Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

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Lists as made
This instrument amends the List of Threatened Ecological Communities (16/07/2000) to include Lowland Rainforest of Subtropical Australia in the critically endangered category.
Administered by: Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Made 11 Nov 2011
Registered 24 Nov 2011
Tabled HR 07 Feb 2012
Tabled Senate 07 Feb 2012
Date of repeal 19 Mar 2014
Repealed by Environment (Spent and Redundant Instruments) Repeal Regulation 2014


Commonwealth of Australia


Inclusion of ecological communities in the list of threatened ecological communities under section 181 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999



I, TONY BURKE, Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, pursuant to paragraph 184(1)(a) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, hereby amend the list referred to in section 181 of that Act by:


including in the list in the critically endangered category

Lowland Rainforest of Subtropical Australia

as described in the Schedule to this instrument.






Dated this…....................11th ....................day of…......................November ..............2011.










Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities




Lowland Rainforest of Subtropical Australia


The ecological community primarily occurs from Maryborough in Queensland to the Clarence River (near Grafton) in New South Wales (NSW). The ecological community also includes isolated areas between the Clarence River and Hunter River such as the Bellinger and Hastings valleys. The ecological community occurs in the following Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia Version 6.1 (IBRA) Bioregions: South Eastern Queensland Bioregion and NSW North Coast Bioregion.


Physical environment

The ecological community occurs on basalt and alluvial soils, including sand and old or elevated alluvial soils as well as floodplain alluvia. It also occurs occasionally on enriched rhyolitic soils and basaltically enriched metasediments. Lowland Rainforest mostly occurs in areas <300 m above sea level. Aspect can result in the ecological community being found at >300 m altitude on north-facing slopes, but typically 300 m defines the extent of the lowlands. In addition, Lowland Rainforest typically occurs in areas with high annual rainfall (>1300 mm).


The physical environment where the ecological community occurs is differentiated from the ‘Littoral Rainforest and Coastal Vine Thickets of Eastern Australia’ ecological community (hereafter referred to as Littoral Rainforest) by the level of coastal or estuarine influence (such as windshear). Lowland Rainforest typically occurs more than 2 km from the coast, however, it can (and does) intergrade with Littoral Rainforest in some coastal areas.


Vegetation structure

The ecological community is generally a moderately tall (≥20 m) to tall (≥30 m) closed forest (canopy cover ≥70%). Tree species with compound leaves are common and leaves are relatively large (notophyll to mesophyll). Typically there is a relatively low abundance of species from the genera Eucalyptus, Melaleuca and Casuarina. Buttresses are common as is an abundance and diversity of vines.


Lowland Rainforest has the most diverse tree flora of any vegetation type in NSW and the species composition of the canopy varies between local stands and between regions. The ecological community typically has high species richness (at least 30 woody species). The canopy comprises a range of tree species but in some areas a particular species may dominate e.g. palm forest, usually dominated by Archontophoenix cunninghamiana (bangalow palm) or Livistona australis (cabbage palm); and riparian areas dominated by Syzygium floribundum (syn. Waterhousea floribunda) (weeping satinash/weeping lilly pilly).


The canopy is often multilayered consisting of an upper, discontinuous layer of emergents, over the main canopy and subcanopy. Below the canopy is an understorey of sparse shrubs and seedlings.


The upper, discontinuous layer includes canopy emergents that may be 40–50 m tall and have large spreading crowns. This layer is composed of species such as Araucaria cunninghamii (hoop pine), Ficus spp. (figs), Lophostemon confertus (brushbox), and in some sites, Eucalyptus spp.. Typically non-rainforest species such as eucalypts and brushbox comprise <30% of canopy emergents.


The canopy/subcanopy layer contains a diverse range of species. Representative species include: hoop pine, figs, Argyrodendron trifoliolatum/Heritiera trifoliolata (white booyong), Castanospermum australe (black bean), Cryptocarya obovata (white walnut, pepperberry), Dendrocnide excelsa (giant stinging tree), Diploglottis australis (native tamarind), Dysoxylum fraserianum (rosewood), Dysoxylum mollissimum (red bean), Elattostachys nervosa (green tamarind), Endiandra pubens (hairy walnut), Flindersia schottiana (bumpy ash, cudgerie, silver ash), Gmelina leichhardtii (white beech), Neolitsea australiensis (bolly gum), Neolitsea dealbata (white bolly gum), Sloanea australis (maiden’s blush), Sloanea woollsii (yellow carabeen), Toona ciliata (red cedar), and epiphytes such as Platycerium spp. and Asplenium australasicum (bird’s nest fern).

In areas where the canopy is lower (<25 m) due to coastal or estuarine influences the Littoral Rainforest ecological community typically replaces the Lowland Rainforest ecological community.


The understorey contains a sparse layer of species such as Cordyline stricta (narrow-leaved palm lily), Linospadix monostachya (walking stick palm), Neolitsea dealbata (white bolly gum), Notelaea johnsonii (veinless mock olive), Pittosporum multiflorum (orange thorn), Triunia youngiana (native honey-suckle bush), Wilkiea austroqueenslandica (smooth wilkiea) and Wilkiea huegeliana (veiny wilkiea) as well as seedlings of a variety of canopy species. A variety of vines may be present such as Calamus muelleri (lawyer vine), Cissus antarctica (native grape vine, water vine), Cissus hypoglauca (giant water vine), Dioscorea transversa (native yam), Flagellaria indica (whip vine), Morinda jasminoides (sweet morinda), Pandorea floribunda (wonga wonga vine) and Smilax australis (sarsaparilla). Ferns such as Adiantum hispidulum (rough maidenhair fern), Doodia aspera (rasp fern), Lastreopsis decomposita (trim shield fern) and Lastreopsis marginans (bordered shield fern, glossy shield fern) may also be present.


The key diagnostic characteristics of the listed ecological community are:

·           Distribution of the ecological community is primarily in the NSW North Coast and South Eastern Queensland bioregions, according to Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation for Australia (IBRA) version 6.1 (2004).

·           The ecological community occurs on: soils derived from basalt or alluvium; or enriched rhyolitic soils; or basaltically enriched metasediments.

·           The ecological community generally occurs at an altitude less than 300 m above sea level.

·           The ecological community typically occurs in areas with high annual rainfall (>1300mm)

·           The ecological community is typically more than 2 km inland from the coast.

·           The structure of the ecological community is typically a tall (20 m–30 m) closed forest, often with multiple canopy layers.

·           Patches of the ecological community typically have high species richness.