opportunity for comment. We would greatly appreciate 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 NSW and Queensland 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 NSW and Queensland? 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 A. 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.
- What additional data or other clear evidence is there for these threats and their likely impacts on the ecological community in the immediate or medium-term future?
- The draft conservation advice concludes that the ecological community merits listing as Endangered. Do you agree this is an appropriate conservation status. If not, what do you propose is an appropriate conservation category for the ecological community, and please provide supporting evidence and reasons 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, 10 March 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).