Threatened ecological communities

An ecological community is a naturally occurring group of native plants, animals and other organisms living in a unique habitat. A healthy ecological community is vital for their survival.

Ecological communities provide natural management of clean air and water, provide nutrients for the soil, protect against erosion and salinity, and provide a healthy environment for threatened species.

An ecological community can be at risk of extinction. This can occur because of a significant reduction in its distribution across regions or a decline in ecological function.

The decline can occur if there is a change in community structure or composition, disruption of ecological processes, invasion by exotic species, or habitat degradation or fragmentation.

An expert group has allocated each community into either a ‘range-restricted’ or ‘widespread’ category.

Approached in the same way as site-managed species, ecological communities that fall into the range-restricted category are likely to be reliably defined at a local scale and have established investment sites, community engagement and support, and enough experts to direct actions.

Approached in the same way as landscape-managed species, ecological communities that fall into the widespread category are likely to need to rely on a multi-faceted approach involving regulatory processes (including on-ground work), community engagement and private land conservation.

Allocation to these categories is not fixed and may change as more information becomes available. For further details, see the threatened ecological communities strategy.

Duffy's Forest

Banksia spinulosa var. spinulosaThe Duffy's Forest Ecological Community in the Sydney Basin Bioregion is listed as an endangered ecological community by the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee.

The woodlands originally extended over about 1450 hectares but now has only approximately 240 hectares remaining, primarily within Warringah, and Ku-ring-gai Local Government Areas (LGA) with minor occurrences in the Pittwater (Ingleside and Bilgola Plateau), Manly (Seaforth Oval) and Hornsby (South Turramurra and Epping North) LGAs.

Some of the threats to the communities are:

  • loss and fragmentation of habitat through clearing and development
  • habitat degradation by weed invasion
  • physical damage from inappropriate access and disturbance by people, horses, trail-bikes and other vehicles
  • inappropriate fire regimes.


An ecological community may be listed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 depending on the level of threat and risk of its collapse.

Threatened ecological communities are managed under the Biodiversity Conservation Program which is the legal basis for the Saving our Species program.

See the list of NSW threatened ecological communities in the SoS Threatened Ecological Community management stream (range-restricted) and (widespread).