Threatened ecological communities

An ecological community is a naturally occurring group of native plants, animals and other organisms living in a unique habitat. A healthy ecological community is vital for their survival.

Ecological communities provide natural management of clean air, water, provide nutrients for the soil, protection against erosion and salinity and a healthy environment for the group’s species.

An ecological community is threatened when it is at risk of extinction. This can occur because of a significant reduction in its distribution across regions or a decline in ecological function.

The decline can occur if there is a change in community structure or composition, disruption of ecological processes, invasion by exotic species, or habitat degradation or fragmentation.

Managing threatened ecological communities well helps us protect the environment with a large-scale or landscape-based approach to biological processes.

Agnes Banks woodland is an example of a threatened ecological communityAgnes Banks Woodlands

The Agnes Banks Woodlands ecological community in the Sydney Basin is listed as critically endangered by the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee.

The woodlands originally extended over about 615 hectares, but now has only 98 hectares remaining intact, mostly near Agnes Banks on the east bank of the Hawkesbury River, in the Penrith local government area.

The main threat to the community is further clearing or burn-off for sand mining or rural development. Impacts include:

  • altered soil and water levels
  • weed invasion
  • damage to community diversity


An ecological community may be listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 depending on the level of threat and risk of its collapse.

Threatened ecological communities are managed under the Biodiversity Conservation Program until new conservation projects are developed under the Saving our Species program.

See the full list of threatened ecological communities in NSW.