Grassy Woodlands and Grasslands.

Box-Gum Woodlands

White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely's Red Gum Grassy Woodlands and Derived Native Grasslands once occurred over an extensive area of south-eastern Australia, including the western slopes and tablelands of the Great Dividing Range, through southern Queensland, western New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Victoria.

Since European settlement, 92% of White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely's Red Gum Grassy Woodland has been cleared (over 5 million hectares). What now remains are widely scattered remnants, often small, and on multiple land tenures. Consequently, these woodlands are listed as an endangered ecological community by the NSW and Commonwealth governments. The listings are:

  1. Endangered ecological community with NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 and
  2. Critically endangered ecological community with the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, 1999 (EPBC).

White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely's Red Gum Grassy Woodlands include plant communities characterized by a species-rich understorey of native tussock grasses, herbs and scattered shrubs, and the dominance, or prior dominance, of openly spaced  trees including White Box (Eucalyptus albens), Yellow Box (E. melliodora) and / or Blakely’s red gum (E. blakelyi). They typically occur on fertile clay or loamy soils on alluvial plains, lower slopes, creek flats and drainage lines.

The ground layer is dominated mostly by perennial grass tussocks. There may be many species of grass such as Kangaroo Grass (Themeda australis), Red-leg grass (Bothriochloa macra), Wallaby Grass (Austrodanthonia sp.), Weeping Meadow Grass (Microlaena stipoides) Queensland bluegrass (Dicanthium sericeum), and Spear Grass (Austrostipa sp.). The diversity of herbs such as lilies, orchids, scramblers and daises is higher in Box-Gum woodlands in good condition.

Derived grasslands are the intact grass swards that remain after the dominant Box Gum Grassy Woodland tree species have been removed or with only a few scattered trees remaining.  Amongst the grass tussocks many wildflowers may be found.

Box-Gum woodlands provide habitat for a range of plant and animal species threatened with extinction such as the swift parrot, superb parrot, striped legless lizard, golden sun moth and tiger quoll.

 

Natural Temperate Grasslands of the Southern Tablelands

Natural Temperate Grassland of the Southern Tablelands is found within the Southern Tablelands region of NSW and ACT. The remaining Natural Temperate Grassland is a small fraction of its estimated original extent and as such is listed as an endangered ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

The community is dominated by moderately tall (25–50 cm) to tall (50 cm–1.0 m), dense to open tussock grasses. The community may contain up to 10% trees and shrubs. Between and underneath the tall grass tussocks herbs, lilies, orchids and small sedges grow. Many grassland plant species are rare or uncommon. For instance the Button Wrinklewort (Rutidosis leptorrhynchoides) and the Ginninderra Peppercress (Lepidium ginninderrense) have been declared as threatened species in the ACT under the Nature Conservation Act 1980.

The fauna found in natural temperate grasslands of the southern tablelands typically includes a rich diversity of invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians and birds. Grasslands in the ACT provide critical habitat for four animal species declared as threatened in the ACT under the Nature Conservation Act 1980. These are Striped Legless Lizard, Grassland Earless Dragon, Golden Sun Moth and Perunga Grasshopper.