Bathurst

The biodiversity report for the Bathurst Campus noted that the site is highly disturbed, as the land operated an experimental farm as far back as 1895.

In spite of this, the report noted that Hawthornden Creek (which runs along the southern boundary of the campus) provides an excellent opportunity for the creation of a biodiversity/wildlife corridor, provided that some of the significant identified erosion issues can be fixed. In 2013, Charles Sturt University partnered with Bathurst Regional Council to address these issues through significant stabilisation works.

One endangered ecological community listed in the schedules of the NSW TSC Act, the ‘White Box Yellow Box Blakely’s Red Gum Woodland endangered ecological community’, can be found in the area with some remnant species found at the western end of the creek. The community is also listed under the Commonwealth EPBC Act as the ‘White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum grassy woodlands and derived native grasslands critically endangered ecological community’. This community is commonly referred to as Box-Gum Woodland.

The below gallery show cases native fauna species identified on this campus through biodiversity monitoring activities.

Charles Sturt University extends our sincere gratitude to the following talented and very generous photographers for granting permission to publish their amazing images.

Thank you to: Simon B Cotterell, Ian Montgomery birdway.com.au, Jennifer Horsnell, Geoff Burrows, Dr Joanne Connolly, Tim Bergen, Alexandra Knight, David Hunter, Mark Stephenson, Cilla Kinross, Ian Kerr, Roger France and Ken Monson.

Wildflower images are sourced from canberra.naturemapr.org

Flagship species: Diamond Firetail

Conservation status is vulnerable under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act, 1995.

The Diamond Firetail Stagonopleura guttata, is a brightly coloured finch that occupies open eucalypt Box-Gum woodlands where there is a grassy understorey. Firetails build bottle-shaped nests in trees and bushes, and forage on the ground, largely for grass seeds and other plant material, but also for insects. They are found in grassy eucalypt woodlands and are usually encountered in flocks of between 5 to 40 birds, occasionally more. They breed between August and January.

Habitat requirements – home and food

Diamond Firetails are among 46 native birds recorded on Charles Sturt University land in 2012.  The majority of species were observed along Hawthornden Creek which has a number of favourable habitat features, including mature old growth eucalypt trees, tall seeding grasses, dense cover provided by plantings of Acacia rubida, surrounding open space and paddocks, and a supply of water in the creek.

The mature native trees along Hawthornden Creek provide a corridor for Diamond Firetails to move through the landscape. The creek provides a link between the relatively large Box-Gum woodland remnants in the Boundary Road Reserve and south of Mount Panorama, and the Macquarie River. This species are granivorous meaning they eat seeds. They feed exclusively on the ground, on grass, herb seeds and green leaves, and on insects (especially during the breeding season).

Key threats

  • Vegetation clearance and fragmentation of habitat.
  • Isolation and reductions in remnant area inhibit dispersal and increase their vulnerability to local extinction. Small, isolated populations are prone to losing their long term genetic viability (Barrett et al. 1994).
  • Diamond Firetail populations appear unable to persist in areas which lack remnants of native vegetation larger than 200ha (N. Schrader, pers. comm.).
  • Habitat degradation, particularly overgrazing of the grass understorey, weeds and pest animals.
  • Increased abundance of predators such as Pied Currawongs and Australian Ravens may increase nest predation in fragmented woodland remnants (Major et al. 1996).

What Charles Sturt University is doing

Two areas totalling 3.6 hectares at Charles Sturt University Bathurst have been identified and mapped indicating areas of significant conservation value.  These areas were formally ratified in April 2017 as biodiversity zones.

Work to stabilise the creek bed and side slopes of Hawthornden Creek (Biodiversity area B) are ongoing.  The Creek runs along the southern boundary of Charles Sturt University Bathurst, providing an excellent opportunity for the enhancement of this biodiversity/wildlife corridor.  In 2013 Charles Sturt University partnered with Bathurst Regional Council to undertake significant stabilisation works.

Ongoing habitat enhancement work aims to:

  • create a native shrub layer;
  • enhance numbers of native herbs to expand ground cover;
  • maintain trees with hollows;
  • ensuring the protection of the Narrow-leaved Black Peppermint (Eucalyptus nicholii)
  • allow/provide fallen trees, hollow logs, branches and leaf litter on the ground;
  • plant more of the Diamond Firetail’s preferred food trees (Eucalyptus viminalis) as there are too few in the area; and
  • continue revegetation activities connecting Biodiversity zone A to B extending the wildlife corridor along Hawthornden Creek using seedlings grown from seed collected from remnant trees currently growing there.

Erosion control works have continued in 2020 by the Division of Facilities Management team under the guidance of Alumni Mick Callan.

Weed control - minimise numbers of introduced species in the ground cover. Control of African Lovegrass and Serrated Tussock in particular, but also Blackberry, Chilean Needle Grass, and Willows which are listed as Weeds of National Significance. Consideration must be given to the control of Chilean Needlegrass around Parking Area 1 and on the former golf course.

Pest animal control – including rabbits, foxes and feral cats.

Proposed activities include the protection of the Box-Gum Woodland native grassland remnants from future disturbances by renewing the fencing between them and the open space to the north.

How you can help

Participate in activities enhancing the two biodiversity zones including:

  • participate in tree planting days on campus;
  • participate in flora and fauna monitoring activities;
  • keep pet cats inside at all times, especially at night;
  • pick up litter around campus;
  • be aware of the important habitat role of hollow trees;
  • observe native animals on campus and report to the Campus Environment Committee anything that stands out; and
  • observe speed limits and watch out for native animals when driving around campus, especially early in the morning and at dusk.