Hughans featherflower Verticordia hughanii interim recovery plan 2004-2009

Western Australian Threatened Species and Communities Unit (WATSCU)
© The Western Australian, Department of Conservation and Land Management, 2004

3. Recovery Actions

Existing recovery actions

The owner of the land containing Population 2 was officially notified of the species and its location in May 1987. This notification details the Declared Rare status of the taxon and the associated legal responsibilities.

An area of 54 hectares containing Population 2 of Verticordia hughanii was fenced by the landowner in 1988. A smaller fence of 100 metres square immediately around the population was also erected for further protection.

Approximately 1885 seeds collected from Population 2 in March 1999 and an unknown amount from Population 1in December 2003 are stored in CALMs TFSC at 18C. The TFSC tests the viability of seed initially and after one year in storage. The initial germination rate of Verticordia hughanii seed from Population 2 was found to range between 69 and 72%, and dropped to 40% after one year in storage (Cochrane, unpublished data).

The Botanic Garden and Parks Authority (BGPA) have six clones of Verticordia hughanii, three originated from an undetermined source, one from the Department of Agriculture Western Australia (AGWA), one from Western Flora and one from cultivated plants. Most material was received as cuttings. Propagation of Verticordia hughanii is usually quite difficult, with the strike rate ranging from 0 84% (But generally below 50%), with a 20% mortality rate recorded after potting (Shade, personal communication). This has mainly been due to cold weather and possible over watering.

An article on the fencing of the private property population (Population 2) was published in CALM News in August 1988.

Rabbit control using 1080 poisoned oats was undertaken in the area of Population 1 by Agriculture Western Australia, in liaison with CALM staff from the Merredin District and adjacent property owners in 2001. Further control has not been conducted since and rabbits are again threatening the population.

Boundary fences on the reserve (Population 1) have been repaired. Since this has been done there has been no evidence of grazing by sheep.

Nature reserve signs were erected at the major entrances to the reserve (Population 1) early in 2003 to help prevent rubbish dumping crushing of plants through trampling, turning of vehicles and track creation. Bollards were also erected to block a minor track near Population 2.

The Merredin District Threatened Flora Recovery Team (MDTFRT) is overseeing the implementation of this IRP and will include information on progress in its annual report to CALMs Corporate Executive and funding bodies.

Staff from CALMs Merredin District office regularly monitor both populations and the landowners of the area containing Population 2 also monitor that population.

Future recovery actions

Where populations occur on lands other than those managed by CALM, permission has been or will be sought from the appropriate land managers prior to recovery actions being undertaken. The following recovery actions are roughly in order of descending priority; however this should not constrain addressing any of the priorities if funding is available for lower priorities and other opportunities arise.

1. Coordinate recovery actions

The MDTFRT will continue to oversee the implementation of recovery actions for Verticordia hughanii and will include information on progress in its annual report to CALMs Corporate Executive and funding bodies.

Action:Coordinate recovery actions
Responsibility:CALM (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$2,000 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 alluded to in Section 1, the areas described have not yet been accurately mapped and will be addressed under this action. If additional populations are located, critical habitat will also be determined and mapped for them.

Action:Map critical habitat
Responsibility:CALM (Merredin District, WATSCU) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$2,000 in the first year.

3. Continue rabbit control

Although some rabbit control was conducted in the past, rabbits are continuing to cause damage to the habitat at Population 1. CALM will recommence rabbit control using the most appropriate method in cooperation with adjacent land owners and managers.

Action:Continue rabbit control
Responsibility:CALM (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$600 per year.

4. Undertake weed control

Weeds are a minor but increasing threat to the population 2. The main weeds are wild oats that the landowner has been controlling by manual pulling. However, this has proven only partially effective and the wild oats are increasing. Once an appropriate herbicide is selected the following actions will be implemented:

  • Invasive weeds will be controlled by hand removal and spot spraying when they first emerge.
  • Weed control will be scheduled to coincide with spraying at other threatened flora populations within the district.

The tolerance of associated native plant species to herbicides at the site of Verticordia hughanii is not known and weed control programs will be undertaken in conjunction with research.

Action:Undertake weed control
Responsibility:CALM (Merredin District, Science Division) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$800 per year.

5. Stimulate and monitor germination

Burning, smokewater and other disturbance methods may be effective in stimulating the germination of soil-stored seed and will be trialed around selected plants at Population 1. Monitoring will include recording the time when flowering occurs, seed is produced and the age of senescence is reached. This will enable the optimum interval time between disturbances to be estimated. Soil seed bank monitoring will be addressed under Recovery Action 14.

Action:Stimulate and monitor germination
Responsibility:CALM (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$2,300 in first and second years, $600 in subsequent years.

6. Remove rubbish at Population 1

Fencing materials and other rubbish has been dumped at Population 1. Whilst being unsightly in a Nature Reserve, and possibly (although not currently) contributing to more rubbish at the site. It is also an issue due to encouraging weeds and providing habitat for rabbits. Rubbish removal will need to be carried out by a contractor during summer to avoid bogging and increased soil disturbance with careful supervision from CALM Merredin staff to ensure disturbance to surrounding plants is minimized. Wire will need to be taken off site and buried, and a suitable location for this burial will need to be sought. Nature Reserve signs that were erected in early 2003 and bollards and rehabilitation signs erected in 2004 will hopefully aid in the future protection of the habitat by alerting locals to the status of the land.

Action:Remove rubbish from Population 1
Responsibility:CALM (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$1500 in the first year.

7. Conduct further surveys

Further surveys by CALM staff with assistance from local naturalists and wildflower society members will be conducted during the species flowering period between November and April.

Action:Conduct further surveys
Responsibility:CALM (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$2,100 per year.

8. Develop and implement a fire management strategy

As the response of Verticordia hughanii to fire is not known and the threat of weed invasion will increase post fire, fire should if possible be prevented from occurring in the area of both populations at least in the short term. Prevention may involve the development of firebreaks around both populations, increasing the fire response rating for Hindmarsh reserve in CALMs Merredin Districts Fire Protection Policy, and liaising with the local Bush Fire Brigade and adjoining landholders.

A fire management strategy will be developed that recommends fire frequency, intensity, season, and control measures.

Action:Develop and implement a fire management strategy
Responsibility:CALM (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$2,600 in first year and $1,000 in subsequent years.

9. Monitor populations

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

Action:Monitor population
Responsibility:CALM (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$1,200 per year.

10. Collect seed and cutting material

Preservation of germplasm is essential to guard against extinction if wild populations are lost. Seed collections are also needed to propagate plants for translocations. A small quantity of seed has been collected but additional seed is required from both populations. Cuttings will also be collected to help establish a living collection of genetic material at the BGPA.

Action:Collect seed and cutting material
Responsibility:CALM (Merredin District, TFSC) and the BGPA, through the MDTFRT
Cost:$3,200 in first year and $2,500 in second and forth year.

11. Liaise with relevant land owners and land managers

Staff from CALMs Merredin District will continue to liaise with landowners and land managers to ensure that populations are not inadvertently damaged or destroyed. Input and involvement will also be sought from any indigenous groups that have an active interest in areas that are habitat for Verticordia hughanii.

Action:Liaise with relevant land owners and land managers
Responsibility:CALM (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$600 per year.

12. Seek improved long-term security for Population 2

Although the current owners of land on which Population 2 occurs have put in place conservation measures to protect plants, ways and means of achieving the long-term protection of the land will be investigated. Possible methods of achieving future conservation management include covenanting and land purchase.

Action:Seek improved long-term security for Population 2
Responsibility:CALM (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost:To be determined

13. Promote awareness

The importance of biodiversity conservation and the need for the long-term protection of the wild population 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.

A reply paid postal drop of a pamphlet that illustrates Verticordia hughanii and describes its distinctive features and habitat will be developed and will be distributed to residents in Shires that contain possible habitat for the species. Postal drops aim to stimulate interest, provide information about threatened species and provide a name and number to contact if new populations are located by members of the community. An information sheet, which includes a description of the plant, its habitat type, threats, management actions and photos will also be produced.

Action:Promote awareness
Responsibility:CALM (Merredin District, Strategic Development and Corporate Affairs Division) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$1,300 in first year and $900 in subsequent years.

14. Obtain biological and ecological information

Improved knowledge of the biology and ecology of Verticordia hughanii will provide a better scientific basis for management of the wild populations. An understanding of the following is particularly necessary for effective management:

  • The study of the soil seed bank dynamics and the role of various factors including disturbance (such as fire), competition, rainfall and grazing on recruitment and seedling survival.
  • A determination of reproductive strategies, phenology and seasonal growth.
  • An investigation into its mating system and pollination biology.
  • An investigation of population genetic structure, levels of genetic diversity and minimum viable population size.
  • The impact of salinity on Verticordia hughanii and its habitat.

Action:Obtain biological and ecological information
Responsibility:CALM (Science Division, Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$18,900 per year for first three years.

15. Develop and begin implementing a translocation proposal

Although translocations are generally undertaken under full Recovery Plans, because of the continuing decline in population 1, it is possible to develop a translocation proposal and start propagating plants within the time frame of an Interim Recovery Plan. This will be coordinated by the MDTFRT. Information on the translocation of threatened animals and plants in the wild is provided in CALM Policy Statement No. 29 Translocation of Threatened Flora and Fauna. All translocation proposals require endorsement by the Director of Nature Conservation.

Action:Develop and begin implementing a translocation proposal
Responsibility:CALM (Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$5,300 in the fifth year

16. Review the need for a full Recovery Plan or an update to this IRP and prepare if necessary

If the species is still ranked as Endangered at the end of the fourth year of the five-year term of this Interim Recovery Plan, the need for further recovery actions will be assessed and if necessary funding to write a full Recovery Plan or an update of this IRP will be sought.

Action:Review the need for a full Recovery Plan or an update to this IRP and prepare if necessary
Responsibility:CALM (WATSCU, Merredin District) through the MDTFRT
Cost:$20,300 in fifth year.