Ironstone Grevillia (Grevillia elongata) Interim Recovery Plan 2003-2008

Interim Recovery Plan no. 131
Gillian Stack and Val English
Department of Conservation and Land Management, WA, 2003

2. Recovery objectives and criteria

Objectives

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.

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.

3. Recovery actions

Existing recovery actions

All appropriate people have been made aware of the existence of this species and its locations. Busselton Shire and Westrail have been notified about populations of Grevillea elongata that occur on lands that they manage, and adjacent landowners have also been informed of the locations of the populations. These notifications detailed the Declared Rare status of the species and the associated legal obligations.

Declared Rare Flora (DRF) markers have been installed at all road and rail reserve populations, and Population 6 in the pine plantation. The markers alert people working in the vicinity to the presence of DRF, and the need to avoid work that may damage vegetation in the area. Awareness of the significance of these markers is being promoted to relevant bodies such as Shires, MRWA and Westrail. To this end, posters, dashboard stickers and can holders have been produced and distributed. These illustrate DRF markers and inform of their purpose. The location of Population 6 has also been incorporated onto plantation maps by the Forest Products Commission.

Population 7a was fenced in 1996 and the site purchased in 1999. This property also contains another Critically Endangered plant, Grevillea maccutcheonii. An additional area of approximately 25 hectares was purchased by the Department with assistance from Environment Australia in 1999. This fenced area contains Population 1e of Grevillea elongata as well as an occurrence of the 'Southern Ironstone' community. A newly discovered occurrence of the critically endangered Southern Ironstone community is currently in the process of being purchased by the Department for conservation. This occurrence also contains a newly located population of this species.

Approximately 1800 seeds have been collected and stored in the Department's Threatened Flora Seed Centre (TFSC). The TFSC tests the viability of the seed initially, after one year in storage and again after five years. The initial germination rate ranged from 50% to 85%, and after one year in storage was 36% (unpublished data A. Cochrane 2). The germinants produced through viability testing have been provided to the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority (BGPA) for propagation.

The BGPA currently have 40 plants of Grevillea elongata from four clones, three of which were from seedling stock. The species generally does acceptably well from cuttings, with strike rates ranging from 33% to 73% (personal communication A. Shade 3).

Weed control research has been conducted at Population 2 by the Department's Science Division. Two experimental treatments were examined; weed control in isolation, and weed control combined with disturbance.

Control of Bridal Creeper, a noxious weed, was undertaken near Population 3 in 1998.

Populations 1a to 1e, 2a to 2d and 7a have previously been sprayed with phosphite to combat Phytophthora infection. Treatment is likely to be continued on a biannual basis.

The removal of pine trees to a distance of 10 m around the perimeter of Population 6 has been commenced, reducing the competition for soil nutrients, water and sunlight. Monitoring suggests that this already having a positive effect in the areas cleared to date.

A fire response strategy has been prepared and incorporated into the Blackwood District's Fire Control Working Plan.

Staff from The Department's Blackwood District regularly monitor all populations of this species.

The South West Region Threatened Flora Recovery Team (SWRTFRT) is overseeing the implementation of this IRP and will include information on progress in its annual report to the Department's Corporate Executive and funding bodies.

Future recovery actions

Where populations occur on lands other than those managed by the Department, permission has been or will be sought from appropriate land managers prior to recovery actions being undertaken.

2 Anne Cochrane, Manager, the Department's Threatened Flora Seed Centre
3 Amanda Shade, Horticulturalist, Botanic Garden and Parks Authority

1. Coordinate recovery actions

The SWRTFRT will coordinate recovery actions for Grevillea elongata and other Declared Rare flora in the region. They will include information on progress in their annual report to the Department's Corporate Executive and funding bodies.

Action: Coordinate recovery actions
Responsibility: The Department (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $400 per year

2. Map critical habitat

It is a requirement of the EPBC Act that spatial data relating to critical habitat be determined. Although critical habitat is described in Section 1, the areas as described have not yet been mapped and that will be done under this action. If any additional populations are located, then critical habitat will also be determined and mapped for these locations.

Action: Map critical habitat
Responsibility: The Department (Blackwood District, WATSCU) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $2000 in the first year

3. Undertake weed control

Weeds are a serious threat to Populations 1, 2, 3 and 4, which are located on road, rail and drain reserves, Population 5, located on private land, and Population 1e which is on recently purchased land. Control will be by hand weeding or localised application of herbicide during the appropriate season to minimise the effect of herbicide on the species and the surrounding native vegetation. All applications of weed control will be followed by a report on the method, timing and success of the treatment, and the effect on Grevillea elongata and associated native plant species.

Action: Undertake weed control
Responsibility: The Department (Blackwood District, Science Division) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $500 per year

4. Implement fire response strategy

Fire appears to kill adult plants of the species, and regeneration is likely to be largely from seed. Frequent fire may prevent the accumulation of sufficient soil stored seed to allow regeneration of the populations. Fire should therefore be prevented from occurring in the area of populations, except where it is being used experimentally as a recovery tool. A fire response strategy has been developed for this species, and incorporated into the Blackwood District's Fire Control Working Plan. Other fire fighting agencies will be informed of appropriate responses to fire threatening these sites. Firebreaks will continue to be maintained.

Action: Implement fire response strategy
Responsibility: The Department (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $1,000 per year

5. Cull pines

Population 6 occurs within a Pinus radiata plantation that was established in 1993. Many of the plants are experiencing stress or death possibly as a result of competition with the pines. Phytophthora cinnamomi has also been positively identified at Populations 6a and 6b. These populations are at risk from further plantation activities including fertiliser application, thinning and harvesting. Pines up to a distance of 10m surrounding each subpopulation will be culled to reduce competition with Grevillea elongata plants. Regeneration will be monitored.

Action: Cull pines
Responsibility: The Department (Blackwood District, Science Division) and Forest Products Commission through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $3,400 in first year

6. Maintain disease hygiene

Dieback hygiene will be practiced for activities such as installation and maintenance of firebreaks and walking into the populations in wet soil conditions. The impact and spread of the disease will also be monitored and the need for disease control assessed

Action: Maintain disease hygiene and monitor disease
Responsibility: The Department (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $600 per year

7. Continue Phytophthora control

It is known that Phytophthora cinnamomi occurs within populations of Grevillea elongata. Research conducted between 1992 and 1997 indicates that phosphite application is a very effective tool in controlling the impact of dieback disease in a wide range of species (Murray 1997). Monitoring of disease status is ongoing, and where dieback is found to be active, selective (hand spraying) or broad-scale treatment with phosphite will be undertaken to provide some protection to the habitat, and to Grevillea elongata.

The impact of phosphite application on this species and its habitat will continue to be monitored, and this will also indicate the requirement for follow-up treatment.

Action: Continue Phytophthora control
Responsibility: The Department (Blackwood District, Dieback Disease Coordinator) through SWRTFRT
Cost: $2000 in third year for spraying, plus $500 per year for monitoring

8. Liaise with land managers

Staff from the Department's Blackwood District will continue to liaise with managers and owners of land on which populations of Grevillea elongata occur, and with managers of adjacent land. This will help prevent accidental damage or destruction of the plants.

Action: Liaise with land managers
Responsibility: The Department (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $500 per year

9. Monitor populations

Annual monitoring of factors such as habitat degradation (including weed invasion, plant diseases such as Phytophthora cinnamomi and salinity), population stability (expansion or decline), pollination activity, seed production, recruitment, longevity and predation is essential.

Action: Monitor populations
Responsibility: The Department (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $800 per year

10. Conduct further surveys

Volunteers from the local community, Wildflower Societies, Naturalist Clubs and other community-based groups will be encouraged to undertake surveys for Grevillea elongata. Surveys will also be conducted opportunistically by Departmental staff, particularly during the species' flowering period (September to November).

In addition, Population 8 is currently known only from a Herbarium specimen collected on 22 September 1983. The specimen was determined by P.M. Olde, who formally described this species. The location is not described exactly, and only approximate geographical coordinates are given. A targeted survey will be undertaken in the area during the species' flowering period.

Action: Conduct further surveys
Responsibility: The Department (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $1700 per year

11. Collect seed and cutting material

Preservation of germplasm is essential to guard against extinction if wild populations are lost. Such collections are also needed to propagate plants for translocations. A small quantity of seed has been collected and stored in the Threatened Flora Seed Centre. Additional seed will be collected as possible. Cuttings will also be collected to enhance the living collection of genetic material at the Botanic Garden and Parks Authority.

Action: Collect seed and cutting material
Responsibility: The Department (Blackwood District, TFSC) and BGPA, through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $800 per year

12. Investigate the need for a translocation

The feasibility and benefits of conducting an experimental translocation on this species will be investigated, with the intention of examining variables that may be affecting the success of other ironstone species being translocated (Brachysema papilio, Darwinia sp. Williamson, Grevillea maccutcheonii, Lambertia echinata subsp. occidentalis and Petrophile latericola). Variables examined will include comparison of cuttings and seedlings as a source of propagation material, age of translocates, and watering regimes.

Action: Investigate the need for a translocation
Responsibility: The Department (Blackwood District, Science Division) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $5,500 in the third year and $4,000 in the fifth year

13. Obtain biological and ecological information

Improved knowledge of the biology and ecology of Grevillea elongata will provide a better scientific basis for its management in the wild. An understanding of the following is particularly necessary for effective management:

  • Soil seed bank dynamics and the role of various disturbances (including fire), competition, rainfall and grazing in germination and recruitment.
  • The pollination biology of the species.
  • The reproductive strategies, phenology and seasonal growth of the species.
  • The population genetic structure, levels of genetic diversity and minimum viable population size.
  • The impact of dieback disease and control techniques on Grevillea elongata and its habitat.

Action: Obtain biological and ecological information
Responsibility: The Department (Science Division, Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $15,600 per year in the second, third and fourth years

14. Promote awareness

The importance of biodiversity conservation and the need for the long-term protection of wild populations of this species will be promoted to the community through poster displays and the local print and electronic media. Formal links with local naturalist groups and interested individuals will also be encouraged.

Action: Promote awareness
Responsibility: The Department (Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $200 per year

15. Review the need for a full Recovery Plan

This Interim Recovery Plan will operate from March 2003 to January 2008, when it will be reviewed, but will remain in force until withdrawn or replaced. If the species is ranked as Critically Endangered at that time a full Recovery Plan may be required.

Action: Review the need for further recovery actions and/or a full Recovery Plan
Responsibility: The Department (WATSCU, Blackwood District) through the SWRTFRT
Cost: $20,300 in the fifth year (if full Recovery Plan required)