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

2. Legislative Context

2.1 Legal Status

The Ripple-leaf Muttonwood is listed as Endangered in the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (TSC Act). It is listed as Endangered in the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) under the name Rapanea sp. Richmond River (J.H. Maiden & J.L. Boorman NSW 26751). Prior to 19 December 1997, Rapanea sp. A Richmond River was listed on Part 4 of Schedule 1 of the TSC Act as a species that was presumed to be extinct.

In this plan, Rapanea sp. A Richmond River; Rapanea sp. Richmond River; Rapanea sp. 1; Rapanea sp. A Myrsine richmondi m/s B Jackes ; Lismore Muttonwood and Purple-leaf Muttonwood are all synonymous with Ripple-leaf Muttonwood.

2.2 Responsibilities under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995

Recovery plan preparation, exhibition and implementation

The TSC Act provides a legislative framework to protect and encourage the recovery of Endangered and Vulnerable Species, Endangered Populations and Endangered Ecological Communities in NSW. Under this legislation the Director-General of the DEC has a responsibility to prepare Recovery Plans for all species, populations and ecological communities listed as Endangered or Vulnerable on the TSC Act schedules. The TSC Act includes specific requirements for both the matters to be addressed by Recovery Plans and the process for preparing Recovery Plans. This Recovery Plan satisfies these provisions.

The TSC Act requires that a government agency must not undertake actions inconsistent with a Recovery Plan. The actions identified in this plan for the recovery of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood in NSW are the responsibility of the DEC. Other public authorities may have statutory responsibilities relevant to the conservation and protection of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood. Public authorities with core legislative responsibilities relevant to the protection and management of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood and its habitat are listed in Appendix 1.

Consultation with indigenous people

Local Aboriginal Land Councils, Elders and other groups representing indigenous people in the areas where the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood occurs have been identified and a copy of the Recovery Plan sent to them. Their comments on this draft have been sought and have been considered in the preparation of the final Recovery Plan. It is also the intention of the DEC to consider the role and interests of these indigenous communities in the implementation of the actions identified in this plan.

Endangered Ecological Communities

The listing under the TSC Act of Lowland Rainforest on Floodplain in the NSW North Coast bioregion as an Endangered Ecological Community also affords a level of protection to some areas of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood habitat.

Critical Habitat

The TSC Act makes provision for the identification and declaration of Critical Habitat for species, populations and ecological communities listed as Endangered. Once declared, it becomes an offence to damage Critical Habitat (unless the action is specifically exempted by the TSC Act) and a Species Impact Statement (SIS) is mandatory for all developments and activities proposed within Critical Habitat.

To date, Critical Habitat has not been declared for the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood under the TSC Act. The declaration of Critical Habitat in NSW is not considered to be a priority for this species at this stage, as other mechanisms provide for its protection.

Key Threatening Processes

As of May 2004, 22 Key Threatening Processes have been identified and listed on the TSC Act. Of these, the Clearing of Native Vegetation (NSW Scientific Committee 2001) is relevant to the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood and its habitat. In addition to this, a range of other processes are recognised as threatening the survival of the species. These are discussed in section 4.

Licensing

Any activity not requiring development consent under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) or the NSW Native Vegetation Act 2003 (NV Act), which is likely to pick the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood, or damage its habitat, requires a licence from the DEC under the provisions of the TSC Act or the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 (NPW Act) as a defence against prosecution. If the impact is likely to be significant, a Species Impact Statement is required.

Other conservation measures

The TSC Act includes provision for other measures that may be taken to conserve the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood and its habitat, including the making of a Stop Work Order or Joint Management Agreement.

2.3 Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

The EPBC Act provides a legislative framework for the protection of threatened species across Australia. An important role of the EPBC Act is to facilitate the preparation and implementation of Recovery Plans for species listed under the Act in co-operation with the States and Territories in which populations of listed species occur. The Act also seeks to impose the obligation (arising from the listing) for responsible agencies (particularly Commonwealth) to adopt protective measures. This Recovery Plan has been submitted to the Commonwealth for approval under the EPBC Act.

Under the EPBC Act, Critical Habitat may be registered for any Nationally listed threatened species or ecological community. When adopting a Recovery Plan, the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage must consider whether to list habitat identified in the Recovery Plan as being critical to the survival of the species or ecological community. It is an offence under the EPBC Act for a person to knowingly take an action that will significantly damage Critical Habitat (unless the EPBC Act specifically exempts the action). This offence only applies to Commonwealth areas. However, an action that is likely to have a significant impact on a listed species is still subject to referral and approval under the EPBC Act. Proposed actions within Critical Habitat on non-Commonwealth areas are likely to receive additional scrutiny by the Commonwealth Minister.

This Recovery Plan does not specifically identify an area of habitat that is critical to the survival of Ripple-leaf Muttonwood. However, the distribution, habitat and ecological information included in this plan (Sections 3.23.5) would assist the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment in identifying habitat that is critical to the survival of this species. The DEC does not consider it appropriate that this Recovery Plan identifies or maps the occurrence of this species in the detail that would be required to define Critical Habitat.

As the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood is listed Nationally under the EPBC Act, any person proposing to undertake actions likely to have a significant impact on this species should refer the action to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage for consideration. The Minister will then decide whether the action requires EPBC Act approval. This is in addition to any State or Local Government approval required.

Administrative guidelines are available from the Department of Environment and Heritage to assist proponents in determining whether their action is likely to have a significant impact.

2.4 Relationship to other legislation

Additional legislation relevant to the conservation and recovery of the Ripple-leaf Muttonwood in NSW includes the following:

  • National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974;
  • Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979;
  • Local Government Act 1993;
  • Native Vegetation Act 2003;
  • Rural Fires Act 1997;
  • Rural Fires and Environmental Assessment Legislation Amendment Act 2002; and
  • Forestry and National Park Estate Act 1998.