Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

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This instrument amends the List of Threatened Ecological Communities (16/07/2000) to include in the critically endangered category the Western Sydney Dry Rainforest and Moist Woodland on Shale.
Administered by: Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water
Registered 26 Feb 2013
Tabling HistoryDate
Tabled Senate27-Feb-2013
Tabled HR12-Mar-2013



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 (EC 106)



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

Western Sydney Dry Rainforest and Moist Woodland on Shale

as described in the Schedule to this instrument.






Dated this…..........13th........................day of…............November........................2012.








Tony Burke


Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities






Western Sydney Dry Rainforest and Moist Woodland on Shale


The Western Sydney Dry Rainforest and Moist Woodland on Shale ecological community ranges from a dry rainforest with a closed non-eucalypt canopy that transitions into a moist woodland with a relatively more open canopy dominated by eucalypts. Variations in structure occur in response to topography, microclimate and past disturbance. All forms are characterised by a suite of mesic species (i.e. adapted to moderately moist habitats) in the shrub and understorey layers. While there are some differences in species composition between these two forms they are based on the same underlying shale substrate, receive the same rainfall, occupy related positions in the landscape of the Cumberland Plain region of the Sydney Basin and, hence, share many characteristic species. The dry rainforest typically develops on wetter sites in gully bottoms and lower slopes, then often grades into the moist woodland on drier upper slopes and more undulating terrain. The dry rainforest typically has a closed non-eucalypt canopy with occasional emergent eucalypts and develops into a relatively more open eucalypt-dominated tree canopy, but with rainforest tree/shrub species persisting in the understorey, in the moist woodland further up the slope.


In sheltered gullies, the vegetation of the ecological community is generally a simple, low closed forest characterised by an interrupted canopy of Melaleuca styphelioides (prickly-leaved paperbark) with scattered emergent Eucalyptus species, a predominantly mesic shrub stratum, some characteristic rainforest species (e.g. Alectryon subcinereus (native quince), Streblus brunonianus (whalebone tree)) and a sparse groundcover. Palms are typically absent and mosses and vascular epiphytes are rare. Vines and climbers are common and are a conspicuous and characteristic feature of the ecological community. Prickly shrubs are also common and characteristic (e.g. Pittosporum multiflorum (orange thorn)).


In more marginal sites, as a result of partial clearance, or areas such as the upper portions of slopes, the ecological community can take on its moist woodland form where the canopy species characteristic of the more closed dry rainforest form are absent and the Eucalyptus species that tend to occur as rainforest emergents dominate a slightly more open canopy. The moist woodland form has a similar mesic shrub layer consisting of many of the same shrub and ground-layer species that are typical of dry rainforest but with less vines and climbers.


The Western Sydney Dry Rainforest and Moist Woodland on Shale ecological community exhibits the following key diagnostic characteristics:

·       Distribution is in the Sydney Basin Bioregion. Most occurrences are in the Cumberland Sub-region, which covers a geographic area commonly known as the Cumberland Plain, a rainshadow coastal valley in western Sydney. Some occurrences extend into the southern part of the Yengo Sub-region;

·       Occurrences are typically on clay soils derived from Wianamatta Group shale geology;

·       It generally occurs in areas with a mean annual rainfall of 800 to 920 mm/year at some of the higher elevations of the Cumberland Plain, up to 300 m above sea level (asl);

·       It generally occurs in rugged terrain and other patches may occur on undulating terrain. Dry rainforest patches typically occupy steep lower slopes and gullies, and moist woodland patches typically occupy the upper sections of the slope or where partial clearance or fire has disturbed the rainforest vegetation;

·       A tree canopy layer is present forming a simple, low closed forest (often with emergents) to a more open woodland, with a small tree layer forming a sub-canopy;

·       A shrub layer is usually present, though variable in density, and has good representation of mesic species;

·       The ground layer is generally sparse with a diverse mix of forbs, ferns and shade-tolerant grasses (the latter more typical of the moist woodland form);

·       Vines and scramblers are typically present across the ecological community;

·       The following plant groups/taxa often present in other rainforest/moist woodland types in New South Wales, are typically absent or uncommon in the ecological community: palms (family Arecaceae), figs (Ficus spp.), Backhousia myrtifolia (grey myrtle), vascular epiphytes and mosses.