Lowland rainforest on floodplain in the NSW North Coast Bioregion - endangered ecological community listing

NSW Scientific Committee - final determination

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has made a Final Determination to list the Lowland Rainforest on Floodplain in the New South Wales North Coast bioregion as an Endangered Ecological Community on Part 3 of Schedule 1 of the Act. Listing of ecological communities is provided for by Part 2 of the Act.

The Scientific Committee has found that:

1. Lowland Rainforest, in an undisturbed state, is a closed canopy forest characterised by its high species richness and structural complexity. In disturbed stands the canopy continuity may be broken, or the canopy may be smothered by exotic vines.

2. Lowland Rainforest on floodplains covers less than 1000 hectares in NSW and remaining stands are small and isolated. Stands occur in the New South Wales North Coast bioregion.

3. Historically, the major cause of loss of rainforest on floodplains was clearing for agriculture.

4. Subsequent to clearing the disturbed and exposed edges of remnant stands were vulnerable to invasion by exotic plant species; nearly all surviving remnants are subject to this threat.

5. The effects of clearing, fragmentation and isolation on the functional ecology of the remnant stands has been little studied, but impacts on plant regeneration (including pollination and seed dispersal) are likely. Many of the tree and shrub species are obligate outbreeders so that disruption to pollinator systems could have long term, deleterious consequences.

6. Other threats, although not all are experienced at all sites, include fire, grazing, rubbish dumping, clearing for competing land uses (including clearing of understorey for recreational facilities ) and dissection by vehicular and foot tracks.

7. Although very few sites have been subject to detailed fauna survey, it is known that some sites possess an extremely rich insect fauna (documented in the case of Lansdowne Reserve by Williams GA (1993) Hidden Rainforests: subtropical rainforests and their invertebrate biodiversity. UNSW Press/Australian Museum, Sydney.) It is probable that other sites have comparable invertebrate diversity.

8. Although every stand of rainforest is unique in terms of biota, the similarity in structure and the presence of a core assemblage of species permit the definition of lowland floodplain rainforest as a distinct ecological community. This list of plants has been compiled to include species which are characteristic of NSW rainforest communities which occur on floodplains, although not all species occur in every stand, and individual species may be found in other communities. These include all or part of ten of Floyd's Suballiances shown in Point 10.

  • Aphananthe philippinensis
  • Araucaria cunninghamii
  • Archontophoenix cunninghamiana
  • Arthropteris spp.
  • Austromyrtus bidwillii
  • Castanospermum australe
  • Ceratopetalum apetalum
  • Cryptocarya obovata
  • Cyathea cooperi
  • Dendrocnide excelsa
  • Dysoxylum molissimum
  • Elaeocarpus grandis
  • Elaeocarpus obovatus
  • Elatostemna reticulatum
  • Ficus coronata
  • Ficus macrophylla
  • Ficus obliqua
  • Ficus superba var. henneana
  • Ficus watkinsiana
  • Flindersia schottiana
  • Flindersia xanthoxyla
  • Grevillea robusta
  • Heritiera trifoliata
  • Linospadix monostachyus
  • Livistona australis
  • Microsorum scandens
  • Piper novae-hollandiae
  • Pollia crispata
  • Pothos longipes
  • Randia chartacea
  • Sloanea australis
  • Sloanea woollsii
  • Streblus brunonianus
  • Syzygium australe
  • Syzygium francisii
  • Toona ciliata
  • Tristaniopsis laurina
  • Waterhousea floribunda
9. The total species assemblage is much larger with many species restricted to one or a few sites, or present only in very low abundance. Not all the characteristic species are present at every site.

10. For particular purposes it may be appropriate to recognise categories within the lowland floodplain rainforest. The most widely used classification of rainforest types in NSW is that of Floyd, A.G. (1990) Australian Rainforests in New South Wales. Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton. In this classification the major rainforest Suballiance within the nominated community is Suballiance 3: Cryptocarya obovata - Dendrocnide excelsa - Ficus spp - Araucaria. Elements of of Suballiance 1:Heritiera trifoliata, Suballiance 2: Toona - Flindersia, Suballiance 4: Elaeocarpus grandis, Suballiance 5: Castanospermum - Dysoxylum mollissimum, Suballiance 6: Archontophoenix - Livistona, Suballiance 23: Ficus-Streblus-Dendrocnide-Cassine, Suballiance 24: Castanospermum - Grevillea robusta, Suballiance 25: Streblus - Austromyrtus, Suballiance 26: Waterhousea floribunda - Tristaniopsis laurina and Suballiance 33: Ceratopetalum/Schizomeria - Heritiera/Sloanea also occur. These alliances are not restricted to lowland floodplains.

11. In any individual stand more than one Suballiance may be represented, and separation of Suballiances may, in some instances, be difficult as complex intergradations occur.

12. The following vertebrate species occur in, but are not restricted to, lowland rainforest on floodplains.


  • Ailuroedus crassirostris - Green Catbird
  • Alectura lathami Brush - Turkey
  • Colluricincla megarhyncha - Little Shrike-thrush
  • Ptilinopus magnificus - Wompoo Fruit Dove
  • Sericornis citreogularis - Yellow-throated Scrubwren
  • Tregellasia capito - Pale Yellow Robin
  • Dasyurus maculatus - Spotted-tailed Quoll
  • Kerivoula papuensis - Golden-tipped Bat
  • Nyctimene robinsoni - Eastern Tube-nosed Bat
  • Potorous tridactylus - Long-nosed Potoroo
  • Pteropus spp. - Flying-foxes
  • Syconycteris australis - Eastern Blossom Bat
  • Thylogale stigmatica - Red-legged Pademelon
  • Thylogale thetis - Red-necked Pademelon
  • Hypsilurus spinipes - Southern Angle-headed Dragon
  • Saiphos equalis - Three-toed Skink
13. A number of stands of the Community are found within the formal conservation reserves in the National Parks and Wildlife Service estate listed below, however the size of individual stands is small (only a few hectares). These stands are only a small proportion of the total distribution of the Community.
  • Andrew Johnston Big Scrub Nature Reserve
  • Boatharbour Nature Reserve
  • Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve
  • Coocumbac Island Nature Reserve
  • Coramba Nature Reserve
  • Hortons Creek Nature Reserve
  • Moore Park Nature Reserve
  • Stotts Island Nature Reserve
  • Susan Island Nature Reserve
14. The small and fragmented nature of these sites places them, as with stands outside NPWS estate, at risk of loss of integrity from weed invasion and other disturbances.

15. In the light of 2,3,4,5,6 and 14 the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that Lowland Rainforest on Floodplain within the New South Wales North Coast bioregion is likely to become extinct in nature in New South Wales unless the circumstances and factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate.

Proposed Gazettal date: 13/8/99

Exhibition period: 13/8/99 - 17/9/99

About the NSW Scientific Committee

Page last updated: 28 February 2011