Survey unearths rare species and promising woodland bird habitats

June 2022

Carbon Landscapes are pleased to announce an exciting body of work, an initial vegetation survey on our Telopea Downs property, has been completed.

Renowned flora expert Tim D’Ombrain was engaged to undertake a survey which has resulted in comprehensive mapping of vegetation types on our 800-hectare Mallee Woodland and Shrubland property in Victoria’s west.

Shedding light on the species that make up our rich ecological communities, the comprehensive list of shrubs, trees and grasses found on site included at least four species that are rare, or nominated as threatened, in Victoria.

The initial survey to collect baseline data yielded 1851 flora records, 47 fauna records and 680 georeferenced photographs.

Desert bush extends to the horizon, shrubs and sand in the foreground, mature trees in the background

A Haven for Woodland Birds and Malleefowl

The results are heartening for the critically endangered Mallee Emu-Wren (Stipiturus mallee) and other small woodland bird species, who rely on unburnt Porcupine Grass (Triodia scariosa) and associated dense understory for their habitat. Triodia is abundantly scattered throughout the property.

With our friends Zoos Victoria and Odonata, we are creating a safe haven for the Mallee Emu-wren, to supplement the reintroduction of the species into the nearby Big Desert Wilderness Park, which was once a stronghold for the species.

Evidence of an inactive Malleefowl mound coupled with sightings of Malleefowl tracks entering the property from the southern boundary are promising signs of Malleefowl occupancy. We have positioned cameras at strategic points along the fence lines to capture images, with the cameras to be checked in the coming months.

Malleefowl mound at Carbon Landscapes' Telopea Downs property
A disused Malleefowl mound found on our Telopea Downs property hints at Malleefowl occupancy of the site.
Person kneeling along fence line placing camera to capture images of Mallefowl
Mallee expert Merinda Thorpe sets up a camera to capture Malleefowl images.

A Tree-mendous Discovery

A number of rare or threatened species were found to occur on the property.

Perhaps most exciting were several significant stands of the rare Green-leaf Mallee (Eucalyptus phenax subsp. Phenax) (pictured below) thriving on clay soil in lower lying areas that have never been mapped.

This species is listed as rare in Victoria and is otherwise known from only a small number of sites in the region, consisting of a few individuals. The Green-leaf Mallee has a distinctive understorey, and the populations on our property may well be the largest in the state.

Other rare flora and fauna included Common Sour-bush (Choretrum glomeratum), Tufted Grasstree (Xanthorrhoea caespitosa) and Chestnut Quail-thrush (Cinclosoma castanotum), nominated for listing as threatened in Victoria.

Molineaux Sands, the predominant soil type on the property, supports Scrub Pine, Desert Stringybark, Desert Banksia and associated species on the dunes. Large, relatively flat areas support Mallee Eucalypt woodland dominated by Yellow Mallee and Slender-leaf Mallee.

Green leaf Mallee at Telopea Downs
Green-leaf Mallee (Eucalyptus phenax subsp. Phenax) is listed as rare in Victoria.

Survey Just the Beginning

Given the extensive size of the property, the Southwest corner remains unmapped, and surveying will be completed in Spring 2022. Additionally, we will be coordinating a bird count on the property in Spring, and will be seeking interested volunteers closer to the date.

Keep an eye on our LinkedIn and social media for further updates.

In the spirit of reconciliation Carbon Landscapes acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.
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