What is Mulga?
The name Mulga is most commonly applied to the large, woody, perennial, arid zone species A. aneura and its close relatives; the name also denotes the vegetation type that is dominated by these species. Mulga is an aboriginal word meaning a long, narrow shield made from Acacia wood.
Mulga occupies about 20% of arid Australia and is a ‘keystone’ group that dominates a large portion of the Western Australian rangelands. As currently defined the Mulga group comprises 10 species with one, Acacia aneura, containing 10 varieties.
Distribution of Acacia aneura and it's close relatives throughout Australia.
The Importance of Mulga
Mulga communities are repositories of significant productivity and biodiversity, they are resource “hotspots” because of their ability to capture, retain and cycle precious sediments, nutrients and water. Therefore, the effective management of Mulga is critically important for sustainable land use planning and natural resource management, particularly in areas where applied land use interests (such as pastoral and mining) may compete with biodiversity interests. Mulga is the most economically significant acacia of the Arid Zone, primarily because it is an important source of fodder, especially during times of drought.
The Problem with Mulga
A major constraint to the development of management actions that will deliver both biodiversity and sustainable land use outcomes beneficial to the rangelands is a lack of taxonomic clarity in respect to Mulga. Most Mulga entities are extremely variable, their taxonomic boundaries are vague, and identification of the different types is extremely difficult. The situation is further complicated by the existence of numerous hybrids and other entities of unknown taxonomic affinity. The variation observed in Mulga occurs both within and between populations and often results in a very complex mosaic of mixed Mulga communities across the landscape. The factors responsible causing and maintaining this variation are poorly understood.