FFC/SC Annual Report 2014-15

1. BACKGROUND

This report outlines the activities of the ACT Flora and Fauna Committee (FFC) for the period 1 July 2014 to 10 June 2015. The Nature Conservation Act 2014 commenced on 11 June 2015 and the FFC became the Scientific Committee on this date, with additional responsibilities under this new Act. The membership for the Scientific Committee was the same as for the FFC. An addendum to this report has been provided (page 11) to cover the activities of the Scientific Committee for the period from 11 – 30 June 2015.
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 an additional out of session consultation. 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 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.

Member Position
Chair:
Distinguished Professor Arthur Georges
University of Canberra, Institute for Applied Ecology.
Deputy Chair:
Associate Professor Penny lsen
Australian National University, Research School of Biology.
Other members:
Associate Professor Mark intermans
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.
Assistant Professor
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 Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee were invited to attend FFC meetings as observers. Their attendance facilitates communication between the two committees. The representative from the ACT Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee was Dr Greg Richards or, if Dr Richards was unavailable, Ms Anne Duncan or Dr Rosemary Purdie. Note, one member of the FFC (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 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 Serena Farrelly, Policy Officer within the ACT Environment and Planning Directorate (EPD).

2. HIGHLIGHTS OF COMMITTEE BUSINESS

2.1 Assessment of nominations

The FFC did not receive any nominations during the reporting period.
During the previous reporting period, one threatening process – large, potentially enclosed populations of Eastern Grey Kangaroos – was nominated for assessment. The Committee agreed that the nomination needs to focus on the broader threatening process of overgrazing. The Committee requested more information from the applicant, however, the applicant was not able to provide sufficient information for the Committee to consider the listing. The Committee agreed to put this nomination on hold until more information can be provided regarding a broader nomination of overgrazing and the threat that it presents.
The non-natural fragmentation of habitats as a potential threatening process has been discussed and its nomination is still under consideration by the Committee.

2.2 Declarations

During the reporting period there was one declaration by the Minister for the Environment. The Scarlet Robin (Petroica multicolor) was listed as vulnerable on 12 May 2015.
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.

2.3 Action Plans

Once a species or ecological community is declared, the Conservator of Flora and Fauna (the Conservator) must 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.
Final Action Plans
The revised Action Plan No 22. on the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby was finalised and became effective on 9 May 2015 under the Nature Conservation Act 1980.
Draft Action Plans
The FFC provided advice to the ACT Government during the full revision of the following Action Plan:

  • Action Plan No 28. Vision Splendid of Grassy Plains Extended ACT Lowland Native Grassland Conservation Strategy (to be finalised in the next reporting period).

Several individual Action Plans are incorporated into Action Plan 28. These are:

  • Grassland Earless Dragon
  • Golden Sun Moth
  • Perunga Grasshopper
  • Striped Legless Lizard
  • Button Wrinklewort
  • Ginninderra Peppercress
  • A subalpine herb (Gentiana baeuerlenii) and
  • Natural Temperate Grass

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 for the Tarengo Leek Orchid
  • Action Plan 31. Canberra Spider Orchid
  • Action Plan 32. Brindabella Midge Orchid

Progress reports on these Action Plans prepared by Conservation Research, EPD informed the FFC’s reviews.
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, Commonwealth and other organisations on regional 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.
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. Two listings of relevance to the ACT were noted in September 2014. These were the Greater Glider Petauroides volans and the Tablelands Snow Gum, Candlebark and Kangaroo Grass Grassy Woodland in the NSW South Western Slopes, South East Corner, South Eastern Highlands and Sydney Basin Bioregions.

2.6 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), EPD and other ACT Government agencies.
The Committee provided advice to the ACT Government and agencies on the following:

  • The proposed Riverview development, including two site visits
  • The review of the Canberra Nature Park Plan of Management
  • Biosecurity in the ACT
  • Development of a draft Conservation Plan for the Murray Cod; and
  • Implementation of Environmental offsets in the ACT

2.7 Flora and Fauna Committee Strategic Plan

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

ATTACHMENT A

1. SCHEDULE OF MEETINGS AND ATTENDANCE

Member

Meeting 88

3 September 2014

Meeting 89
3 December 2014
Meeting 90
4 March 2015
Meeting 91
3 June 2015
Arthur Georges
Penny Olsen
Mark Lintermans
Margaret Kitchin
Barry Richardson
Richard Schodde
Jasmyn Lynch
Observer



Greg Richards


Anne Duncan



Rosemary Purdie


2. OUT OF SESSION CONSULTATIONS

  1. 19 September 2014 – available members met to visit the Riverview Group office and the proposed Riverview development site in West Belconnen
  2. 28 November 2014 – available members met again to visit the proposed Riverview development site in West Belconnen
  3. 18 May 2015 – available members met to discuss the Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Program
    Members of the Flora and Fauna Committee, along with members of the Natural Resource Management Council and Natural Resource Management Advisory Committee, discussed a draft of the biodiversity research and monitoring program (BRAMP) and provided guidance on the proposed structure and content. Important issues raised during the discussion which influenced its finalisation included:
    • it is important to strengthen the links between the BRAMP and the ACT Nature Conservation Strategy;
    • importance of strong partnerships between government and research institutions and the community in monitoring and research; and
    • the first BRAMP should focus on documenting and building on existing work, and will provide a platform for a more robust framework in the future.

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

1. DECLARED ENDANGERED SPECIES

SPECIES SCIENTIFIC NAME SPECIES COMMON NAME Date of Declaration
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
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
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 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
Petroica multicolor Scarlet Robin 12 May 2015


3. 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


ADDENDUM

Annual Report for the ACT Scientific Committee
from 11 June – 30 June 2015

Members of the Scientific Committee during this period were the same as those of the FFC for the period 1 July 2014 – 10 June 2015. Members were:

Member Position
Chair: Distinguished Professor Arthur Georges University of Canberra, Institute for Applied Ecology.
Deputy Chair: Associate Professor Penny Olsen Australian National University, Research School of Biology.
Other members: Associate Professor 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.
Assistant Professor
Jasmyn Lynch
University of Canberra, Institute for Applied Ecology.

Responsibilities of the ACT Scientific Committee under the Nature Conservation Act 2014 include:

  • The Scientific Committee provides scientific advice to the relevant Minister, and to the Conservator.
  • The Conservator must consult with the Scientific Committee on the preparation of Action Plans
  • The Scientific Committee has an expanded role to undertake reviews of Action Plans (s 108 (5)), as well as the development of Listing Advice (ss 86 & 91) and Conservation Advice (s 92). The provisions require a progress report on each Action Plan after five years and mandatory review by the Scientific Committee to occur at 10 years. Reviews can occur earlier than this if needed
  • The Conservator must consult with the Scientific Committee on the preparation of Native Species Conservation Plans and the Scientific Committee may be asked to review Native Species Conservation Plans (s 108)
  • The Conservator must consult with the Scientific Committee on priorities for the biodiversity research and monitoring program and on appropriate methods and approaches to monitoring
  • The Scientific Committee provides a Listing Advice to the Minister to inform threatened species listing decisions. The Scientific Committee is also required to provide a Conservation Advice within three months of listing of a species
  • The Scientific Committee has a role in providing advice to the Minister on Protected Native Species
  • The Minister is required to consult with the Scientific Committee in developing the Protected Native Species list criteria

The members were consulted and provided comments out of session on the Biodiversity Research and Monitoring Program 2015-17.