Approved Recovery Plan for the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood (Rapanea species A Richmond River)

Threatened Species Unit, North East Branch
New South Wales Department of Environment and Conservation, 2004
ISBN: 1741221382

6. Proposed Recovery Objectives, Actions and Performance Criteria

The overall objective of this Recovery Plan is to avoid the extinction of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood and promote its viability the wild.

Achievement of the overall objective is expected to be beyond the five year life of this plan, but it is the long term purpose of the recovery effort. Specific objectives of the Recovery Plan for this species are listed below. For each of these objectives a number of recovery actions have been developed, each with a performance criterion.

Objective 1: Coordination and implementation of the Recovery Plan

Specific objective 1: Ensure a coordinated and efficient approach to implementation of the Recovery Plan.

Action 1.1:

Maintain regular communication within the DEC and with other relevant parties to ensure a coordinated approach to the implementation of the Recovery Plan.

The DEC is responsible for the implementation of this Recovery Plan. A coordinated approach to the implementation of recovery actions between DEC and private landholders and other relevant parties is required to ensure the recovery of the species.

Performance criterion: Regular communication occurs within the DEC and between the DEC and other relevant parties throughout the life of the plan.

Objective 2: Improve the detection, environmental assessment and protection of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood.

Action 2.1

The DEC will coordinate targeted surveys for the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood.

It is possible that more populations of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood exist throughout the range of the species. Identification of new populations will allow for active management of threats at these sites.

Potential habitat for the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood exists throughout Koreelah, Mebbin, Richmond River, Tooloom, Toonumbar and Yabbra National Parks as well as Stotts Island Nature Reserve and Terrace Creek in the Border Ranges National Park.

Performance criteria: Surveys for unknown populations of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood are undertaken within the first two years of implementation of the Recovery Plan and the range of the species is defined.

Action 2.2

The DEC will develop survey and environmental assessment guidelines and distribute them to all relevant consent authorities, environmental consultants and landowners/managers.

A standard minimum survey effort should be undertaken when determining if the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood is present in an area of proposed development. Consent, concurrence and determining authorities should use the guidelines in their assessment of a proposed development or activity to ensure that the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood is appropriately considered and protected.

Performance criterion: Survey and assessment guidelines have been developed and distributed within one year of the commencement of this plan.

Action 2.3

The DEC will assess the grounds for the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood to be nominated for a change in status to Critically Endangered under the EPBC Act and if appropriate submit a nomination.

From the information presented in this Recovery Plan, the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood appears to meet the IUCN criteria for Critically Endangered (IUCN 2001),

i.e. population estimated to number less than 50 mature individuals. Upon completion of a comprehensive site survey for the Mallanganee population of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood (Action 3.1), the DEC will assess whether the available information meets the EPBC Act requirements for a nomination for status change.

Performance criteria: Assessment of the Mallanganee population has occurred and, if appropriate, a nomination for the change in status of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood to Critically Endangered under the EPBC Act has been submitted within two years of the commencement of this plan.

Action 2.4

The DEC will liaise with landowners and managers regarding the protection of any populations of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood occurring off DEC managed estate.

The DEC can offer its experience with managing threatened species and their habitats to assist landowners and land managers. The DEC will provide information to relevant landholders and land managers on the long-term protection measures available, and the benefits associated with entering such agreements.

All protective measures on private property will only be developed in conjunction with, and require the

Ripple-leaf Muttonwood

consent of, appropriate landowners and managers. The DEC will foster co-operative relationships and ongoing communication with landowners and managers.

Performance criterion: Within six months of receiving advice of any new population of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood the DEC has contacted the relevant landowner/manager and provided information on appropriate management and protection mechanisms.

Objective 3: Avoid accidental damage to the known population of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood.

Action 3.1

The DEC will run familiarisation sessions on the field identification the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood for staff from the DEC, SFNSW and Councils that are responsible for managing land that contains the species.

Training staff to identify the species in the field will assist in avoiding damage.

Performance criteria: Species familiarisation sessions for staff responsible for the management of land containing known populations of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood are provided by the DEC within two years of the commencement of this plan.

No accidental damage to known populations of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood has occurred during the life of this plan.

Action 3.2

Accurate and current information on the occurrence of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood will be maintained by DEC in the Atlas of NSW Wildlife.

The Atlas of NSW Wildlife (Wildlife Atlas) is a primary resource for researchers, developers, environmental consultants, land managers and emergency incident managers. Accurate information is necessary for appropriate consideration of the species. However, in accordance with Objective 5, the information on precise locations will be kept confidential. The DEC will require that a Wildlife Atlas record card is completed and submitted for any new occurrences of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood.

Performance criteria: Accurate, up to date records of all currently known Ripple-leaf Muttonwood populations are held in Wildlife Atlas within one year of the commencement of the life of this plan; new records are included within six months of being recorded.

Action 3.3

The DEC will implement the roadside marking system for sensitive areas in areas under its management where the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood occurs.

The implementation of the roadside marking system for sensitive areas (see section 5.3) where Ripple-leaf Muttonwood plants occur near roads, will assist DEC staff and contractors in identifying where particular road maintenance methods, e.g. herbicide spraying and slashing, are to be avoided. The signposts will be installed some distance away from the first / last plant so that their exact location will be kept confidential.

Performance criterion: Marker posts to identify roadside occurrences of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood have been erected in accordance with the DEC roadside marker system for sensitive areas within one year of the commencement of this plan.

Action 3.4

DEC will liaise with other agencies that are responsible for road maintenance in the vicinity of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood regarding minimising the risk to Ripple-leaf Muttonwood.

The DEC will provide information on the DEC roadside marker system for sensitive areas to agencies responsible for road maintenance in the vicinity of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood, e.g. SFNSW, Roads and Traffic Authority and Lismore City Council. The DEC will promote co-operative implementation of the system and support practical solutions that avoid damage to threatened species.

Performance criteria: Agreement between the DEC and relevant agencies responsible for road maintenance on the co-operative implementation of a roadside marker system for sensitive areas containing the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood is reached within one year of the commencement of this plan.

No accidental damage to Ripple-leaf Muttonwood plants through road and roadside maintenance occurs during the life of this plan.

Objective 4: Management practices are to incorporate the developing scientific understanding of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood.

Action 4.1

The DEC will complete a comprehensive survey of the Mallanganee population of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood.

Accurate and current information on the population numbers, structure and extent, as well as site specific threats, is required for management and monitoring of the species.

Performance criteria: A comprehensive survey of the Mallanganee population of the Ripple-leaf

Ripple-leaf Muttonwood

Muttonwood has been completed and recorded within one year of the commencement of this plan. This information is used to assist in the management of the species.

Action 4.2

The DEC will coordinate monitoring of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood populations to improve management of the species.

Best practice management for protecting and conserving the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood is currently constrained by lack of knowledge regarding the species biology and ecology. The DEC will cothe development and implementation of an in-situ monitoring program for all currently known Ripple-leaf Muttonwood sub-populations. The monitoring program will aim to investigate and record the following attributes:

population stability, increase or decline;

flower and fruit production;

seedling/juvenile survivorship;

rate of growth;

age to reproductive maturity and peak flowering/fruit production;

health of individuals; and

response to opportunistic disturbance events, such as fires, and control of threats, such as weed control.

Population monitoring is essential to understand population stability, and to assist in the early identification of and amelioration of any processes that may be threatening a population. Monitoring of biological aspects and reproductive success of individual populations will assist in determining the viability of the population and the broader population. Appropriate monitoring protocols and databases will be developed to support this program.

Performance criteria: A monitoring program investigating the above attributes has been developed within two years of the commencement of this plan. The monitoring program is implemented over the life of this Recovery Plan.

Action 4.3

The DEC will encourage research into aspects of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood biology and ecology that are likely to result in improved management of the species.

Best practice management for protecting and conserving the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood is currently constrained by lack of knowledge regarding the species biology, ecology and genetics. Appropriately designed research could significantly contribute to the improved management practices and the long-term viability of the species. The DEC will investigate links with appropriate academic and research institutions to facilitate this research.

Key areas for investigation include:

reproductive biology including pollination mechanisms, self compatibility, seed viability, reliance on vegetative reproduction,

propagation techniques,

key habitat requirements,

response to fire, and

conditions required for the production of flowers and fruit.

These research actions may be undertaken in conjunction with Action 4.2.

Performance criteria: A program of research to investigate the biology and ecology of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood has commenced within four years of the commencement of this plan. Adaptive management of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood is implemented based on the outcomes of this research.

Action 4.4

Research into the genetic diversity of known populations of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood will be facilitated.

Isolated populations, which reproduce vegetatively, may consist of a single clone (Rossetto 2003, Peakall 1995). Information on the genetic variation and geneflow within and between populations of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood is required to determine the extent of clonality and potential genetic threats to the viability of the species. This information would provide the basis upon which to assess whether a propagation and translocation program is necessary for the species long term survival.

Performance criteria: The DEC will encourage and facilitate appropriate research into the genetics of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood, this research is initiated within the first year of implementation of the recovery plan and completed within the life of the plan.

Action 4.5

Advances in the scientific knowledge of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood will be reviewed by the DEC and incorporated into relevant management plans and procedures.

Adaptive management of species based on new scientific evidence will provide the best recovery outcomes. Information gained through scientific investigation into the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood will be used to provide appropriate management strategies for the species.

Performance criterion: Relevant results of research and monitoring have been incorporated into DEC management plans and procedures as it becomes available.

Objective 5: Protect the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood and its known habitat from the threat of weeds.

Action 5.1

The DEC will continue to control weeds, in accordance with approved bush regeneration plans and as part of a coprogram, to protect the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood where it occurs in DEC reserves.

Weed control programs require ongoing maintenance to be effective. Consolidation of regenerated areas is essential for the restoration of natural ecosystems in the long term.

To avoid damage to the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood staff undertaking bush regeneration in areas where the species occurs must be qualified and skilled in bush regeneration, including plant identification. In addition bush regeneration field supervisors must be must be confident in the field identification of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood.

Performance criterion: Weeds threatening known populations of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood are controlled within the life of this plan.

Action 5.2

In consultation with the relevant landowner or manager, the DEC will support funding proposals for appropriate weed control to protect the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood where it is known to occur off-park.

The DEC will encourage regeneration and removal of weeds at all Ripple-leaf Muttonwood sites by supporting funding applications and providing advice to landholders and land managers to develop weed management strategies and undertake weed control works.

Performance criteria: The threat weeds pose to known populations of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood is controlled within the life of this plan.

Objective 6: Discourage illegal collection of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood.

Action 6.1

The DEC will keep information on the precise location of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood confidential.

The precise location of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood plants will not be made public to limit the threat of illegal collection or vandalism and to respect the privacy of private landowners and managers.

Performance criterion: The populations of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood are not damaged by vandals or illegal collection.

Objective 7: Protect known Ripple-leaf Muttonwood habitat from inappropriate fire regimes.

Action 7.1

The DEC will ensure, where possible, that fire will be excluded from known occurrences of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood, until such time as scientific information is available to determine the appropriate fire regime for the conservation of the species.

The responses of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood to fire are unknown, however, the physical characteristics of the plants suggest that it would be killed by a high intensity or frequency fire.

A policy to exclude fire, where possible, from the areas where Ripple-leaf Muttonwood is known to occur will be included in the relevant DEC fire management plans and promoted by the DEC for inclusion in relevant plans subject to the approval of a District Bush Fire Management Committee. The DEC has a policy to exclude fire from the whole of Boatharbour Nature Reserve and a specific Reserve Fire Management Plan is not proposed for this reserve.

Performance Criterion: Appropriate policy and zoning has been incorporated into the DEC Reserve Fire Management Plan for Mallanganee National Park to protect the known areas of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood, during the life of the plan.

The DEC has provided appropriate information on Ripple-leaf Muttonwood to relevant District Bush Fire Management Committees.

Objective 8: Develop a contingency strategy to assist with the long-term survival of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood.

It is possible that more populations of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood will be found, particularly on Focal Peak flows on the Richmond Range. Reintroduction of the species into areas of suitable habitat is not considered an appropriate option at this stage. This option may

Ripple-leaf Muttonwood

be considered in future Recovery Plans in the light of the results of further searches and studies. However, a contingency strategy to ensure the survival of genetic material as an insurance against catastrophic stochastic events should be developed.

Action 8.1

The DEC will negotiate for the maintenance of an ex-situ representative from each genetically distinct population in an appropriate location eg. Botanic Gardens.

The ex-situ populations will be established and maintained at locations that are spatially remote from each other in order to prevent the occurrence of genetic pollution. In the absence of definitive genetic data, the populations of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood on the floodplain will be assumed to be genetically distinct from those on the range. Maintenance of an ex-situ living collection will safeguard against extinction in the wild.

Performance criteria: Ex-situ representatives of each genetically distinct population are established within secure locations within the life of the plan.

Action 8.2

The DEC will investigate the option of collecting and storing representative seed stock from populations of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood at an appropriate institution.

Seed may be stored as security against destruction of populations. Opportunities to collect and store seed from wild populations of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood may be incorporated into research projects. Seed banks should be tested regularly for viability and replenished. Any seed collection should only be undertaken under licence from the DEC.

Performance criterion: Seed samples of each genetically distinct population stored in an appropriate seed bank within the life of the plan.