They can provide a wind break, control insect and pests, help fight rising water tables, prevent soil erosion, and provide valuable seeds.
They are the Eucalypt Woodlands of the Western Australian Wheatbelt, and sadly, they were recently dubbed ‘critically endangered’.
The Australia Government’s Department of Environment has recently listed the Eucalypt Woodlands of the Western Australian Wheatbelt as a critically endangered ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation 1999 Act (EPBC Act).
The Eucalypt woodlands, as they are more commonly known as, are characterised by a range of eucalypt species, including iconic wheatbelt trees such as Eucalyptus salmonophloia (salmon gum), E. loxophleba subsp.loxophleba (York gum), E salubris (gimlet), E. longicornis (red morrel), E. wandoo (wandoo) and various species of mallet, among other eucalypt species.
The understorey is highly variable, both in structure and species composition, and can be shrubby, herbaceous, grassy, chenopod or samphire dominated, or almost bare.
Eucalypts form an integral part of the Australian identity with the bush and the Wheatbelt Woodlands, a signature natural asset that characterise the broad Wheatbelt landscape.
They are important to local communities, landholders, Indigenous people such as Noongar and Yamatji people. They also provide vital habitat for our region’s unique flora and fauna (some of which are now threatened, such as the Carnaby’s Black Cockatoo).
Eucalypt woodlands were formerly widespread, occurring as extensive stands, across the wheatbelt.
Due to intensive land clearing, the woodlands now exist as mostly small, widely scattered fragments. Woodland trees are no longer replacing themselves in many sites, and the loss of woodland tree cover has contributed to serious problems of salinity, erosion and altered local climate patterns.
What we are doing?
Since NACC’s inception in the early 2000’s we have been working in partnership with local farmers to protect the Wheatbelt Woodlands. And as chance would have it, NACC’s CEO, Richard McLellan, launched WWF’s Woodland Watch in 2000.
Woodland Watch, was a unique working partnership between WWF, NACC, Wheatbelt NRM, state and federal government, rural landholders and communities across the Northern Agricultural Region and the Avon Basin of WA’s Wheatbelt.
Woodland Watch flora survey data is lodged on DPaW’s FloraBase website for easy and open public access to all data http://florabase.calm.wa.gov.au/wwatch
NACC has continued to work with NAR farmers over the years, and still today, to protect woodlands through our Biodiversity Program and remnant vegetation incentive schemes.
Stay tuned to NACC Notes and NACC’s Facebook page for more information about what this TEC listing means for the Wheatbelt Woodlands and the people in our region.
“The Wheatbelt of Western Australia is pure eucalypt county.
The landscape is dominated by its distinctive outlines on the hilltops, on granite outcrops, on the broad valley floors, on the sandplains and around lakes. They are ever present…”
(Extract from Eucalypts of Western Australia’s Wheatbelt, by Malcom French)