Ginninderra Peppercress (Lepidium ginninderrense) **

ACTION PLAN No. 25

In accordance with section 21 of the Nature Conservation Act 1980, the Ginninderra Peppercress (Lepidium ginninderrense) was declared an endangered species on 4 September 2001 (Instrument No. 192 of 2001). Section 23 of the Act requires the Conservator of Flora and Fauna to prepare an Action Plan in response to each declaration. This is the Action Plan for:

Preamble

The Nature Conservation Act 1980 establishes the ACT Flora and Fauna Committee with responsibilities for assessing the conservation status of the ACT’s flora and fauna and the ecological significance of potentially threatening processes. Where the Committee believes that a species or ecological community is threatened with extinction or a process is an ecological threat, it is required to advise the responsible Minister, and recommend that a declaration be made accordingly.

Flora and Fauna Committee assessments are made on nature conservation grounds only and are guided by specified criteria as set out in its publication ‘Threatened Species and Communities in the ACT’, July 1995.

In making its assessment of the Ginninderra Peppercress, the Committee concluded that it satisfied the criteria indicated in the adjacent table.

An Action Plan is required in response to each declaration. It must include proposals for the identification, protection and survival of a threatened species or ecological community, or, in the case of a threatening process, proposals to minimise its effect.

This Action Plan was prepared by the Conservator of Flora and Fauna in accordance with the Nature Conservation Act, in consultation with the Flora and Fauna Committee and after the statutory period for public comment.

While the legal authority of this Action Plan is confined to the Australian Capital Territory, management considerations are addressed in a regional context.

Criteria Satisfied

1.2 The species is observed, estimated, inferred or suspected to be at risk of premature extinction in the ACT region in the medium-term future, as demonstrated by:

1.2.4 Severely fragmented distribution for a species currently occurring over a small range or having a small area of occupancy within its range.

Species Description and Ecology

DESCRIPTION

The Ginninderra Peppercress Lepidium ginninderrense N. H. Scarlett (Figure 1) is a perennial herb to a maximum height of about 20 cm, with one to six branched stems arising from a rootstock. Stems are striate and moderately papillose. Leaves are thick and fleshy, glabrous and shiny on the upper surface. Rosette leaves are widely spaced and very narrow (1.5 to 2.0 mm wide) and

15-55 mm long. The inflorescence is an elongating raceme with a maximum length of 15 cm. Flowers are small, 2 mm wide and 1.5 mm long. Sepals are less than 1 mm long and about 0.5 mm wide, green and with scarious margins. Petals are absent (Scarlett 2001). Lepidium ginninderrense flowers in late spring. It sets seed mainly in December and the majority of seed is dispersed before August (Avis 2000).

DISTRIBUTION

The only known extant population of L. ginninderrense occurs in the north-west corner of Belconnen Naval Transmission Station in the suburb of Lawson in the Australian Capital Territory (which is the type locality). The population at the type locality is currently c. 2000 plants, occupying an area of 90 x 30 metres (Avis 2000).

A second record of L. ginninderrense is from 1952 in the suburb of Reid, however, a subsequent search failed to rediscover the species in this area (M. Gray pers. comm. cited in Scarlett 2001).

Lepidium ginninderrense has been recorded only from these two cited localities in the ACT and is not known from outside the ACT. The species is remarkably disjunct from all other members of the allied Lepidium section Papillosa in south-eastern Australia, which are mainly confined to the inland plains west and north of the Eastern Highlands (Scarlett 2001).

HABITAT

At the type locality L. ginninderrense grows on the flood plain of Ginninderra Creek, in Natural Temperate Grassland dominated by Austrodanthonia spp. and Bothriochloa macra. Associated herbaceous species include Plantago gaudichaudii, Juncus filicaulis, Triptilodiscus pygmaeus, Parentucellia latifolia and Calocephalus citreus (Scarlett 2001).

Avis (2000) has shown that L. ginninderrense grows in areas with relatively low perennial grass cover, often with indications of past soil disturbance.

The soil type over most of the site is a shallow red earth, with patches of colluvium on the footslopes (Crawford and Rowell 1995a cited on page 41 Lowe 1996). The population occurs at an altitude of c. 580 metres.

Conservation Status

Lepidium ginninderrense is recognised as a threatened species in the following sources:

National

Recommended in October 2001 for listing as endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1990 (EPBC Act).

Australian Capital Territory

Endangered - Section 21 of the Nature Conservation Act 1980, Disallowable instrument No. 299 of 2001.

Special Protection Status Species - Schedule 7 of the Nature Conservation Act 1980, Disallowable instrument No. 42 of 2002.

Threats

The main threat to the survival of this population and therefore the species is likely to be urban infill, and deliberate or unintended actions associated with visitor and/or land management activities in the local area.

Observations by Avis (2000) suggest that the species grows well in locations where competing grass tussocks and other plant growth is short and open and subsequently there is little competition for space and light. Thus, inappropriate management leading to loss of such habitat may also be a threat to the species, and it is important to determine management practices that are most conducive to the maintenance of the population at this site.

Major Conservation Objectives

The objectives of the Action Plan are to:

  • preserve the existing ACT population as it is the only known location where the species survives; and
  • manage the habitat so that natural ecological processes continue to operate.

Conservation Issues and Intended Management Actions

SURVEY/MONITORING/RESEARCH

It is unlikely that the species exists anywhere else in the ACT, given the number of similar sites already surveyed. Consequently, surveys aimed solely at finding specimens beyond the immediate area are not economically justified.

  • Environment ACT (Wildlife Research and Monitoring - WR&M) will make field workers, interested naturalists and conservation groups aware of the species in order to obtain further records of its presence.
  • Environment ACT (WR&M) will liaise with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service to encourage surveys of potential habitat outside the ACT.
  • Environment ACT (WR&M) will monitor the existing population on an annual basis, and encourage research into the species.

REQUIRED MANAGEMENT ACTIONS

Due to the small size and fragmented distribution of the species, management actions will be directed towards maintaining existing conditions and ensuring that activities occurring nearby do not adversely affect the site. Management of the site should take in to consideration the following:

  • Avoiding incompatible activities such as development of facilities, recreational use or access tracks in or near the site.
  • Maintaining a low profile for the site where the species is located. The appropriateness of signage and fencing will need careful consideration.
  • Incorporating appropriate statements of management actions in relevant plans and strategies.
  • Seeking expert advice on best practices with regard to management of the species, particularly regarding maintenance of an open habitat, and putting in place specific management actions as indicated by monitoring.

Existing plants of L. ginninderrense support high seed set, allowing opportunities for translocation and ex-situ conservation (Young 2001). Environment ACT will undertake the following actions which have been recommended by Young (2001):

  • Collect open-pollinated seed from a wide range of individuals (collecting a small amount of seed from every individual would be most successful for capturing existing genetic diversity).
  • Use some of the seed to establish new populations at other apparently suitable locations.
  • Store remaining seed under appropriate conditions (eg. at the Australian National Botanical Gardens) to act as a core for ex-situ genetic conservation. Seed will need to be replaced at intervals to be determined by seed longevity.

Any translocation and ex-situ conservation program should take into account principles as outlined in the Australian Network for Plant Conservation ‘Guidelines for the Translocation of Threatened Plants in Australia’ (ANPC 1997a) and ‘Germplasm Conservation Guidelines for Australia’ (ANPC 1997b).

Protection

The area in which all the plants occur lies within the Belconnen Naval Transmission Station, which is classified under the Territory Plan as Commonwealth Land. The closure of the Belconnen Naval Transmission Station in the near future and further development of the suburb of Lawson will require the protection of the population in a reserve.

  • Environment ACT will advise the Australian Heritage Commission of the occurrence of Lepidium ginninderrense at Belconnen Naval Transmission Station with a view to amending the existing citation of the site.
  • Environment ACT will support reservation of the Lawson grassland including the location of Lepidium ginninderrense as part of the planning for the new suburb of Lawson.

Socio-economic Issues

The conservation and management of L. ginninderrense is currently the responsibility of the Department of Defence. A Memorandum of Understanding is in place between the Department of Defence and Environment ACT and Environment Australia for the conservation and management of the site.

A planning study for the suburb of Lawson undertaken during 2001-02 is the joint responsibility of the Commonwealth Department of Defence and the ACT Department of Urban Services (Planning and Land Management). The area of grassland habitat containing the population of L. ginninderrense is proposed to be reserved and protected from development.

Establishment of a reserve will provide open space near to residential developments, and it will be necessary to manage public access in a manner which protects sensitive habitat areas.

Legislative Provisions

The following legislation is relevant to conservation of flora and fauna in the ACT:

Nature Conservation Act 1980

The Nature Conservation Act provides a mechanism to encourage the protection of native plants and animals (including fish and invertebrates), the identification of threatened species and communities, and the management of Public Land reserved for nature conservation purposes. Specified activities are managed via a licensing system.

Native plants and animals may be declared in recognition of a particular conservation concern and increased controls and penalties apply. Species declared as endangered must also be declared as having special protection status (SPS), the highest level of statutory protection that can be conferred.

Lepidium ginninderrense is listed as a SPS species and any activity affecting such a species is subject to special scrutiny. Conservation requirements are a paramount consideration and only activities related to conservation of the species or serving a special purpose are permissible.

The Conservator of Flora and Fauna may only grant a licence for activities affecting a species with SPS where satisfied that the act specified in the licence meets a range of stringent conditions. Further information on licensing can be obtained from the Licensing Officer, Environment Protection, Environment ACT, telephone 6207 6376.

Other Relevant Provisions

The Nature Conservation Act provides authority for the Conservator of Flora and Fauna to manage Public Land reserved for conservation of the natural environment. Activities that are inconsistent with nature conservation objectives are controlled. Special measures for conservation of a species or community of concern can be introduced in a reserved area, including restriction of access to important habitat.

Land (Planning and Environment) Act 1991

The Land (Planning and Environment) Act is the primary authority for land planning and administration. It establishes the Territory Plan, which identifies nature reserves, national parks and wilderness areas within the Public Land estate.

The Land (Planning and Environment) Act establishes the Heritage Places Register. Places of natural heritage significance may be identified and conservation requirements specified.

Environmental Assessments and Inquiries may be initiated in relation to land use and development proposals.

Consultation and Community

Participation

As the area supporting this species is within the Belconnen Naval Transmission Station it is currently a low usage zone. However, it is expected that with the development of the new suburb of Lawson recreational use of open spaces in the area will increase. Opportunities to involve the local community in Park Care activities will be explored with the ACT Parks and Conservation Service.

Implementation, Evaluation and Review

RESPONSIBILITY FOR IMPLEMENTATION

Environment ACT (Wildlife Research and Monitoring) will have responsibility for coordinating implementation of this Action Plan subject to government priorities and resources and the continued cooperation of the Department of Defence.

EVALUATION

The Action Plan will be reviewed after three years. The review will comprise an assessment of progress using the following performance indicators:

  • completion of commitments that can reasonably be expected to be finalised within the review timeframe (e.g. introduction of a statutory protection measure for a species; development of a management plan);
  • completion of a stage in a process with a time line that exceeds the review period (e.g. design or commencement of a research program);
  • commencement of a particular commitment that is of a continuing nature (eg. design or commencement of a monitoring program for population abundance); and
  • expert assessment of achievement of conservation objectives of the Action Plan.

The review will be reported to the ACT Flora and Fauna Committee. This will provide Environment ACT and the Flora and Fauna Committee an opportunity to assess progress, take account of developments in nature conservation knowledge, policy and administration and review directions and priorities for future conservation action.

The following conservation actions will be given priority attention:

  • assessment of ex-situ conservation measures; and
  • putting protection measures in place.

Acknowledgments

The illustration of the species (Figure 1) was prepared for Environment ACT by Kim Neubauer.

References

ANCP, 1997a. Guidelines for the Translocation of Threatened Plants in Australia. Australian Network for Plant Conservation Translocation Working Group. ANPC, Canberra.

ANPC, 1997b. Germplasm Conservation Guidelines for Australia - An Introduction to the Principles and Practices for Seed and Germplasm Banking of Australian Species. Australian Network for Plant Conservation Germplasm Working Group. ANPC, Canberra.

Avis, K., 2000. Monitoring of Lepidium ginninderrense at the Belconnen Naval Transmission Station Lawson ACT. Canberra Institute of Technology, Bruce Campus.

Lowe, C. R., 1996. HMAS Conservation Management Plan for HMAS Harman Bonshaw and the Belconnen Naval Transmitting Station.

Scarlett, N. H., 2001. Lepidium ginninderrense (Brassicaceae), a new species from the Australian Capital Territory.

Muelleria 15: 69-73.

Young, A., 2001. Issues and Options for Genetic Conservation of Small Populations of Threatened Plants in the ACT. CSIRO Plant Industry, Canberra.

List of Action Plans - May 2003

In accordance with Section 23 of the Nature Conservation Act 1980, the following Action Plans have been prepared by the Conservator of Flora and Fauna:

No. 1: Natural Temperate Grassland - an endangered ecological community.

No. 2: Striped Legless Lizard (Delma impar) - a vulnerable species.

No. 3: Eastern Lined Earless Dragon (Tympanocryptis lineata pinguicolla) - an endangered species.

No. 4: A leek orchid (Prasophyllum petilum) - an endangered species.

No. 5: A subalpine herb (Gentiana baeuerlenii) - an endangered species.

No. 6: Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne corroboree) - a vulnerable species.

No. 7: Golden Sun Moth (Synemon plana) - an endangered species.

No. 8: Button Wrinklewort (Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides) - an endangered species.

No. 9: Small Purple Pea (Swainsona recta) - an endangered species.

No. 10: Yellow Box - Red Gum Grassy Woodland - an endangered ecological community.

No 11: Two-spined Blackfish (Gadopsis bispinosus) - a vulnerable species.

No. 12: Trout Cod (Maccullochella macquariensis) - an endangered species.

No. 13: Macquarie Perch (Macquaria australasica) - an endangered species.

No. 14: Murray River Crayfish (Euastacus armatus) - a vulnerable species.

No. 15: Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata) - a vulnerable species.

No. 16: Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor) - a vulnerable species.

No. 17: Superb Parrot (Polytelis swainsonii) - a vulnerable species.

No. 18: Brown Treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus) - a vulnerable species.

No. 19: Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta) - a vulnerable species.

No. 20: Regent Honeyeater (Xanthomyza phrygia) - an endangered species.

No. 21: Perunga Grasshopper (Perunga ochracea) - a vulnerable species.

No. 22: Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) - an endangered species.

No. 23: Smoky Mouse (Pseudomys fumeus) - an endangered species.

No. 24: Tuggeranong Lignum (Muehlenbeckia tuggeranong) - an endangered species.

No.25: Ginninderra Peppercress (Lepidium ginninderrense) - an endangered species.

No. 26: Silver Perch (Bidyanus bidyanus) - an endangered species.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Further information on this Action Plan or other threatened species and ecological communities can be obtained from:

Environment ACT (Wildlife Research and Monitoring)
Phone: (02) 6207 2126
Fax: (02) 6207 2122

This document should be cited as:
ACT Government, 2003. Ginninderra Peppercress(Lepidium ginninderrense) - an endangered species. Action Plan No. 25. Environment ACT, Canberra.