Pterostylis gibbosa (R.Br.) Illawarra Greenhood Orchid Recovery Plan

NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, September 2002
ISBN 0 731 36905 X

Executive Summary


Pterostylis gibbosa, the Illawarra Greenhood orchid, is a deciduous terrestrial orchid belonging to the Rufa group of species within the genus Pterostylis. P. gibbosa is known from five locations in NSW with a total estimated population of approximately 4500 individuals.

This recovery plan describes our current understanding of P. gibbosa, documents the research and management actions undertaken to date, and identifies the actions required and parties responsible to ensure the ongoing viability of the species in the wild.

Current conservation status

Pterostylis gibbosa is listed as nationally endangered on the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. It is also listed as endangered on Schedule 1 of the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (TSC Act). P. gibbosa is restricted to three sites within isolated patches of woodland in the Illawarra (Shellharbour and Wollongong LGAs), one site in Worrigee Nature Reserve, near Nowra in the Shoalhaven (Shoalhaven LGA) and one site at Milbrodale in the Hunter Valley (Singleton LGA).

Legislative context

The TSC Act is the legislative framework to protect and encourage the recovery of threatened species, populations and communities in NSW. 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 the 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 knowledge available to the NPWS on the date it was approved.

A draft of this Recovery Plan was placed on public exhibition for the period 13 January 2001 to 24 February 2001. Four written submissions were received including that of the NSW Scientific Committee. These submissions were considered during the finalisation of the plan.

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

Implementation of the plan

The TSC Act requires that Ministers and Public Authorities (including the Director-General of National Parks and Wildlife) are to take appropriate action available to them to implement those measures in a recovery plan for which they are identified as being responsible. In addition, a Minister or Public Authority must not undertake actions inconsistent with an approved recovery plan. Public Authorities relevant to this plan are the NPWS, Shellharbour, Wollongong, Singleton, and Shoalhaven Councils, and TransGrid. Consequently, these public authorities are required to manage P. gibbosa and its habitat in accordance with this recovery plan.

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

Overall objective of the Recovery Plan

The overall objective of the recovery plan is to protect known populations of Pterostylis gibbosa from decline and to develop a management regime, based on current knowledge, designed to promote the plant's conservation and evolutionary potential in situ.

Overall recovery performance criteria

The overall performance criteria are that:

  • land tenure agreements are in place that protect known sites;
  • management plans are prepared and implemented;
  • populations are maintained or increased in current areas; and
  • additional populations are located through further survey.

Species ability to recover

The likelihood of preventing the extinction of P. gibbosa is high. This plan provides for the increased legislative protection of known populations through the environmental planning and assessment process and other legal instruments, threat reduction and appropriate habitat management and increased community awareness and education regarding the significance of the species. Biological and ecological investigations will provide additional information, which will aid the management of the species.

Recovery objectives

The specific objectives of the recovery plan are:

  • To ensure that all known P. gibbosa populations occurring on public and private lands are protected and managed for conservation (Reservation/Conservation status of populations);
  • To minimise the risk of P. gibbosa populations from declining in the long term through the development and implementation of appropriate threat and habitat management practices at all known sites (Threat and Habitat Management);
  • To establish the full extent of the distribution of P. gibbosa (Survey);
  • To ensure the management of P. gibbosa habitat is adaptive to the outcomes of research and monitoring and is informed by essential aspects of the biology and ecology of the species; (Research/Monitoring); and
  • To raise awareness among the broader community about the conservation status of P. gibbosa and involve the community in the recovery program (Education, Awareness and Involvement).

Summary of implementation costs

A summary of the funds required to implement this recovery plan over a 5 year period is shown in Table 1.

Table 1
Action Description NPWS Shellharbour Council Shoalhaven Council TransGrid
Reservation/ Conservation
Threat/Habitat Management
Research/ Monitoring
Community Education etc
* included in implementation of PoM

Biodiversity benefits

This species is currently found in sclerophyll woodland that is poorly conserved in both the Hunter Valley and in the Illawarra. Much of the flat land in the Hunter Valley and the Illawarra coastal plain has been cleared for agriculture. Only isolated remnants remain. These remnants are important in their own right, in addition to the vital role they play in supporting populations of P. gibbosa and other threatened species. P. gibbosa has not been recorded outside these woodland communities.

The conservation and study of the Illawarra Greenhood Orchid will also benefit other species which share the same habitat. The recent listing by the NSW Scientific Committee of Illawarra Lowlands Grassy Woodland as an endangered ecological community will aid in the protection of potential P. gibbosa habitat in the Illawarra region.

Orchids are a high profile plant group and there is much public interest in them both horticulturally and ornamentally. Through awareness of the Illawarra Greenhood Orchid the profile of all orchids and threatened species is raised in the general community. This in turn leads to greater opportunities for the conservation of threatened species and increased protection of biodiversity.