Regional ecosystems

Regional Ecosystems are combinations of vegetation types which are consistently associated with particular combinations of geology, landform, soil and climate. They provide a basis for bioregional planning and for prioritising conservation efforts. They are used under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 and the Land Act 1994 to help assess applications for vegetation clearing. For instance, endangered ecosystems can no longer be cleared on private or leasehold land outside of urban areas. Regional Ecosystems have been allocated a Vegetation Management Status (as gazetted under the Vegetation Management Act 1999) and a Biodiversity Status as recognised by the Queensland Environment Department. The Queensland Herbarium continues to maintain and update a Regional Ecosystem Description Database.

The conservation status of the 105 Wet Tropics Regional Ecosystems includes

  • 24 endangered (less than 10 percent of the pre-European extent remains intact)
  • 17 of concern (10-30 percent of pre-European extent remains intact)
  • 64 of no concern at present

Of the 105 Regional Ecosystems in the bioregion, 94 are represented in the World Heritage Area, as are 18 of the 24 endangered ecosystems and all 17 that are ‘of concern’. Endangered and ‘of concern’ ecosystems make up 141,000ha (7 percent) of the bioregion. Most endangered ecosystems are on the coastal lowlands or the tablelands where clearing and drainage have drastically reduced their distribution. Mabi forest (RE 7.8.3) was the first Wet Tropics ecological community listed as endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

You can read all about Regional Ecosystems on the Department of Environment and Heritage website.


Wet Tropics vegetation mapping

The Wet Tropics Management Authority employed Peter and David Stanton to undertake vegetation mapping at a finer scale (1:50,000) than the Regional Ecosystems (1:100,000). Their mapping was used to help develop Regional Ecosystems for the Wet Tropics. You can learn all about the Wet Tropics mapping on the vegetation mapping pages.

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