More protection for our local woodlands

banksia_attenuata

The Federal Department of the Environment and Energy has issued the following statement:

The Minister for the Environment and Energy, the Hon. Josh Frydenberg, has approved the inclusion of the Banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain on the list of threatened ecological communities under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, in the endangered category. This listing became effective on 16 September 2016.

Thanks to those that provide submissions and other input during the assessment and consultation period.

The approved conservation advice and indicative distribution map are on the Department’s website at http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicshowcommunity.pl?id=131&status=Endangered

Key points:

  • The Banksia Woodlands ecological community provides vital habitat for a number of nationally threatened species such as Carnaby’s and forest red-tailed black cockatoos. It also provides significant ecosystem services to the Perth region and beyond, as well as natural amenity and recreation.
  • The national Threatened Species Scientific Committee found that the ecological community is highly threatened. Its extent has declined significantly — by about 60 per cent overall, with most remaining patches very small in size. This very restricted geographic distribution is likely to lead to the local loss of many plants, animals and ecosystem function unless the decline is addressed.
  • The national Conservation Advice identifies current threats to the ecological community, including land clearing for development and associated fragmentation, dieback diseases (e.g. Phytophthora), invasive weeds and feral animals, changes to fire regimes, hydrological degradation (including changes to groundwater), climate change and other disturbances to remaining patches. Given the great extent of past damage to the ecological community, these threats are likely to lead to its loss, unless it is protected and restored. This is why it has been listed as ‘endangered’.
  • National listing is an important step in securing the future of the Banksia Woodlands by:

– raising awareness and priority actions to combat threats

– requiring consideration of the impact of major new developments on the woodlands

– encouraging priority support for conservation and recovery efforts, including through Australian Government funding initiatives such as the upcoming round of the 20 Million Trees initiative.

  • Listing the Banksia Woodlands ecological community under the EPBC Act means that an activity that is likely to have a significant impact on the ecological community would need to be considered and approved at the national level before proceeding. For example, activities such as large new developments, works or infrastructure, that involve permanently clearing large areas of intact and high-quality native vegetation.
  • The conservation advice includes minimum condition thresholds to help identify the highest quality remnants where an approval may be necessary.
  • Routine property maintenance and land management practices carried out in line with local laws and guidelines covering native vegetation are typically unlikely to require consideration under national environment law. This includes most farming activities and managing fire breaks.
  • The Conservation Advice outlines a range of priority research and management actions that provide guidance on how to protect, manage and restore the ecological community. It encourages a co-ordinated, ecosystem-scale approach to threat abatement in the region and for the many threatened species that are found within the ecological community.

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