Care for the remnants of the Peninsula’s rare and protected Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland appears to have fallen through the cracks during the 14 months since the sacking of Gosford Council, according to a local resident.
A fenced-off area in the Peninsula Recreational Precinct, Umina, was signposted by the former Gosford Council as “a natural treasure right on our doorstep” but it is being overtaken by invasive species and Council does not consider its care a high priority.
The site is on public land managed by Council but mapping does not indicate the presence of any threatened species or EEC.
The sign said: “This reserve contains a vegetation community known as Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland.
“Apart from a few remaining pockets on the Peninsula and nearby areas, it is not found anywhere else in the world.
“It is unique because of the special mix of species that make up this community.
“Some of the species that occur together at this site are the bangalay/southern mahogany (eucalyptus botryoides), rough-barked apple (angophora floribunda) and old man banksia (banksia serrata).
“With less than 10 per cent of this unique vegetation community remaining, less than 10 hectares in total, the NSW Government has listed the Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland as an Ecologically Endangered Community (EEC).
“Gosford Council has fenced this area off so that the Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland can regenerate and flourish for future generations to learn from and enjoy,” the sign concluded.
The amalgamation of Gosford and Wyong Councils appears to have resulted in the neglect of the fenced off area at Umina.
Pearl Beach resident Ms Kay Williams said she had been attempting to get Central Coast Council to take action to weed invasive species from the fully-fenced area.
Ms Williams initially contacted Central Coast Council to inform it that thistles and other foreign weeds were invading from the perimeters of the fenced remnant of Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland on Crown Land managed by Council, adjacent to Umina Public School and the Recreation Precinct to the west and east and bordered by Sydney St and Melbourne St to the north and south.
She received a response from Council team leader Mr Russell Clews that: “Due to recent restructuring and now the amalgamation, Council is unable to undertake the maintenance in this area of the reserve as resources are not available”.
“Thus far they say it is not a priority for their maintenance or weeding program,” Ms Williams said.
She subsequently wrote to the Council administrator Mr Ian Reynolds to ask him why the Council was not actively preserving and protecting the rare vegetation.
“I wrote to Mr Reynolds to inform him that I could not believe, from Council’s initial response to my inquiry, that he was aware of the importance of this endangered vegetation area.
“I asked him to confirm that he was aware of its significance and Council’s preservation responsibilities,” she said.
Ms Williams referred the administrator to a 2007 NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change Restoration and Rehabilitation Management Plan for the EEC.
That plan referenced the threats posed by clearing for development, weed invasion, fragmentation, lack of knowledge of the significance of the community and too-frequent fires.
“Weed invasion and spread is one of the most significant threats to the ongoing viability of UCSW,” the plan said.
“Weeds can dominate native vegetation and prevent native species from germinating and growing.
“Most weed species that occur in UCSW have originated from suburban gardens by accidental spread of seed and plant material, as well as by deliberate dumping of garden waste.
“Common weed species in UCSW include ground asparagus (asparagus aethipicus), lantana (lantana camara), bitou bush (chrysanthemoides monilifera), five-leaf morning glory (ipomoea cairica), yellow bells (tecoma stans), vasey grass (paspalum urvillei), farmer’s friends (bidens pilosa), feathertop (pennisetum villosum), coreopsis (coreopsis lanceolata) and panic veldtgrass (ehrharta erecta).”
The Restoration and Rehabilitation Management Plan said weed control programs were to be a high priority and responsible parties were to be the Council, Bushcare groups and the Department.
The NSW Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, declared the UCSW an endangered ecological community in December 2002.
The Committee found that “The UCSW was the name given to the ecological community characterised by the following assemblage of species: acacia elata, acacia floribunda, acacia irrorata, acacia longifolia, acacia suaveolens, acacia ulicifolia, adiantum aethiopicum, allocasuarina littoralis, allocasuarina torulosa, angophora floribunda, aotus ericoides, banksia ericifolia, banksia integrifolia, banksia serrata, billardiera scandens, bossiaea ensata, breynia oblongifolia, caesia parviflora, cassytha glabella, cayratia clematidea, cheilanthes sieberi, clematis glycinoides, clerodendrum tomentosum, commelina cyanea, cymbopogon efractus, dianella caerulea, dodonaea triquetra, duboisia myoporoides, echinopogon ovatus, elaeocarpus reticulatus, entolasia stricta, eriostemon australasius, eucalyptus botryoides, eucalyptus paniculata, eustrephus latifolius, exocarpus cupressiformis, glochidion ferdinandi, glycine clandestine, gompholobium latifolium, gonocarpus teucrioides, hakea sericea, hardenbergia violacea, hibbertia scandens, hibbertia vestita, imperata cylindrical, isolepis nodosus, kennedia rubicunda, lasiopetalum macrophyllum, leptospermum polygalifolium, leptospermum trinervium, lomandra longifolia, macrozamia communis, melaleuca quinquenervia, monotoca elliptica, notelaea longifolia, pandorea pandorana, persoonia levis, persoonia linearis, phyllanthus hirtellus, pittosporum revolutum, platysace lanceolate, podocarpus spinulosus, pomax umbellate, pseuderanthemum variabile, pteridium esculentum, papanea variabilis, pestio tetraphyllus, sarcopetalum harveyanum, smilax glyciphylla, stephania japonica, themeda australis, veronica plebeian, viola hederacea, xanthorrhoea arborea, and xylomelum pyriforme.
“At any one time, above ground individuals of some species may be absent, but the species may be represented below ground in the soil seed banks or as dormant structures such as bulbs, corms, rhizomes, rootstocks or lignotubers.
“UCSW is a low woodland dominated by trees of eucalyptus botryoides and angophora floribunda with a diverse understorey of sclerophyllous shrubs species including banksia integrifolia, banksia serrata, monotoca elliptica, macrozamia communis, acacia ulicifolia, platysace lanceolata, acacia suaveolens and allocasuarina littoralis.
“The woodland was described in 1952 by Burges and Drover who described eucalyptus botryoides as predominating immediately behind the beach with angophora floribunda predominating for up to 2km from the beach.
“UCSW is currently only known from three small areas at Umina, at Umina Oval, McEvoy Oval and Umina High School and at a tiny remnant at Little Patonga Beach.
“The total area still surviving in 2002 was estimated at less than 2 hectares.”
At that time the Scientific Committee was of the opinion that the ecologically endangered community could become “extinct in nature in NSW unless the circumstances and factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate.”
Peninsula News has asked Central Coast Council for more information about its protection and management of the areas of UCSW known to still exist.
Website, 18 Jul 2017
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Threatened Species final determination
Document, Jun 2007
Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland Restoration and Rehabilitation Management Plan
Interview, 12 Jul 2017
Kay Williams, Pearl Beach
Reporter: Jackie Pearson