Habitat Loss                                          A grassroots movement towards orchid conservation


Link back to orginal story Prasophyllum affine and Cryptostylis hunteriana

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]

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C hunteriana

R slateri Bulahdelah
Rhizanthella slateri

R slateri vincentia
Rhizanthella slateri

paffine habitat before leisure centre 1997
Orchid habitat before Leisure Centre

Leisure Centre
Leisure Centre

existing temporary access road
Temporary Access Road

P affine at school site
Prasophyllum affine

P affine habitat near sporting field
Sporting field and orchid habitat

Orchid Habitat Loss 

Prasophyllum affine, Cryptostylis hunteriana, and Rhizanthella slateri Summer (Australia) 2008 Update photos and text by Alan Stephenson

R slateri Bulahdelah
Rhizanthella slateri Open capitulum is from the type site at Bulahdelah, about 400km north of Sydney

The year of 2008 has proved to be very poor for Prasophyllum affine with an overall flowering rate of about 2% across the seven control plots, although within these plots, which are 40 metres square, six new flowering individuals were found and recorded. The officer from the Department of Environment, Conservation and Climate Change (DECC) with whom I work each year will eventually write a paper on the findings of the twice yearly surveys and he has stated he will do this following two consecutive good years but I hope I am still living when that phenomenon occurs, given the events of recent years. The flowering rate in 2007 was about 5% and in 2006 about 7%, so the hope is that 2009 will not continue the diminishing percentage rates. The only feature of P. affine flowering is that it does not appear to be inhibited by vegetative density as several flowering plants were located in dense grasses and ground covering shrubs. Surveys were also conducted in two areas of National Park known to contain P. affine. In one area known for 12 plants, only an individual P. affine was located and another known to contain 60 plants produced only one other individual P. affine. Surveys for these sites took 16 hours to complete and this was in a year of average rainfall. With the erection of the protective fence I have more confidence in the long term survival of this population and two features give me greater confidence. These are the realisation the current fence is a five strand plain wire temporary construction and a more substantial swimming pool style fence of 1.5 mts (5 feet) will eventually be a permanent fixture. The second cause for hope is the current economic situation, which has seen a slowdown in construction of this type of development due to the cost and availability of project funding. This might play a part in the slowing of several large projects and allow more time for environmental studies into numerous orchid-rich areas under threat from development.

The major cause for hope regarding funding shortfalls and cost overruns is with Rhizanthella slateri and the road by pass of the small New South Wales town of Bulahdelah. The road upgrade much further north of Bulahdelah has come at a greater cost to the government as a previously unknown Aboriginal site was discovered and the cost of re-routing the road was approximately $20M over budget. At Bulahdelah this also could be a reality as more unknown Aboriginal sites have been located and a court challenge is currently underway to assess the situation. I have lodged a submission to the court regarding this matter, which brings to five the number of submissions I have written at different stages of this development. Studies regarding Rhizanthella slateri and Cryptostylis hunteriana and their intended translocation from the path of the proposed road, is being undertaken by Dr. Mark Clements in the hope of determining a range of unknowns regarding both species. With R. slateri the unknowns are a definitive habitat type, a pollinator, a method of seed dispersal and an associated fungus. In other words, just about everything required for a translocation is still unknown. As for C. hunteriana the flowering season is just beginning and no further information is expected until after the Christmas period.

P affine vincentia
Prasophyllum affine The total number of P. affine over the three known sites is 1150 with just 81 plants secure in a National Park. All others are on private land. Very few plants of C. hunteriana are situated in National Parks or reserves.

C hunteriana
Cryptostylis hunteriana