Varnish bush (Eremophila viscida) Interim Recovery Plan 2003-2008

Interim recovery plan no. 137
Robyn Phillimore, Rebecca Evans, Andrew Brown & Val English
Department of Conservation and Land Management, WA, 2003


Scientific Name: Eremophila viscida Common Name: Varnish Bush
Family: Myoporaceae Flowering Period: September to October; and in February
DCLM Regions: Wheatbelt, Midwest DCLM Districts: Merredin, Geraldton
Shires: Mukinbudin, Westonia, Mullewa, Dalwallinu Recovery Teams: Merredin District Threatened Flora Recovery Team; Geraldton District Threatened Flora Recovery Team

Illustrations and/or further information: Brown, A., Thomson-Dans, C. and Marchant, N. (Eds). (1998) Western Australia's Threatened Flora. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia; Richmond, G. and Coates, D. (1995) Population dynamics, seed biology and conservation of six endangered Eremophila species. Unpublished report, Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Department of Conservation and Land Management; Western Australian Herbarium (1998) FloraBase - Information on the Western Australian Flora. Department of Conservation and Land Management, Western Australia.

Current status: Eremophila viscida was declared as Rare Flora in October 1996 and ranked as Critically Endangered (CR) under the Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 in February 1997. At that time it met World Conservation Union (IUCN 2000) Red List Category 'CR' under criteria A1c+A2c;C1;D but, following the discovery of new populations, it now (2003) meets EN under IUCN criteria A4c;C1 as it occurs over a wide geographical area between Merredin and Mullewa with 16 populations and 816 mature plants currently known. If current circumstances do not change a gradual reduction in plant numbers is likely due to senescence, resulting in a slow decline in area of occupancy and extent of occurrence. However, the species is a disturbance opportunist and recruitment is likely to occur during that time. The main threats are poor recruitment due to inadequate disturbance, weeds, salinity and waterlogging, silting, erosion, inappropriate fire regimes, maintenance activities for roads, tracks, powerlines and firebreaks, grazing and disturbance by stock and feral animals, and chemical drift.

Critical habitat: The critical habitat for Eremophila viscida comprises the area of occupancy of the known population; similar habitat within 200 metres of the known population; remnant vegetation that links subpopulations; and additional nearby occurrences of similar habitat that do not currently contain the species but may have done so in the past and may be suitable for translocations.

Habitat critical to the survival of the species, and important populations: Given that this species is listed as Critically Endangered it is considered that all known habitat for wild and translocated populations is habitat critical.

Benefits to other species/ecological communities: There are no known threatened ecological communities that occur in the habitat of Eremophila viscida. However, several other threatened plant taxa (Eremophila virens and Caladenia drakeoides) will benefit from recovery actions put in place for the species. These actions will also improve the condition of associated bushland in general.

International Obligations: This plan is fully consistent with the aims and recommendations of the Convention on Biological Diversity, ratified by Australia in June 1993, and will assist in implementing Australia's responsibilities under that Convention. However, as Eremophila viscida is not listed under any international agreement, the implementation of other international environmental responsibilities is not affected by this plan.

Role and interests of indigenous people: There are no known indigenous communities interested or involved in the management of areas affected by this plan. Therefore no role has been identified for indigenous communities in the recovery of this species.

Social and economic impacts: The implementation of this recovery plan has the potential to have some minimal social and economic impact as some populations are located on private property.

Evaluation of the Plans Performance: The Department of Conservation and Land Management, in conjunction with relevant Recovery Teams, will evaluate the performance of this IRP. In addition to annual reporting on progress of listed actions and comparison against the criteria for success and failure, the plan is to be reviewed within five years of its implementation.

Habitat requirements: Eremophila viscida is endemic to Western Australia where it is found in remnant vegetation over a wide area of largely cleared land between Latham and Pindar. Its preferred habitat appears to be areas of brown, sandy loam or red brown clay loam soils, in open woodland in association with Eucalyptus loxophleba and scrub vegetation (Mollemans et al. 1993) often near areas of exposed granite or alongside saline lake systems.

Existing Recovery Actions: The following recovery actions have been or are currently being implemented -

  1. Relevant land managers have been notified of the location and threatened status of the species.
  2. Declared Rare Flora (DRF) markers have been installed at Populations 3, 6, 10 and 16, and Subpopulations 7a, 11a, 12a and 15a.
  3. Dashboard stickers and posters describing the significance of DRF markers have been produced and distributed.
  4. As at December 2000 seed collections stored in the Department's Threatened Flora Seed Centre include 207 seeds from Population 6, 334 seeds from Subpopulation 7a, 45 seeds from Subpopulation 11a, 330 seeds from Subpopulation 12a and 1261 seeds from Subpopulation 12b. These are stored at -18°C.
  5. The Botanic Garden and Parks Authority currently have 19 plants of Eremophila viscida from nine clones, in their nursery and botanic gardens.
  6. In June 2001 staff from the Department's Geraldton District with assistance from the Department's Bushrangers and the Landcare officer from Mullewa undertook disturbance trials at Population 15. These trials included raking, burning and smoking.
  7. The Merredin and Geraldton Districts Threatened Flora Recovery Teams (MDTFRT, GDTFRT) are overseeing the implementation of this Interim Recovery Plan (IRP) and will include information on progress in their annual reports to the Department's Corporate Executive and funding bodies.
  8. Staff from the Department's Merredin and Geraldton Districts regularly monitor all populations of this species.

IRP Objective: The objective of this Interim Recovery Plan is to abate identified threats and maintain or enhance in situ populations to ensure the long-term preservation of the species in the wild.

Recovery criteria
Criteria for success: The number of individuals within populations and/or the number of populations have increased by ten percent or more.
Criteria for failure: The number of individuals within populations and/or the number of populations have decreased by ten percent or more.

Recovery actions
1. Coordinate recovery actions. 10. Control rabbits.
2. Stimulate the germination of soil-stored seed. 11. Monitor populations.
3. Conduct further surveys. 12. Collect seed and cutting material.
4. Install fencing. 13. Seek improved security for populations.
5. Install Declared Rare Flora markers. 14. Promote awareness.
6. Rehabilitate habitat. 15. Obtain biological and ecological information.
7. Undertake weed control. 16. Propagate plants for translocation.
8. Silt prevention 17. Undertake and monitor translocation.
9. Develop and implement a fire management strategy. 18. Review the need for a full Recovery Plan and prepare if necessary.