Natural Temperate Grassland of the South Eastern Highlands, a critically endangered ecological community (EPBC Act)
In April 2016 the previously listed Natural Temperate Grassland of the Southern Tablelands of NSW and the ACT was replaced by a new listing and definition. The revised listing has extended its distribution and range, altitude, habitat and threatened status. It is now defined as Temperate Grassland of the South-Eastern Highlands, a critically endangered community, under Commonwealth legislation (EPBC Act). Distribution ranges from Orange and beyond in the north to East Gippsland in Victoria, west to beyond Tumut and east to the Dividing Range. It is found from 350 m to 1200 m in altitude, but does not include alpine treeless plains. The community occurs on a wide variety of topographic positions and soils, and is found in areas subject to cold air drainage, in frost hollows and drainage depressions, on exposed west or north facing hills, on basalt plateaux; a sub-type develops on ephemeral wetlands such as Lake George.
Quantitative criteria have been included. An area over 0.1 ha in size that is within the defined region, altitude and is apparently naturally treeless meets the criteria as the critically endangered community if it meets criteria A or B:
- It contains a foliage cover of more than 50% Themeda triandra (Kangaroo Grass), Poa labillardierei (River Tussock) or Carex bichenoviana (Plains Sedge)
- The percentage cover of native vascular plants (including annual and perennial species) in the patch is greater than the percentage cover of perennial exotic species
- In favourable sampling times a 0.04 ha sampling plot contains at least 8 non-grass native species or at least 2 indicator species or a floristic value score of at least 5
- In other sampling times a 0.04 ha sampling plot contains at least 4 non-grass native species or at least 1 indicator species or a floristic value score of at least 3.
(Indicator species are identified and floristic value score described in the Approved Conservation Advice (http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicshowcommunity.pl?id=152&status=Critically+Endangered, accessed April 2016).