Sydney Freshwater Wetlands in the Sydney Basin 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 Sydney Freshwater Wetlands in the Sydney Basin Bioregion as an ENDANGERED ECOLOGICAL COMMUNITY on Part 3 of Schedule 1 of the Act. The listing of Endangered Ecological Communities is provided for by Part 2 of the Act.

The Scientific Committee has found that:

1. Sydney Freshwater Wetlands is the name given to the plant community characterised by the assemblage of species listed in paragraph 2 that is restricted to freshwater swamps in swales and depressions on sand dunes and low nutrient sandplain sites in coastal areas. All sites are within the Sydney Basin Bioregion.

2. Sydney Freshwater Wetlands is characterised by the following assemblage of species.

  • Banksia robur
  • Baumea articulata
  • Baumea juncea
  • Baumea rubiginosa
  • Callistemon citrinus
  • Casuarina glauca
  • Cladium procerum
  • Eleocharis sphacelata
  • Empodisma minus
  • Gahnia clarkei
  • Gahnia sieberiana
  • Gleichenia dicarpa
  • Goodenia paniculata
  • Hakea teretifolia
  • Hypolepis muelleri
  • Lepironia articulata
  • Leptocarpus tenax
  • Leptospermum juniperinum
  • Lomandra longifolia
  • Ludwigia peploides subsp. montevidensis
  • Melaleuca linariifolia
  • Melaleuca nodosa
  • Melaleuca quinquenervia
  • Melaleuca styphelioides
  • Persicaria decipiens
  • Persicaria strigosa
  • Philydrum lanuginosum
  • Phragmites australis
  • Pteridium esculentum
  • Restio tetraphyllus
  • Schoenus brevifolius
  • Triglochin procerum sensu lato
  • Typha orientalis
  • Villarsia exaltata
  • Viminaria juncea
  • Xanthorrhoea resinifera
3. The total species flora and fauna list for the community is considerably larger than that given in 2 (above), with many species present in only one or two sites or in very small quantity. In any particular site not all of the assemblage listed in 2 may be present. Invertebrate species may be restricted to sediments for example. At any one time, propagules and seeds of some species may only be present in the soil seed bank with no above-ground individuals present. The species composition of the site will be influenced by the size of the site, recent rainfall or drought conditions and by its recent disturbance history. The community includes vertebrates and invertebrates, many of which are poorly known.

4. Sydney Freshwater Wetlands are a mosaic community with considerable variation due to fluctuating water levels and seasonal conditions. Characteristic vegetation is sedges and aquatics particularly Eleocharis sphacelata, Baumea juncea, Baumea rubiginosa, Baumea articulata, Gahnia sieberiana, Ludwigia peploides subsp. montevidensis and Persicaria species. There may be considerable areas of open water particularly where drainage conditions have been altered. There may be patches of emergent trees such as Melaleuca quinquenervia and shrubs.

5. Sydney Freshwater Wetlands are restricted to freshwater swamps in swales and depressions on sand dunes and low nutrient sandplain sites in coastal areas. These areas are generally on the sands of the Warriewood and Tuggerah Soil Landscapes (Chapman & Murphy 1989). Coastal Swamp Forest eg. Eucalyptus robusta and swamp on alluvium with a saline influence is not covered by this Endangered Ecological Community Determination.

6. Sydney Freshwater Wetlands are or have been known to occur in the local government areas of Lake Macquarie, Wyong, Gosford, Pittwater, Warringah, Woollahra, Waverley, Botany, Rockdale, Randwick, Sutherland and Wollongong- but may occur elsewhere in the Sydney Basin Bioregion.

7. Sydney Freshwater Wetlands were formerly particularly extensive in the Sydney Eastern Suburbs and Kurnell area. Occurrences have been reported to include Jewells Swamp, Wallarah wetland, Budgewoi wetlands, Porters Creek wetland, Wyong Golf Course, Tuggerah Oxbow, Bateau Bay; Iluka Lagoon; Everglades Lagoon Umina, Deep Creek Warringah, Dee Why Lagoon, Lachlan Swamps, Centennial Park, Botany Swamps at Eastlakes, La Perouse, Kurnell, Potter Point, Bundeena and Marley Lagoons and Coomaditchy Lagoon, but the ecological community may also occur elsewhere.

8. Sydney Freshwater Wetlands include vegetation described in Benson & Howell (1994), Adam & Stricker (1993) and Chafer (1997).

9. Disturbed remnants are considered to form part of the community described under this determination where the natural soil and associated seedbank is partially intact. At some sites changes to hydrology or drainage may be required to assist regeneration.

10. Sydney Freshwater Wetlands has been extensively cleared and filled for recreational purposes - playing fields, car parks, roads eg Marton Park Kurnell. Remnants are threatened with illegal filling with commercial, industrial and residential waste, dumping and burning of stolen vehicles, sand extraction and clearing for urban development. Threats include urban runoff associated with proximity to urban and agricultural areas, weed invasion e.g. Cortaderia selloana, Ludwigia peruviana, Salvinia molesta, Eichhornia crassipes; off-road vehicles and trail bikes, and introduced deer affecting Marley and Jibbon Lagoons in Royal National Park by grazing and trampling.

11. Small areas of Sydney Freshwater Wetlands have been reported to occur in Wyrrabalong, Royal and Botany Bay National Parks.

12. Animal species of conservation significance which may occur in Sydney Freshwater Wetlands are Australasian Bittern, Botaurus poiciloptilus, Wallum Froglet, Crinia tinnula, Green and Golden Bell Frog, Litoria aurea, and Large Footed Myotis, Myotis adversus.

13. In view of the small size of existing remnants, and the threat of further clearing, disturbance and degradation, the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that the Sydney Freshwater Wetlands in the Sydney Basin Bioregion are likely to become extinct in nature in New South Wales unless the circumstances and factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate and that listing as an endangered ecological community is warranted.


Adam, P & Stricker, J (1993) Wetlands of the Sydney Region. National Estates Grants Programme. Project no 55. Report by Nature Council of NSW.

Benson, D.H.& Howell, J. (1994) The natural vegetation of the Sydney 1:100 000 map sheet. Cunninghamia 3(4): 679-787.

Chafer, C.J. (1997) Biodiversity of Wetlands in the Illawarra Catchments: an inventory. Illawarra Catchment Management Committee, Wollongong.

Chapman, G.A. & Murphy, C.L. (1989) Soil landscapes of the Sydney 1:100 000 sheet. Soil Conservation Service of N.S.W., Sydney.

Proposed Gazettal date: 22/12/00

Exhibition period: 22/12/00 - 26/01/01

About the NSW Scientific Committee

Page last updated: 28 February 2011