Nature conservation

Threatened species

Swamp Sclerophyll Forest on Coastal Floodplains of the New South Wales North Coast, Sydney Basin and South East Corner Bioregions - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Swamp Sclerophyll Forest on Coastal Floodplains of the New South Wales North Coast, Sydney Basin and South East Corner Bioregions
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered Ecological Community
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Gazetted date: 17 Dec 2004
Profile last updated: 24 Mar 2020


This swamp community has an open to dense tree layer of eucalypts and paperbarks although some remnants now only have scattered trees as a result of partial clearing. The trees may exceed 25 m in height, but can be considerably shorter in regrowth stands or under conditions of lower site quality where the tree stratum is low and dense. For example, stands dominated by Melaleuca ericifolia typically do not exceed 8 m in height. The community also includes some areas of fernland and tall reedland or sedgeland, where trees are very sparse or absent.

The most widespread and abundant dominant trees include Eucalyptus robusta (swamp mahogany), Melaleuca quinquenervia (paperbark) and, south from Sydney, Eucalyptus botryoides (bangalay) and Eucalyptus longifolia (woollybutt). Other trees may be scattered throughout at low abundance or may be locally common at few sites, including Callistemon salignus (sweet willow bottlebrush), Casuarina glauca (swamp oak) and Eucalyptus resinifera subsp. hemilampra (red mahogany), Livistona australis (cabbage palm) and Lophostemon suaveolens (swamp turpentine).

A layer of small trees may be present, including Acacia irrorata (green wattle), Acmena smithii (lilly pilly), Elaeocarpus reticulatus (blueberry ash), Glochidion ferdinandi (cheese tree), Melaleuca linariifolia and M. styphelioides (paperbarks).

Shrubs include Acacia longifolia, Dodonaea triquetra, Ficus coronata, Leptospermum polygalifolium subsp. polygalifolium and Melaleuca spp. Occasional vines include Parsonsia straminea, Morinda jasminoides and Stephania japonica var. discolor.

The groundcover is composed of abundant sedges, ferns, forbs, and grasses including Gahnia clarkei, Pteridium esculentum, Hypolepis muelleri, Calochlaena dubia, Dianella caerulea, Viola hederacea, Lomandra longifolia, Entolasia marginata and Imperata cylindrica.

On sites downslope of lithic substrates or with soils of clay-loam texture, species such as Allocasuarina littoralis, Banksia oblongifolia, B. spinulosa, Ptilothrix deusta and Themeda australis, may also be present in the understorey.

Characteristic species are listed in the final determination for this complex (see links at top right).


This community is known from parts of the Local Government Areas of Tweed, Byron, Lismore, Ballina, Richmond Valley, Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Nambucca, Kempsey, Hastings, Greater Taree, Great Lakes and Port Stephens, Lake Macquarie, Wyong, Gosford, Hornsby, Pittwater, Warringah, Manly, Liverpool, Rockdale, Botany Bay, Randwick, Sutherland, Wollongong, Shellharbour, Kiama and Shoalhaven but may occur elsewhere in these bioregions. Major examples once occurred on the floodplains of the Tweed, Richmond, Clarence, Macleay, Hastings and Manning Rivers, although smaller floodplains would have also supported considerable areas of this community.

The exact amount of its original extent is unknown but it is much less than 30%. There are less than 350 ha of native vegetation attributable to this community on the Tweed lowlands, less than 2,500 ha on the Clarence floodplain, less than 700 ha on the Macleay floodplain, up to 7,000 ha in the lower Hunter – central coast district, and less than 1,000 ha in the Sydney – South Coast region.

Small areas of Swamp Sclerophyll Forest on Coastal Floodplains are contained within existing conservation reserves, including Bungawalbin, Tuckean and Moonee Beach Nature Reserves, and Hat Head, Crowdy Bay, Wallingat, Myall Lakes and Garigal National Parks. These occurrences are unevenly distributed throughout the range and unlikely to represent the full diversity of the community. In addition, wetlands within protected areas are exposed to hydrological changes that were, and continue to be initiated outside their boundaries. Some areas of Swamp Oak Floodplain Forest are protected by State Environmental Planning Policy 14, although this has not always precluded impacts on wetlands from the development of major infrastructure.

Habitat and ecology

  • Associated with humic clay loams and sandy loams, on waterlogged or periodically inundated alluvial flats and drainage lines associated with coastal floodplains.
  • Generally occurs below 20 m (though sometimes up to 50 m) elevation.
  • The composition of the community is primarily determined by the frequency and duration of waterlogging and the texture, salinity nutrient and moisture content of the soil, and latitude. The composition and structure of the understorey is influenced by grazing and fire history, changes to hydrology and soil salinity and other disturbance, and may have a substantial component of exotic grasses, vines and forbs.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
NSW North CoastCoffs Coast and Escarpment Known None
NSW North CoastKaruah Manning Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known None
NSW North CoastYuraygir Known None
Other StateJervis Bay Territory Known None
South Eastern QueenslandBurringbar-Conondale Ranges Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Sandstones Known None
South Eastern QueenslandScenic Rim Known None
South Eastern QueenslandSunshine Coast-Gold Coast Lowlands Known None
Sydney BasinCumberland Known None
Sydney BasinHunter Known None
Sydney BasinIllawarra Known None
Sydney BasinJervis Known None
Sydney BasinPittwater Known None
Sydney BasinSydney Cataract Known None
Sydney BasinWyong Known None