Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion - Determination to make a minor amendment to Part 3 of Schedule 1 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act

NSW Scientific Committee

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has made a Determination to make a minor amendment to Part 3 of Schedule 1 (Endangered ecological communities) of the Act by inserting the Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion (as described in the determination of the Scientific Committee under Division 5 Part 2) and as a consequence to omit reference to the Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion (as described in the final determination to list the ecological community) which was published in the NSW Government Gazette No. 201 dated 1 November 2002 (pages 9355 to 9356) and in the NSW Government Gazette No. 210 dated 8 November 2002 (pages 9560 to 9561). Minor amendments to the Schedules are provided for by Division 5 of Part 2 of the Act.


The Scientific Committee is of the opinion that the amendment is necessary or desirable to correct minor errors or omissions in the Determination in relation to the Thackway and Cresswell (1995) reference.


The Scientific Committee has found that:

1. Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest is the name given to the ecological community on high nutrient soils in the Illawarra area within the Sydney Basin Bioregion (sensu Thackway and Cresswell 1995) and is characterised by the following assemblage of species.


Adiantum formosum

Alectryon subcinereus

Alphitonia excelsa

Baloghia inophylla

Brachychiton acerifolius

Cassine australis

Cayratia clematidea

Celastrus australis

Cissus antarctica

Citriobatus pauciflorus

Dendrocnide excelsa

Diospyros pentamera

Diploglottis australis

Doodia aspera

Ehretia acuminata

Ficus spp.

Guioa semiglauca

Hibiscus heterophyllus

Legnephora moorei

Maclura cochinchinensis

Malaisia scandens

Pennantia cunninghamii

Piper novaehollandiae

Planchonella australis

Podocarpus elatus

Scolopia braunii

Streblus brunonianus

Toona ciliata

Wilkiea huegliana


2. The total species list of the community is considerably larger than that given above, with many species present in only one or two sites or in very small quantity. The species composition of a site will be influenced by the size of the site, recent rainfall or drought condition and by its disturbance (including fire) history. The number of species, and the above ground relative abundance of species will change with time since fire, and may also change in response to changes in fire regime (including changes in fire frequency). At any one time, above ground individuals of some species may be absent, but the species may be represented below ground in the soil seed banks or as dormant structures such as bulbs, corms, rhizomes, rootstocks or lignotubers. The list of species given above is of vascular plant species, the community also includes micro-organisms, fungi, cryptogamic plants and a diverse fauna, both vertebrate and invertebrate. These components of the community are poorly documented.


3. Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest has been recorded from the local government areas of Wollongong City, Shellharbour City, Shoalhaven City and Kiama Municipality (within the Sydney Basin Bioregion) and may occur elsewhere in the Bioregion. Bioregions are defined in Thackway and Cresswell (1995).


4. Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest includes Subtropical Rainforest (Type 1), Moist Subtropical Rainforest (Type 2) and Dry Subtropical Rainforest (Type 3) of Mills, K & Jakeman, J. (1995 Rainforests of the Illawarra District (Coachwood Publishing, Jamberoo). (The classification of Mills & Jakeman was developed specifically for the Illawarra - in a broader context much of the community recognised here would fall within dry forest (suballiance 23) in Floyd, A. G. (1990). Australian rainforests in New South Wales (Vols 1 and 2, Surrey Beatty and Sons, Chipping Norton). Although rainforest canopies are generally closed, in highly disturbed stands the canopy may be irregular and open. Canopy height varies considerably, and structurally some stands are scrub.


5. Characteristic tree species in the Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest are Baloghia inophylla, Brachychiton acerifolius, Dendrocnide excelsa, Diploglottis australis, Ficus spp., Pennantia cunninghamii and Toona ciliata. Stands may have species of Eucalyptus, Syncarpia and Acacia as emergents or incorporated into the dense canopy.


6. Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest occurred mainly on the coastal Permian volcanics, but can occur on a range of geological substrates, mainly between Albion Park and Gerringong (termed the Illawarra Brush by Mills and Jakeman 1995) and north of Lake Illawarra on the Berkeley Hills (termed the Berkeley Brush by Mills & Jakeman 1995). The Illawarra Brush and Berkeley Brush originally covered about 13 600 ha and made up about 60% of the rainforest of the Illawarra area. Outlying occurrences of Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest also occur south to the Shoalhaven River and westwards into Kangaroo Valley, where areas of Permian volcanic soils occur. The community generally occurs on the coastal plain and escarpment foothills, rarely extending onto the upper escarpment slopes.


7. Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest provides habitat for the tree Daphnandra sp. C Illawarra, and in some drier stands the endangered vine Cynanchum elegans. The shrub Zieria granulata may grow near stands of Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest and in regrowth stands (K. Mills pers. comm.).


8. Small areas of Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest occur in Budderoo National Park, Macquarie Pass National Park, Morton National Park, Cambewarra Range Nature Reserve, Devils Glen Nature Reserve and Rodway Nature Reserve.


9. Large areas of Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest have been cleared for agriculture. Only about 3400 ha remains with about 13% of this (440 ha) in reserved areas (Mills & Jakeman 1995, L. Mitchell pers. comm). Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest occurs mainly on private land and is inadequately protected. Compared with warm temperate rainforest it is under-represented in conservation reserves.


10. Remnants are small and fragmented and their long term viability is threatened. Weed invasion is a major threat and invasive exotic species include Lantana camara, Araujia sericiflera, Ageratina riparia, Ageratina adenophora, Delairea odorata, Senna pendula var glabra, Senna septemtrionalis, Tradescantia fluminensis, Cinnamomum camphora, Olea europea subsp. africana, Hedychium gardnerianum, Ligustrum lucidum, Ligustrum sinense, Passiflora subpeltata and Solanum mauritianum. Other threats include further clearing, quarrying, grazing, inappropriate fire regimes, rubbish dumping and hobby farm developments.


11. In view of the above the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion is likely to become extinct in nature in NSW unless the circumstances and factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate.


Dr Richard Major


Scientific Committee


Proposed Gazettal date: 14/10/11

Exhibition period: 14/10/11 - 9/12/11


Note this ecological community was originally listed in 2002 as indicated in the determination




Thackway R, Cresswell ID (1995) An interim biogeographic regionalisation for Australia: a framework for setting priorities in the National Reserves System Cooperative Program. (Version 4.0. Australian Nature Conservation Agency: Canberra.)


Page last updated: 14 October 2011