Nature conservation

Threatened species

Montane Peatlands and Swamps of the New England Tableland, NSW North Coast, Sydney Basin, South East Corner, South Eastern Highlands and Australian Alps 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: Montane Peatlands and Swamps of the New England Tableland, NSW North Coast, Sydney Basin, South East Corner, South Eastern Highlands and Australian Alps bioregions
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered Ecological Community
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Gazetted date: 17 Dec 2004
Profile last updated: 23 Mar 2022


Montane Peatlands and Swamps comprises a dense, open or sparse layer of shrubs with soft-leaved sedges, grasses and forbs. It is the only type of wetland that may contain more than trace amounts of Sphagnum spp., the hummock peat-forming mosses. Small trees may be present as scattered emergents or absent.

The community typically has an open to very sparse layer of shrubs, 1-5 m tall, (eg. Baeckea gunniana, B. utilis, Callistemon pityoides, Leptospermum juniperinum, L. lanigerum, L. myrtifolium, L. obovatum, L. polygalifolium). Species of Epacris (eg. E. breviflora, E. microphylla, E. paludosa) and Hakea microcarpa are also common shrubs. In some peatlands and swamps, particularly those with a history of disturbance to vegetation, soils or hydrology, the shrub layer comprises dense thickets of Leptospermum species. In other peatlands and swamps with a history of grazing by domestic livestock, the shrub layer may be very sparse or absent.

Montane Peatlands typically have a dense groundcover of sedges, grasses and forbs, except where a dense cover of tall shrubs casts deep shade. Soft-leaved species of Carex (eg. C. appressa, C. fascicularis, C. gaudichaudiana) and Poa (eg. P. costiniana, P. labillardieri) typically make up most of the groundcover biomass, while other common sedges include Baloskion spp., Baumea rubiginosa, Empodisma minus, Juncus spp. and Schoenus apogon.

Forbs growing amongst the sedges include Drosera spp., Geranium neglectum, Gratiola spp., Mitrasacme serpyllifolia, Ranunculus spp. and Viola spp. Hummocks of Sphagnum moss may occur amongst other components of the ground layer.

The continuity of the ground layer may be interrupted by erosion, trampling, partial clearing or earthworks. There may be considerable variation in soils and species composition between and within individual peatlands and swamps. Regionally, a number of species are confined to the northern or southern parts of the community's distribution. Locally, toward the margins of any particular peatland or swamp, the average watertable depth typically declines, the mineral content of surface soils increases and hydrophilic plant species are replaced by species that are less tolerant of waterlogged conditions. For a comprehensive list of species that characterize the community open the Scientific Determination link in the top right box.

Montane Peatlands and Swamps may be distinguished from Upland Wetlands of the Drainage Divide of the New England Tableland bioregion, also listed on Schedule 1 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, by several biological and physical characteristics. The latter community has fewer woody plants, a greater component of aquatic herbs, is based on substrates with less peat and higher mineral content, and has shallow temporary to near-permanent standing water, cf. a varying depth of seeping water within Montane Peatlands and Swamps.


The Montane Peatlands and Swamps EEC is currently known from parts of the Local Government Areas of Armidale Dumaresq, Bega Valley, Bellingen, Blue Mountains, Bombala, Cooma-Monaro, Eurobodalla, Gloucester, Greater Argyle, Guyra, Hawkesbury, Lithgow, Oberon, Palerang, Severn, Shoalhaven, Snowy River, Tenterfield, Tumbarumba, Tumut, Upper Lachlan and Wingecarribee but may occur elsewhere in these bioregions.

The community is currently known from conservation reserves including Werrikimbee, Barrington, Kanangra-Boyd, Monga, Wadbilliga, South East Forests and Kosciuszko National Parks. However, these examples are generally small, unrepresentative of the range of variation in the community, affected by past disturbances and continue to be threatened by some of the processes listed below. Analogous communities occur in Victoria, where the community is listed as threatened under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, and in the Australian Capital Territory.

Losses of Montane Peatlands and Swamps due to land clearing are difficult to estimate. However, estimates vary from about 20% in the Guyra district to more than 75% in the far southeast of NSW.

Habitat and ecology

  • The Montane Peatlands community is associated with accumulated peaty or organic-mineral sediments on poorly drained flats in the headwaters of streams. It occurs on undulating tablelands and plateaux, above 400-500 m elevation, generally in catchments with basic volcanic or fine-grained sedimentary substrates or, occasionally, granite.

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
Australian AlpsSnowy Mountains Known None
New England TablelandsArmidale Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsEbor Basalts Known None
New England TablelandsGlenn Innes-Guyra Basalts Predicted None
New England TablelandsNightcap Known None
New England TablelandsNortheast Forest Lands Known None
New England TablelandsRound Mountain Known None
New England TablelandsStanthorpe Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsTenterfield Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsWalcha Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsWongwibinda Plateau Known None
NSW North CoastBarrington Known None
NSW North CoastCarrai Plateau Predicted None
NSW North CoastChaelundi Predicted None
NSW North CoastCoffs Coast and Escarpment Predicted None
NSW North CoastDalmorton Predicted None
NSW North CoastGuy Fawkes Predicted None
NSW North CoastMacleay Gorges Predicted None
NSW North CoastMummel Escarpment Predicted None
NSW North CoastRocky River Gorge Predicted None
South East CornerEast Gippsland Lowlands Known None
South East CornerSouth East Coastal Ranges Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBathurst Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBondo Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBungonia Known None
South Eastern HighlandsCapertee Uplands Known None
South Eastern HighlandsKanangra Known None
South Eastern HighlandsKybeyan-Gourock Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMonaro Known None
South Eastern HighlandsMurrumbateman Known None
South Eastern HighlandsOberon Known None
South Eastern QueenslandWoodenbong Predicted None
Sydney BasinBurragorang Known None
Sydney BasinEttrema Predicted None
Sydney BasinIllawarra Predicted None
Sydney BasinMoss Vale Known None
Sydney BasinWollemi Known None
Sydney BasinYengo Predicted None