Lowland rainforest listed as endangered

CONCERNS FOR LOWLAND TROPICAL RAINFOREST OF THE WET TROPICS

20 DECEMBER 2021

The Wet Tropics has a new addition to the endangered list – lowland rainforest.

Federal Minister for Environment Sussan Ley recently made the decision to list lowland tropical rainforest of the Wet Tropics as an endangered ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

More than 70 per cent of the original area of lowland tropical rainforest has been lost. Clearing over many years has left isolated patches which are under threat from weeds, pathogens and pest animals, and are more susceptible to damage from cyclones.

The ecological community is the tropical rainforest between Townsville and Cooktown that mostly grows below 80 to 100m elevation, with some areas at higher elevations on the gently rising plateau at Mena Creek and East Palmerston near Innisfail. It includes a wide range of plants and animals – from tall evergreen trees with large leaves and buttresses, like palms and figs, to cassowaries, tree kangaroos and tree frogs.

The listing follows assessment by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee including public consultation. The Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment states:

  • Listing lowland tropical rainforest as a threatened ecological community recognises the importance of protecting and managing remaining areas of this vital part of the coastal lowlands landscape. It provides more opportunities to support land managers – including traditional owners, farmers and community groups – to manage weeds and pest animals, take on revegetation projects and restore existing forest. This has been the case for other threatened ecological communities in the Wet Tropics that are already nationally listed, such as Mabi forest (listed in 2002) and littoral rainforest (listed in 2008).
  • Land owners, developers, companies and governments may need to seek Commonwealth approval alongside state or local government approval if their plans could significantly impact on the listed ecological community or lowland rainforest. This is typically projects that involve significant vegetation clearance and/or hydrological changes such as new roads and large residential subdivisions.
  • Most routine activities on existing farms would not need to be approved under the EPBC Act because they are either exempt (if they are an ongoing activity) or unlikely to have a significant impact (if they are undertaken with minimal impact to rainforests). This applies to most existing farm activities such as horticulture and cropping, grazing, weed management, or maintenance of firebreaks and fence lines.

  • Minimum condition thresholds apply to ensure EPBC Act protection focuses on remnants and habitats considered to be in the highest condition. Referral and approval under the EPBC Act is not required for actions impacting on small or degraded areas that do not meet these thresholds.

Terrain NRM’s Tony O’Malley said the endangered listing recognised that lowland rainforest is a valuable asset in the Wet Tropics region. He said Terrain would work with the Australian Government to help bring resources into the region to support willing landholders, traditional owners and other stakeholders to conserve the ecological community.

“We are already doing similar work through the Building Rainforest Resilience and Tackling Woodland Threats projects,” Mr O’Malley said.

Terrain’s Indigenous Engagement Officer Michael Morta said traditional owners were keen to be involved: “Traditional owners want to be fully consulted and involved in any lowland rainforest areas where big projects or developments are being planned, to prevent impacts to their sites and places of cultural significance.”

More information about lowland tropical rainforest

EPBC Act referral and assessment process

Information about Australian Government funding programs is available at www.nrm.gov.au

RELATED NEWS

Compost Workshop

Compost Workshop

Soil Template 1
Farmers: Come to a compost workshop with Adam Collins on Sunday 14 July.
Read More
Soilkee Renovator Demonstration Day

Soilkee Renovator Demonstration Day

Soil Template 1
Come to our Soilkee Renovator Demonstration Day on Thursday 6 June in Malanda.
Read More
Mulch trials: Which types work best?

Mulch trials: Which types work best?

Soil Template 1
What is the best mulch for orchards? The results of mulch trials in the Mareeba region...
Read More
1 2 3 17

Leave a Comment