Invertebrates rarely get a mention in the context of EcIA because so few are actually protected. Ancient Greenling Hemiphlebia mirabilis is protected in Victoria under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, making it a material consideration for planning. The species is not only protected but also taxonomically and globally unique, being the only taxon in the family Hemiphlebiidae.
The species' has long suffered a decline in distribution due to drainage and decreasing water quality of lowland freshwater wetlands. In December 2008 it was discovered in far west Victoria, a range extension of about 400km. Now it has been found in South Australia as well.
Originally known in the area around the Goulburn Valley, about 200 km north of Melbourne, the species was soon under threat – by 1940, only 3 per cent of native-vegetation cover remained; by 1980 there were concerns that the species was extinct. Drought was only part of the problem. Thirst for irrigation led to a raised watertable, salinity and soil acidification. Billabongs were degraded through agricultural nutrient run-off and livestock damage. (Extract from Australian Geographic Magazine article).
There is still a possibility that this species could be found at any lowland freshwater wetland in the state. The implications for planning and EIA is that surveys and assessment should be done for this species in any coastal environment with freshwater.
More information on Ancient Greenling.
Contact: Simon Mustoe, CEnvP, MEIANZ, MIEEM, Director, AES Applied Ecology Solutions PL.