Mirranie Barker and Stephen Barry
Environmental Protection Agency, Queensland
3. Recovery actions
- Provide secure habitat by negotiating with landholders and managers for the placement of critical habitat under a conservation agreement or protected tenure; and actively managing sites to ameliorate threatening processes (exclusion of grazing stock, implementation of an appropriate fire regime and weed control).
- Inform and involve the public and other stakeholders in the recovery of A. ramiflorus through production of publicity material, liaison with community groups and operation of the recovery team.
- Undertake further surveys of vineforest remnants in the Childers-Bundaberg-Goodnight Scrub area to locate new populations.
- Undertake controlled cultivation and propagation ensuring representation from the full genetic range and reintroduce plants into rehabilitated areas typical of the original Isis Scrub.
- Ex situ storage of seeds and genetic material representing the full genetic range.
- Determine the ecological requirements and the genetic diversity of this species and monitor populations to detect the effects of management practices.
1.1 Secure known habitat through a combination of tenure measures and negotiated conservation agreements. Negotiate with the Isis Shire Council and the Department of Natural Resources and Mines to declare nature refuges over the three Childers reserve sites and where possible undertake road closures.
1.2 Manage known habitats to reduce the impacts of threatening processes For existing and new populations of A. ramiflorus, encourage landowners to actively conserve this species through a variety of methods, including a conservation agreement under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. Negotiate suitable management of the Francey Road site with the trustee, Isis Shire Council. Negotiate an agreement under the Nature Conservation Act with the landholder adjacent to the Smith Creek site to actively manage the part of the araucarian scrub occurring on their property as part of the habitat required by A. ramiflorus. Relocate part of the cattle proof-fence around the Cordalba site to promote the secure advancement of the existing dry rainforest patch, and maintain existing fence.
1.3 Promote the regeneration of this species within its known habitat. Undertake routine management, involving community groups and QPWS staff, on all known sites to minimise the impacts of weeds, introduced animals, fire and any other threatening process. Plant ex situ grown plants into the five known sites and monitor their success. Tag, identify and document all plants for future monitoring work.
Potential contributors: Isis Shire Council, Department of Natural Resources and Mines, QPWS, Greening Australia, community groups.
2.1 Disseminate information
A brochure containing information on A. ramiflorus and the threats to its survival will be produced. A poster will be developed highlighting the Isis Scrub and A. ramiflorus in particular. This poster will be made available to schools, local government offices, government departments and community groups. Opportunities to publicise the need for protection of dry rainforest and A. ramiflorus in the local and state media will be examined and promoted.
2.2 Community participation
The recovery team and Greening Australia is actively involved in organising community groups and Green Corp in the rehabilitation of A. ramiflorus habitat on freehold and reserve land. A variety of groups including Greening Australia, Bundaberg and District Urban Landcare Association and Tondoon Botanic Gardens have been involved in producing seedlings. Propagative material will be collected under appropriate permits from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. Seed collection will be supervised by Greening Australia and will not exceed 10 per cent of total estimated seed production. Future community participation will be actively encouraged to continue the momentum already developed.
2.3 Effective functioning of the recovery team
Representatives of stakeholders will attend meetings to discuss relevant issues. The plan will be re-written at the end of the five-year period.
Potential contributors: Recovery team, QPWS, Greening Australia, Bundaberg and District Urban Landcare Association, members of the community.
Undertake further surveys of all major vineforest remnants in Childers-Bundaberg-Goodnight Scrub district. Although the Cordalba-Childers-Goodnight Scrub district has received a considerable amount of botanical survey in the past there is a reasonable likelihood that additional populations of this species can be found. Given the extremely low total known population of this species, further targeted surveys are required. Any new populations will be provided with appropriate protective measures.
Potential contributors: Community groups, QPWS, University study.
Carry out controlled cultivation and propagation of A. ramiflorus at re-establishment sites, known sites and major regional botanic gardens. Preliminary research on asexual reproduction using tissue culture and cuttings indicates that stem cuttings taken from juveniles and softwood are the most successful method of asexual reproduction (van Kampen 2001). At present, seedlings that have been propagated have come from only one parent plant. Records on the location and survival of each propagule will be maintained. The location and management of plants will be documented.
Potential contributors: University study.
5.1 Extracts of DNA from all known mature individuals will be preserved in the Australian Plant DNA Bank and seeds will be stored in the Australian Tree Seed Centre. Genetic material will be resubmitted after five years to minimise any detrimental effects of the storage on the DNA . Extracts of material are available for conservation biology research. Both agencies will use some of this material to undertake additional research or make it available for other interested parties to undertake research. Seeds will be resubmitted approximately every five years to minimise any detrimental effects on seed viability. Seed collection will not exceed 10 per cent of total estimated seed production.
5.2 A. ramiflorus has been successfully propagated and established at Mt. Coot-tha Botanic Gardens, Brisbane, the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens and a few private gardens in the Bundaberg-Childers district. The source of these individuals is from a single mature tree. Propagated seedlings (refer to Action 5) from other adult plants will be made available to these Gardens. Managers of the Tondoon Botanic Gardens, Gladstone, Kershaw Botanic Gardens, Rockhampton, and various smaller parks and gardens in the Childers area will be approached to promote the establishment of other ex situ collections.
Potential contributors: Australian Plant DNA Bank, Australian Tree Seed Centre, Botanic Gardens.
Since there are very few populations and individuals of A. ramiflorus, any decline in numbers or genetic diversity should be minimised. To achieve this, future management should be based on sound knowledge of the species' response to its environment and perturbations occurring in that environment. The following research into the biology, ecology and genetics of the species needs to be undertaken to provide this knowledge:
6.1 Investigate the population dynamics and reproductive biology of the species, including limits to seed production, germination and establishment, and response to fire, soil nutrients and variable moisture regimes. Measure the rates of growth, flower and fruit production, mortality and recruitment as well as the health of a significant sample of the populations and determine if there are any correlations with environmental variables. Identify pollinators and predators and their effects on the long-term viability of populations.
6.2 Preliminary genetic research was limited to samples containing juvenile foliage, as extracting material from adult plants was problematic. Further research is required to determine a method to extract viable genetic material from adult plants and to undertake genetic and morphological analysis from a significant sample of both adults and seedlings.
6.3 Additional research is required to increase the low success rates for cuttings taken from mature plants. Propagation using cuttings could then be broadly applied assuring the genetic diversity of this species is represented.
6.4 Monitor populations to determine the effects of management activities and other factors affecting the habitat. All plants in the population will be permanently marked to facilitate a periodic census of each population. Ecological monitoring will be undertaken to determine if management practices identified in Action 2 are having a positive influence on the species' recovery.
Potential contributors: Sunshine Coast University, Griffith University, Australian Plant DNA Bank, Greening Australia, and the Isis Land Care Council, QPWS.