Weeping Myall Woodland

Weeping Myall Woodland is a threatened ecological community. This open woodland occurs on clay soils on plains and is characterised by an overstorey dominated by Weeping myall (Acacia pendula) and a grassy understorey of perennial tussock grasses, chenopods and scattered shrubs.

Unfortunately large areas of this woodland have been cleared and remaining patches are listed as endangered. The ecological community is home to many species of fauna including threatened species such as the painted honeyeater.

Weeping Myall Woodland is listed as a threatened ecological community under the Australian Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). In NSW the community is listed under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (TSC Act) as Myall Woodland in the Darling Riverine Plains, Brigalow Belt South, Cobar Peneplain, Murray-Darling Depression, Riverina and NSW South Western Slopes bioregions.

Activities which affect the condition or extent of Weeping Myall Woodland may require consent or approval.

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Where does the community occur?

Weeping Myall Woodland is found on grey, black and brown alluvial clay soils on plains and the edge of floodplains. It occurs from Myall Creek in the east to the Darling and Barwon Rivers in the west.

Identification

Weeping Myall Woodland has widely spaced trees with the canopy dominated by Weeping myall (Acacia pendula) up to 12 m tall.

The ground layer is dominated by perennial tussock grasses and chenopods.

Scattered shrubs may also be present. There may be other trees and large shrubs  present such as: Boonery (Alectryon oleifolius), Belah (Casuarina cristata), Bimble box (Eucalyptus populnea), Budda (Eremophila mitchellii) and Cooba (Acacia salicina).

Grey mistletoe (Amyema quandang) is a common and important part of the community.

Ground layer composition will vary according to seasonal rainfall and grazing  management. The understorey is usually grassy but in some areas may be mainly shrubby.

To fit the EPBC Act definition for this community a patch must:

  • be greater than 0.5ha
  • have a tree canopy that is dominated (at least 50% of trees present) by living, dead or defoliated Weeping myall trees
  • have greater than 5% canopy cover of live Myall trees or 25 dead trees
  • have either:
    • more than two layers of regeneration of Weeping myall present; or
    • the tallest layer of living, dead or defoliated Weeping myall trees is at least 4 m tall and of the vegetative cover present, 50% is comprised of native species.

What is not Weeping Myall Woodland?

Weeping Myall Woodland does not occur in floodplains that are frequently inundated.

Threats

Weeping Myall Woodland communities are threatened with extinction or continued decline from historical and current sources. It is estimated that its area has declined by between 60% and 95% since European settlement.

Clearing – the removal of live and dead trees, as well as young regrowth, continues to be a major threat. Weeping Myall Woodland occurs on fertile soils and is often in direct competition with cropping land. 'Tidying-up' reduces the extent and condition of Weeping Myall Woodland patches.

Fodder lopping – Weeping myall trees are used for fodder during drought. Trees are often pushed over to allow stock to gain access to the foliage.

Lack of recruitment – Weeping myall trees produce seed irregularly and seeds are often eaten by predators before they can germinate. Often seedlings are eaten by grazing animals or are unable to compete with vigorous grassy weeds.

Grazing – uncontrolled grazing of Weeping Myall Woodland can prevent seedling regeneration of trees and can permanently remove many of the chenopod and grass species that make up the community. This degrades the condition and extent of the community. Pest animals such as pigs also cause damage.

Bag shelter moth (Ochrogaster lunifera) – larvae can defoliate trees to the point where they are unable to recover and the tree dies. Bag shelter moth also affects seed set and viability. The moths are attracted to trees that have been fertilised (usually through application to adjacent crops or pastures).

Weeds – grassy weeds such as Buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) and Coolatai grass (Hyparrhenia hirta) compete with native grasses and chenopods which are important elements of this community. Weed competition can cause the death of adult and juvenile plants and prevent seedlings from germinating. Disturbance will favour the establishment of weeds.

Climate change – is likely to have an effect on distribution and composition of Weeping Myall Woodland and increase the impact of other threats, particularly weeds.

Management

The aim of management of Weeping Myall Woodland is to maintain or increase the extent of the community and to maintain or improve its condition.

  • It is recommended that you do not clear Weeping Myall Woodland, even under permissible exemptions from the Native Vegetation Conservation Act.
  • Provide long-term protection for Weeping Myall Woodland through Agreements with the CMA or Conservation Agreements with the Office of Environment and Heritage or the Nature Conservation Trust.
  • Prevent herbicide and fertiliser drift from reaching stands.
  • Control Bag shelter moth outbreaks in significant stands.
  • Although more effort is required, it is recommended that when lopping Weeping myall trees for fodder, cut a few branches from each tree rather than pushing the whole tree over.
  • Remove stock after grazing to allow regeneration to occur.
  • Increase the size and connectivity of existing patches through revegetation. Re-establish Weeping myall trees, chenopods and native grasses.
  • Collect seeds of Weeping myall when they are available and store them under cool, dry conditions until you need them.
  • Control grazing in Weeping Myall Woodland patches so that the grasses and chenopods are not destroyed and plants are able to regenerate and grow to maturity. Fencing patches allows grazing to be managed. Control pest animals.
  • Control weeds within and around patches. Spray weeds but be careful of spray drift on desirable plants. Avoid cultivating or disturbing the soil within patches to prevent weed invasion.
  • Retain all fallen timber and leaf litter within patches as these are important habitat for some wildlife, particularly reptiles and amphibians.
  • Do not remove mistletoe from Weeping myall trees and other acacias and eucalypts as these provide important food resources for birds and mammals.
  • Retain standing dead trees as these provide important habitat for many fauna species.

Ecosystem function: how healthy woodlands work for you

Healthy Weeping Myall Woodland provides a wide range of benefits that are called 'ecosystem services'. These include traditional services like grazing for livestock, but also other services such as:

  • financial benefits
  • soil formation and cycling
  • nutrient cycling
  • water capture, filtration and delivery to water bodies
  • pollination
  • pest management (e.g. reducing pest pressure on crops)
  • regional climate buffering
  • shade and shelter (e.g. for livestock)
  • breakdown and absorption of wastes
  • a sense of place
  • scenery

Further Information

Look for "Weeping Myall Woodlands" on the EPBC Species Profiles and Threats database (SPRAT) at
www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/index.html.

Weeping Myall Woodlands Policy Statement 3.17
www.environment.gov.au/epbc/publications/pubs/weeping-myallwoodlands.pdf

Contact the Border Rivers-Gwydir Catchment Management Authority at 02 6728 8020 or visit our website at www.brg.cma.nsw.gov.au

 

 

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