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Cape Le Grand National Park, Cape Le Grand Rd, Esperance, WA, Australia

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List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Natural
Legal Status Registered (21/03/1978)
Place ID 9816
Place File No 5/04/163/0005
Statement of Significance
The wheatbelt region of south-western Western Australia forms part of one of the most botanically rich provinces in Australia. The Wheatbelt covers four IBRA regions: Geraldton Sandplains, Avon Wheatbelt, Mallee, and Esperance Plains. The transitional rainfall zone which covers most of the wheatbelt, is regarded as a focal point for speciation in woody perennial plants and also has a nationally significant concentration of endemic plants at the species level. The wheatbelt region is similarly rich in animal species, particularly by comparison with the adjacent forest belt to the west.

Cape Le Grand is one of a number of areas in the south-west where an ancient landscape that has remained unglaciated, and above sea level for well over 200 million years, has provided excellent conditions for the persistence of a range of primitive and relict species. A number of species present at Cape Le Grand have strong Gondwanan associations including a legless lizard, the Common Scaly-foot (PYGOPUS LEPIDOPODUS) which is regarded as the most primitive member of the legless lizards, and three other legless lizards DELMA FRASERI, D. AUSTRALIS, and APRASIA STRIOLATA. Other primitive species include the Honey Possum (TARSIPES ROSTRATUS), and the Western Pygmy-possum (CERCATETUS CONCINNUS). Although likely to have a non-Gondwanan origin, blind-snakes, including RAMPHOTYPHLOPS AUSTRALIS, which is present at Cape Le Grand, also have ancient origins.

As a reserve of over 31,000 hectares, Cape Le Grand National Park is a significant area in maintaining existing processes at a regional scale. It is substantially larger than the average reserve area in the wheatbelt of 114 hectares and therefore is a potentially important contemporary refugium for many species, including invertebrates and smaller vertebrates.

Cape Le Grand is in an area in the south-east of the wheatbelt region that is rich in endemic species at a national scale. For example, approximately 28 fauna species that are endemic either to the south-west region, or to Western Australia occur at Cape Le Grand. Endemic frogs recorded include the Humming Frog (NEOBATRACHUS PELOBATOIDES), the Quacking Frog (CRINIA GEORGIANA), and the Western Banjo Frog (LIMNODYNASTES DORSALIS). Endemic mammals that occur here include the Ash-grey Mouse (PSEUDOMYS ALBOCINEREUS), and the Grey-bellied Dunnart (SMINTHOPSIS GRISEOVENTER). Also found at Cape Le Grand are 29 flora species endemic either to the wheatbelt region or to Western Australia, including 14 eucalypts.

Cape Le Grand is one of a number of areas in the wheatbelt that are significant for rare species, due to widespread clearing in the surrounding landscape, and to the high diversity and level of local endemism. One species occurring here is listed as endangered at the national level, EUCALYPTUS INSULARIS. Other species listed at the State level include six flora species including the Bearded Heath (LEUCOPOGON MULTIFLORUS), the Fringed Lily (THYSANOTUS PARVIFLORUS) and a pea-flowered shrub GONOCARPUS SIMPLEX. The Quenda (ISOODON OBESULUS) is listed as a species in need of monitoring.

Cape Le Grand has a number of species that are disjunct. Disjunct populations are those that have become physically separated, resulting in minimal or no gene flow between them, and they are an important precursor to the development of new species. A number of species in Australia have separate eastern and western populations, and some have formed sub-species, reflecting important broader long-term processes such as sea level changes and climatic fluctuations.

Species with disjunct western populations at Cape Le Grand include the Quenda, six reptile species including the Black Tiger Snake (NOTECHIS ATER), and 10 bird species. A number of species that are confined to Western Australia have disjunct populations as a result of the scattered nature of their original natural habitat. Such species include the Slender Tree Frog (LITORIA ADELAIDENSIS), and the Moaning Frog (HELEIOPORUS EYREI).

It is possible that cultural values, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, of national estate significance may exist in this place. As yet, the Australian Heritage Commission has not identified, documented nor assessed these values.
Official Values Not Available
The wheatbelt is defined as that part of the south-west of Western Australia that receives between 300 and 600 mm rainfall per year. It lies within the South West Botanical Province and corresponds fairly consistently with four biogeographical areas, these being the Geraldton Sandplains in the north, the Avon Wheatbelt and the Mallee in the centre, and the Esperance Plains in the south. Other biogeographical areas that adjoin these four areas, including the Swan Coastal Plain to the west, and Yalgoo and Coolgardie to the east, influence characteristics such as the distribution and limit of range of flora and fauna species where they overlap along the boundaries of the wheatbelt.

The climate of the Wheatbelt is semi-arid to warm mediterranean and rain falls mainly in winter while summers are dry. Rainfall varies from 600 mm per annum on the western side of the wheatbelt, to 300 mm on the eastern side. The Esperence Plains biogeographic area is slightly moister in comparison to the remainder of the wheatbelt, being located along the southern coastline.

The southern wheatbelt is typified by Archaean and Proterozoic granites, overlain in the east by Early Tertiary sediments. In the very south-east, Eocene sediments with outcrops of granites and quartzites occur. The soils are of low to extremely low fertility due to the great age of the landscape, and the low levels of phosphate in the parent rocks.

Cape Le Grand is located within the Esperence Plains biogeographic area. The landform of this region is characterised by Eocene sediments; overlain by sandplains. The predominate vegetation is Proteaceous scrub and mallee heaths that are rich in endemics. Abrupt granite and quartzite ranges rise from the plain, including Mount Le Grand, and support herbfields and heaths. Gullies and alluvial foot-slopes support Eucalypt woodlands.
History Not Available
Condition and Integrity
The wheatbelt is an area of 19 million hectares, and is the cereal-producing area for the south-west of Western Australia. The wheatbelt has been extensively cleared for agriculture, with approximately 80percent having been cleared. Remnant vegetation has been degraded as a result of grazing by rabbits and domestic livestock, and changed ecological conditions in the surrounding agricultural lands.

As a consequence of widespread clearing, the hydrological balance has changed, causing the water table to rise. This is resulting in widespread salinity, and poses a threat to both remnant vegetation, and agricultural land. In response to this, the Salinity Action Plan has been implemented to reduce further deterioration of agricultural land.

A number of critical weight range mammals have become extinct, associated with extensive land clearing in the wheatbelt, and some extant species continue to decline. Other degrading factors include the invasion of feral animals and weed species. Wildfire has adversely impacted some areas, particularly in the southern Esperance Plains biogeographical region.

No specific information is available on the condition of the park itself.

Condition statement as at 1 February 2001.
About 31,580ha, Cape Le Grand Road, 20km east-south-east of Esperance, extending along the shores of the Great Australian Bight between Mount Le Grand and Cheyne Point.
Agriculture Western Australia, Department of Conservation and Land Management, Department of Environmental Protection, and Water and Rivers Commission (1996) Western Australia Salinity Action Plan. Government of Western Australia, Perth.

A. H. C. (2000). Analysis of species locality information for the wheatbelt. Unpublished data held by the Australian Heritage Commission.

ANZECC (1999) Threatened Australian Fauna. Endangered Fauna Network, Australian & New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council. Threatened Species and Communities Section, Environment Australia, Canberra.

ANZECC (1999) Threatened Australian Flora. Endangered Fauna Network, Australian & New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council. Threatened Species and Communities Section, Environment Australia, Canberra.

Atkins, K. J. (1999). Declared, Rare and Priority Flora List for Western Australia. Western Australian Herbarium.

Beard, J.S. (1981) Vegetation survey of Western Australia Swan, 1:1 000 000 Vegetation Series, Explanatory Notes to sheet 7. The Vegetation of the Swan Area. University of Western Australia Press, Perth.

Blakers, M., Davies, S.J.J.F. and Reilly P.N. (1984). The Atlas of Australian birds. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union. Melbourne University Press.

Brooker M.I.H. and Kleinig D.A. (1990) Field Guide to Eucalypts. Vol. 2 South Western and Southern Australia. Inkata Press, Melbourne and Sydney.

CALM (2000) Declared Threatened Fauna Occurrence in CALM Regions (Wild Populations). Department of Conservation & Land Management, Western Australia.

Chapman, A. and Dell, J. (1985). Biology and zoogeography of the amphibians and reptiles of the Western Australian Wheatbelt. Records of the Western Australian Museum 12: 1-46.

Chippendale, G.M. (1973) Eucalypts of the Western Australian goldfields (and the adjacent wheatbelt). Department of Primary Industry, Forestry & Timber Bureau. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

Cogger, H. G. and Heatwole, H (1981). The Australian reptiles: origins, biogeography, distribution patterns and island evolution. In: Keast, A. (ed), Ecological Biogeography of Australia. Dr W. Junk by Publishers. The Hague.

Cogger, H.G. (2000) Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Sixth edition, Reed New Holland, Sydney.

Heatwole, H. (1987). Major components and distributions of the terrestrial fauna. pp 101-135 in Dyne, G. R. and Walton, D. W. (eds) Fauna of Australia. General Articles. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service Vol. 1A.

Higgins, P.J. ( (1999) Handbook of Australian, New Zealand & Antarctic Birds, Volume 4 Parrots to Dollarbird. Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Hnatiuk R.J. (1990) Census of Australian Vascular Plants. Australian Flora and Fauna Series Number 11. Bureau of Flora and Fauna. Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra

Hopper, D. H., Harvey, M. S., Chappill, J. A., Main, A. R., and York Main, B. (1996). The Western Australian biota as Gondwanan heritage - a review. In Gondwanan Heritage: past, present and future of the Western Australian biota. Edited by S. D. Hopper, J. A. Chappill, M. S. Harvey and A. S. George. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton.

Kitchener, D. L, Chapman, A., Dell, J. and Muir, B. G. (1980a). Lizard assemblage and reserve size and structure in the Western Australian Wheatbelt - some implications for conservation. Biological Conservation 17: 25-62.

Safstrom, R. (1995). Conservation values of small reserves in the central wheatbelt of Western Australia - a framework for evaluating the conservation values of small reserves. Unpublished report for the Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia

Storr, G. M., Smith, L. A. and Johnstone, R. E. (1983) Lizards of Western Australia II Dragons and Monitors. Western Australian Museum, Perth.

Storr, G. M., Smith, L. A. and Johnstone, R. E. (1986) Snakes of Western Australia. Western Australian Museum, Perth.

Storr, G. M., Smith, L. A. and Johnstone, R. E. (1990) Lizards of Western Australia III Geckos and Pygopods. Western Australian Museum, Perth.

Strahan R. (ed) (1995). The mammals of Australia. Angus and Robertson.

Thackway, R. and Cresswell, I.D (eds.) (1995) An Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia: a framework for setting priorities in the National Reserves System Cooperative Program. Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Canberra.

Tyler, M. J., Smith, R. E. and Johnstone, R. E. (1994) Frogs of Western Australia. Revised Ed. Western Australian Museum, Perth.

W. A. M. (2000). Western Australian Museum species locality records as provided to the Environmental Resource Information Network (ERIN).

Wooller, S.J. and Moore, S.A. (2000) Regional Assessment of the Wheatbelt of Western Australia: Central Wheatbelt. Prepared for the Australian Heritage Commission.

Report Produced  Sun Sep 21 05:16:50 2014