Vegetation on Mt Canobolas resembles that in other high altitude parts of eastern Australia, but many differences set it apart. In all, seven vegetation types occur, including up to three listed as Endangered under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. In addition, there is a unique endangered lichen community on Mt Canobolas that is endemic to the SCA.
Tableland Basalt Forest Community
The Tableland Basalt Forest Community is a tall montane forest community dominated by Eucalyptus dalrympleana (Mountain Gum) and E. pauciflora (Snow Gum) and gazetted as the:
Tableland Basalt Forest in the Sydney Basin and South Eastern Highlands Bioregions Endangered Ecological Community.
It is known to occur between 600 and 900 m altitude on the eastern parts of the Central Tablelands. On Mt Canobolas, Tableland Basalt Forests occur extensively in the lower valleys and into the heads of valleys in deep basaltic soils above 900 m altitude, hence represent a high altitude variant of the EEC on the western Central Tablelands.
The occurrences on Mt Canobolas are disjunct (isolated) from the core distribution of this community on the Great Dividing Range to the east, where it generally occurs at lower elevations (600-900 m altitude). The Mt Canobolas occurrences also differ in community composition, lacking some species found within it in the east, e.g. the Peppermints Eucalyptus radiata and E. robertsonii, and instead having the E. canobolensis (Silver-leaf Candlebark) as a prominent associate.
On Mt Canobolas, this community is most easily seen on the drive from the John Williams Park entrance on the steep climb to the Orange View Lookout, which passes through majestic tall forests with straight trunked trees dominated by Mountain Gums. The Mt Canobolas Road also passes through a stand of this community east of the junction with Old Canobolas Road. In addition much of the Federal Falls Walking Track circuit traverses this EEC.
Werriwa Tablelands Cool Temperate Grassy Woodland Community
The Werriwa Tablelands Cool Temperate Grassy Woodland Community generally occurs frost-prone valley floors and on lower slopes of undulating tablelands principally across the eastern Central and Southern Tablelands but is now highly fragmented and few high-quality remnants remain. It was gazetted as:
Werriwa Tablelands Cool Temperate Grassy Woodland in the South Eastern Highlands and South East Corner Bioregions Critically Endangered Ecological Community.
Vegetation in the SCA most resembling this EEC occurs on the highest slopes and crests of the mountain where there are deeper soils dominated by Eucalyptus pauciflora (Snow Gum) and E. canobolensis (Silver-leaf Candlebark). Typical examples of this community on the eastern tablelands are dominated by Snow Gum and E. rubida (Candlebark), providing another example of the distinctiveness of the vegetation of Mt Canobolas.
Monaro Tablelands Cool Temperate Grassy Woodland Community
The Monaro Tablelands Cool Temperate Grassy Woodland Community generally occurs frost-prone valley floors and on lower slopes principally across the Central and Southern Tablelands but is now highly fragmented and few high-quality remnants remain. It was gazetted as:
Monaro Tablelands Cool Temperate Grassy Woodland in the South Eastern Highlands Bioregion Critically Endangered Ecological Community.
Vegetation in the SCA most resembling this EEC occurs in the SCA along the reaches of Towac Creek where Eucalyptus pauciflora (Snow Gum) occurs with scattered E. stellulata (Black Sallee) and E. viminalis (Ribbon Gum) trees. Within the SCA Eucalyptus rubida (Candlebark) is replaced by the threatened E. canobolensis (Silver-leaf Candlebark) in this EEC. The EEC is likely to have been present over a larger area on the cleared in-holding portion of the Towac Valley.
Xanthoparmelia Lichen Community
A lichen community of at least nine species of foliose lichens has been recognised as endemic to the SCA, and gazetted as the:
- Mt Canobolas Xanthoparmelia Lichen Community.
The assemblage consists of Cladia fuliginosa, Xanthoparmelia canobolasensis, X. digitiformis, X. metaclystoides, X. metastrigosa, X. multipartita, X. neorimalis and X. sulcifera. It occurs on rock faces and soils unique to the Mt Canobolas volcanic complex. Xanthoparmelia metastrigosa is endemic to Mt Canobolas and X. canobolasensis is known only from Mt Canobolas and one locality in Tasmania while X. sulcifera and C. fuliginosa are each known from a limited number of other localities within NSW.
Because of various identified threats to the assemblage, including from development, tourism visitation, rock collecting and infrastructural works it has been gazetted as an Endangered Ecological Community (EEC) under the BC Act.
Photo credit: Helmut Berndt