Habitat Loss                                          A grassroots movement towards orchid conservation


orchid species alan stephenson
Alan W Stephenson's  Orchid Species of Shoalhaven, NSW Australia

A book about Australian orchids, habitat,  and conservation

Available from:
[email protected]

Click on pictues for larger pictures

Corunastylis superba

c superba
Corunastylis superba

C superba habitat
C superba habitat

C superba lost habitat
A former C superba habitat, now a gasline runs through it.

Corunastylis superbaCorunastylis superba

corunastylis superb
Corunastylis superba

Orchid Habitat Loss 

Corunastylis superba  photos and text by Alan Stephenson

corunastylis superba
Corunastylis superba

Corunastylis superba (syn. Genoplesium superbum) is under consideration for a threatened listing. It is known from a single site (40 plants) about 85 km (53 miles) from the coast. The site is in a National Park which borders the road. This road is currently dirt but is undergoing a bitumen upgrade. The section containing the site will remain dirt with the new road running parallel about 80 yards distant. In September 2006 the local Council employed a contractor to undertake normal road maintenance of the dirt section (about 400 yards) but unfortunately failed to inform the contractor (grader driver) of the exact location of the site.

The Council knew it was in the area to be graded but neglected to contact the National Parks people (local phone call) to ascertain the precise location. As a result the grader did his job but graded a section of the site (10 feet x 120 feet) to a depth of about four inches. This destroyed those plants which were in that section as this species is a normal deciduous terrestrial about eight inches high which flowers from January to March and were not visible at the time.

When the damage was noted I was contacted, first by Council officers and then the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to give independent advice as to how the situation could be rectified. I went to the site with a Council officer and was about to write something for them when I was contacted by DEC to do the same thing. I met a DEC officer at the site and we manually moved the rubble with rakes, shovels and with our hands which was pushed on to the site by the grader. The rubble was in the form of shrubs, soil, rocks and a few small sapling trees. I was then informed that DEC intended to prosecute Council for the damage. Photos were taken by me and the DEC officer to be used as evidence when and if this happens.

I have visited the site on six occasions to check the progress and this season a single plant flowered on the entire site (see photo).  Nothing was seen in the damaged section and probably nothing will appear for a decade or two, if ever. Photos include the plant/flower, a normal view of the site, pile of rubble and the road verge with rubble spread out as best we could. DEC initially applied some water to the site via a water tanker to settle the site but so far from February this year the rainfall has been very good. The general growth on the site is about knee height and moderate to sparse. Elevation is 2200 feet and rainfall is about 24 inches per year. I have also included a photo of a site across the road (40 yards) which was destroyed by the natural gas pipeline about eight years ago. Nothing has flowered on that section since then.

Corunastylis superbaCorunastylis superba