An ecological and conservation assessment of the Eucalypts of Northern Australia
Project description and aim
The project undertook research, strategic analysis and mapping to generate an ecological assessment of the eucalypts and eucalypt forests and woodlands across Northern Australia and identify significant conservation values and management recommendations.
We are also working to action the report’s recommendations
Target conservation and management priorities: We recommend focusing conservation efforts on the following priorities through improved management, covenanting and reservation:
- Eucalypt taxa and communities that are threatened by past, present and impending land-clearing
- Eucalypt taxa and communities whose rarity in itself poses a threat to their persistence, eg:
- extremely restricted taxa, including those located in the central and north Kimberley and in the White Mountains area south-west of Charters Towers in Queensland
- restricted taxa, including those located in the central and north Kimberley, the Top End centred on the Arnhem Plateau, and in and around the Einasleigh Uplands of north Queensland.
- Eucalypt taxa and communities listed (or that should be listed) as Threatened
- Eucalypt taxa and communities that are not well represented in the current conservation estate (crown and private reserves) regardless of past or impending threats ie:
- the 11 species and three subspecies endemic to Northern Australia that are not represented in any conservation reserve (see Table 3), and the further 52 endemic species and 10 endemic subspecies that have reservation indices of less than 30%.
- 12 of 84 eucalypt communities (Map Units) that are not represented in any conservation reserve, and the further 40 of these Map Units that that have reservation indices of less than 10% (and often less than 1%)
- the very low level of reservation in inland (mostly pastoral) districts in all three jurisdictions, and of the species-rich Einasleigh Uplands in north Queensland.
Improve listings of Threatened taxa and communities: We recommend the preparation of submissions for listing relevant species, subspecies and communities under state, territory and Commonwealth legislation and in the IUCN Red List of threatened species, including those newly identified by this study as threatened.
Minimise clearing and establish offsets for unavoidable clearing: Land clearing (in the past, present and impending) is the single greatest threat to the eucalypts of northern Australia and we recommend it is avoided in areas identified as having high ecological value. In other areas, if clearing (eg for agricultural intensification) cannot be avoided then it should be linked to land use planning and offsets.
Undertake further research: A much better understanding of the ecology of eucalypts and eucalypt communities in northern Australia is required for their ongoing management and protection, and especially for land use planning where clearing for agricultural intensification is unavoidable. These research topics are fundamental to assessment and management of risks.
Don Franklin and Noel Preece
To a deliver an assessment of eucalypt species and communities (Eucalyptus, Corymbia, Angophora) across northern Australia that includes:
- Base knowledge and gaps (eg number of species & communities, type of species, range);
- Measures of range and distribution, such as Extent of Occurrence (EOO) & Area of Occupancy (AOO);
- Ecological values and significance, conservation values and conservation status, carbon storage;
- Conservation hotspots at species and ultra taxa levels (eg endemicity, richness, threatened species, restricted range species);
- Broad regions where ecological connectivity remains largely intact due to extant eucalypt-dominated woodlands and forests;
- Factors that support and threaten key values and landscape connectivity, and,
- Future priorities, including recommendations for enhanced on-ground management, protection and restoration.
The tropical savanna region as defined by the ex Tropical Savannas Cooperative Research Centre, and the two wet tropic IBRAs (Wet Tropics, Central Queensland Coast). The rationale for the latter inclusion is that rainforests will self-exclude by the absence of eucalypts, but that many eucalypts occur across the boundaries into these two IBRAs including a number of restricted-range taxa endemic to northern Australia.
August 2013 – Jan 2015