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New South Wales: Quoll Headquarters - 164 hectares - Steve Haslam

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Victoria: Witchwood - 9.1 hectares - Jill Redwood

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Queensland: The Roost - 39.75 hectares - Lynn Childs

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Tasmania: Lyn and Geoff's Refuge - 10 hectares - Lyn and Geoff Murray

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Western Australia: Tippaburra Valley - 2470 hectares - Buddy Kent

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New South Wales: Falls Forest Retreat - 80 hectares - Mary White

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Victoria: Wingura - 2.5 hectares - Suzanne and John Brandenberger

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Queensland: Cooper Creek Wilderness - 66.74 hectares - Prue Hewett

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Warkworth Sands Woodland Threatened Ecological Community Rough-barked Apple

 

 

In May 2016, following a nomination made by the Wildlife Land Trust/Humane Society International in 2010, Warkworth Sands Woodland of the Hunter Valley was added to the list of Critically Endangered Threatened Ecological Communities contained in the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Endemic to the Hunter River catchment in New South Wales, the community occupies 465 fragmented hectares typically comprised of rough-barked apples (Angophora floribunda) and coast banksias (Banksia integrifolia subsp. integrifolia) on sandy soils. Warkworth Sands Woodland generally forms on linear sand dunes ranging from one to six metres in height, with Blakely's red gums (Eucalyptus blakelyi) and narrow leaved ironbarks (E. crebra) most common on shallower sands.

 

Warkworth Sands Woodland Glossy Black Cockatoo

 

Despite its limited geographic distribution, Warkworth Sands Woodland provides essential resources for nesters and breeders, shelter in tree hollows and characteristically thick undergrowth. It's also an important food source for threatened migratory birds, including swift parrots (Lathamus discolor), regent honeyeaters (Anthochaera phrygia) and glossy black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus lathami), along with bats in search of select flowering eucalypts. Although the community does not have a distinctive faunal assemblage due to severe fragmentation, nationally-threatened wildlife relying on it includes koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus), spotted-tailed quolls (Dasyurus maculatus), brush-tailed rock wallabies (Petrogale penicillata) and grey-headed flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus).

 

Warkworth Sands Woodlands 2016 Google Timelapse

 

Land clearing, mainly occurring in the course of open cut mining and associated development, is the principal threat to the community. In 2013, the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association (BMPA) successfully challenged a government approval allowing the open cut mining of part of a biodiversity offset that was required to be protected as a condition of the existing approval given in 2003. On appeal in 2014, the BMPA celebrated another win with the NSW Land and Environment Court upholding its decision to disapprove the project application. However, in a heavy blow to the community the following year, Warkworth Mining Ltd submitted a new application to expand the mine which was approved by the Planning and Assessment Commission and not able to be legally challenged. Such decisions threaten the community's survival significantly, and illustrate why the EPBC Act protection gained by the HSI and the Wildlife Land Trust is very much needed.

 

This Critically Endangered classification at the federal level provides Warkworth Sands Woodland of the Hunter Valley an important extra layer of protection against new impacts of clearing with further scrutiny on developments, as well as prioritised actions to preserve and restore it. While forming a promising basis for the recovery of the woodlands, this listing does not apply against recent approvals to extend mining activities impacting on the community, hindering its chances of a quick recovery.

 

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