Eyre Peninsula Blue Gums – Why are they threatened?
In last week’s article we described the Eyre Peninsula Blue Gum (Eucalyptus petiolaris) Woodlands in the Cowell/Cleve Hills area. This week we’re talking about why this tree species and its associated community have been declared a “threatened community” under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.
The factors that led to the beautiful Eyre Peninsula Blue Gum Woodlands being listed as threatened include, previous land clearance and fragmentation, grazing pressure, invasive weeds, fire, dieback and salinity.
Natural Resources Officer Iggy Honan said most patches of the Eyre Peninsula Blue Gum community are less than 10 hectares in area and often linear patches, following creek-lines or damp courses. This small area and long patch shape increases their fragmentation and weakens their integrity as a resilient community.
What does that mean? It means the small patches of woodlands are more susceptible to being be overrun by weeds or they have gaps between their habitat that animals can’t travel successfully between or are too small to survive in.
“Overall the ‘community’ has been significantly reduced and this together with the factors listed, deems them a woodland threatened,” Mr Honan said.
“Also we observe very minimal natural regeneration (seedling germination) within these woodlands which is frequently because of the pressures such as fragmentation, grazing, weed invasion, dieback and salinity.”
So how do we bring some positive change to this important woodland community?
Protection, monitoring and continual improvement are key priorities.
“The EP NRM Board, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources and the Australian Government are already supporting local funding proposals and research which will aid regeneration.
“We are currently setting up monitoring sites to look at how we can improve this community, with one of the key elements being mitigating damage being done by salinity,” Mr Honan said
“Landholders should be aware that these large woodland trees, which mainly sit within creeks and water courses, can draw large amounts of groundwater and in many cases intercept saline groundwater.
With community assistance Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula intend to continue mapping and recording existing Blue Gums which, as we described last week, can go unnoticed in the landscape.