Black Mountain is an icon, also described as the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of the Canberra urban reserve system, Canberra Nature Park. It is the largest and most prominent, and reserve in Canberra Nature Park and has unique biodiversity. The mountain is a gem of natural, cultural, recreational, scientific, educational and aesthetic value.
- Black Mountain is an outstanding dry sclerophyll forest on the Southern Tablelands. Low altitude temperate open forest and temperate grassland are well recognised as under threat across southeast Australia broadly, and Canberra’s Black Mountain is a very significant reserve of these types of vegetation;
- The reserve is very rich floristically, with over 500 species of plants recorded – in one place – in the heart of the Bush Capital;
- Trees include scribbly gums, brittle gums and stringybarks, as well as yellow box, red gum, apple box, Blakeley’s gum, cherry ballarts and a small populations of black cypress pines. Then there is a diverse array of wattles, heaths, daisies and everlastings, native peas, grasses, sedges, and bluebells – plus a myriad of other plant diversity such as fringed lilies, sundews, geebungs, guinea flowers, indigo, sarsparilla, and lilies.
- Two significant endangered ecological communities are also represented in the Reserve: natural temperate grassland and yellow box/red gum grassy woodland;
- The Reserve is renowned for its orchids; so far, more than 60 species of orchids have been recorded as being on Black Mountain in the Field Guide to the Orchids of the Australian Capital Territory The management plan for Canberra Nature Park also notes the importance of the orchids recorded on Black Mountain at the time it was published as 'representing two thirds of the total orchid diversity recorded for the ACT';
- More than 90 species of birds have been recorded on Black Mountain over the years. Many of these species depend on the relatively undisturbed breeding habitats in the northern and western parts of the Reserve.
- The Caswell Drive area is also a wildlife corridor that is important for the Black Mountain kangaroo population.
- Ecologically, the mountain’s key feature is the survival of the native plant understorey and groundcover and the animal communities that depend on them;
- Records of mammals on the mountain include kangaroos and swamp wallabies, the wallaroo, brush-tailed and ring-tailed possums, echidnas, dunnarts, Stuart’s marsupial mouse and the yellow-footed marsupial mouse, sugar gliders, and nine species of bat;
- Reptiles include three snake species, nine species of skink, and seven lizard species, including dragons. There are also nine frog species, two rare cricket species, and two scorpion species;
- Black Mountain has unique geology and soil biota in the ACT
- The reserve is an immensely valuable scientific and educational resource botanically, and the conservation of this remnant area is dependent on minimal fragmentation and absence of ecological barriers to other elements of Canberra Nature Park.
This nature reserve holds a special place in Australian biology, because of its place in scientific nomenclature. Due to its location next to CSIRO Herbarium and Entomology, many of Australia's plant and insect species have been described on Black Mountain.
Black Mountain is used for a variety of educational purposes, including spring and summer wildflower walks conducted by local volunteers.
Recreational and Community Values
Black Mountain is used by people from all over Canberra as a place to relax, look at wildflower displays, watch birds, or simply recharge by recreation that has minimal damage on the natural environment, consistent with appreciation, conservation and preservation of the natural environment on Black Mountain.