2018-19 Annual Report on Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps and Emu-wrens
Since the mid 1990s, the Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps (FPS) Recovery Program has protected and enhanced hundreds of hectares of this critically endangered ecological community.
This year, the project has continued to explore how to best manage FPS accounting for the vast variations in physical settings, threats and surrounding land use. The project collected information from field sites to determine when and what management tools to help push a swamp into a desirable state.
This work combines assessing the more traditional conservation work (such as fencing, stock removal and weed control), capturing an oral history of the property through conversations with landholders and field site assessments, to determine what actions to take, when to take them and changes that may occur in the swamp if the actions are taken or not.
The project team has reviewed past data collected by this and other projects and has, where possible, aligned this with the data collected during this year’s project in an attempt to pick up changes to FPS over the last 15 years.
The aim was not to reinvent survey methods or data fields but to be able to detect changes over time in swamps and potentially attribute them to past management actions. The mapping in this project suggests the area historically mapped as Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps over-represents the amount of Fleurieu Peninsula swamps that currently exists.
Even though this year’s project picked up smaller areas of FPS that had not been previously mapped, the total area of FPS vegetation is less than what was assumed to be swamps mapped by the previous studies.
When FPS were originally listed as a Threatened Ecological Community under the EPBC Act, 12 vegetation communities were used to describe the different ‘types’ of FPS. Vegetation data collected this year suggest that there are at least double that number. The sites surveyed to date also suggested that a lot of the swamp vegetation is becoming old and thick and would benefit from active management to keep the swamps in a variety of diverse states, creating a wider spread of habitat types.
Much of the data from the most recent survey has not been thoroughly investigated, but preliminary investigations suggest this survey has been useful in providing information on the current state of the swamp and an estimation of what sort of condition that swamp might be in in the next 5-10 years. It will also highlight which weed species are currently the greatest issues in swamps.
Going forward this project will provide a more refined representation and inventory of the actual occurrence of Fleurieu Peninsula Swamps. The project will provide more information about the threats to swamps on a landscape scale as well as the different vegetation types and age classes within. This will provide greater opportunities for appropriate management actions to conserve this Threatened Ecological Community.