FFC Annual Report 2013-14

1. BACKGROUND

This report outlines the activities of the ACT Flora and Fauna Committee (FFC) for the period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014. Previous annual reports were written covering a period from September to September. However, to align reporting with standard financial year reporting, the previous report provided an outline of activities until 30 June 2013. Whilst the proposed annual report for next year will outline activities of the Committee for the period 1 July 2014, the commencement of the Nature Conservation Act 2014 would result in a requirement for two annual reports, one for the Flora and Fauna Committee and one for the Scientific Committee.

The FFC was established on 12 January 1995 in accordance with amendments to the Nature Conservation Act 1980 (the Act) which came into force on 11 October 1994.

The Minister for the Environment appoints Committee members.

The FFC met four times during the reporting period with additional out of session consultations. A schedule of meeting dates is at Attachment A.

1.1 Functions

The FFC has specific responsibilities to assess the conservation status of nominated species of flora and fauna and ecological communities in the ACT region and the ecological significance of nominated threatening processes. The FFC makes recommendations to the Minister for the Environment for the declaration and management of species as endangered or vulnerable, according to the degree of threat, for the declaration of ecological communities as endangered and for the declaration of threatening processes. The FFC also provides advice to the Minister in relation to nature conservation issues in the ACT region.

Nominations for declarations under the Act are accepted in accordance with guidelines specified and published by the FFC, which are set out in “Threatened Species and Communities in the ACT: Criteria for Assessment - ACT Flora and Fauna Committee, July 2008”.

1.2 Membership

The Act specifies that the FFC shall consist of seven members with expertise in ecology and biological diversity. A range of disciplines are represented so that collectively the FFC 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 2012 seven members were appointed to the Committee for a three year term.

Chair

Distinguished Professor University of Canberra, Institute for Applied Ecology.

Arthur Georges

Deputy Chair

Associate Professor Australian National University, Research School of

Penny Olsen Biology.

Other members

Mr Mark Lintermans University of Canberra, Institute for Applied Ecology.

Dr Margaret Kitchin Conservation Research, ACT Environment and Planning Directorate.

Dr Barry Richardson University of Western Sydney and Commonwealth Scientific Industrial and Research Organisation (CSIRO) Division of Entomology.

Dr Richard Schodde Former CSIRO research scientist.

Dr Jasmyn Lynch University of Canberra, Institute for Applied Ecology.

More information about FFC members is provided at Attachment B.

1.3 Observers

Representatives from the ACT Heritage Council and the ACT Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee were invited to attend FFC meetings as observers. Their attendance facilitates communication between the three committees. The representative from the ACT Heritage Council was Dr Warren Nicholls. The representative from the ACT Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee was Dr Greg Richards or, if Dr Richards was unavailable, Ms Anne Duncan.

1.4 Secretary

Senior Manager of the Nature Conservation Policy branch, Ms Heather Tomlinson, was appointed Secretary to the FFC in February 2012.

Administrative support for the FFC was provided by Ms Tegan Liston, Senior Policy Officer within the ACT Environment and Planning Directorate for the period 1 July 2013 to 13 December 2013. For the period 14 December 2013 to 30 June 2014, administrative support for the Committee was provided by Ms Serena Farrelly, Policy Officer within the ACT Environment and Planning Directorate.

2. HIGHLIGHTS OF COMMITTEE BUSINESS

2.1 Assessment of nominations

During the reporting period, one threatening process was nominated for assessment. A nomination was received in May 2014 for “large, potentially enclosed populations of Eastern Grey Kangaroos” as a threatening process. The Committee requested more information from the applicant and this nomination will be assessed during the next reporting period.

The FFC received two nominations during the previous reporting period which were assessed in this reporting period.

  • non-natural fragmentation of habitats and
  • Scarlet Robin.

The nomination of the non-natural fragmentation of habitats requires further information and is still under consideration by the FFC.

The nomination of the Scarlet Robin (Petroica boodang) proposedthat it be listed as a vulnerable species. The Committee assessed the nomination, and agreed with the proposal made by the nominator and recommended to the Minister that the species be declared as vulnerable. The declaration process for this recommendation will progress in the next reporting period.

2.2 Declarations

During the reporting period no species or communities were declared as either vulnerable or endangered.

The Committee considered recommendations made in a review of birds listed in the rare and insufficiently known working categories. The Committee agreed to move the Crested Shrike-tit to the Committee’s rare working category given it is becoming increasingly stressed and is reliant on woodlands.

The Committee agreed to move the Masked Owl to the Committee’s insufficiently known working category given the limited information available on this species.

A current list of declared species and ecological communities and other assessed nominations since the FFC’s establishment in January 1995 is at Attachment C.

Information on species under the working categories of rare species, insufficiently known species is also included at Attachment C.

2.3 Action Plans

Once a species or community is declared, the Conservator of Flora and Fauna (the Conservator) is obliged to prepare an Action Plan outlining conservation issues and proposed conservation measures for the species/community. The FFC 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 implementation of Action Plans is a significant component of the FFC’s work. The FFC considers Action Plans at two stages in the statutory process - the first being draft Action Plans prior to their release for public comment and the second on finalisation of revised Action Plans following consideration of written submissions.

Draft Action Plans

The FFC provided advice to the ACT Government during development of the following Action Plan:

  • Action Plan No 22. Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby (to be finalised in next reporting period).

2.4 Review of Action Plan implementation

The FFC undertakes a rolling program to review progress towards Action Plan implementation. During the reporting period the FFC reviewed the ACT Government’s implementation of the following Action Plans:

  • Action Plan No 30. Spotted-tailed Quoll
  • Action Plan No 27. ACT Lowland Woodland Conservation Strategy and
  • Action Plan No 28. ACT Lowland Native Grassland Conservation Strategy (this full review of the Action Plan is still to be finalised).

Progress reports on these Action Plans prepared by Conservation Planning and Research, Environment and Planning Directorate informed the FFC’s reviews. Two fact sheets were prepared summarising the review findings and are available through the EPD website:

  • Rehabilitating ACT rivers: highlights from the last three years.
  • Woodlands for wildlife: highlights from the last three years.

The reviews noted that the success of many of the activities was due to collaborative effort by many partners, including the ACT and Australian governments, research institutions, ACTEW, landholders and community groups, and cross-border cooperation.

2.5 Liaison with NSW and other organisations on regional issues

The FFC 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 FFC 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.

2.6 Liaison with the Commonwealth on national issues

The FFC reviews national listings under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). During the reporting period, no listings of relevance to the ACT were identified.

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

With part of the FFC’s charter being to provide advice on nature conservation issues generally, the FFC provided comment and advice on ACT Government documents and other matters referred to it by the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate (TAMS), Environment and Planning Directorate and other ACT Government agencies.

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

  • kangaroo management in the ACT and
  • the Lower Molonglo River Corridor Statutory Plan of Management – Issues Papers.

2.8 Flora and Fauna Committee Strategic Plan

The FFC undertook activities in line with the outputs of the 2013 – 2015 Strategic Plan.

2.9 Review of the Status of species in the FFC’s working category ‘rare’

The FFC reviewed the species listed in the working category of ‘rare’ during the reporting period. The Committee agreed to move the Crested Shrike-tit to the Committee’s rare working category given it is becoming increasingly stressed and is reliant on woodlands. Below is a list of the species in the Committee’s rare working category.

  • Kydra Dampiera (Dampiera fusca)
  • Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua)
  • White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)
  • Large Bentwing Bat (Miniopterus schreibersii)
  • Black Falcon (Falco subniger)
  • Australian Painted Snipe (Rostratula australis)and
  • Crested Shrike-tit (Falcunculus frontatus).

2.10 Review of the Status of species in the FFC’s working category ‘insufficiently known’

The FFC reviewed the species listed in the working category of ‘insufficiently known’ during the reporting period. The Committee agreed to the move the Masked Owl to the Committee’s insufficiently known working category given the limited information available on this species. Below is a list of the species in the Committee’s insufficiently known working category.

  • Blackgum (Eucalyptus aggregata)
  • Snow Gum – Candlebark (Eucalyptus pauciflora – E. rubida) Tableland Woodland
  • Diamond Firetail (Stagonopleura guttata)
  • Flame Robin (Petroica phoenicea)
  • Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus) and
  • Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae).

ATTACHMENT A

1. SCHEDULE OF MEETINGS AND ATTENDANCE

Member Meeting 84 - 4 September 2013 Meeting 85 - 3 December 2013 Meeting 86 - 5 March 2014 Meeting 87 - 4 June 2014
Arthur Georges y y   y
Penny Olsen   y   y
Mark Lintermans y y y y
Margaret Kitchin y y y y
Barry Richardson     y y
Richard Schodde y y y y
Jasmyn Lynch y y y y
Observer
Greg Richards y y    
Anne Duncan       y
Warren Nicholls   y y  

OUT OF SESSION CONSULTATIONS

  • 17 October 2013 – members met with the Minister for the Environment, Simon Corbell MLA, to discuss a range of nature conservation issues in the ACT
  • 21 January 2014 – members met with Ros Ransome and consultants to discuss the Lower Molonglo River Corridor Plan of Management and
  • 13 June 2014 – a sub-committee of self-nominated members met to discuss the draft criteria for threatened species, communities and processes.

ATTACHMENT B

SUMMARY CURRICULUM VITAE FOR MEMBERS OF THE FLORA AND FAUNA COMMITTEE

CHAIRPERSON

Name: Distinguished 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

Distinguished 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 Flora and Fauna 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).

DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON

Name: Associate Professor Penny Olsen

Expertise: Birds

Position: Associate Professor, Department of Evolution, Ecology and Genetics, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University

Associate Professor Olsen is a research scientist and author. Her experience and interests are broad, ranging from wildlife management to behavioural ecology. Dr Olsen has published a number of research papers, books and popular articles on a diversity of subjects including conservation biology and pest management. She is an Associate Professor in the Research School of Biology at the Australian National University.

OTHER MEMBERS

Name: Associate Professor Mark Lintermans

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

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

Associate Professor Lintermans has over 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 and is the Regional Chair for Australia of the IUCN Freshwater Fish Specialist Group. Associate Professor Lintermans has also worked on wetlands, particularly on migratory waterbirds at Jerrabomberra Wetlands. He has authored two books, eight book chapters, a number of edited proceedings and over 190 papers and reports.

Name: Dr Margaret Kitchin

Expertise: Fire ecology, native vegetation

Position: Senior Manager, Environment and Planning Directorate, ACT Government

Dr Kitchin has extensive expertise in fire ecology, particularly in relation to the impact of fire on native Australian vegetation. Her current position is managing the Conservation Research Unit within ACT Government. She retains a role in post-fire recovery across ACT and NSW. Prior to 2012 she was responsible for the establishment of the post-2003 vegetation monitoring program, development of the ACT regional fire plans, working on the Lower Cotter Catchment management plan and revegetation strategy, input and mapping for the ACT Vegetation Communities project, and coordinating ecological advice for the TAMS bushfire operational plan.

Name: Dr Barry Richardson

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

Position: Honorary Research Fellow (CSIRO Division of Entomology)

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, wastewater management, spiders and red listing procedures. He is currently an Honorary Research Fellow (CSIRO Division of Entomology), Dr Richardson is the author and co-author of 101 publications and has supervised over 30 Honours, Masters and PhD students.

Name: Dr Richard Schodde

Expertise: Non-volant mammals, systematics and evolution, population genetics, biodiversity theory and field surveys

Position: Part-time honorary work at the Australian National Botanic Gardens

Dr Schodde has strong qualifications and relevant research experience in ornithology, non-volant mammals, the systematics and evolution of Australian flora and fauna, genetic diversity of species at the population level, biodiversity theory and field surveys, review of the conservation status of threatened species and ecological botany. Dr Schodde has extensive experience as a senior researcher in positions with the CSIRO gained over a 30-year career.

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, Institute for Applied Ecology, 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. Research experience from the genetic scale, through species autecology, regional ecology, global patterns of diversity, to the application of science to conservation policy and environmental management. Assistant Professor Lynch has over 20 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.

ATTACHMENT C

Complete list of declared species and ecological communities, rare species and insufficiently known species

DECLARED ENDANGERED SPECIES

SPECIES SCIENTIFIC NAME SPECIES COMMON NAME Date of Declaration
Tympanocryptis pinguicolla Grassland Earless Dragon 15 Apr 1996
Synemon plana Golden Sun Moth 15 Apr 1996
Prasophyllum petilum a leek orchid 15 Apr 1996
Gentiana baeuerlenii a subalpine herb 15 Apr 1996
Swainsona recta Small Purple Pea 15 Apr 1996
Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides Button Wrinklewort 15 Apr 1996
Petrogale penicillata Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby 6 Jan 1997
Macquaria australasica Macquarie Perch 6 Jan 1997
Maccullochella macquariensis Trout Cod 6 Jan 1997
Xanthomyza 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

2. DECLARED VULNERABLE SPECIES

SPECIES SCIENTIFIC NAME SPECIES COMMON NAME Date of Declaration
Delma impar Striped Legless Lizard 15 Apr 1996
Gadopsis bispinosus Two-spined Blackfish 6 Jan 1997
Euastacus armatus Murray River Crayfish 6 Jan 1997
Melanodryas cucullata Hooded Robin 30 May 1997
Lathamus discolor Swift Parrot 30 May 1997
Perunga ochracea Perunga Grasshopper 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 Sitella 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

DECLARED ENDANGERED ECOLOGICAL COMMUNITIES

NAME OF COMMUNITY DESCRIPTION Date of Declaration
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

RARE SPECIES (Flora and Fauna Committee working category)

SPECIES SCIENTIFIC NAME SPECIES COMMON NAME
Dampiera fusca Kydra Dampiera
Ninox strenua Powerful Owl
Haliaeetus leucogaster White-bellied Sea-eagle
Miniopterus schreibersii Large Bentwing Bat
Falco subniger Black Falcon
Rostratula australis Australian Painted Snipe
Falcunculus frontatus Crested Shrike-tit

INSUFFICIENTLY KNOWN SPECIES (Flora and Fauna Committee working category)

SPECIES SCIENTIFIC NAME SPECIES COMMON NAME
Eucalyptus aggregata Black gum
Eucalyptus pauciflora – E. rubida Tableland Woodland Snow gum – Candlebark Tableland Woodland
Stagonopleura guttata Diamond Firetail
Petroica phoenicea Flame Robin
Artamus cyanopterus Dusky Woodswallow
Tyto novaehollandiae Masked Owl