While woodland conservation in the ACT remains a good news story, showcased by the Woodland Restoration Program, it is not without its challenges. Past clearing of lowland valley floors has meant woodland patches have become smaller and fragmented. The condition of the woodlands has also been damaged by weed and pest animal invasion.
White-Box–Yellow Box–Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland (Grassy White Box Woodland) is listed as a critically endangered ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
There are few patches over 10 hectares in size. Nationally, less than 200 hectares may remain close to their original condition in 14 sites of pre-European extent of Grassy White Box Woodland.
Since European settlement:
- nationally, less than 5% of the original extent of this ecological community remains
- in the ACT, over a third of the original extent of this ecological community remains.
Yellow Box–Red Gum Grassy Woodland is listed as an endangered ecological community under the ACT Nature Conservation Act 2014.
The ACT’s Box-Gum woodlands are among the most functional remaining examples of these communities and provide:
- habitat and food for native species
- shelter for stock
- carbon storage
- protection for water quality
- many nature-based recreational experiences for the community.
Box Gum Woodlands in the ACT and region exist within nature reserves and on private land. Significant patches of woodland also straddle the ACT/NSW border, such as the ‘Greater Goorooyarroo’ landscape.
Habitat for threatened species
Box Gum Woodlands in the ACT include the following listed threatened plants:
- Tarengo Leek Orchid (Prasophyllum petilum)
- Small Purple Pea (Swainsona recta)
Box Gum Woodlands in the ACT also provide critical habitat for the following threatened and declining birds:
- Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata)
- Brown Treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus)
- White-winged Triller (Lalage sueurii)
- Varied Sitella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera)
- Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta)
- Regent Honeyeater (Xanthomyza phrygia)
- Superb Parrot (Polytelis swainsonii)
- Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor)
For further information on Box Gum Woodlands see:
- Woodlands for Wildlife: ACT Lowland Woodland Conservation Strategy (Action Plan No. 27)
- Mulligans Flat - Goorooyarroo Woodland Experiment
Woodland Restoration Program
Recognising the significance of the ACT’s woodlands and their potential for restoration, a woodland restoration program has been developed across lowland areas, including within the Murrumbidgee River Corridor. This program, which began in 2012, aims to protect, consolidate and connect 60,000 hectares of the largest remaining box-gum grassy woodland landscape in Australia through on-ground restoration and regeneration works.
The program is restoring six distinct woodland blocks (‘landscapes’ – see map). Significant restoration works have already commenced along the Murrumbidgee River Corridor (2008–present), Belconnen Hills (commenced 2011), Greater Gooroyarroo (commenced 2012), Majura Valley (commenced 2013), Callum Brae (commenced 2014) and areas linking the Kama Nature Reserve with the Stony Creek Tributary running into the Murrumbidgee River (2014).
The woodland restoration program is:
- enhancing the biodiversity and carbon storing capacity of the landscape
- improving resilience to climate change
- improving wildlife habitat and movement connectivity.
The program is funded by the Australian Government (over $3 million from 2011–2018) and the ACT Government ($1 million) and is being implemented as a partnership between ACT NRM, ACT Parks and Conservation Service and Greening Australia.
Local Landcare groups also contribute significant time and resources to help woodland restoration program efforts, including Ginninderra, Molonglo, and Southern ACT Catchment Groups, Parkcare groups, Aboriginal people and rural landholders.
Working cross-border in the Greater Goorooyarroo landscape, the program collaborates with NSW South East Local Land Services, Greening Australia Capital Region, researchers, local land careers, and the Kosciusko to Coast partnership.