Fraser, Ian, Rosemary Purdie

Black Mountain is geographically and metaphorically at the heart of Canberra, visible from most suburban areas, and provides a bushland backdrop to the city centre and national institutions. Its long history of scientific collecting and research makes it one of the best studied and documented areas of its size in the ACT, but until now much of that knowledge has been inaccessible. This book takes us to the ecological heart of the mountain-a sandstone island covered in dry sclerophyll forest that is home to over 640 species of native plants, lichens and macrofungi, 174 species of native vertebrate animals, and at least 2150 species of native insects and other invertebrates. Chapters on vegetation, plants, animals and fire introduce the habitats and biodiversity present, how they have changed over the last five decades and the reasons why, how the biota respond to fire and how fire affects their habitats. We learn about the professional and citizen scientists who have given us this knowledge and the scope of their activities there.Black Mountain’s biophysical values, scientific benchmarks and recent biodiversity changes-including the disappearance of 10 species of vertebrates since the 1970s-provide the framework for the chapter discussing future management. Four key challenges are briefly discussed: climate change, isolation, fire management and visitor use. Existing scientific knowledge about the area’s biodiversity and ecology will help meet these challenges, but ongoing research and monitoring, outlined in the chapter, will be essential to fill knowledge gaps and ensure evidence-based management of the area.   23 July 2020 was the 50th anniversary of Black Mountain becoming a conservation reserve, the first gazetted in the ACT.   Based on a series of scientific background papers prepared by local experts for a symposium in 2018, the book will be of great interest to the Canberra community and visitors.   Richly illustrated with maps, diagrams and photographs, and describing five walks that sample the area’s diversity and natural features, the book aims to increase understanding and appreciation of the area and help ensure that its values remain intact for future generations.

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Friends of Black Mountain, July 2020.  160 pages, paperback, colour photographs, illustrations, maps.