The impacts of a recent fire at Paddy’s River will continue to unfold.
Despite the environmental impacts it has had, the fire has also provided ecologists with an opportunity.
Research to learn more about endangered species Paddy’s River Box has been given the green light.
Paddy’s River Box or Eucalyptus macarthurii occurs almost exclusively within the Southern Highlands.
As a result of historic land clearing and grazing, and more recently urban development, the number of remaining Paddy’s River Box has been steadily decreasing.
As a consequence, Paddy’s River Box is now listed an endangered species under both NSW and Commonwealth environmental legislation.
Under the Saving Our Species program, the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), in conjunction with Wingecarribee Shire Council, has been mapping remaining Paddy’s River Box on roadside verges and within council’s reserves.
River Bend Reserve and Goanna Falls Reserve are two of the reserves in which mapping has started.
This information will assist in the development plans to conserve the tree.
Mapping had recently commenced within Paddy’s River Reserve – the site of probably the largest remaining area of the tree – when fire burnt out several hectares on Saturday, September 23.
The fire has provided a chance for OEH to set up a long term program to study the effects of fire on Paddy’s River Box.
OEH Senior Threatened Species Officer Kylie Madden said the results of the research would be interesting.
“Although we would have preferred that a wildfire had not entered Paddy’s River Reserve, we can make the best of the situation by setting a program of ‘opportunistic post-fire monitoring’,” she said.
“We’ll be interested to observe the effects of the fire on adult trees, on the ability of the species to recover, and whether the fire will encourage the regeneration of seedlings.”
Monitoring plots will be set up in both burned and unburned areas to enable data to be collected and compared in years to come.
Ecologist Greg Stone, who will undertake the monitoring said the information would help develop an effective conservation strategy.
“There is very little known about how Paddy’s River responds to fire,” he said.
“So any information we collect will contribute to developing the most effective way to conserve the species in the Southern Highlands.”
Paddy’s River Box generally occurs on fertile land within an area bound by Canyonleigh, Paddy’s River, Wingello, Bundanoon, Werai, Fitzroy Falls, Burrawang, Kangaloon, Glenquarry, Mittagong, Mandemar, Berrima and Sutton Forest.