Investigation of Grassy Eucalypt Woodland at Clarke Court, Sunbury

Report on 25 and
35 Clark Court, Sunbury
Melbourne Strategic Assessment
Published by the Victorian Government
Department of Environment and Primary Industries Melbourne,
April 2013
© The State of Victoria Department of Environment and Primary Industries 2013
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The identity and distribution of trees
Distribution of Grassy Eucalypt Woodland
Properties at 25 and 35 Clark Court, Sunbury, were identified as part of a conservation area in the draft Biodiversity
Conservation Strategy for Melbourne’s Growth Areas (Area ‘A’ in the North West, Figure 1. See also DSE 2011, Figures
2 and 26a). This conservation area aims to protect Grassy Eucalypt Woodland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain, which is
listed as critically endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
(EPBC Act).
The boundary of the draft conservation area was defined using the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s
(DSE) (now the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, DEPI) understanding of the distribution of Grassy
Eucalypt Woodland. In this location, this was informed by a map showing the distribution of individual trees, believed to
be of the correct species on the correct soil type to be part of the Grassy Eucalypt Woodland community (DSEWPAC
2011, see Appendix 3 of DSE 2011 for a description of how this map was used). In this area, the map of individual trees
was made using aerial photographs, not field observation.
In order to better asses the contribution of 25 and 35 Clark Court to the protection of Grassy Eucalypt Woodland, a
survey of the property was undertaken by DSE in January 2012 to determine the exact locations of any trees on the
properties which could form the canopy of Grassy Eucalypt Woodland; and update DSE’s understanding of the extent of
Grassy Eucalypt Woodland at that location.
Informal observations were also made on the distribution and condition of ‘native vegetation’ (as opposed to trees;
including the understorey vegetation). In this area, data from field surveys were available showing native vegetation, and
this was not formally re-assessed.
Figure 1: Figure 26a reproduced from DSE 2011. 25 and 35 Clark Court are ringed in pink.
The properties were visited on Tuesday 31 January, 2012 by Dr Steve Sinclair from DSE, for approximately one hour. All
trees were examined, and categorised as being either 1) species which could form the canopy of Grassy Eucalypt
Woodland, or 2) other species not relevant to this community (including remnant and/or planted trees). The locations of
trees were recorded by hand on an aerial photograph, with the aid of a hand held GPS.
The identity and distribution of trees
Both properties supported specimens of Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) growing on basalt-derived soils (basalt
rocks were present in the soil profile). This species is indigenous locally, and these trees are consistent with Grassy
Eucalypt Woodland. Many of the trees were small, or multi-stemmed after regrowing from the base. It is not certain that
all Yellow Box trees are natural relicts of Grassy Eucalypt Woodland, but in the opinion of the author most are. The
distribution of trees mapped in the field (figure 2) is different to DSE’s pre-existing map of trees (figure 3).
Distribution of Grassy Eucalypt Woodland
Grassy Eucalypt Woodland was mapped by DSE using the individual trees as centre-points to define an area. Thus, the
changed locations of the trees leads to a new understanding of the distribution of Grassy Eucalypt Woodland (explained
further in Appendix 3 of DSE 2011).
Grassy Eucalypt Woodland was also mapped with reference to the nature of the understorey vegetation. The existing
data were found to adequately describe the vegetation observed.
Figure 4 shows an updated map of Grassy Eucalypt Woodland, reflecting the new tree data. The boundary on this figure
includes treed Grassy Eucalypt Woodland, and an indication of derived grassland associated with Grassy Eucalypt
Woodland (as does the comparable Figure 1. Refer to Appendix 3, DSE 2011; i.e. the large buffer is applied, not only the
smaller buffer based on canopy cover).
Figure 2: The distribution of Yellow Box Trees, updated after field visits (green points). The base map is an air image taken in January 2009.
Figure 3: The distribution of trees as understood by DSE before site visits.
Figure 4: Updated Grassy Eucalypt Woodland map.
Department of Sustainability and Environment (2011) Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for Melbourne’s Growth Areas.
Draft for Public Consultation. Department of Sustainability and Environment, East Melbourne, Victoria.
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPAC) 2011. Nationally
Threatened Ecological Communities of the Victorian Volcanic Plain: Natural Temperate Grassland & Grassy Eucalypt
Woodland. A guide to the identification, assessment and management of nationally threatened ecological communities
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
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