National Threatened Species Day
Australian Government: ENDANGERED
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
New South Wales: ENDANGERED
Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995
Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988
The buloke woodlands of the Riverina and Murray-Darling Depression Bioregions are listed as a threatened ecological community by the Australian Government. The woodlands occur across the Riverina and Murray-Darling bioregions in tracts or patches within other habitats such as open forests or woodlands.
What does it look like?
Buloke woodlands are characterised by the buloke tree, which is a leafless casuarina or sheoak tree that grows to about 15m and has twisted branchlets and cones. Buloke woodlands support many types of plants.
The understorey of buloke woodlands is generally grassy with native grasses such as wallaby grasses as well as many herbs. In other areas the understorey is made up of smaller shrubs and herbs.
Many species of animals call the buloke woodlands home including the threatened southeastern redtailed black-cockatoo. It is only found in southeast South Australia and southwest Victoria. Its habitat consists of stringybark and buloke woodlands, which the cockatoos use for foraging. It is a specialist feeder, relying on seeds from stringybark and buloke trees.
Where is it found?
Buloke woodlands can be found from the far south east of South Australia near Bordertown through to Victoria's northwest and northern plains and the south west of New South Wales.
Threats to the Buloke Woodlands
The woodlands have been extensively cleared in the past and the remnants that survive face ongoing major threats from incremental clearance ,grazing by rabbits and stock, invasion by exotic plants, herbicide and fertilizer application and inappropriate fire regimes. Only a small amount of this threatened community is protected in conservation reserves, such as National Parks, throughout its range.
Case Study - Protecting the threatened Buloke Grassy Woodlands
In 2002, Trust for Nature embarked on an ambitious project, funded by a TSN Community Grant, to protect one of the highest priority clusters of Buloke woodlands, grasslands and wetlands in the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority area.
They achieved this by working with land managers in the region to protect important sites through conservation covenants, enhancing remaining areas of woodlands and increasing the landowner's ability to manage these areas. In total 100,000ha were surveyed, 252ha conserved, three landowners permanently protected their threatened habitat with conservation covenants and five sites developed management plans and works programs.
Also in 2002, in partnership with Nagambie Landcare Group and various conservation agencies, Trust for Nature focussed on the protection and restoration of Buloke woodlands on the Longwood Plains in the Goulburn Broken area. Altogether, nine hectares of Buloke woodland were fenced and three hectares revegetated with Bulokes.
In 2005, it was time to test whether the work had yielded results for biodiversity. Again with the help of a TSN Community Grant, Trust for Nature set out to survey the habitats they had helped protect. They found that the protected sites generally showed a 10 per cent or more improvement in the condition of the habitat. The richness of the woodland community had also increased at protected sites. The project also developed a biodiversity monitoring guide for community groups to support future monitoring.
This was a great result and it has given the local community, Landcare group and Trust for Nature great optimism about what can be achieved. These results will help refine future conservation planning so Buloke Grassy Woodland can flourish into the future.
What you can do
If you manage, live on or own land containing buloke woodlands, there are a number of ways you can help protect it, such as:
- Permanently exclude heavy grazing from buloke woodland remnants with an intact, native ground layer.
- Exclude stock from remnants or areas with scattered trees for a few years to allow regeneration, then protect the young trees if stock need to be re-introduced.
- Leave fallen timber on the ground where possible - it offers protection and habitat for many species.
- Leave dead trees with hollows standing - they are home to many species of birds and bats.
- Control weeds in native vegetation, crops and pastures.
- Limit eucalyptus plantings in buloke remnants as this can encourage noisy miner invasions.
Southeast Mallee and Woodlands
P (08) 8223 5155
Department of Environment, Heritage and the Arts, http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/communities/ buloke-grassy-woodlands.html
WWF-Australia, "Buloke Woodlands - flora and fauna guide for the Wimmera," 2005.