Ecosystems

Assessment of Vegetation Types – Bartopia
By Mr. Col Harman OAM and Mr. Verne Charlesworth

SCLEROPHYLL FOREST

Predominated by several species of Eucalyptus, including Ironbarks and Spotted Gum. Understorey of Acacia species, Jacksonia scoparia, Persoonia sericea and Alphitonia excelsa. The areas often contain large basalt extrusions and outcrops. Inhabitants often include Rock Wallaby and Bandicoot. Scorpions and Pseudoscorpions are often particularly common. This is also a potential habitat for the Common Death Adder, although it has not yet been sighted in this habitat type. Such areas are maintained by regular fires and as such create an educational opportunity. The need for regular fires in this ecosystem can be pointed out as well as the adaptations adopted by both flora and fauna.

WET SCLEROPHYLL FOREST

More diverse than the above forest type, there are a number of subcategories within this vegetation type. The upper ridges contain very large specimens of Banksia integrifolia var. compar, Angophora subvelutina, Allocasuarina torulosa and in particular, Eucalyptus andrewsii. A number of epiphytic orchids and ferns are found growing in these large trees. The species of Eucalypt found in these areas is approximately 25 – 40, and until a detailed botanical survey can be completed, this estimate seems reasonable. The shrub layer is also diverse and in many areas is dominated by such species as Lomatia silaiifolia, Ozothamnus diosmifolius, Trochocarpa laurina, Myoporum betcheanum and Leucopogon juniperinus to name but a few.

Inhabitants include some 50 species of bird, sugar gliders, possums, koalas, greater gliders, echidnas and a dozen or more species of reptile. Of particular note are species such as the Red Goshawk, Barking Owl, Owlet Nightjar as well as Koala. The areas also provide potential habitat for Coxens Fig Parrot, although a confirmed sighting of this rare species cannot be provided at this time. As an educational resource, this habitat type in all its various shades can only be regarded as invaluable if only from an ornithological perspective. Several rare and endangered birds and animals may be found and as such, the area is invaluable. From a botanical perspective, many trees of economic importance may readily be seen and noted as well as a number of plants with ethnobotanical uses both as foods and medicines.

ESCARPMENT HEATHLAND

The escarpment sections within the nominated area predominantly face west and although far from rich in species diversity, provide spectacular views of the scenic rim. Dominant are plants such as Leptospermum species, Acacia, Keraudrinia hillii and many lithophytic orchids and ferns. Of particular note is the Cliff Daisy (Brachyscome ascendens), Hibbertia monticola, Acacia saxicola and Pterostylis bicornis (listed as vulnerable). The major terrestrial inhabitants apart from reptiles are Rock Wallabies that are particularly common in this area. The Common death Adder has also been sighted.

DRY VINE FOREST

There are several such sections in the nominated area, each with their own unique mix of flora and fauna and as such they will be described separately here.

Area 1

This small patch of vine forest is situated approximately 500m east of the residence. It is unusual in that it has developed on a rock scree over perhaps the last 200 years or less. The dominant trees are both Black and White Booyong (Argyrodendron species) with an extensive understorey of Macleay Laurel (Anopterus macleayanus) and Cuttsia viburnea. Vine species include Morinda, Pandorea, Milletia, Cissus and Aphanopetalum. Several species of fern proliferate including Lastreopsis shepherdii and Asplenium australasicum. The author is currently awaiting ratification of a previously undescribed species which may represent an inter-generic hybrid (Doodia aspera X Blechnum cartilagineum) found within this area. It would seem that this area has developed due to the difficulty of the terrain which has made it impossible for cattle to encroach and the jumble of rocks have apparently kept forest fires out for many generations. This area is both unique and delicate. A complete botanical survey is currently underway in this section.

Area 2

This small patch is based around a steep ephemeral creek that ultimately runs across the access road some 600m east of the residence and is therefore accessible from the residence itself or directly from the road crossing. There are a large number of Tree Ferns, both Cyathea cooperii and Cyathea australis. There would also appear to be resident eastern Whipbirds and Green Catbirds. A larger diversity of rainforest species are found here than in Area 1 although Booyong is still dominant. The gully itself is quite deep and as such is heavily shaded. It would also appear to have been many generations since fire encroached upon it. Educational opportunities include effects of the fire regime and the dramatic difference made possible by shade and additional moisture. The surrounding transitional forest is also important for both bird and animal life.

OTHER DRY VINE FOREST AREAS

A large area of this forest type has already been cleared of Lantana and other exotic weeds and has also been fenced to keep cattle out. Early indications show that the area is rehabilitating rapidly, although further assistance is being given to it by the planting of trees, shrubs and vines collected as local seed. These plants are part of an ongoing maintenance program for the area. A number of important fruiting trees are in the area such as Syzygium australe, Dendrocnide excelsa, Olea paniculata,Synoum glandulosum and Ficus coronata as well as the vines Cissus hypoglauca and Cissus antarctica. This area is also the territory of a male Satin Bowerbird who has built his bower close to the access road.

Once again, a complete botanical survey of this area is currently underway. A number of "bush foods" are also readily accessible in this area. There are a total of five areas comprising creek "corridors" with this vegetation type on the property and as such the total area would be quite large. All of these creeks terminate with the boundaries of Mt Barney National Park in the vicinity of the Portals and as such their maintenance and health is crucial to the integrity of the National Park.

SUBTROPICAL RAINFOREST

The majority of this vegetation type lies not on the property per se, but within its environs. Furthermore, much of this vegetation type lies within the boundaries of Mt Barney National Park. Its importance as a gene pool as well as both an educational and recreational facility is well documented.

TRANSITIONAL FOREST

This vegetation type adjoins the rainforested areas and the wet sclerophyll areas. Within the nominated area, the vegetation is generally dominated byTrochocarpa laurina, Lophostemon confertus, Pittosporum undulatum and Acacia melanoxylon. A number of genera of terrestrial orchids proliferate such as Corybas, Acianthus,Pterostylis, Chiloglottis and Caladenia, often flowering in large numbers. Many ferns such as Doodia species, Calochalena dubia, Dennsteadtia davallioides, Blechnum cartilagineum and Adiantum aethiopicum also prefer such areas. Birds and animals from both the sclerophyll and rainforest habitats intermingle here.

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