Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest

Advice to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) on Amendments to the List of Ecological Communities under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)

1. Name

A nomination was received for the Turpentine/Bloodwood tall woodland to open forest in the South-east Queensland Bioregion.  While other ecological communities with similar dominant species and structure have been identified in Queensland and New South Wales the name given in the nomination is suitable to identify the broader national ecological community: Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest.

2. National Context

The nominated component of the Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest ecological community is restricted to the Childers-Bundaberg area in the Burnett-Curtis Coastal Lowlands province of the South East Queensland Bioregion (Accad et al., 2001).  This component is recognised under the Queensland Vegetation Management Act 1999 as the endangered Regional Ecosystem 12.5.11 Syncarpia glomulifera open forest on complex of remnant Tertiary surface and Tertiary sedimentary rocks (Vegetation Management Regulation 2000).

Other ecological communities dominated and co-dominated by Turpentine occur in other areas of the South East Queensland Bioregion (e.g., RE 12.3.15 Corymbia intermedia, Syncarpia glomulifera open forest on granite outwash), in other Queensland Bioregions (e.g., RE 8.3.8 Syncarpia glomulifera, Eucalyptus  portuensis, Corymbia intermedia open forest on sandy creek flats and granite outwash) and in New South Wales.  Due to the co-dominance of Turpentine and Bloodwood, and the similarities in structure, of these other identified components, they should be included in the broader, national Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest ecological community.

3. Description

The Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest ecological community is found on a range of landforms (Accad et al., 2001).  The dominant structure of this ecological community ranges from being an open woodland to open forest, and the shrub layer and ground layer vary between being very sparse to mid-dense (Bean et al., 1998).  The nominated component of the Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest ecological community is characterised by the following tree species: Syncarpia glomulifera (Turpentine), Eucalyptus trachyphloia (syn. Corymbia trachyphloia; Brown Bloodwood), E. acmenoides (Yellow Stringybark), and E. signata (Scribbly Gum).  Other species will occur in other components of the national ecological community, such as Lysicarpus angustifolius (Budgeroo), E. intermedia (Pink Bloodwood, Red Bloodwood).  A brief list of species which occur in the Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest ecological community is at Table 1.

No information is available on the fauna of the Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest ecological community.  Therefore, the interactions between the faunal and floral components are unknown.

4. How judged by TSSC in relation to the EPBC Act criteria.

The TSSC judges the nominated ecological community to be ineligible for listing under the EPBC Act as there was insufficient information about the national extent and threatened status of a broader ecological community.  The justification against the criteria is as follows:

Criterion 1 - Decline in geographic distribution

The nomination provides information on one component of the Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest ecological community in Queensland.  This component has been identified as having a naturally restricted distribution.  The pre-clearing area of extent for this component was estimated as being 9861 ha (Accad et al., 2001).  Extensive vegetation clearance for agricultural practices, typically the farming of sugar cane and crops, had reduced the extent of this component to 2998 ha by 1999 (Accad et al., 2001).  This is a reduction of 70% of the original extent of this component.  However, the other Queensland components have undergone a lesser decline in geographic distribution, and the extent to which the New South Wales components have declined is currently unknown. 

Therefore, the TSSC was unable to determine the overall decline in geographic distribution of the national Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest ecological community, and hence the eligibility of the ecological community against this criterion

Criterion 2 - Small geographic distribution coupled with demonstrable threat

Past clearing of the Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest ecological community component has resulted in a current restricted distribution.  This component occurs on fertile soils, which has lead to 70% of it being cleared for sugar cane and crops (Accad et al., 2001).  Sugar cane farming was and still is the predominant agricultural land use in the area. 

Cultivation activities have had a negative impact on the abiotic components and have caused erosion, particularly on the slopes in the Childers area.  In the past, this resulted in farmers engaging in a process of clearing new lands for cultivation once erosion has reduced the viability of the areas being cultivated (McKeown, 1983).  These activities have altered the soil and other abiotic components of the ecological community.  They have also altered biological components such as species composition which, in turn, has altered the structure of the this component of the Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest ecological community (Catterall & Kingston, 1993: McKeown, 1983). 

While this component of the Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest ecological community is recognised as having a restricted geographic distribution as the result of agricultural practices, there is no evidence that this component will be subject to demonstrable threats in the future.  Neither is there any indication that the other components are likely to be subject to demonstrable threats in the near future.  Therefore, due to a lack of comprehensive information on the national extent of the ecological community, the TSSC was unable to assess the eligibility of the ecological community under this criterion.

Criterion 3 - Loss or decline of functionally important species

The nomination provides no information under this criterion.

Criterion 4 - Reduction in community integrity

The nomination provides no information under this criterion.

Criterion 5 - Rate of continuing detrimental change

There is no information available describing the overall rate of continuing detrimental change for this ecological community.

Criterion 6 - Quantitative analysis showing probability of extinction

The nomination provides no information under this criterion.

5. Conclusion

As a range of other ecological communities were identified for inclusion in this national ecological community, and there is limited information available on these ecological communities at this stage, the nomination for Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest ecological community is unable to be assessed against any of the criteria.

6. Recommendation

TSSC recommends that:

  • the nomination for the Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest ecological community be rejected; and
  • the national extent of the nominated ecological community be reassessed within the context of the strategic woodlands process.

Table 1.  Plants which commonly occur in the Turpentine/Bloodwood Tall Woodland to Open Forest ecological community.  Not every plant species will occur in every patch.  Other species will occur that are not identified in this table.

Structural Layer Scientific Name Common Name
Canopy Syncarpia glomulifera Turpentine
Corymbia intermedia Pink Bloodwood
Eucalyptus acmenoides Yellow Stringybark
Eucalyptus trachyphloia
(syn. Corymbia trachyphloia)
Brown Bloodwood
Eucalyptus umbra Broad-Leaved White Mahogany
Angophora costata Rusty Gum
Tristania suaveolens Swamp Mahogany
Eucalyptus maculata Spotted Gum
Eucalyptus signata Scribbly Gum
Shrub Syncarpia glomulifera Turpentine
Acacia species Wattle
Melaleuca nodosa Pricklyleaf Paperbark
Melaleuca cheelii Paperbark

Ground

Acrotriche aggregata Tall Ground Berry
Xanthorrhoea fulva Swamp Grass-Tree
Xanthorrhoea glauca Blackboy
Xanthorrhoea johnsonii Forest Black-Boy
Xanthorrhoea latifolia Grass-Tree
Entolasia stricta Wiry Panic
Eremochloa bimaculata Poverty Grass

Publications used to assess the nomination

Accad, A., Nelder, V.J., Wilson, B.A. and Neihus, R.E.  2001. Remnant Vegetation in Queensland: Analysis of Pre-clearing, Remnant 1997-1999 Regional Ecosystem Information.  Queensland Herbarium, Environmental Protection Agency: Brisbane.

Bean, A.R., Sparshott, K.M., McDonald, W.J.F and Neldner, V.J. (Eds.) 1998.  Forest Ecosystem Mapping and Analysis of South-Eastern Queensland Biogeographic Region. A: Vegetation Survey and Mapping. Queensland Government: Queensland.

Catterall, C.P., and Kingston, M.  1993.  Remnant Bushland of South East Queensland: it's distribution, loss, ecological consequences and future prospects.Griffith University: Brisbane.

McKeown, F.R.  1983.  Study of an Intermediate Audience's Attitudes and Knowledge of Soil Erosion and Conservation and their Perceived Influence on Sugar-Cane Growers in the Bundaberg Region Queensland.  University of Queensland: Brisbane.