A conservation grant from the NSW Government's Saving Our Species program worth $67,717 was recently used across the New England region. It was used to manage and monitor sites containing three endangered native plant species, and one listed as vulnerable to extinction by NSW Biodiversity Conservation legislation.
Native to the Northern Tablelands, the Small Snake Orchid (Diuris pedunculata) was one of the four rare species, along with the Northern Blue Box, Wallangarra White Gum and Blackbutt Candelbark. All grow at sites ranging from Tenterfield in the north, down to the Armidale region, east to Dorrigo and out to Inverell.
The bright yellow-flowered orchid is less than 10 centimetres tall and was originally found from the Hawkesbury River to Tenterfield. Nowadays, it can only be found around Armidale, Uralla, Guyra and Ebor. Clearing, grazing, weeds, feral pigs, frequent fire and illegal collection are its main enemies.
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) project officer for Threatened Species, Lia Hooper, said a big part of the program was to conduct threat and species monitoring.
"The funding went towards a variety of actions, including the installation of stock exclusion fences on Travelling Stock Reserves to exclude cattle during the flowering and fruiting period of the orchid," she said.
"It also included weed works at all of the sites.
"Monitoring looks at the effectiveness of the management of the actions taken, and insures the best investment of funds."
Lia said the OEH had formed good relations with Local Land Services New England and the two organisations were in the process of forming a Memorandum of Understanding to help with the ongoing maintenance of the sites and determine the long-term success of the project.
Northern Blue Box now grows only in a few widely dispersed populations around the Hillgrove, Glen Innes and Tenterfield regions. One population exists in the Oxley Wild Rivers National Park and the remainder occur on travelling stock routes or private property.
Wallangarra White Gum grows in only three places near Tenterfield, while Blackbutt Candlebark now grows in scattered populations from Guyra to Tenterfield.