Eastern Mallee Bird Community

31st July 2020
The Threatened Species Scientific Committee’s public consultation is underway for their conservation assessment of the Eastern Mallee Bird Community. It is being considered for possible listing as a threatened ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Threatened Species public consultation – Eastern Mallee Bird Community

A draft Conservation Advice that describes the bird community and outlines a case for listing is now available for public comment. A brief Consultation Guide for Landowners is also available to explain what listing might mean, and includes an indicative distribution map of the ecological community. These documents are available on the Department’s website at:

https://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/nominations/comment/eastern-mallee-bird-community

Documents will be open for comment until 28 August 2020.

The EPBC Act requires the Committee and Department to seek comments on whether the ecological community is eligible for listing under the proposed conservation status of Vulnerable, possibly Endangered or another category. Other relevant comments and information also are welcomed, particularly advice from experienced biodiversity and land managers on how to best identify the community and manage its ongoing threats, and Traditional Owners about their knowledge and values regarding mallee birds. Questions are available online to help frame comments, though submissions do not need to be limited to these questions.

What is the Eastern Mallee Bird Community?

  • The proposed Eastern Mallee Bird Community is an assemblage of 52 bird species identified as being dependent on, or strongly associated with, mallee vegetation in south-eastern Australia. It is limited to larger, intact (native) mallee habitats within the Eastern Mallee region.  A list of mallee bird species is in both the Conservation Advice and the Consultation Guide.
  • The Eastern Mallee region is defined as the Eyre Yorke Block and Murray Darling Depression bioregions plus subregion Broughton (FLB02) of the Flinders Lofty Block bioregion that links the two bioregions. This covers the Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas, south-eastern South Australia, south-western NSW and north-western Victoria (where a similar bird community is listed under Victorian legislation).
  • Many of the 52 bird species are listed as threatened species under national or State environment laws. Listing the bird community will not mean that other mallee bird species that are part of the community will become individually listed as threatened.
  • The Eastern Mallee Bird Community will only apply to occurrences where: a minimum number of terrestrial bird species are observed from standard bird surveys and mallee bird species make up the main proportion of birds observed ; and they occur together in intact, larger mallee habitat areas (currently the draft advice suggests at least 50 hectares in size, but this figure is subject to change following further input and analysis). A diversity and abundance of birds that comprise this community is most likely to remain in areas set aside as conservation areas or large mallee remnants that serve as wildlife corridors between such areas.

What would listing mean?

Threatened species and ecological communities listed under the EPBC Act are considered matters of national environmental significance. Actions which will have a significant impact on them may need to be referred to the Minister for the Environment for approval.

The bird community is not considered to be present where mallee habitats are now absent or too small in area, and many patches of mallee are likely to no longer retain the bird community. Therefore, most landholders and properties in the region are unlikely to have the ecological community.

In the rare areas where the bird community still remains, in terms of regulation, the normal and ongoing activities of individual landholders, residents, Local Councils and other land managers are typically not affected by listing. Routine property maintenance, land management, and other established activities, such as most farming activities, roads maintenance or feral animal and weed management are largely exempt from EPBC Act consideration because they are considered a “continuing use” and/or are unlikely to have a significant impact. EPBC Act consideration usually applies to major new projects/activities, for instance mining, major new roads or energy infrastructure, new urban and industrial subdivisions, or other proposals that clear and convert large areas of intact and good quality natural habitats.  These activities and other new projects that could significantly impact on habitats typically still continue, but will need to be planned to avoid or minimise significant impacts and referred to the Department for assessment (and the Minister for approval if required). More information on these matters is in the Consultation Guide.

If no new actions are intended, then the listing won’t affect property owners at all, except to create potential opportunities for land managers who may apply for funding to restore mallee habitats or manage key threats such as pest animals. National listing helps raise public awareness and allows for a strategic landscape-level approach to managing threats and recovering both the biodiversity and the productivity of land. Threatened ecological communities are particularly good targets for Australian Government investment in bushland/habitat restoration projects. National listing creates opportunities for projects with local communities and landholders to manage common threats to the environment and productivity, notably through Australian Government initiatives.

For locations where the bird community does remain, listing would create new potential opportunities in the future for Commonwealth funding initiatives to support threat management and restoration projects, such as the National Landcare Program. This opportunity would also apply to land managers within the broader surrounding catchments where the ecological community occurs.

If you want more information or have questions about the draft assessment, please contact the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment using the contact details on the website, or reply to this email. If you wish to provide comments please send to:

Email: epbcnominations@awe.gov.au
Mail: The Director
Ecological Communities Section
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
GPO Box 787
Canberra ACT 2601

More advice about current Australian Government natural resource management initiatives (e.g. National Landcare) can be found online at: http://www.environment.gov.au/about-us/grants-funding and www.nrm.gov.au