National recovery plan for the Elaeocarpus sp. Rocky Creek (syn E. sp. 2 'Minyon')

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, January 2003
ISBN 0 731 36909 2

  1. Social and economic consequences
  2. Previous Actions Undertaken
  3. Species' Ability to Recover
  4. Recovery Objectives and Performance Criteria
  5. Recovery Actions

10. Social and economic consequences

The total cost of implementing the recovery actions will be $138 800 over the five-year period covered by this plan. The inclusion of the E. sp. Rocky Creek populations in Mt Jerusalem National Park and Nightcap National Park has significantly increased formal protection for the species. Management of these areas will be in accordance with the requirements of the NP&W Act and any costs incurred will be met by the NPWS.

Under current forestry practice, the IFOA applies prescriptions to harvesting operations where known individuals of E. sp. Rocky Creek occur. Implementation of this Recovery Plan would not affect current SFNSW harvesting operations.

Rous Water manages the Rocky Creek area supporting E. sp. Rocky Creek as a water catchment management area. The actions in the Recovery Plan are unlikely to have any adverse social or economic impact on catchment management and are more likely to assist in the protection of water quality.

It is anticipated that there will be no significant adverse social or economic costs associated with the implementation of this Recovery Plan and that the overall benefits to society of implementation of the Recovery Plan will outweigh any specific costs.

11. Previous Actions Undertaken

11.1 Research and planning

  • Taxonomic description of the species has commenced and the Queensland Herbarium has undertaken tissue culture trials.
  • A final year student project at Southern Cross University, Lismore, was completed in 1995 titled A preliminary research and recovery study for the rare tree Elaeocarpus sp. 2 'Minyon' in north-eastern New South Wales (Rich 1995).
  • In 1996 the NPWS completed a draft Recovery Plan (McKinley et al. 1996). Legislative changes precluded this plan's approval.
  • In 1998 the NPWS conducted targeted field surveys for undiscovered populations with very limited success (McKinley et al. 1998).
  • The University of New England has undertaken autecological studies of the species.
  • A research project on genetics of the genus Elaeocarpus commenced in 2000. The research is being undertaken by Southern Cross University and NPWS through a Strategic Partnerships with Industry Research and Training Scheme (Spirt) Grant (Australian Research Council/Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs).
  • Surveys for new locations of E. sp. Rocky Creek and tree health assessments were undertaken in 1999, 2000 and 2001 (Kooyman 1999, 2001).

11.2 Existing conservation measures

  • Propagation trials, from both seed and cuttings, have been undertaken.
  • The Rocky Creek Dam site has had 70 E. sp. Rocky Creek saplings planted by Rous County Council.
  • Re-planting of displaced seedlings was undertaken by SFNSW in Nullum State Forest, now part of Mt Jerusalem National Park, after logging disturbance.
  • Flagelleria indica vine was removed from several trees in Nullum State Forest during implementation of post-logging remedial actions. However, vines still remain on several trees.
  • Exclusion zones have been applied to specified forestry activities around E. sp. Rocky Creek specimens on State Forest as part of the IFOA for the Upper North-East (S6.22).
  • Pathology tests were undertaken in December 1999 by SFNSW on trees that died in Compartment 79, Whian Whian State Forest. A recommendation for further testing was made to ascertain whether the fungal pathogens identified were capable of killing the trees. More recent surveys in 2001 indicated another seven trees have died in Compartment 79 since 1999.

12 Species' Ability to Recover

The Snows Gully Nature Reserve population of E. sp. Rocky Creek is producing seedlings, however mortality of these seedlings is high. The remaining three breeding populations are successfully producing seedlings. At Rocky Creek Dam there have been 70 saplings included in regeneration planting over four years with an apparent 100 per cent survival rate (R. Woodford pers. comm.). Cuttings were taken by SFNSW, grown on and replanted Nullum State Forest, now Mt. Jerusalem National Park as part of post-logging remedial action.

The actions described above suggest that translocation and/or re-introduction of E. sp. Rocky Creek to suitable habitat may be a viable recovery strategy if considered warranted and appropriate. Any such strategy would need to be carefully considered and the "Guidelines for the Translocation of Threatened Plants in Australia" (Australian Network for Plant Conservation Translocation Working Group 1997) applied. Actions in this plan will assess the necessity for, and implications of, implementing such a strategy.

The SPIRT genetics project will provide information that will enable translocation and reintroduction guidelines/ strategies to be developed if necessary.

13. Recovery Objectives and Performance Criteria

13.1 Objectives of the Recovery Plan

The overall objective of this Recovery Plan is to maintain the viability of all existing wild populations of E. sp. Rocky Creek in the long term. Successful recovery of this species is largely dependent on identification, protection and knowledge of the biology of extant populations.

Specific objectives are to:

  • identify and protect all populations of E. sp. Rocky Creek either through reservation or other conservation measures;
  • obtain ecological and population dynamics information to assist with effective management of E. sp. Rocky Creek;
  • determine the extent and severity of threatening processes, and remove or minimise impacts;
  • inform the community about E. sp. Rocky Creek and its habitat;
  • assess the need for a translocation program; and
  • assess known E. sp. Rocky Creek reproductive population sites for Critical Habitat within the meaning of the TSC Act.

13.2 Recovery performance criteria

The recovery criteria are that:

  • all potential habitat areas are surveyed and threatening processes identified within two years of commencement of the Recovery Plan;
  • the understanding of the ecology and biology of the species is sufficient to enable management for long term survival of the species in NSW;
  • adequate management regimes are in place to protect all known populations from human-induced disturbance;
  • all known populations are protected; and
  • all known reproductive population sites are assessed for Critical Habitat within the meaning of the TSC Act.

14. Recovery Actions

The NPWS will coordinate the implementation of all recovery actions. Recovery actions will be directed towards:

  • implementing management programs which promote the protection and survival of known wild populations;
  • undertaking surveys of potential habitat for previously undetected occurrences of the species; and
  • research on population ecology, genetics and impact of fungal pathogens and health of the species.

In the absence of full scientific information, the following actions are considered necessary for adequate management of E. sp. Rocky Creek.

14.1 Action 1

Precautionary measures

The NPWS recommends that visits to the E. sp. Rocky Creek Site 1 within Whian Whian State Forest be kept to a minimum. Where possible, visits to other E. sp. Rocky Creek sites following a visit to Site 1 should be avoided. All footwear and other materials in contact with the plants or soil at Site 1 should be sterilised. This is a precautionary measure against the spread of potential fungal pathogens to other populations. Draft hygiene protocols are provided in Appendix 1.

14.2 Action 2

Survey

Systematic surveys of potential E. sp. Rocky Creek habitat will be carried out and documented. The site specific threatening processes and their severity will be identified and documented. The locations recommended by McKinley et al. (1998) will be included in surveys.

A number of these recommended sites have recently been surveyed (Kooyman pers. comm.). Where new sites are located, liaison with the relevant landholder regarding management and protection of the site will occur.

14.3 Action 3

Research

Increased understanding of the ecology and population dynamics of E. sp. Rocky Creek and its habitat will be achieved by:

  1. Establishing a working group to investigate the cause/s of the tree deaths, particularly the potential role of fungal pathogens, at Site 1 in Whian Whian State Forest.
  2. Undertaking a demographic study of the population affected by tree mortality in Site 1. The study will include several other populations e.g. Mt Jerusalem National Park and other sites in Whian Whian State Forest where tree deaths are not currently occurring.
  3. Carrying out research on recruitment that will investigate the lack of reproductive success of some populations.
  4. Assessing options for an ex situ cultivation and population enhancement program.

14.4 Action 4

Monitoring

The monitoring program will be informed by the outcomes from Action 3. Information generated from the monitoring program will provide the basis for ongoing management.

  1. The population structure at the seven sites will be monitored on a regular basis to detect any variations in population dynamics and the species' response to a range of disturbance regimes.
  2. Tree health will be monitored on a regular basis.
  3. The potential success of translocation programs will be assessed through monitoring the existing cuttings, particularly those planted in Mt Jerusalem National Park.
  4. The effects of the vine removal from E. sp. Rocky Creek trees will be monitored in Mt Jerusalem National Park and Snows Gully Nature Reserve. Recommendations will be made regarding the need for any further control.

14.5 Action 5

Determine the extent and severity of threatening processes, and eliminate or minimise impacts as necessary.

  1. Ensure that all known E. sp. Rocky Creek locations are protected through conservation measures including secure tenure, forestry prescriptions, environmental protection zone or voluntary land management agreements. Assess the sites supporting reproductive populations for nominations for Critical Habitat. Consultation will occur with SFNSW and Rous County Council.
  2. Management should aim to exclude fire from E. sp. Rocky Creek sites and habitat. A fire-free buffer of 250 m should be maintained around all sites.
  3. The NPWS will undertake audits to ensure that forestry operations are undertaken in accordance with the Upper North-East IFOA with respect to E. sp. Rocky Creek.
  4. The NPWS will recommend that no new roads or infrastructure are constructed within known E. sp. Rocky Creek habitat and within potential habitat unless surveys identify the absence of the species from proposed sites.
  5. Implement any protective measures as identified in Action 3.1.
  6. Vines will be removed from trees at Snows Gully Nature Reserve and Mt Jerusalem National Park.
  7. Assess each population for the need, options and feasibility of translocation actions.
  8. Propagate plants for translocation and/or research use if required.

14.6 Action 6

Education

Increase staff and consultant's awareness of risks posed by potential pathogens to E. sp. Rocky Creek and the recommended hygiene protocol.

The recommended hygiene protocols will be produced for staff and consultants that may be required to visit the sites to educate them about potential threats to the species posed by pathogens.

14.7 Action 7

Recovery Plan coordination

The NPWS will be responsible for the coordination and implementation of the Recovery Plan.