Milestone decade health checks for EP native vegetation sites

News article |

A small yet dedicated team of Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula staff, National Parks and Wildlife Services SA rangers and volunteers worked together towards the end of last year to benchmark the health of life-giving ecosystems across Eyre Peninsula, with 28 Bushland Condition Monitoring sites revisited for the first time in ten years.

Planning and Assessment Officer Andrew Freeman explains the conscientious work undertaken to determine the condition of the regions land-based natural resources.

“All up we have 350 land-based monitoring sites which are part of the EP Natural Resources Management Board’s long-term terrestrial biodiversity monitoring program, along with 350 paired bushland bird sites. The bird sites are monitored almost exclusively by an amazing volunteer team of EP Bird Citizen Scientists for which we are very grateful.” Mr. Freeman said.

“The Bushland Condition Monitoring surveys provide a snapshot of the biodiversity, the number and range of plant species at each site. However, we also capture more complex information such as the level of animal grazing pressure which is important to manage for the Eyre Peninsula. The surveys are like a health check-up for the bush; at each site we record data on weeds, impacts of feral animals, and the condition of the native vegetation and closely examine the habitat features of native trees for attributes such as number and type of hollows and fallen logs.”

“We also use photo-point photography to compare visual change like we’ve done here with the sites resurveyed last spring. For example, recent photos range in minutiae differences, through to notable changes when compared to those captured in 2009. At Hinks Wilderness Protection Area (east of Tooligie) a bushfire totally reshaped mallee vegetation structure.”

At two different sites near Elliston and Streaky Bay similar small woodlands of Drooping sheoaks (Allocasuarina verticillata) have matured above the grazing height of herbivores. At a site near Elliston the regrowth of native pines (Callitris sp) in a Mallee Box Woodland suggests a mature ecosystem is at the height of growth. These different vegetation types are home to an array of other plant and animal species, all contributing to the health of the Eyre Peninsula’s biodiversity.

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