Eucalypt woodlands of the Western Australian Wheatbelt
In early December 2015 Humane Society International received the fantastic and long-awaited news from Federal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt that he had decided to list the Eucalypt Woodlands of the Western Australian Wheatbelt as a Critically Endangered Ecological Community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservaiton Act 1999 (EPBC Act) as the result of a scientific nomination prepared and submitted by HSI in 2011. Through their detailed assessment of HSI's nomination, the Threatened Species Scientific Committee concluded that it met four of the six criteria for a threatened listing.
Eucalypt woodlands of the Western Australian Wheatbelt in the landscape. Photo: Chris Curnow, WWF
The Eucalypt woodlands of the Western Australian Wheatbelt are one of the most heavily cleared landscapes in Australia, with at least 85% of native vegetation estimated to have been lost for agricultural clearing - a particular problem considering it occurs in Australia’s only international biodiversity hotspot. Importantly, the listing of the remaining 970,000 hectares these woodlands provides umbrella protection for 87 native flora and fauna species that are listed as nationally threatened, including the woylie (Bettongia penicillata ogilbyi), chuditch (Dasyurus geoffroii), numbat (Myrmecobius fasciatus), greater bilby (Macrotis lagotis), quokka (Setonix brachyurus) and Carnaby's black cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris), through legislative protection of their habitat.
The Western Australian Wheatbelt listing capped off a great year for HSI nominated Threatened Ecological Communities (TEC), with six of the total seven TECs that have been listed under the EPBC Act this year resulting from the Humane Society International nomination program. These bring the total for our nominations to 28 communities listed under the Act, a figure poised for further growth with another seven communities HSI has submitted in the final stages of assessment for listing.
The Department of the Environment profile for the ecological community, which includes detailed Conservation Advice prepared by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, can be accessed by clicking here.