The Department of Sustainability and Environment‘s Flora Information System records 512 flora records within the resort, 342 or 86% of which are indigenous. Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVC’s) are the primary level of classification for native vegetation within Victoria. They describe native vegetation communities including floristic, life form and ecological characteristics. Five EVC’s have been identified within the resort. For further information on EVC’s and descriptions of Victoria’s bioregions including the Victorian Alps visit the DSE website www.dse.vic.gov.au
The most widespread EVC within the resort found along high elevation ridges and upper slopes is the Sub Alpine Woodland dominated by the Snow Gum (Eucalyptus Pauciflora). Downslope the woodlands intergrade with montane forests mostly dominated by Alpine Ash (Eucalyptus delegatensis) and Mountain Gum (Eucalyptus dalrympleana).
Above the treeline the Subalpine Treeless Mosaic occurs typically in higher elevation areas such as Mount Hotham and Mount Higginbotham. Growth here is limited by the climatic extremes. Some of the more significant vegetation here includes the habitat of the Mountain Pigmy Possum Burramys parvus. Classified under the current EVC’s as Alpine Coniferous Shrubland it is typically low open heathland restricted to rocky sites in basalt boulderfields ranging in altitude from 1400m through to 1780m and dominated by Mountain Plum Pine (Podocarpus lawrencei).
Identified as having state significance under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, Alpine snow patch communities are restricted to south and southeast facing slopes on large, concave, sheltered slopes of higher altitude. Snow accumulates on these sheltered slopes and remains on these sites one to two months longer than adjoining areas. The vegetation is generally shorter and dominated in the upper parts by Snow Daisy (Celmisia) species and downslope by Horny Snow-grass. Another community listed under the Act the Alpine Bog vegetation is found in permanently wet sites, normally composed of a Sphagnum Moss layer with a sparse to dense cover of shrubs. In addition to Sphagnum, this community is dominated by Candle Heath (Richea continentis).
Alpine grasslands includes Poa costiniana and Poa hiemata. Poa costiniana is generally found on basalt areas and contains dense tussocks of Poa and periodically water filled depressions. Poa hiemata tussock grassland contains a variety of herbaceous species within the tussock spaces and is predominantly found on gentle slopes of metamorphic rock type.
Rich in alpine species diversity, the resort burst into flower between November and February. It is a wonderful time to visit the area and the Resort Management Board stocks several books to help you identify species as you explore. A self guided walk ecology walk brochure is available to help you identify communities of ecological significance.
Historically, many exotic (weed) plants have been introduced to the Resort through cattle grazing and for soil stabilisation purposes. Combined with more recent disturbance during construction and development, as well as summer and winter recreation and tourism activities, there has been an increase in the exotic flora of the Resort. The majority of these species do not extend far into native vegetation, however some species pose a serious threat. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Willow (Salix) species, English Broom (Cytsus scoparius) and Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) have been identified as serious threats to the biological diversity of the Resort. In particular, Yarrow has the potential to spread from disturbed areas into native vegetation and Grey Willow is a weed of National Significance having the potential to infest downstream waterways. The Board conducts an annual weed eradication program to combat this threat.
A total of 87 plants of state significance have been recorded within the resort and one plant of national significance.
Five plants and four plant communities are listed under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act including the Mountain Daisy, Silky Snow-daisy, Alpine Bog and Alpine Snowpatch Communities. Dwarf Sedge (Carex paupera) is listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
- See more at: http://www.mthotham.com.au/all-about-hotham/why-hotham/environment/climate/threatened/#sthash.7XzsW5Jm.dpuf
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