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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 11 May 2017) . . Page.. 1840 ..

(Question No 141)

Ms Le Couteur asked the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, upon notice, on 24 March 2017:

(1) How much of the endangered yellow box red gum grassy woodland habitat currently exists in the ACT.

(2) What proportion of this habitat is under protection in ACT reserves.

(3) What data is collected to monitor changes in this habitat across the ACT.

(4) What has been the rate of decline in this habitat in the ACT over the past 10 years.

(5) How does the Government provide protection for mature trees in non-urban landscapes in the ACT when they do not sit in recognised yellow box red gum grassy woodland habitats.

(6) What environmental guidelines and advice are in place for planners and developers in relation to the treatment of these trees.

Mr Gentleman: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) Current estimates indicate that there are 19,884 hectares of Yellow Box–Red Gum Woodland habitat in the ACT. This figure is compiled from a number of different sources and may change in the future as mapping methods change. This figure includes all Yellow Box–Red Gum Woodland, regardless of condition (but excludes secondary grasslands that may have been derived from the clearing of these woodlands). Condition is critical to determining if a site meets the criteria for inclusion as a part of the endangered ecological communities defined in the Nature Conservation Act 2014 or the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. However condition cannot be assessed through remote methods (i.e. every site needs to be visited and assessed); therefore, it is not possible to determine exactly how much of the Box–Gum woodland habitat meets the endangered ecological community criteria.

(2) Nature reserves protect 6801 hectares (34%) of Yellow Box–Red Gum Woodland habitat and offsets protect a further 981 hectares (5%). This leaves 12,102 hectares of habitat, a large proportion of which is on National Land or private lease.

(3) An extensive amount of monitoring is undertaken within ACT Yellow Box–Red Gum Woodlands. This monitoring is aimed at identifying changes in the condition of both the community as a whole and targeted individual species within the community. Current monitoring includes:

floristic composition and structure of the ground layer at 21 nature reserves and offset reserves (Conservation Research unit longitudinal condition monitoring, offset monitoring and kangaroo impacts research, and Vegwatch from the Catchment groups)

changes in canopy condition between 2004, 2009 and 2015 modelled using Spot 7 satellite data

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