Black Gum (Eucalypus aggregata) is endangered at a state level and is listed in the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1989. In 2015 it was also recommended for listing as ‘Vulnerable’ on the EPBC Act. Click here to view the Black Gum Action Statement.
In Victoria, the species only occurs in a 4 km radius of Woodend. Its limited geographic range makes it highly vulnerable further loss. Hence, the protection of the black gums is a major goal for Woodend Landcare.
Our focus for action is along the Five Mile Creek where Black Gum often remains as isolated trees. We have successfully cleared most of the major weed infestations along the creek. Our current project aims to fill these gaps with new black gum plants and associated species. In addition, the small Slatey Creek population has high conservation value as it is relatively undisturbed and we will continue our restoration work in this important area.
Black Gum Research – 2016
At our October 2016 committee meeting we were very fortunate to be joined by Michelle Patrick from the Macedon Ranges Shire. Michelle is in the final stages of her Masters research on the Black Gum (Eucalyptus aggregata) and she shared some of her important findings with our group.
Michelle has surveyed 22 out of the 27 known Black Gum sites around Woodend, retracing the steps of the original survey undertaken in 1994. This original survey led to its listing as endangered on the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act and the corresponding Action Statement.
There are two key populations in Woodend – the Five Mile Creek floodplain and the Slatey Creek floodplain. Michelle has also found four new populations at Romsey Road, Hanging Rock, off Ashbourne Road and in Plants Lane. She has also identified the odd scattered individual tree.
Some of the good news from Michelle’s research includes;
- There has been a dramatic reduction in woody weeds threatening the populations. In 1994 there was 50-90% coverage of woody weeds, now there is 5-20% coverage. This is largely due to the on-going hard work of Woodend Landcare over the years and a great result.
- All of the landholders who have black gums on their property are keen to be involved in further protection work.
- The amount of public land that the populations are in has increased from 40% in 1994 to 60% today due mostly to the new Calder Freeway. This means they have potentially increased protection and works can be undertaken in these areas to enhance the populations.
Some not so good news from the research includes:
- Some populations have been lost due to the new freeway and powerline clearing.
- As Black Gums are found in floodplains, some populations are threatened by stream bank erosion.
- Some sites do not have any natural regeneration occurring possibly due to grazing and woody weed competition.
Michelle is completing her thesis with some recommendations for further protection for the species. This may include;
- Reviewing the vegetation protection overlays to include the new populations.
- Connecting the two floodplain populations.
- Protecting and enhancing populations on private land.
- Improving the understory around populations to include more native ground covers.
- Completing further research into what drives natural recruitment.