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Plans/Management of Sites & Species as made
This instrument makes the national recovery plan for the Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta), a listed threatened species.
Administered by: Agriculture, Water and the Environment
Registered 15 Jun 2022

Commonwealth of Australia coat of arms

Commonwealth of Australia

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (Recovery PlanGrantiella picta) Instrument 2022

 

I, Sussan Ley, Minister for the Environment, under subsection 269A(2) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth), hereby make a recovery plan for the listed threatened species Grantiella picta, entitled National Recovery Plan for the Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta).

The recovery plan will commence on the day after it is registered on the Federal Register of Legislation.

 

Dated this              8th                 day of             April 2022                  

 

Sussan Ley

 

Sussan Ley

Minister for the Environment (Commonwealth)

 

 


 

Title page for the National Recovery Plan for the Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta) with a bird on a branch

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The Species Profile and Threats Database pages linked to this recovery plan is obtainable from: www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/sprat.pl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publication information pertaining to the National Recovery Plan for the Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta)

 

 


Table of Contents for the National Recovery Plan for the Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta)

A Painted Honeyeater perched on a branch amongst leaves


 

 

 

Summary

 

Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta)

Family: Meliphagidae

Current status of taxon:

     Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Commonwealth): Vulnerable

     Nature Conservation Act 2014 (Australian Capital Territory): Vulnerable

     Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2000 (Northern Territory): Vulnerable

     Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): Vulnerable

     Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (New South Wales): Vulnerable

     Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (Victoria): Vulnerable

     National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 (South Australia): Rare

Distribution and habitat:

The Painted Honeyeater is small (16 cm) and distinctive, with a black head and back and white underparts with dark streaks on the flanks. The wings and tail are black with bright yellow edgings. The distinctive bill is pink with a dark tip. The female is greyer on the upperparts and has less streaking on the flanks.

The Painted Honeyeater is nomadic and occurs at low densities throughout its             range. The greatest concentrations of individuals and almost all breeding occurs               on the inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range in New South Wales, Victoria and southern Queensland. During the winter it is more likely to be found in the north of             its distribution.

The species’ key habitats include Boree/Weeping Myall (Acacia pendula), Brigalow

(A. harpophylla) woodlands, box-gum woodlands and box-ironbark forests. The species      is a specialist feeder on the fruits of mistletoes growing on eucalypts and acacias.

Painted Honeyeaters prefer to feed on mistletoes of the genus Amyema.

 

 


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Recovery plan Vision, Objective and Strategies:

Long-term Vision

The Painted Honeyeater population has increased in size to such an extent that the species no longer qualifies for listing as threatened under any of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 listing criteria.

Recovery Plan Objective

·         By 2031, measure and sustain a positive population trend (compared to 2020 baseline counts) in the number of mature individuals of the Painted Honeyeater.

·         By 2031, maintain or improve the extent, condition and connectivity of habitat of the Painted Honeyeater.

This will be achieved by implementing the actions set out in this Recovery Plan that minimise threats while protecting and enhancing the species’ habitat throughout its range, adequately monitoring the species, generating new knowledge to guide recovery and increasing public awareness.

Strategies to achieve objective

Protect, manage and restore Painted Honeyeater breeding and foraging habitats at the local, regional and landscape scales.

Monitor, reduce and manage threats and sources of mortality.

Develop and apply techniques to measure changes in population trajectory in order to measure the success of recovery actions.

Improve understanding of habitat use at a landscape scale in order to better target protection and restoration measures.

Engage local communities and stakeholders in Painted Honeyeater conservation. Coordinate, review and report on recovery progress.

Criteria for success:

This recovery plan will be deemed successful if, by 2031, all of the following have

been achieved:

The Painted Honeyeater population has increased from 2020 baseline counts, as a result of recovery actions.

Threats within the range of Painted Honeyeater are managed to avoid and mitigate impacts on their habitats.

There has been an improvement in the quality and extent of Painted Honeyeater habitat throughout the species’ range.

Understanding of the species’ ecology has increased, in particular knowledge of movement patterns, habitat use and post-breeding dispersal.

There is increased participation by key stakeholders and the public in recovery efforts and monitoring.

Recovery team:

Recovery teams provide advice and assist in coordinating actions described in recovery plans. They include representatives from organisations with a direct interest in the recovery of the species, including those involved in funding and those participating

in actions that support the recovery of the species. The national Painted Honeyeater Recovery Team has the responsibility of providing advice, coordinating and directing the implementation of the recovery actions outlined in this recovery plan. The membership      of the national Recovery Team includes individuals from relevant government agencies, non-government organisations, industry groups and expertise from independent researchers and community groups.


 

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This document constitutes the ‘National Recovery Plan for the Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta)’. The plan considers the conservation requirements of the species across its range and identifies the actions to be taken to ensure the species’ long-term viability in nature, and the responsible agencies that will undertake those actions.

This recovery plan is the first national plan to be developed for the Painted Honeyeater.

 

The Painted Honeyeater was listed as Vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cwlth) (EPBC Act) on 8 July 2015. At the time of listing it was thought that there were fewer than 10,000 mature individuals remaining in the population and the total population had undergone a suspected

decline of 20–29 per cent over three generations based on monitoring, a reduced area of occupancy and deteriorating habitat quality (Garnett et al. 2011; Department of the Environment 2015a).

 

Principal threats to the Painted Honeyeater covered by this plan include habitat loss and degradation, competition from Noisy (Manorina melanocephala) and Yellow-throated Miners (M. flavigula) and Australia’s changing climate. Other potential threats to

the species may include predation by invasive species (e.g. Black Rats Rattus rattus); destruction of mistletoe in production forests; exacerbation of tree decline through  pasture improvement activities; collision with road vehicles; and nest predation by     native predators Pied Currawongs (Strepera graculina), Pied and Grey Butcherbirds (Cracticus nigrogularis and Cracticus torquatus), and crows and ravens (Corvidae)

(Lindsay, pers. comm. 2014; DEPI, 2014).

 

Threats to the species’ already fragmented habitat are not abating, with habitat   continuing to be cleared for agriculture and industrial development and degraded              by over-grazing (Garnett et al. 2011; Department of the Environment 2015a, b). This suggests that the population is likely to continue to decline at a substantial rate

without appropriate management interventions. The Painted Honeyeater’s geographic distribution is precarious for its survival as 100 per cent of mature individuals exist in    one subpopulation (Garnett et al. 2011).

 

Accompanying Species Profile and Threats Database (SPRAT) pages provide       background information on the biology, population status and threats to the

Painted Honeyeater. SPRAT pages are available from:

http://www.environment.gov.au/ cgi-bin/sprat/public/sprat.pl.

 

 

 


 

 

 

      1.1      Conservation status

The Painted Honeyeater is listed as threatened under the Environment Protection and                         Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), and under state legislation (Table 1) in                                         all parts of its range. Table 1 National and state conservation status of the Painted Honeyeater

 

1.2     Taxonomy

Generally accepted as Grantiella picta, Gould, 1838. The species is endemic to mainland Australia. Taxonomic uniqueness is high, the species is the only one in its genus and          there are no subspecies.

 

A member of the family Meliphagidae, Painted Honeyeater was first described in 1838 by John Gould and given the name Entomophila picta, but it was renamed Grantiella picta

in 1911. Its genus name is in reference to Robert Grant, a Scottish-born taxidermist and collector, while the species name originates from the Latin word for painted, pictus, and refers to the yellow markings on the tail and wing feathers.

 

1.3     Species description

The Painted Honeyeater has black upperparts, white underparts, black spots on its flanks and yellow edges to the flight and tail feathers. The bill is a deep pink and the eye red. The females are smaller and browner on the back than the male, frequently with fewer streaks or spots on their breast and flanks (Higgins et al. 2001). Juveniles are even paler than the female, appearing more brown than black, with fainter yellow colouring to feathers and with a grey bill rather than the pink seen on adults (Higgins et al. 2001).

 

The Painted Honeyeater is the only small to medium honeyeater with a wholly or mostly pink bill, and the only yellow-winged honeyeater with almost wholly white underparts (marked only with sparse, fine and short black streaks) (Higgins et al.2001).


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

              1.4     Species distribution

The Painted Honeyeater is endemic to Australia. The species is sparsely distributed from south-eastern Australia to north-western Queensland and eastern Northern Territory (Figure 1). The greatest concentrations and almost all records of breeding come from       south of 26°S, on inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range between the Grampians,     Victoria and Roma, Queensland (Higgins et al. 2001).

 

The species exhibits seasonal north-south movements governed principally                                         by the fruiting of mistletoe, with which its breeding season is closely aligned

(Barea and Watson 2007). Many birds move after breeding to semi-arid regions                    such as north-eastern South Australia, central and western Queensland, and central Northern Territory. Considering its dispersive, nomadic habits, the species is                                considered to comprise a single population (Garnett et al. 2011).

 

1.5     Population size and trends

 

Estimating population size is difficult given the species’ rarity in most of its range. Garnett et al. (2011) estimated the total number of individuals at <10 000, based on an extrapolation of counts undertaken in areas of New South Wales and Victoria. It is thought that the population has undergone long-term decline, likely to have been accelerated by clearance of trees for agriculture, and lack of regeneration resulting    from grazing by introduced herbivores. Much of its breeding habitat has become degraded, although it may have benefited from an increase in abundance of mistletoe

in some degraded woodlands (Higgins et al. 2001). The species’ population decline was previously suspected to be 20-29 per cent over the last three generations (17 years), based on monitoring, a reduced area of occupancy and deteriorating habitat quality (Garnett et al. 2011).

 

Painted Honeyeater perched on a thin branch


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1 Modelled distribution of Painted Honeyeater


                           1.6     Biology and ecology

         Habitat

The Painted Honeyeater is the most specialised of Australia’s honeyeaters. Its diet mainly consists of mistletoe fruits, but also includes nectar (from flowering mistletoe, eucalypts and possibly banksias) and arthropods, especially in the non-breeding season (Higgins et al. 2001; Garnett et al. 2011). Arthropods are an important part of the diet provided to nestlings (Barea and Watson 2007; Barea 2008a; Barea and Herrera 2009).

 

The species inhabits mistletoes in eucalypt forests, woodlands, riparian woodlands

of Black Box (Eucalyptus largiflorens) and River Red Gum (E. camaldulensis), box-ironbark- yellow gum woodlands, acacia-dominated woodlands, paperbarks, casuarinas, callitris,    and trees on farmland or gardens. The species prefers woodlands which contain a higher number of mature trees, as these host more mistletoes. It is more common in wider blocks of remnant woodland than in narrower strips (Garnett et al. 2011), although it breeds in quite narrow roadside strips if ample mistletoe fruit is available.

 

Studies have confirmed that habitat areas which have undergone less fragmentation and land clearing may support a greater number of Painted Honeyeaters present (Oliver et al. 2003). Painted Honeyeaters have also been found to be more abundant in locations where there are a large number of trees present and a high percentage of canopy cover (Oliver et al. 2003).

 

          Breeding biology

The species often occurs singly or in pairs, and less often in small flocks. Breeding occurs from October to March when mistletoe fruits are widely available. Usually 2-3 eggs are laid, and both parents incubate the eggs, brood and feed young (Barea 2008b; Higgins et al. 2001; Garnett et al. 2011; Barea 2012).

 

The species builds a flimsy cup nest made of plant-fibre, spiders’ webs and rootlets in the outer foliage of trees anywhere from 3 m to 20 m above the ground. Although Painted Honeyeaters build nests in a variety of tree species including Eucalyptus spp., many favour Yarran (Acacia homalophylla) and White Cypress-pine (Callitris glaucophylla),  both of which are hosts of the hemiparasitic Grey Mistletoe (Amyema quandang)        (Barea 2008a; Barea 2012).

 

Male Painted Honeyeaters generally arrive at the nesting site several weeks before the female. Both sexes leave around the same time about 5 months later when mistletoe berry numbers begin to decline (Barea and Watson 2013). Although the fruit is available all year, it is more plentiful over the warmer months, and dwindles as the temperature drops (Barea and Watson 2013).

 

Painted Honeyeaters use environmental cues to determine the timing of nesting ensuring that they arrive at sites as food resources are beginning to increase (Barea and Watson 2007; Barea and Watson 2013). The overlap of breeding activity with mistletoe fruiting has additional benefits, as Painted Honeyeaters often display a preference to nest near or amongst mistletoe (Barea and Watson 2007; Barea and Watson 2013).

 

The species appears to prefer mistletoe as a nest substrate and selects nest sites in habitats where mistletoe prevalence and parasitism rates are high (Barea 2008b). Nesting success is relatively low; in the foliage of trees it is approximately 43 percent and within mistletoe clumps it is only 17 percent, with 83 percent of nest failures caused by predation (Barea and Watson 2013).

 

Generation time is estimated at 5.8 years, with a maximum longevity in the wild   estimated at 10.1 years (Garnett et al. 2011).


 

 

 

 

 

 

Diet and foraging

Most honeyeaters have a mixed diet, consuming nectar, fruits and insects from a range of sources and locations (Oliver 2000). The Painted Honeyeater is a frugivore, a dietary specialist dependent on the presence of mistletoe plants and their fruit.

Painted Honeyeater abundance can usually be determined by the availability of this food source (Oliver et al. 2003).

 

At least five species of Amyema have been documented as being a food source for the Painted Honeyeater, which in turn assists in dispersal of the mistletoe by excreting            the seed (Reid 1987). Fruit of the Grey Mistletoe (Amyema quandang) is a source of carbohydrates, protein and water, and accounts for a significant amount of their diet (Barea and Watson 2013).

 

Painted Honeyeaters consume nectar and insects when mistletoe fruit is not available (Oliver et al. 2003; Barea and Watson 2007; Barea and Watson 2013). They may also require insects and nectar to compensate for low availability of certain nutrients in the fruits (Barea and Herrera 2009). Mistletoe fruit is known to be low in amino acids and protein, so Painted Honeyeaters must rely on these other food sources to make up the remainder of their dietary requirements (Barea and Herrera 2009).

 

1.7     Key Biodiversity Areas

The Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) programme aims to identify, map, monitor and conserve the critical sites for global biodiversity across the planet. This process is  guided by a Global Standard for the Identification of Key Biodiversity Areas, the KBA Standard (IUCN 2016). It establishes a consultative, science-based process for the identification of globally important sites for biodiversity worldwide. Sites qualify as KBAs of global importance if they meet one or more of 11 criteria in five categories: threatened biodiversity; geographically restricted biodiversity; ecological integrity; biological processes; and, irreplaceability. The KBA criteria have quantitative thresholds and can be applied to species and ecosystems in terrestrial, inland water and marine

environments. These thresholds ensure that only those sites with significant populations of a species or extent of an ecosystem are identified as global KBAs. Species or ecosystems that are the basis for identifying a KBA are referred to as Trigger species.

 

The global KBA partnership supports nations to identify KBAs within their country by working with a range of governmental and non-governmental organisations scientific species experts and conservation planners. Defining KBAs and their management within protected areas or through Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMS) will assist the Australian Government to meet its obligations to international treaties,     such as the Convention on Biological Diversity. KBAs are also integrated in industry standards such as those applied by the Forest Stewardship Council or the Equator Principles adopted by financial institutions to determine environmental risk in projects.


 

 

The initial identification of a site as a KBA is tenure-blind and unrelated to its legal status as it is determined primarily based on the distribution of one or more Trigger species

at the site. However, existing protected areas or other delineations such as military training area or a commercial salt works will often inform the final KBA delineation, because KBAs are defined with site management in mind (KBA Standards and Appeals Committee, 2019). In practice, if an existing protected area or other designation roughly matches a KBA, it will generally be used for delineating the KBA. Many KBAs overlap wholly with existing protected area boundaries, including sites designated under international conventions (e.g. Ramsar and World Heritage) and areas protected at national and local levels (e.g. national parks, Indigenous or community conserved areas). However, not all KBAs are protected areas and not all protected areas are KBAs. It is recognised that other management approaches may also be appropriate to safeguard KBAs. In fact, research from Australia and elsewhere demonstrates the value of Other Effective Area-based Conservation measures in conserving KBAs and their Trigger    species (Donald et al., 2019) if the site is managed appropriately. The identification of a site as a KBA highlights the site’s exceptional status and critical importance on a global scale for the persistence of the biodiversity values for which it has been declared for (particular Trigger species or habitats) and implies that the site should be managed

in ways that ensure the persistence of these elements. For more information on KBAs   visit - http://www.keybiodiversityareas.org/home.

 

The global KBA partnership currently recognises seven Key Biodiversity Areas                 as important for Painted Honeyeater conservation and to support the long-term persistence of the species. KBAs are also undergoing a regular revision to ensure

changes in IUCN red list status, taxonomic changes, local population trends as well as increased knowledge of the species are reflected accurately in the KBA network. As    such, over time, additional KBAs may be recognised for their importance for Painted Honeyeater or new KBAs may be declared for this and other taxa. Detailed KBA Factsheets, including boundary maps, population estimates of trigger species and scientific references are for these seven areas (and other KBAs) are available from the World Database of Key Biodiversity Areas (BirdLife International 2020). The seven KBAs with Painted Honeyeater as one of their Trigger species were also recognised prior to the introduction of the KBA standard as Important Bird Areas for the species in 2009 based on the analysis BirdLife Australia. They include:

 

 Queensland

·         Boodjamulla - Boodjamulla National Park, formally known as Lawn Hill National Park, is a national park in the Shire of Burke. The Riversleigh World Heritage Area is within the national park.

 

New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory

·         Binya and Cocoparra – The Cocoparra National Park is a protected national park that is located in the Riverina region of New South Wales. The 8,357 hectare (20,650 acre) national park is situated 25 kilometres northeast of Griffith.

·         Capertee Valley – The Capertee Valley is the second largest canyon (by width) in the    world and largest valley in New South Wales, 135 km north-west of Sydney. One of the most prominent features of the valley is Pantony's Crown, a sandstone butte that is now part of the Gardens of Stone National Park. Parts of the valley are also included in the Wollemi National Park, the second-largest national park in New South Wales.


 

·         Goonoo - The Goonoo Key Biodiversity Area is a 1,034 km2 tract of wooded land in New South Wales. It lies between the towns of Dubbo, Gilgandra and Dunedoo, about 200 km north-west of Sydney. Formerly the Goonoo State Forest, much of the land is now within the Goonoo State Conservation Area (538 km2) and the adjacent Goonoo National Park   (91 km2). The KBA also includes 18 km2 of the Coolbaggie Nature Reserve. Goonoo KBA is mainly box-ironbark-callitris woodland with patches of mallee. It is surrounded by farmland. Past forest management involved logging the larger box trees to promote            the growth of cypress pine and ironbark, but the site is now managed primarily for conservation. Much of the area was burned in bushfires in 2007.

 

·         Pilliga - The Pilliga Forests, sometimes known as the Pilliga Scrub, constitute over 5,000 km2 of semi-arid woodland in temperate north-central New South Wales.

It is the largest such continuous remnant in New South Wales. The forest is located near the towns of Baradine and Narrabri and the villages of Pilliga and Gwabegar. Most land within the Pilliga is in crown tenure, either as State Forest (2,416 km2), Nature Reserve, State Conservation Area or National Park (2,770 km2). A 4,909 km2 tract of land, including the forest and the nearby Warrumbungle National Park, has been identified as a KBA because it supports populations of Painted Honeyeaters and Diamond Firetails (Stagonopleura guttata). It also experiences irregular occurrences of critically endangered Swift Parrots (Lathamus discolor) and Regent Honeyeaters (Anthochaera phrygia), and several other near threatened woodland birds.

 

·         South-west Slopes of New South Wales and the ACT - An area of 25,653 km2, largely coincident with the bioregion, has been identified as a KBA because it supports a significant wintering population of the Critically Endangered Swift Parrots and Vulnerable Superb Parrots (Polytelis swainsonii), as well as populations of Painted Honeyeaters and Diamond Firetails. Most of the site is modified wheat-growing and sheep-grazing country with only remnants of its original vegetation. Remnant patches    of woodland and scattered large trees, especially of Mugga Ironbark (E. sideroxylon), Apple Box (E. bridgesiana), Grey Box (E. microcarpa), White Box (E. albens), Yellow Box (E. melliodora), Red Box (E. polyanthemos), Yellow Gum (E. leucoxylon), River Red Gum and Blakely's Red Gum (E. blakelyi), still provide habitat for the Painted Honeyeaters. Protected areas within the site include several nature reserves and state forests, as well as the Livingstone and Weddin Mountains National Parks, and Tarcutta Hills Reserve.

 

Victoria

·         Warby-Chiltern Box-Ironbark Region - The Warby–Chiltern Box–Ironbark Region comprises a cluster of separate blocks of remnant box-ironbark forest habitat, with      

a collective area of 253 km2, in north eastern Victoria. This site lies to the east of the Rushworth Box-Ironbark Region KBA. It includes the Reef Hills and Warby-Ovens National Parks, Killawarra Forest, Chesney Hills, Mount Meg Reserves, Winton

Wetlands Reserve, the Boweya Flora and Fauna Reserve, Rutherglen Conservation Reserve, Mount Lady Franklin Reserve and Chiltern-Mount Pilot National Park.       

Most of it lies within protected areas or state forests, encompassing only small blocks

of private land. The site has been identified as an KBA because it provides feeding habitat for relatively large numbers of non-breeding Swift Parrots when flowering conditions are suitable, as well as the Critically Endangered Regent Honeyeater. It also supports small numbers of Painted Honeyeaters, Diamond Firetails and Flame Robins (Petroica phoenicea). Declining woodland birds still present in the KBA include Brown Treecreepers (Climacteris picumnus), Speckled Warblers (Pyrrholaemus sagittatus), Hooded Robins (Melanodryas cucullata), Grey-crowned Babblers (Pomatostomus temporalis), Gilbert's Whistler (Pachycephala inornata) and, occasionally, migrant Black          Honeyeaters (Sugomel nigrum). Crested Bellbirds (Oreoica gutturalis) are locally extinct.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   1.8     Habitat critical to the survival of the

            Painted Honeyeater

Habitat critical to the survival of a species or ecological community refers to areas that are necessary:

·         For activities such as foraging, breeding, roosting, or dispersal;

·         For the long-term maintenance of the species or ecological community (including the maintenance of species essential to the survival of the species or ecological community, such as pollinators);

·         To maintain genetic diversity and long-term evolutionary development; or

·         For the reintroduction of populations or recovery of the species or ecological community.

 

Such habitat may be, but is not limited to: habitat identified in a recovery plan for      the species or ecological community as habitat critical for that species or ecological

community; and/or habitat listed on the Register of Critical Habitat maintained by the Minister under the EPBC Act.

 

Habitat critical to the survival of the Painted Honeyeater includes:

 

Breeding habitat

·         Known or likely breeding habitat in Boree/Weeping Myall (Acacia pendula), Brigalow (A. harpophylla) woodlands, box-gum woodlands and box-ironbark forests on the inland slopes of the Great Dividing Range in New South Wales, Victoria and southern Queensland.

 

Foraging habitat

·         All preferred foraging species within known and likely foraging habitat particularly mistletoes of the genus Amyema growing on forest and woodland eucalypts            and acacias.

 

Habitat for the long-term maintenance of the species

·         All Key Biodiversity Areas with Painted Honeyeater as a Trigger species.

·         Suitable habitat in future climate niches as information becomes available.

 

Key considerations in environmental impact assessments

Painted Honeyeaters occur across a large area and are known to be highly mobile. However, knowledge of their movement is still not fully understood. It has been suggested that seasonal movements are linked to plant productivity, food supply and drought impacts (Higgins 1999).

 

Habitat critical to the survival of the Painted Honeyeater occurs across a wide range of land tenures, including on freehold land, travelling stock routes and reserves, publicly owned forests and state reserves, and national parks. It is important that suitable habitat is retained and that any enhancement and protection measures target these productive sites.


 

When considering habitat loss, alteration or degradation to habitat in any part of

the Painted Honeyeater’s range, including in areas where the species ‘may occur’,

surveys for occupancy at the appropriate times of the year and identifying preferred foraging species are an important tool in refining understanding of the area’s relative importance for Painted Honeyeaters. In addition, it is also important to note that Painted Honeyeaters opportunistically use areas depending on the occurrence of eucalypt flowering and mistletoe flowering/fruiting. This means that areas that constitute   habitat critical to the survival might not have birds in any one given year. This pattern    of habitat use means that both recent survey data and historical records need to              be considered when assessing the relative importance of a local area or region for Painted Honeyeaters.

 

Whenever possible, habitat critical to the survival of the species should not be destroyed or modified. Actions that have indirect impacts on habitat critical to the survival should be minimised and adequately mitigated (e.g. noise and light pollution). Actions that compromise adult and juvenile survival should also be avoided, for example, the transmission and introduction of diseases, and actions that might increase predation threat from both native and introduced predators. Actions should not be assessed in isolation and consideration must be given to existing and future activities that may impact the species to ensure conservation outcomes on a landscape scale are achieved.

 

Actions that remove habitat critical to the survival would interfere with the recovery of the Painted Honeyeater and reduce the area of occupancy of the species. It is important to retain both breeding and foraging habitats described above. If removal of habitat critical to the survival cannot be avoided or mitigated, then an offset should be provided.


 

 

 

 

Chapter 2, Threats.

 

 

                   2.1 Historical causes of decline

 

Habitat loss and degradation have been the key drivers of declines in the abundance           of the Painted Honeyeater. Much of its breeding habitat has been cleared or has                            been reduced to ageing, widely-spaced trees, particularly in box-ironbark and boree

woodlands of New South Wales and Victoria. Its non-breeding habitat also continues          to be cleared for agriculture (Barea 2008a). Some acacia and casuarina woodlands

(e.g. brigalow and buloke) in which the species occurs, have been heavily cleared and

degraded to the extent that they are now nationally endangered ecological communities (Department of the Environment 2015a; Garnett et al. 2011).

 

2.1 Current threatening processes

Habitat loss is the key threat to this species. In its breeding strongholds of south-eastern Australia, woodlands are being cleared at a greater rate than they are being restored.

Regrowth woodland in particular, is viewed as having little conservation value and is   being cleared at an unsustainable rate (Lindsay, pers. comm., 2014). This is a particular issue for the Painted Honeyeater as regrowth woodland contains similar or higher densities of mistletoe than remnant woodland.

 

2.2.1        Habitat loss

Ongoing clearing of woodland and forest containing the key acacia and eucalypt

species preferred by Painted Honeyeaters is a major threat. For example, 83 percent of           box-ironbark habitat has been cleared in Victoria, and 70 percent has been cleared in

New South Wales (Siversten 1993; Robinson and Traill 1996; Environment Conservation Council 2001). White Box-Yellow Gum-Blakely's Red Gum woodland, another important habitat in New South Wales, has been reduced to less than 4 percent of its pre-European extent on the south-western slopes and southern tablelands of New South Wales (Saunders 2003). The historical clearance of foraging and nesting habitat has been extensive and dramatic in many areas of Victoria and New South Wales, reducing the available nesting and foraging habitat to small remnants. These remnants continue to decline in size as a result of residential, agricultural and industrial developments.

 


 

Impacts on woodland bird habitat in New South Wales have been so severe that only

5 to 30 percent of the original vegetation now remains and what is left is often degraded (Saunders and Russell 2016). With such extensive losses of habitat there is an increased risk that the remaining areas may fail to produce the necessary food resources in any       one year, which may lead to rapid population decline of woodland birds due to the accumulated extinction debt (Saunders and Russell 2016). Habitat clearance could   increase nest predation as individuals could be forced to nest near habitat edges

           (Boulton and Clarke 2003).

 

The widespread loss of mature paddock trees throughout agricultural areas of the

Painted Honeyeater’s range represents another threat to the species. Many records

of the species are from scattered paddock trees or stands, and loss of these from the landscape will likely impact the ability of the birds to disperse.

 

2.2.2        Habitat degradation

Remaining Painted Honeyeater habitat faces ongoing degradation, particularly on agricultural land in central and north-east Victoria and on the western slopes of

New South Wales. Loss of mature trees occurs through senescence, eucalypt dieback,

harvesting for fence posts or firewood, or drought-induced stress. Illegal felling of key species for firewood and fence posts has been noted in travelling stock reserves and important remnant blocks (Tzaros 2005).

 

Most of the Painted Honeyeater’s remaining habitat is on private land which

continues to be degraded by grazing by livestock, native macropods and rabbits

(Oryctolagus cuniculus) (Garnett et al. 2011). Grazing inhibits tree recruitment through

the consumption of seedlings and suckers, meaning that when mature trees die there is insufficient recruitment to replace them (Lindsay pers. comm. 2014). Grazing therefore results in an uneven age structure of mistletoe host trees and promotion of future

collapse of mistletoe resources. Limited host tree recruitment results in host trees

that are all roughly the same age. Consequently, when these host trees senesce there

will be no host trees remaining for mistletoe to persist. Grazing thresholds supporting    non-significant effects to mistletoe resources are unknown but may be very low

(Barea pers. comm. 2014). Additionally, many landholders remove mistletoes from trees as they view it as a pest. Mistletoe becomes more abundant on trees that have become

isolated as a result of land disturbance or clearing (Lindsay pers. comm. 2014).

 

Even with no further loss or degradation of habitat, the species is likely to continue to decline at some of the edges of its distribution (Ford et al. 2009). It is likely that numbers

of Painted Honeyeaters breeding in southern and central Queensland are already

extremely low, and the species is also becoming increasingly uncommon in north-west Queensland. Under current trends, the Painted Honeyeater may become extinct or

absent from the extremes of its northern distribution (Lindsay, pers. comm. 2014).

 

2.2.3        Competition

Painted Honeyeaters compete for food resources with larger and/or more aggressive honeyeaters such as the Noisy Miner, Yellow-throated Miner, Noisy Friarbird and the

Red Wattlebird. While the impacts from greater levels of competition with these other aggressive honeyeaters is unclear, anecdotal evidence of their impact on other woodland birds suggests it is likely to negatively affect Painted Honeyeater breeding success

and survival.


 

Red Wattlebirds appear to be increasing in numbers across their eastern Australian range (Birds Australia 2008), which may effectively reduce habitat availability for Painted Honeyeaters. The Noisy Miner is common in fragmented and degraded

habitat due to its preference for open areas adjoining eucalypt woodland, and may

occupy areas up to 300 m from a forest edge. In areas occupied by Noisy Miners, the abundance and species richness of other bird species are about half that recorded at

nearby areas unoccupied by Noisy Miners (Piper and Catterall 2003; Clarke and Oldland 2007; Maron et al. 2013; Thomson et al. 2015). Aggressive exclusion of other birds by Noisy Miners is now listed as a Key Threatening Process under the EPBC Act, as well as in Victoria and New South Wales under the respective state legislation, and their impact on woodland birds was one of the factors in those determinations.

 

Honeybees may also compete with woodland birds such as the Painted Honeyeater for nectar (Menkhorst 1993), although the significance of this for the Painted Honeyeater

is unknown and requires further investigation. Competition from feral honeybees

(Apis mellifera) is listed as a ‘Key Threatening Process’ for nectivorous species in

New South Wales and Victoria.

 

2.2.4       Climate variability and change

Australia’s changing climate threatens the Painted Honeyeater’s habitat through both increased risk of drought, fire and altered flowering or fruiting phenology, potentially leading to further habitat loss and degradation. Threats from climate change can be addressed through efforts to make Painted Honeyeater populations and their habitat more resilient by identifying and protecting important drought refuges and improving drought refuges.

 

VanDerWal et al. (2013) indicate that birds in the Australian temperate zone have experienced a net poleward (south-east) shift in their climatic niche, away from increasing temperatures, since 1950. Approximately 50 per cent of these temperate species would have experienced range contraction (rather than shift or expansion)

due to the east coastal limits of their range. For Painted Honeyeaters, this means that refuge at the regional scale is likely to occur in the south-east of their current extent such that southern KBAs (i.e. South-west slopes and Warby-Chiltern) may carry the greatest responsibility for adaptive habitat enhancement.

 

Implementation of appropriate burning practices - including cool cultural burns

to reduce the incidence of intense, hot wildfires which burn the tree canopy and

result in mistletoe mortality - is an important part of climate change adaptation and management.

 

Climate change limitation, adaptation and management requires both domestic and international action to prevent further accumulation of anthropogenic greenhouse gases. Although management of this global issue is beyond the scope of this plan, long-term monitoring of the Painted Honeyeater and its habitat in relation to climate data may assist in mitigating the impacts on the species. A long-term monitoring program would allow better understanding of the specific sensitivities of the Painted Honeyeater as a nomadic species to climate change, and provide a basis for future adaptive conservation management strategies. Furthermore, the cumulative effects of other threats together with climate change need to be considered for effective and adaptive long-term management of the Painted Honeyeater.


 

2.2.5        Other potential threatening processes

Other threats to the Painted Honeyeater include predation by invasive species

(e.g. Black Rats Rattus rattus); deliberate destruction of mistletoe in production

forests; exacerbation of tree decline through pasture improvement activities; collision with road vehicles; and nest predation by over-abundant Pied Currawongs (Strepera graculina), Pied and Grey Butcherbirds (Cracticus nigrogularis and Cracticus torquatus), and crows and ravens (Corvidae) (Lindsay, pers. comm. 2014; DEPI 2014). In addition, pathogens affecting mistletoe directly or the host tree (e.g. Myrtle rust) further threaten the persistence of Painted Honeyeater habitat. As mentioned above, wildfires that are hotter and more frequent, are an indirect threat of climate change.

 

The scale and severity of these potential threats are generally unknown and form the

basis of important research questions. If, during the life of this recovery plan, new or emerging threats are identified, then additional actions should be developed to address these threatening processes.

 

2.3      Threat prioritization

Each of the threats outlined above has been assessed to determine the risk posed to the Painted Honeyeater population using a risk matrix. This, in turn, determines the priority for actions outlined below. The risk matrix considers the likelihood of an incident occurring and the consequences of that incident. Threats may act differently in different parts of the species range and at different times of year, but the precautionary principle dictates that the threat category is determined by the subpopulation at highest risk.

Population-wide threats are generally considered to present a higher risk.

 

The risk matrix uses a qualitative assessment drawing on peer reviewed literature and expert opinion. In some cases the consequences of activities are unknown. In these cases, the precautionary principle has been applied. Levels of risk and the associated priority for action are defined as follows:

·         Very High – immediate mitigation action required

·         High – mitigation action and an adaptive management plan required, the precautionary principle should be applied

·         Moderate – obtain additional information and develop mitigation action if required

·         Low – monitor the threat occurrence and reassess threat level if likelihood or consequences change

 

Table 2 indicating the Risk prioritisation by likelihood of occurrence and consequences.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories for likelihood are defined as follows:

·         Almost certain – expected to occur every year

·         Likely – expected to occur at least once every five years

·         Possible – might occur at some time

·         Unlikely – such events are known to have occurred on a worldwide basis but

only a few times

·         Rare or Unknown – may occur only in exceptional circumstances; OR it is

currently unknown how often the incident will occur

 

Categories for consequences are defined as follows:

·         Not significant – no long-term effect on individuals or populations

·         Minor – individuals are adversely affected but no effect at population level

·         Moderate – population recovery stalls or reduces

·         Major – population decreases

·         Catastrophic – population extinction

 

 

Table 3 indicating the Painted Honeyeater risk matrix by likelihood of occurrence and consequences


 

 

 

Chapter 3, populations under particular pressure.

 

The Painted Honeyeater’s geographic distribution is precarious for its survival,

as 100 per cent of mature individuals exist in one subpopulation (Garnett et al.

2011). The actions described in this recovery plan are designed to provide ongoing protection for the Painted Honeyeater throughout its range.

 

      Painted Honeyeater perched on a branch


 

 

 

Chapter 4, Recovery plan vision, objectives and strategies

 

Long-term Vision

 

The Painted Honeyeater population has increased in size to such an extent that the species no longer qualifies for listing as threatened under any of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 listing criteria.

 

Recovery Plan Objective

By 2031, measure and sustain a positive population trend (compared to 2020 baseline counts) in the number of mature individuals of the Painted Honeyeater.

 

By 2031, maintain or improve the extent, condition and connectivity of habitat of the Painted Honeyeater.

 

This will be achieved by implementing the actions set out in this Recovery Plan that minimise threats while protecting and enhancing the species’ habitat throughout its

range, adequately monitoring the species, generating new knowledge to guide recovery

and increasing public awareness.

 

Strategies to achieve objective

1.      Protect, manage and restore Painted Honeyeater breeding and foraging habitats at the local, regional and landscape scales

2.      Monitor, reduce and manage threats and sources of mortality

3.      Develop and apply techniques to measure changes in population trajectory in order to measure the success of recovery actions

4.      Improve understanding of habitat use at a landscape scale in order to better target protection and restoration measures

5.      Engage local communities and stakeholders in Painted Honeyeater conservation

6.      Coordinate, review and report on recovery progress


 

 

 

Chapter 5, actions to achieve the specific objectives

 

Actions identified for the recovery of Painted Honeyeater are described below. It should be noted that some of the objectives are long-term and may not be achieved prior to the scheduled five-year review of the Recovery Plan. Priorities assigned to actions should be interpreted as follows:

 

 

Priority 1:       Taking prompt action is necessary in order to mitigate the key threats                                      

                             to Painted Honeyeater and also provide valuable information to help 

                             identify long-term population trends.

 

Priority 2:       Action would provide a more informed basis for the long-term                                                                                                                                    

                             management and recovery of Painted Honeyeater.

 

Priority 3:        Action is desirable, but not critical to the recovery of Painted

                             Honeyeater or assessment of trends in that recovery.

                               


 

 

 

Table of strategy 1 which seeks to protect, manage and restore painted honeyeater breeding and foraging habitats at the local, regional and landscape scales.


 

 

Continuation of table of strategy 1 which seeks to protect, manage and restore painted honeyeater breeding and foraging habitats at the local, regional and landscape scales.


 

 

Continuation of table of strategy 1 which seeks to protect, manage and restore painted honeyeater breeding and foraging habitats at the local, regional and landscape scales.


 

 

Table of strategy 2 which seeks to monitor, reduce and manage threats and sources of mortality.


 

 

Continuation of table of strategy 2 which seeks to monitor, reduce and manage threats and sources of mortality.


 

 

Table of strategy 3 which seeks to develop and apply techniques to measure changes in population trajectory in order to measure the success of recovery actions.


 

 

 

Table of strategy 4 which seeks to improve understanding of use at a landscape scale in order to better target protection and restoration measures.


 

 

 

Table of strategy 5 which seeks to engage local communities and stakeholders in painted honeyeater conservation.


 

 

 

Table of strategy 6 which seeks to coordinate, review and report on recovery progress.


 

 

 

 

Chapter 6, duration and cost of the recovery process 

 

It is anticipated that the recovery process will not be achieved prior to the scheduled five-year review of the recovery plan. The cost of implementation of this plan should be incorporated into the core business expenditure of the affected organisations

and through additional funds obtained for the explicit purpose of implementing this recovery plan. It is expected that state and Commonwealth agencies will use this plan

to prioritise actions to protect the species and enhance their recovery, and that projects will be undertaken according to agency priorities and available resources. All actions are considered important steps towards ensuring the long-term survival of the species. The indicative cost of recovery actions was derived from expert elicitation and public comments received in 2020.

 

 

Table 4 Summary of recovery actions and estimated costs in for the first five years of implementation (these estimated costs do not take into account inflation over time)


 

 

 

Chapter 7, effects on other native species and biodiversity benefits.

 

 

 

The management of fragmented landscapes with a high concentration of mistletoe is vitally important for the conservation of the Painted Honeyeater, as its breeding success is affected by mistletoe abundance (Watson 2002; Bowen et al. 2009). Conserving mistletoe in remnant vegetation will also benefit a wide range of other species. Although mistletoe is perceived as a pest in agricultural landscapes and remnant vegetation, it plays an important role in helping to maintain the populations of many threatened and declining species as well as increasing overall biodiversity (Watson 2002; Bowen et al. 2009).

 

The conservation and management of woodland habitats which support species

such as the Critically Endangered Regent Honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia) and

Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor) may also aid in the conservation of the Painted Honeyeater (Oliver 2000). Similarly, protection of areas relevant for Painted Honeyeater conservation are likely to benefit other threatened native species. The Key Biodiversity Areas triggered by Painted Honeyeaters for instance list a total of 21 other species as Triggers.

 

Threatened Ecological Communities listed under the EPBC Act that are of importance

to the Painted Honeyeater include White Box-Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland, Grey Box Grassy Woodlands and Derived Native Grasslands of South-eastern Australia and Grassy Eucalypt Woodland of the Victorian Volcanic Plain. There are also a number of Ecological Communities listed

at the state level that will benefit from increased efforts to protect and conserve

Painted Honeyeater habitat. Many mammals, invertebrates and plants will also

receive benefits as a result of measures put in place to protect and rejuvenate

Painted Honeyeater habitat.


 

 

 

Chapter 8, social and economic considerations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The major social and economic impacts of this recovery plan will be on those who require approval to remove or modify Painted Honeyeater habitat and are prevented from doing so, or are required to modify their proposal by a consent authority. This may include increased costs due to the assessment processes, requirement to provide offset funding, to secure or rehabilitate habitat, or for other threat mitigation work.

 

Restrictions on further clearing of Painted Honeyeater habitat may impact some landowners, managers and developers. These restrictions may not significantly impact agricultural industries, however, since many of the more fertile areas have already been cleared and remnant vegetation is generally located on less fertile soils that are relatively less attractive for grazing or cropping.

 

A large network of community volunteers across eastern Australia actively participate

in BirdLife Australia’s coordinated surveys for woodland birds. Involvement can

provide social benefits with community members and engaged groups having a sense

of achievement, inclusion, community spirit and pride whilst gaining enjoyment and appreciation of their surrounding natural environment. The community education components of the program also promote community ownership, provide community support and encourage active involvement in protecting local natural resources.

 

In addition, there is the potential for financial gains through ecotourism ventures and holiday accommodation operators in areas where Painted Honeyeaters are reliably

seen. Such areas are more likely to be in regional areas of New South Wales and Victoria through the summer breeding season. Additional social benefits include encouraging passive recreation, appreciation of natural aesthetic values and increased awareness

and appreciation of Indigenous cultural values

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

Chapter 9 affected interests

 

 

 

 

 

Organisations and individuals likely to be affected by the actions proposed in this

plan include government agencies (Commonwealth, state and territory, local), particularly those involved with woodland and forest environments and conservation

programs; private landholders; Indigenous land management groups (including ranger programmes); researchers; bird watching groups; conservation groups; wildlife interest groups; camping, 4WD and fishing groups; environmental consulting companies;

tourism operators; industry and commercial bodies; and, proponents of agricultural development in the vicinity of important habitat. However, this list should not be considered exhaustive, as there may be other interest groups that may like to be included in the future or need to be considered when specialised tasks are required.

 

The following table lists some of the interest groups, how they could contribute to

the success of the plan and the potential benefits/impacts that may emerge from the Plan’s implementation:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Table 5 Affected interests and their contribution to the Recovery Plan


 

 

Table 5 continued. Affected interests and their contribution to the Recovery Plan


 

 

 

Chapter 10, consultation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The National Recovery Plan for the Painted Honeyeater has been developed through extensive consultation with a broad range of stakeholders. The consultation process brought together key species experts and conservation managers, from a range of

different organizations, to categorize ongoing threats to the Painted Honeyeater, and identify knowledge gaps and potential management options. Consultation included representatives from government agencies, non-government organisations, researchers and local community groups. During the drafting process the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (Cwlth) continued to work closely with key stakeholders.

 

Notice of the draft plan was made available for public comment for a minimum of three months between 17 December 2020 and 16 April 2021. Any comments received that were relevant to the survival of the species were considered by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee as part of its assessment process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Chapter 11, organisations and persons involved in evaluating the performance of the plan.

 

This plan should be reviewed no later than five years from when it was endorsed and made publicly available. The review will determine the performance of the plan and assess:

 

·         whether the plan continues unchanged, is varied to remove completed actions, or varied to include new conservation priorities

·         whether a recovery plan is no longer necessary for the species’ as either conservation advice will suffice, or the species’ are removed from the threatened species list.

 

As part of this review, the listing status of the species’ will be assessed against the EPBC Act species listing criteria.

 

The review will be coordinated by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in association with relevant Australian and state government agencies and key stakeholder groups such as non-governmental organisations, local community groups and scientific research organisations.

 

Key stakeholders who may be involved in the review of the performance of the National Recovery Plan for the Painted Honeyeater, include organisations likely to be affected by the actions proposed in this plan and are expected to include:

 

Australian Government

·         Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

 

State/territory governments

·         Victoria – Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

·         New South Wales – Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Queensland – Department of Environment and Science

·         South Australia – Department for Environment and Water

·         Northern Territory – Department of Environment and Natural Resources

·         Australian Capital Territory – Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate

·         Natural Resource Management bodies

·         Local government

 

 

 

 


 

Non-government organisations

·         BirdLife Australia

·         Local conservation groups

·         Local communities

·         Private landholders

·         Indigenous communities

·         Industry

·         Universities and other research organisations

·         Painted Honeyeater Recovery Team

 

Picture of native Australian flora


 

 

A picture containing background pattern

Description automatically generated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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