Banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain

We need your help to track down important missing flora! Have you seen these banksias?

Map displaying the extant of Banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain ecological community. Image modified from Species Profile and Threats Database – Banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain ecological community.

Once growing in thick bands from Jurien Bay to Dunsborough, the past 200 years have seen Banksia Woodlands suffer from extensive clearing to make way for urban sprawl, mining, and agriculture. Today it is estimated only 40% of the original vegetation remains, which has resulted in fragmented and degraded remnant patches. Due to this significant loss in range, Banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain was listed in 2016, as a Threatened Ecological Community (TEC), protected under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act of 1999 (EPBC Act).

The aptly named woodlands are characterized by their dominant vegetation layer of Banksia species including Banksia attenuata (Candlestick Banksia), Banksia menziesii (Firewood banksia), Banksia prionotes (Acorn Banksia) or Banksia ilicifolia (Holly-leaved Banksia). Often a mixture of these species will grow together. Rising above this canopy, you can often find a collection of Corymbia calophylla (Marri), Eucalyptus marginata (Jarrah), Nuytsia floribunda (Western Australian Christmas Tree), Eucalyptus todtiana (Blackbutt), and Callitris arenaria (Sandplain cypress). Banksia Woodlands are known to boast amazing understorey biodiversity, with over 2000 plant species, including many orchids, having been associated with this ecological community.

An ecological community refers to a group of native plants, animals, or organisms that naturally occur and interact together within a specific habitat. The structure, composition, and distribution of an ecological community are determined by environmental factors such as soil, climate, and water availability. When any one of these factors changes within a community, it affects all its inhabitants.

In the Northern Agricultural Region, one such species that is directly impacted by the loss of Banksia Woodlands is the iconic Carnaby’s Cockatoo (Zanda latirostris), who rely on Banksia woodlands as an essential natural food source. As the distribution of Banksia decreases, so too does the accessibility to natural food sources surrounding Carnaby’s Cockatoo breeding grounds.

Currently, the remaining areas of Banksia Woodlands are under threat from a number of processes and pressures including;

  • Urban sprawl and land clearing
  • Phytophthora spp. (dieback disease process)
  • Invasive species (both flora and fauna)
  • Altered fire regimes
  • Changing climate (rainfall decline, soil acidification, and increasing temperatures)
  • Grazing pressure (from both native and invasive species)
  • Declining pollinating and seed-dispersing fauna
  • Fragmented nectar/pollen networks

Only large, relatively intact areas of the Banksia Woodland qualify to be protected under the EPBC Act This means that much of the remaining areas of the endangered TEC, which are predominantly small and in a degraded state, are highly vulnerable to the aforementioned pressures, resulting in a decline in ecological function over time. Actions such as pest and weed control, disease management and stock fencing are critical to the survival of this TEC.

Through funding from the Natural Heritage Trust, NACC NRM aims to support land managers within the Northern Agricultural Region to undertake management activities that improve the condition of Banksia Woodland on their property.

If you have a patch of Banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain on your property, you may be eligible for NACC NRM’s financial incentives aimed at improving both the condition and function of this ecological community. For more information on incentives, please contact:

Samantha Comito – NACC NRM Biodiversity Project Officer
E samantha.comito@nacc.com.au | M 0448 984 899

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