The NSW Southern Tablelands includes the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and adjacent land extending across a wide range of ecological communities. These can be classified into two bioregions:
1. South-Eastern Highlands characterised by wet and dry sclerophyll forests, woodland, minor cool temperate rainforest and minor grassland and herbaceous communities.
2. Australian Alps dominated by alpine heath and herbfields, wet and dry eucalypt forests, Snow Gum woodlands, as well as waterways and wetlands (Cameron-Smith, 1999:14-25).
The ACT includes both bioregions. Most of the Territory shows varying degrees of vegetation modification as a result of European settlement activities with over 50% now managed as reserves. In the northern area of the ACT, the grasslands on the plains and lowland woodlands have been largely taken over by the city of Canberra and agricultural activities, although there are small areas of remnant vegetation. Most of the southern part of the ACT is currently incorporated into Namadgi National Park. This protected area has been recovering from the effects of pastoral activities and is often subject to bush fires. In January/February 2003, about 95% of the park was burnt.
Climate and Rainfall
Climate in the ACT and surrounding tableland region is cool to mild in winter with warm summers. Rainfall is distributed evenly over the seasons averaging from 605mm to more than 1000mm in the ranges. However, droughts are characteristic of the region, as for Australia generally and so there are periods of no rainfall for several months or at least diminished falls.
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