National recovery plan for the Downy Wattle (Acacia pubescens)

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Environment Australia, February 2003
ISBN 0 7313 6504 6

Executive Summary


Acacia pubescens (Vent.) R. Br., Fabaceae (Mimosoideae) is a spreading to slightly weeping shrub 1-5 m high with bipinnate leaves and conspicuously hairy branchlets. It is chiefly restricted to the Cumberland Plain, with recordings from Bardwell Valley to Oakdale and Mountain Lagoon.

Current Conservation Status

A. pubescens has been recorded at 195 sites but is currently known from 151 sites, in the following local government areas: Auburn, Bankstown, Baulkham Hills, Blacktown, Canterbury, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Holroyd, Liverpool, Parramatta, Rockdale, Strathfield, Sutherland and Wollondilly. Only five of these 151 sites occur in conservation reserves. There are many threats to the species, including loss of habitat, degradation of habitat (through weed invasion, mechanical damage, rubbish dumping, track creation, inappropriate fire regimes), disease and hybridisation. This species is considered to be vulnerable as its distribution is highly fragmented and it largely occurs on land where the future use is likely to change and threaten its continued survival. A. pubescens is listed as a vulnerable species on Schedule 2 of the New South Wales hreatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and is listed on Schedule 1 Part 2 of the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Legislative Context

The TSC Act is NSW's legislative framework to protect and encourage the recovery of threatened species, populations and communities. Under the TSC Act , the Director-General of National Parks and Wildlife has certain responsibilities including the preparation of recovery plans for threatened species, populations and ecological communities. This Recovery Plan has been prepared in accordance with the provisions of the TSC Act .

Preparation of Plan

This Recovery Plan has been prepared with the assistance of a recovery team, a non-statutory group of interested parties with relevant expertise, established to discuss and resolve issues relating to the plan. Components within the plan do not necessarily represent the views nor the official positions of all the individuals or agencies represented on the recovery team. The information in this Recovery Plan was accurate to the best of the NPWS' knowledge on the date it was approved.

A draft of this Recovery Plan was placed on public exhibition from 6 April to 1 June 2001. Ten submissions were received. The comments of the NSW Scientific Committee were also sought and this plan was finalised in view of these comments (see Appendix 5 for a summary of the advice provided by the NSW Scientific Committee).

The plan will be reviewed and updated 5 years from the date of publication.

Implementation of Plan

The TSC Act requires that public authorities must not undertake actions that are inconsistent with a recovery plan. The government agencies relevant to this plan are the NPWS, Councils (Auburn, Bankstown, Baulkham Hills, Blacktown, Canterbury, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Holroyd, Liverpool, Parramatta, Rockdale, Strathfield, Sutherland and Wollondilly), the Department of Land and Water Conservation, the Department of Employment Education and Training, Rail Infrastructure Corporation, Roads and Traffic Authority, State Rail Authority, Sydney Catchment Authority and Sydney Water. Consequently, these land managers must manage A. pubescens in accordance with the approved plan.

The TSC Act amendments to the environmental assessment provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) require that consent and determining authorities consider relevant recovery plans when exercising a decision making function under Parts 4 & 5 of the EP&A Act. Consent and determining authorities, when considering any development or activity which may affect A. pubescens , must consider the conservation strategy outlined in this plan. These authorities may be assisted by the guidelines for environmental assessment that have been included as Appendix 3 of this plan.

The TSC Act requires that public authorities identified in a recovery plan as responsible for the implementation of measures included in the plan, must report on actions that have been implemented in its annual report to Parliament. Likewise, Councils must report on implementation in their state of the environment report.

Recovery Objectives

Overall Objective

The overall objective of the recovery plan is to prevent the status of Acacia pubescens from becoming endangered, by reducing habitat loss and by implementing management regimes aimed at maintaining representative populations across the species' range.

Overall Performance Criteria

The overall performance criteria of the recovery plan is that the risk of the species becoming endangered is reduced, through the implementation of recovery actions.

Specific Objectives

Specific objectives of the plan are:

  • to ensure that a representative sample of A. pubescens populations occurring on public and private lands are protected from habitat loss and managed for conservation;
  • to reduce the impacts of threats at sites across the species' range;
  • to ensure that any planning and management decisions that are made which affect the species, are made in accordance with the recovery objectives of this plan;
  • to understand the biology, ecology, health and distribution of the species including the range of genetic variation;
  • to develop the awareness and involvement of the broader community in the species and its conservation; and
  • to re-assess the conservation status of the species.

Performance Criteria

Performance criteria are that:

  • the number of sites that are afforded legislative protection is increased from 11 sites to 18 sites within the first 5 years (ie. by 2008). The sites to be protected will be distributed across the total range of the species, to maximise conservation of genetic diversity.
  • threat and habitat management programs that have been prepared and are being implemented at 62 sites by 2008.
  • conservation of the species is facilitated through appropriate planning and management decisions.
  • a research program to investigate currently unknown aspects of biology, ecology, health and distribution is implemented and this information is used in management of the species;
  • stakeholders are informed about the species and involvement of stakeholders in conservation programs is increased; and
  • assessment of the conservation status is undertaken, based on accurate information about the management of and threats to the species.

Recovery Actions

The plan consists of 13 recovery actions which aim to meet the overall objective. These actions include:

  • identify sites that are a high priority to protect;
  • carry out negotiations with public authorities to increase protection of sites;
  • liaise with private landholders to increase protection of sites;
  • negotiate with public authorities to implement threat and habitat management programs on public lands;
  • informed environmental assessment and planning decisions are made;
  • undertake studies into the genetic variability of the species;
  • investigate the cause of disease in the species;
  • research other aspects of the species' biology, ecology and distribution;
  • encourage community involvement;
  • provide advice and assistance to private landholders;
  • maintain a database on the species;
  • NPWS to be advised of any consents or approvals which affect A. pubescens; and
  • re-assess conservation status of species.

Estimated Cost of Recovery

A summary of the funds required to implement this recovery plan are identified below. This recovery plan will be implemented over a five year period. Average implementation costs per year will be approximately $34 950.

Action Description Source of funding ($)
NPWS Public authorities (combined) Unfunded
recurrent funds program funds
11.3.1 identify high priority sites 4000      
11.3.2 carry out negotiations with public authorities 12000      
11.3.3 liaise with private landholders   5000    
12.3.1 negotiate & implement threat & habitat management programs 20750   98000 (= average $4900 per authority)  
12.3.2 env. assessment and planning   no direct cost    
13.3.1 genetic studies       5000
13.3.2 disease studies       3000
13.3.3 other research       15000
14.3.1 >encourage community involvement   no additional cost no additional cost  
14.3.2 >provide advice and assistance to private landholders   5000    
15.3.1 >maintain database 6000      
15.3.2 >NPWS advised of decisions     no direct cost  
15.3.3 >re-assess status 1000      
TOTAL 43750 10000 98000 23000

Biodiversity Benefits

The conservation and study of A. pubescens will benefit other species which share the same habitat. Several other nationally threatened and numerous regionally significant plant and animal species (eg. Persoonia nutans, Pimelea spicata, Dillwynia tenuifolia, Meridolum corneovirens, Lathamus discolor and Litoria aurea) occur in association with A. pubescens . Most of the vegetation communities in which it occurs are endangered and considered to be inadequately conserved.