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Eyre Peninsula biodiversity changes over a decade

News release
10 November 2020

10 November 2020

A mild spring has provided great conditions for bushland biodiversity monitoring to be undertaken by the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board – with help from National Parks and Wildlife Service SA – with results showing the benefits of fencing off vegetation and also the impact of drier conditions in the north.

Monitoring the condition of Eyre Peninsula vegetation is a long-term biodiversity program that gives the EP Landscape Board an indication of what change is occurring in different vegetation types, including threats to habitats and native animals.

EP Landscape Board Planning and Assessment Officer Andrew Freeman, says the monitoring sites – which include public and private land – are visited for re-surveying every 10 years.

“At some of the sites, activities such as fencing to exclude stock have occurred, so we can measure how effective this investment is, in getting positive outcomes for the environment,” Mr Freeman says.

“One site where we have seen a large amount of change is near Edillilie. This site was first monitored in 2008 - three years after the Wangary fire burnt the area.

“This site was fenced by the landowner to exclude stock post-fire. You can see how much the vegetation has changed which will be a result of the vegetation still recovering after the fire and also stock not being able to access the site to graze on plants.”

Another site with a large improvement in vegetation health was found just north of Elliston where fencing was erected to exclude stock from a degraded Sheoak Grassy Woodland.

“The vegetation at this Sheaok site is showing a remarkable recovery from 10 years of being fenced off and left to grow naturally,” Mr Freeman says.

“Sheoak Grassy Woodlands on western Eyre Peninsula are among the most degraded vegetation in our State, so it’s really rewarding to see a site with grasses back and the Sheaok trees looking healthy.”

Included in this year’s monitoring sites were eight locations within Eyre Peninsula national parks.

National Parks and Wildlife Service SA Ecologist Katrina Pobke, says the variety and condition of native flora species within the regions’ parks and reserve system is impressive this year, however growing conditions were still reflective of the big dry in northern Eyre Peninsula.

“Rangers and landscape officers reported fewer understorey species and lower plant health within Mallee woodlands at Pureba Conservation Park (near Ceduna) due to the drought conditions,” Ms Pobke says.

“Monitoring of Black oak woodlands and Mallee shrublands at Stuarts Lake in the Gawler Ranges National Park, saw an additional 14 native plant species recorded including Austrostipa grasses and native herbs; while tracks and traces of echidnas and an emu were recorded, and kangaroos were the most abundant animal signs observed.

“The good news is that on southern Eyre Peninsula, rangers recorded an improvement in native plant diversity compared to 10 years ago.

“The spring survey timing meant increased identification of native grass, forb and herb species in coastal mallee at Coffin Bay National Park and the wetlands of Kellidie Bay Conservation Park.

“At Kellidie Bay, our monitoring team was lucky enough to see a mass flowering of thousands of national vulnerable Silver candles (Pleuropappus phyllocalymmeus), a tiny yellow flowering annual that emerges from seed only under the right conditions in wetland areas and continues flowering well into summer.”

The EP Landscape Board has around 350 sites which it monitors on a ten-yearly cycle. The survey results are important benchmarks to check if vegetation groups are maintaining condition or if interventions need to be addressed.

More information about the monitoring program can be found at: www.landscape.sa.gov.au/ep/Stewardship-priorities/Landscape-management/biodiversity-monitoring

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Communications & Engagement Officer

0488 005 880

EPLBAdmin@sa.gov.au