ACT Scientific Committee Annual Report 2016 - 2017


This report outlines the activities of the ACT Scientific Committee (SC) for the period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017.

The SC was established under the Nature Conservation Act 2014 (the Act) which commenced on 11 June 2015. The SC gained additional responsibilities under the 2014 Act. The Minister for the Environment and Heritage (the Minister) appoints the SC members.

The SC replaced the Flora and Fauna Committee (FFC). The FFC was established on 12 January 1995 following commencement on 11 October 1994 of amendments to the Nature Conservation Act 1980.

The SC had four scheduled meetings during the reporting period. A schedule of meeting dates and member attendance is at Attachment A.

1.1 Functions

The SC has specific responsibilities to assess the conservation status of nominated threatened native species of flora and fauna and threatened ecological communities in the ACT and key threatening processes. The SC makes recommendations to the Minister about listing as threatened, species and ecological communities according to the degree of threat; and listing of key threatening processes. The SC also provides expert, scientific and objective advice to the Minister and the Conservator of Flora and Fauna (the Conservator) in relation to nature conservation issues in the ACT region.

Specific responsibilities of the SC under the amended Nature Conservation Act 2014 include:

  • The Minister must consult with the SC in developing list Criteria for:
    • Threatened Native Species (s 65)
    • Threatened Ecological Communities (s 71)
    • Key Threatening Processes (s 78)
    • Protected Native Species (s 113 (3)).
  • The SC or the Conservator may seek to have the Criteria reviewed if the Criteria are not adequately identifying items eligible to be listed as threatened, or there are changes to the international or national standards. (ss 66, 72, 79, 114).
  • The SC may receive, reject or make a listing nomination and must carry out a listing assessment of the nominated item against the Criteria for:
    • Threatened Native Species and Threatened Ecological Communities (ss 81-85)
    • Key Threatening Processes (ss 79B-79F).
  • The Minister must consult with the SC before including or transferring a relevant item in a list. A relevant item being a nationally threatened item that is a Commonwealth or State listed item for which an ACT nomination and assessment is not required (s 90A).
  • The SC must prepare a Conservation Advice for a nominated item proposed for listing. The Conservation Advice must be consistent with any Conservation Advice guidelines prepared by the Minister. The Conservation Advice must include the outcome of the listing assessment and the criteria met and must be given to the Minister within 15 months of the commencement of the assessment process (s 90D).The Conservation Advice informs the threatened species and threatened ecological communities listing decisions made by the Minister.
  • The SC may review a Conservation Advice on its own initiative or at the Conservator’s request and may make recommendations to the Conservator about the advice. (s 90F).
  • The Minister must seek advice from the SC in deciding whether an Action Plan needs to be prepared for a relevant species (s 100A):

(a) a critically endangered species

(b) an endangered species

(c) a vulnerable species

(d) a regionally threatened species

(e) a regionally conservation dependent species.

  • The Conservator must consult with the SC on the preparation of:
    • Draft Nature Conservation Strategy(s 50)
    • Draft Action Plans (s 102)
    • Draft Native Species Conservation Plans (s 118).
    • Conservator Guidelines (s 23(2)).
    • Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Program (BRAMP) (s 25(2)).
  • The SC must review Action Plans (s 108(5)) every 10 years after the plan commences or at any other time at the Conservator’s request. The SC may make recommendations to the Conservator, including that a plan is no longer needed for a species (s 108 (7)).
  • The SC may be asked to review Native Species Conservation Plans and make recommendations (s 125) to the Conservator
  • The SC must, each financial year, give the Minister an annual report about the activities of the committee during the year and make this report publically accessible (s 33).

1.2 Membership

The Act specifies that the SC shall consist of seven members with expertise in ecology and biological diversity. A range of disciplines are represented so that collectively the SC can address a variety of issues with a high degree of competence. Members are appointed by the Minister on a part-time basis. Membership during the reporting period is detailed below. In July 2015 seven members were appointed to the Committee for a three year term.


Distinguished Professor

Arthur Georges

University of Canberra, Institute for Applied


Deputy Chair:

Honorary Professor Penny Olsen

Australian National University, Research School of Biology

Other members:

Associate Professor Mark Lintermans

University of Canberra, Institute for Applied Ecology

Assistant Professor

Jasmyn Lynch

University of Canberra, Institute for Applied


Dr Margaret Kitchin

Conservation Research, ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate

Dr Barry Richardson

CSIRO, National Research Collections Australia

Liz Dovey

Australian National University, PhD scholar, Fenner School of Environment and Society

More information about SC members is provided at Attachment B.

1.3 Observers

Representatives from the ACT Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee were invited to attend SC meetings as observers. Their attendance facilitates communication between the two committees. Representation from the ACT Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee rotates around the members and during 2016-17. Dr Fiona Dyer and Mr Paul Davies represented that committee at SC meetings. Also one member of the SC (Assistant Professor Jasmyn Lynch) is a member of the Natural Resource Management Council which assists with communication between these two committees.

1.4 Secretary

Senior Manager, Nature Conservation Policy, Ms Heather Tomlinson, was appointed Secretary to the SC in June 2015. Ms Tomlinson had served as Secretary to the FFC from February 2012.

Ms Linden Chalmers, policy officer within the ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, provided administrative support for the SC.


2.1 Assessment of nominations

During the reporting period, the SC received a nomination from the Conservation Council ACT Region, Friends of Grasslands, Australian Native Plant Society, Canberra Ornithologists Group and the Field Naturalists Association of Canberra for the Loss of Native Hollow- bearing Trees as a Key Threatening Process. The SC released the nomination for public comment for the period 28 April 2017 to 9 June 2017. Assessment of that nomination continues into the next period.

The SC worked on developing a nomination for the Eastern Bettong as Regionally Conservation Dependent under the new category criteria. The nomination is expected to be finalised in the next period and will be subsequently released for public comment.

2.2 Threatened Listings

Eligibility criteria have been prepared (effective 9 September 2016) for listing to align with new categories in the Act and the IUCN criteria for these categories that are part of the National Reform for Threatened Species and Ecological Species Listing.

During the reporting period there were no new listings of threatened species, ecological communities or key threatening processes. However, working towards a Single Operational List, the SC reviewed the current listing of all threatened native species relevant to the ACT under the EPBC Act and will be recommending 16 new listings and 5 transfers of category for ACT species.

A current list of threatened native species and ecological communities since the SC’s establishment in January 1995 is at Attachment C.

A nomination form for listing threatened native species in the ACT was also developed and trialled by the SC.

2.3 Action Plans

Once a threatened native species, threatened ecological community or key threatening process is listed the Conservator must prepare an Action Plan detailing conservation issues and proposed conservation measures if the Minister requires an Action Plan. The SC provides advice to the Conservator on whether the proposed Action Plan adequately addresses the conservation requirements of the species/community concerned. Scrutiny of the preparation and review of Action Plans is a significant component of the SC’s work. The Conservator consults the SC on Draft Action Plans prior to their mandatory release for public comment and the SC may make recommendations to the Conservator in reviewing Action Plans.

Review of Action Plans

The Committee requested an extension of time from the Minister to review the Woodlands Action Plan No.27 and Spotted-tail Quoll Action Plan No.30 to 2018 and this was granted on 19 December 2016.

In this period the SC completed their review of the:

  • Action Plan No. 29 - Ribbons of Life: ACT Aquatic Species and Riparian Zone Conservation Strategy (2007).

In this period the SC commenced their review of the:

  • Action Plan No. 27 – Woodlands for Wildlife: ACT Lowland Woodland Conservation Strategy (2004).

The SC also developed a template to assist in the review process to support new statutory decision making requirements. This template was first trialled in the review of the Action Plan No. 27.

Draft Action Plans

The SC provided advice to the ACT Government on the Draft ACT Native Grassland Conservation Strategy that includes revised action plans for:

  • Natural Temperate Grassland Ecological Community
  • Grassland Earless Dragon (Tympanocryptis pinguicolla)
  • Golden Sun Moth (Synemon plana)
  • Striped Legless Lizard (Delma impar)
  • Perunga Grasshopper (Perunga orachea)
  • Button Wrinklewort (Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides)
  • Ginninderra Peppercress (Lepidium ginninderrense)
  • Baeuerlen’s Gentian (Gentiana baeuerlenii)

The Draft ACT Native Grassland Conservation Strategy and draft action plans were released for public comment 30 March 2017 to 12 May 2017.

The SC provided advice to the ACT Government on the Draft ACT Aquatic and Riparian Strategy that includes revised action plans for:

  • Tuggeranong Lignum (Muehlenbeckia tuggeranong)
  • Two-spined Blackfish (Gadopsis bispinosus)
  • Trout Cod (Maccullochella macquariensis)
  • Macquarie Perch (Macquaria australasica)
  • Silver Perch (Bidyanus bidyanus)
  • Murray River Crayfish (Euastacus armatus)
  • Murumbidgee Bossiaea (Bossiaea grayii)

The Draft ACT Aquatic and Riparian Strategy and action plans will be released for public comment in the next period.

The SC has also provided advice to the ACT Government in this reporting period on the following stand alone Draft Action Plans:

  • Migratory Species Action Plan [open for public comment 12 July 2017 to 25 August 2017]
  • Pink-tailed Worm-lizard (Aprasia parapulchella) [which has been removed from the previous Action Plan No. 29, above, released for public comment 2 September 2016 and finalised 2 June 2017].

2.4 Action Plan implementation

Under the Act, the Conservator must monitor the effectiveness of an action plan and report to the Minister every 5 years. While not a statutory requirement, the SC undertakes a rolling program to review progress towards Action Plan implementation. During the reporting period there were no implementation reports for the SC to provide advice on.

2.5 Liaison with NSW, Commonwealth and other organisations on regional issues

The SC reviews national listings under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). During the reporting period, no listed species were considered relevant to the ACT and environs for listing purposes.

The SC exchanges information with the NSW Scientific Committee and the NSW Fisheries Scientific Committee on a regular basis. Amongst other things, the ACT provides information on ACT declarations and copies of ACT draft and final Action Plans. NSW in turn provides information on Preliminary and Final Determinations made under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and the Fisheries Management Act 1994. The SC routinely assesses the determinations made in NSW with the view to identifying any species, communities and threatening processes that warrant consideration from an ACT and region perspective, and if relevant, provides advice to the NSW Scientific Committee and the NSW Fisheries Scientific Committee on their proposed recommendations.

No listings were of significant relevance to be prioritised for listing in the ACT at this stage.

The SC Chair and Secretariat attended the Meeting of Threatened Species Scientific Committees Chairs and Representatives to discuss the implementation of the Common Assessment Method across all jurisdictions on 22 June 2017.

2.6 Advice to ACT Government agencies during development and review of policy, strategies and legislation

With part of the SC’s charter being to provide advice on nature conservation issues generally, the SC provided comment and advice on ACT Government documents and other matters referred to it by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate and other ACT Government agencies.

The Committee provided advice to the ACT Government and agencies on the following:

  • Revised Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Program (BRAMP)
  • Draft Conservator Translocation Guidelines
  • Murray Cod (Maccullochella peelii) Native Species Conservation Plan
  • The Eligibility Criteria for listing Threatened Native Species, Threatened Communities and Key Threatening Processes in various categories
  • The Draft Eligibility Criteria and Processes for listing Protected Native Species
  • Single Operational List priorities
  • Preparation of Conservation Advices for species which are to be recommended for transfer of category
  • Threatened Species Nomination Form
  • Non-threatened uncommon plant list

2.7 Scientific Committee Strategic Plan

The SC undertook activities in line with the outputs of the 2015 – 2018 Strategic Plan.




    Meeting 5

    31 August 2016

    Meeting 6

    7 December


    Meeting 7

    8 March 2017

    Meeting 8

    21 June 2017

    Arthur Georges





    Penny Olsen





    Mark Lintermans





    Margaret Kitchin





    Barry Richardson





    Jasmyn Lynch





    Liz Dovey






    NRMAC Observer


    Paul Davies





    Fiona Dyer





There were no out of session meetings in the 2015-16, however, the Committee provided significant out of session guidance throughout the year in relation to the Committee business outlined in section 2.




Name:             Professor Arthur Georges

Expertise:       Conservation biology of native Australian species, the ecology, evolution and systematics of Australian reptiles and amphibians, temperature-dependent sex determination.

Position:         Professor in Applied Ecology, Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra

Professor Georges is committed to sound fundamental science with a keen interest in its application in natural resource management. He has a strong commitment to bringing about realistic win-win situations where development and conservation come into conflict.

Professor Georges has extensive experience and knowledge of the biology and conservation of Australia's reptile and amphibian species. In addition to his work as the Chair of the Scientific Committee, Professor Georges has contributed his expertise to the Australian Biodiversity Information Facility Committee, ARC Environmental Futures Network (Steering Committee), ACT Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee and the IUCN/SSC Committee on Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles (Steering Committee).


Name:             Honorary Professor Penny Olsen

Expertise:       Birds, conservation biology

Position:         Honorary Professor, Division of Ecology and Evolution, Australian National University

Dr Olsen is a research scientist with a particular expertise in raptors. Her experience and interests are broad, ranging from wildlife management to behavioural ecology. She has prepared a number of national and state recovery plans, is a long-time consultant to the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage’s Environment Australia's Norfolk Island owl recovery program and works as an occasional consultant on other matters of national and local environmental interest. Dr Olsen is a member of Birdlife Australia’s Threatened Species Committee, tasked with the preparation of The Action Plan for Australian Birds, which informs the Australian government and feeds directly into the IUCN Red List. Dr Olsen has published a number of research papers, books and popular articles on a diversity of subjects including conservation, threatened species and pest management.


Name:             Dr Margaret Kitchin

Expertise:       Fire ecology, native vegetation

Position:         Senior Manager, Conservation Research, EPSDD, ACT Government

Dr Kitchin has extensive expertise in fire ecology, particularly in relation to the impact of fire on native Australian vegetation. She has been responsible for the establishment of the post 2003 vegetation monitoring program, working on the original Lower Cotter Catchment Plan of Management and revegetation strategy, input and mapping for the ACT Vegetation Communities project, and coordinating ecological advice for the Conservation and Land Management bushfire operational plan. In her current role Dr Kitchin is the manager of the EPSDD Conservation Research unit.

Name:             Dr Barry Richardson

Expertise:       Endangerment theory, conservation genetics, conservation policy, mammals and invertebrates.

Position:         Honorary Research Fellow (CSIRO, National Research Collections Australia)

Dr Richardson is a researcher with a broad background including research in endangerment theory, conservation genetics and conservation policy. He has experience in environmental research/taxonomic revisions in mammal, pest mammals, freshwater fish, pelagic and benthic chordates, terrestrial gastropods, insect communities, waste water management, spiders and red listing procedures. He is currently an Honorary Research Fellow (CSIRO, National Research Collections Australia). Dr Richardson is the author and co-author of over 100 publications and has supervised over 30 Honours, Masters and PhD students.

Name:             Assistant Professor Jasmyn Lynch

Expertise:       Conservation biology, plant ecology, rare and threatened plant species, recovery planning and botanical survey work.

Position:         Assistant Professor in Environmental Management, University of Canberra

Assistant Professor Lynch is a conservation ecologist with expertise in research on rare and threatened species; biodiversity patterns and processes; vegetation, climate and geomorphology interactions; wetland assessments and management; and ecological and threatening process frameworks. She has research experience from the genetic scale, through species autoecology, regional ecology, global patterns of diversity, to the application of science to conservation policy and environmental management. Assistant Professor Lynch has over 27 years experience on environmental issues, having worked with the Australian, Tasmanian, Queensland and Western Australian governments, the University of Queensland, the University of Tasmania and Indigenous representatives of Cape York Peninsula.

Name:             Associate Professor Mark Lintermans

Expertise:       Ecology and management of aquatic systems, fish, waterbirds and wetlands

Position:         Associate Professor of Freshwater Fisheries Ecology and Management, University of Canberra

Associate Professor Lintermans has 30+ years experience in the ecology and management of freshwater ecosystems. He led the aquatic ecology research and management program in the ACT Government for 16 years, working predominantly on freshwater fish ecology and management. Associate Professor Lintermans sits on national recovery teams for Trout Cod, Murray Cod and Macquarie Perch and he also convenes the Threatened Fishes Committee of the Australian Society for Fish Biology, is the Chair of the NSW Fisheries Scientific Committee and was Australian and New Zealand Region Chair of the IUCN Freshwater Fish Specialist Group from 2013-16. Associate Professor Lintermans has also worked on wetlands, particularly on migratory waterbirds at Jerrabomberra Wetlands. He has published widely on fish ecology, conservation and management.

Name:             Ms Liz Dovey

Expertise:       Conservation science and management, climate change science and impacts, threatened species (particularly mammals) and threatening processes (particularly invasive species).

Position:         PhD scholar at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University.

Ms Dovey is a conservation scientist who has worked in diverse conservation roles at state, national and international levels of government over the past 40 years. This has allowed her to develop a broad appreciation of science and management challenges from an on-ground perspective to the international arena. She has produced many publications relating to conservation. She has been involved in the assessment, documentation and planning of threatened species and communities, including leading the development of Action Plans.

She was also responsible for administering national threatened species legislation. Her most recent experience includes working and studying in the climate change science and impacts field, giving her a nuanced understanding of the interactions of climate change with other pre-existing threatening processes and likely conservation consequences.




    Scientific name

    Common Name

    Date of listing

    Gentiana baeuerlenii

    a subalpine herb

    15 Apr 1996

    Prasophyllum petilum

    a leek orchid

    15 Apr 1996

    Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides

    Button Wrinklewort

    15 Apr 1996

    Swainsona recta

    Small Purple Pea

    15 Apr 1996

    Synemon plana

    Golden Sun Moth

    15 Apr 1996

    Tympanocryptis pinguicolla

    Grassland Earless Dragon

    15 Apr 1996

    Macquaria australasica

    Macquarie Perch

    6 Jan 1997

    Maccullochella macquariensis

    Trout Cod

    6 Jan 1997

    Petrogale penicillata

    Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby

    6 Jan 1997

    Anthochaera phrygia

    Regent Honeyeater

    30 May 1997

    Pseudomys fumeus

    Smoky Mouse

    12 Jan 1998

    Muehlenbeckia tuggeranong

    Tuggeranong Lignum

    19 Aug 1998

    Lepidium ginninderrense

    Ginninderra Peppercress

    26 Oct 2001

    Bidyanus bidyanus

    Silver Perch

    26 Oct 2001

    Pseudophryne pengilleyi

    Northern Corroboree Frog

    4 Sept 2003

    Arachnorchis actensis

    Canberra Spider Orchid

    11 April 2005

    Corunastylis ectopa

    Brindabella Midge Orchid

    11 April 2005

    Bossiaea grayi

    A shrub

    30 January 2012


    Scientific name

    Common Name

    Date of listing

    Delma impar

    Striped Legless Lizard

    15 Apr 1996

    Gadopsis bispinosus

    Two-spined Blackfish

    6 Jan 1997

    Euastacus armatus

    Murray River Crayfish

    6 Jan 1997

    Perunga ochracea

    Perunga Grasshopper

    30 May 1997

    Melanodryas cucullata

    Hooded Robin

    30 May 1997

    Lathamus discolor

    Swift Parrot

    30 May 1997

    Polytelis swainsonii

    Superb Parrot

    30 May 1997

    Climacteris picumnus

    Brown Treecreeper

    30 May 1997

    Grantiella picta

    Painted Honeyeater

    12 Jan 1998

    Dasyurus maculatus

    Spotted-tailed Quoll

    4 Sept 2003

    Daphoenositta chrysoptera

    Varied Sittella

    8 Dec 2003

    Lalage sueurii

    White-winged Triller

    8 Dec 2003

    Hieraaetus morphnoides

    Little Eagle

    22 Feb 2008

    Aprasia parapulchella

    Pink-tailed Worm-lizard

    27 March 2008

    Calyptorhynchus lathami

    Glossy Black-cockatoo

    17 August 2010

    Petroica boodang

    Scarlet Robin

    12 May 2015


Community Name


Date of Listing

Natural Temperate Grassland

A naturally occurring grassland of the temperate zone, dominated by native perennial tussock grasses, with associated native herbs and native fauna.

15 Apr 1996

Yellow Box/Red Gum Grassy Woodland

A naturally occurring woodland of the temperate zone, in which Yellow Box co-occurs with Blakely’s Red Gum. It includes the species rich understorey of native tussock grasses, herbs and scattered shrubs, together with a large number of native animal species.

30 May 1997