Bellinger River Emydura (Emydura macquarii) Recovery Plan

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, July 2001
ISBN 0 731 36367 1

7.0 Management issues

7.1 Threats

The three major threats to the Bellinger River Emydura have been identified as predation of nests by foxes (Vulpes vulpes), competition for food and other resources with the Bellinger River Elseya and introduction of captive or pet Emydura macquarii, sourced from elsewhere, into the Bellinger River population (Spencer and Thompson 2000).

Other threats and potential threats to the Bellinger River Emydura were listed by Cogger et al. (1993) and the NSW Scientific Committee (1997) as:

  • water pollution and increased river sediment load resulting from activities including logging of native forests in the catchment upstream of the population and grazing and agricultural activities upstream and in the vicinity of the population;
  • construction of bridges and fords upstream and in the vicinity of the population;
  • extraction of river sand and gravel upstream and in the vicinity of the population; and
  • line fishing.

Threats and potential threats additional to those listed above are clearing of riparian vegetation, degradation of riparian vegetation and river banks through access by domestic stock and reduced stream flow through extraction of water (Thompson 1983; Cann 1993a; Cann 1993b). It is also possible that sources of water pollution not identified above are a potential threat due to their cumulative effect on river health.

7.2 Social and economic consequences

This Recovery Plan aims to encourage community stewardship for the protection and recovery of the Bellinger River Emydura. Implementation of protection and management measures will be based on local community involvement.

The plan recommends consideration of potential impacts on the Bellinger River Emydura by consent and determining authorities considering developments and activities upstream or in the vicinity of known sites and in areas of potential habitat.

Funding for implementation of recovery actions is specified in Table 2. Implementation has been costed at $34135 (priority 1) and $108445 (priorities 1 and 2).

7.3 Biodiversity benefits

This Recovery Plan aims to promote the Bellinger River Emydura as a flagship species for management of the Bellinger River. Through awareness of the status of the Bellinger River Emydura the profile of river management issues and aquatic biodiversity and conservation issues will be raised in the local community.

The conservation of the Bellinger River Emydura as a restricted and vulnerable population of a widespread species will also raise community awareness of the issue of biodiversity conservation at the genetic or intra-species level.

8.1 Survey and research

Opportunistic searches for the Bellinger River Emydura along the length of the Bellinger River have been undertaken over a 20 year period, resulting in the discovery of the taxon at only one confirmed site. A targeted survey of areas of potential habitat in the Bellinger River and tributaries and the Kalang River has identified one additional site (Spencer and Thompson 2000). These two sites are located along a one kilometre stretch of the Bellinger River upstream of Thora.

Research concerning the ecology of the Bellinger River Emydura has provided information on diet and possible threats (Spencer and Thompson 2000). Blood samples from captured individuals have been lodged with the Australian museum for future genetic studies and to ensure the preservation of Bellinger River Emydura DNA.

8.2 Action plan

A species recovery outline for the Bellinger River Emydura was prepared by Cogger et al. (1993), summarising the available information concerning the taxon, listing threats and identifying recovery objectives and actions. Information from the Action Plan has been included in this recovery plan.

8.3 Habitat protection and management

The Bellinger Catchment Management Committee (BCMB) promoted a number of habitat protection measures on private lands, including the protection of riparian vegetation and protection of water quality. The Upper North Coast Catchment Management Board (CMB) has recently replaced Catchment Management Committees and will continue to honour BCMB commitments. The Mid North Coast Water Management Committee has been formed to prepare a River Management Plan as the basis for ecologically sustainable water resource management in the future.

In 2000, the Bellinger Care Coordinating Committee received $56 400 from the National Heritage Trust to fund riparian zone management in the Bellinger catchment. The NPWS provided a further $10 000 for this work in 2001. This work will assist in protecting and enhancing potential habitat of the Bellinger River Emydura.

Some areas of known and potential habitat for the Bellinger River Emydura are protected in Bellinger River National Park.

Riparian vegetation in Bellingen Shire is protected under the Native Vegetation Conservation Act 1997 (NVC Act) and the current Bellingen Local Environmental Plan 1990 (LEP).

State Forests NSW (SFNSW) undertaking forestry activities in wood production forests in the Bellinger River catchment protect riparian buffers and implement a range of other measures to control soil erosion and protect water quality as outlined in the relevant Environmental Pollution Control Licence and the Threatened Species Licence for the Lower North East Region of the Forestry and National Park Estate Act 1998 negotiated for the Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (NPWS and SFNSW 1999).

8.4 Community awareness

The Bellinger River Emydura has received considerable attention in the local media since listing as a vulnerable species, raising community awareness of the status of the species.

A Bellingen Turtle Group, with representatives from the local community, National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Department of Land and Water Conservation (DLWC), has been formed to promote the conservation of the Bellinger River Emydura and other turtle species in the local community.

8.5 Licensing of protected fauna

As protected fauna, Emydura macquarii that are sourced from outside the Bellinger River catchment and are being kept as pets must be licensed under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act).

9.0 Species' ability to recover

Given the current information base, the ability of the taxon to recover is unknown, but is considered likely to be positive. One new site has been reported since the Bellinger River Emydura was listed under the TSC Act in February 1997.

10.0 Recovery objectives

The overall objective of this recovery plan is to promote the recovery of the Bellinger River Emydura in the wild. Specific objectives for the first five years of this recovery plan are listed below.

  • Objective 1: to encourage community stewardship of the conservation and recovery of the Bellinger River Emydura;
  • Objective 2: to identify the full range of the taxon;
  • Objective 3: to obtain information on the taxon's biology and ecology relevant to its recovery;
  • Objective 4: to identify and manage threats to the taxon;
  • Objective 5: to encourage monitoring and protection of water quality within the Bellinger River catchment; and
  • Objective 6: to encourage and assist in improving protection and management of the taxon and its habitat.

11.0 Recovery performance criteria

Recovery performance criteria are listed below.

  • Criterion 1: community awareness of the status of the Bellinger River Emydura, and community participation in its conservation and recovery, is increased;
  • Criterion 2: survey for additional populations is undertaken;
  • Criterion 3: research providing information on the taxon's ecology and biology relevant to recovery is supported;
  • Criterion 4: control and abatement of identified threats is supported;
  • Criterion 5: monitoring and protection of water quality in the upper Bellinger catchment is supported; and
  • Criterion 6: the protection and management of the taxon and its habitat and potential habitat is improved.