Moist Shale Woodland 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 Moist Shale Woodland 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 Moist Shale Woodland in the Sydney Basin Bioregion (as described in the final determination to list the ecological community) which was published on pages 2367 to 2371 in the NSW Government Gazette No. 75 dated 19 April 2002. 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. Moist Shale Woodland in the Sydney Basin Bioregion is the name given to the ecological community characterised by the species assemblage listed in paragraph 2. All sites are within the Sydney Basin Bioregion. Bioregions are defined in Thackway and Cresswell (1995).


2. Moist Shale Woodland is characterised by the following assemblage of species:


Adiantum aethiopicum

Arthropodium milleflorum

Brachychiton populneus

Breynia oblongifolia

Brunoniella australis

Bursaria spinosa

Carex inversa

Cayratia clematidea

Cheilanthes distans

Clematis glycinoides var. glycinoides

Clerodendrum tomentosum

Commelina cyanea

Cyperus gracilis

Desmodium brachypodum

Desmodium varians

Dichondra repens

Echinopogon ovatus

Einadia hastata

Eucalyptus moluccana

Eucalyptus tereticornis

Galium propinquum

Glycine clandestina

Microlaena stipoides var. stipoides

Myoporum montanum

Nyssanthes diffusa

Olearia viscidula

Oplismenus aemulus

Oxalis perennans

Plantago debilis

Plectranthus parviflorus

Poa sieberiana var. sieberiana

Rumex brownii

Senecio quadridentatus

Sigesbeckia orientalis subsp. orientalis

Solanum prinophyllum

Wahlenbergia gracilis


3. The total species list of the flora and fauna of 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. The community includes invertebrates, many of which are poorly known, as well as vertebrates. In any particular site not all of the assemblage listed above may be present. At any one time, some species may only be present as seeds in the soil seed bank with no above-ground individuals present. Invertebrate species may be restricted to soil or canopy trees and shrubs for example. The species composition of the site will be influenced by the size of the site and by its recent disturbance history. The number of species and the above-ground composition of species will change with time since fire, and may also change in response to changes in fire frequency.


4. The canopy of the Moist Shale Woodland generally has trees of Eucalyptus tereticornis and Eucalyptus moluccana, with Eucalyptus crebra and Corymbia maculata occurring occasionally. There is often a small tree stratum including species such as Acacia implexa or Acacia parramattensis subsp. parramattensis. A sparse shrub stratum is usually present, and commonly includes Breynia oblongifolia, Clerodendrum tomentosum, Bursaria spinosa and Olearia viscidula. Ground layer species include Desmodium varian, Cyperus gracilis, Galium propinquum, Cayratia clematidea, Glycine clandestina, Brunoniella australis, Desmodium brachypodum, Dichondra repens, Microlaena stipoides var. stipoides, Sigesbeckia orientalis subsp. orientalis and Solanum prinophyllum.


5. Moist Shale Woodland usually occurs on soils derived from Wianamatta Shale on higher country in the southern half of the Cumberland Plain. Moist Shale Woodland is found in very similar environments to Western Sydney Dry Rainforest, but tends to occupy upper slopes while Western Sydney Dry Rainforest is often found on lower slopes and in gullies.


6. Moist Shale Woodland is described in NSW NPWS (2000a&b) which lists diagnostic plant species for the community. These species provide a guide to identification of the community, but care should be taken in the application and interpretation of diagnostic plant species because of sampling limitations; the reduction in species diversity in degraded sites; and the fact that some species may only be present at a site at some times as a soil seedbank or as dormant bud/tubers.


7. Part of the Moist Shale Woodland is or has been known to occur in the Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Holroyd, Liverpool, Penrith, and Wollondilly Local Government Areas, but may occur elsewhere in the Sydney Basin Bioregion. Bioregions are defined in Thackway and Cresswell (1995).


8. Disturbed Moist Shale Woodland remnants are considered to form part of the community including remnants where the vegetation would respond to assisted natural regeneration such as where the natural soil and associated seedbank is still at least partially intact.


9. Moist Shale Woodland occurs in Mulgoa Nature Reserve and Western Sydney Regional Park. The area estimated in these reserves is less than 1% of the original distribution.


10. Moist Shale Woodland has been extensively cleared for agriculture and urban development. NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (2000a) estimate that about 480 ha or about 20% of the original distribution remains. Most of the remaining community has been disturbed, by tracks and clearing, weed invasion and soil disturbance. Continuing threats include invasion of exotic species, illegal dumping, fragmentation and clearing for urban, rural residential, rural and recreational development.


11. In view of the originally restricted distribution of this community, its inadequate representation within conservation reserves, the extensive disturbance and weed invasion that has occurred to date, and the ongoing development and use threats, the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that Moist Shale Woodland in the Sydney Basin 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 and that the community is eligible for listing as an endangered ecological community.


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




NSW NPWS (2000a). Native vegetation maps of the Cumberland Plain, Western Sydney – Interpretation guidelines. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 2000.


NSW NPWS (2000b). The native vegetation of the Cumberland Plan, Western Sydney Technical report. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, 2000.


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