Regional Ecosystems are a way of describing different forest or plant community types by relating vegetation, land form and geology. The system classifies vegetation from the ground up (bioregion, landform, /substrate, dominant species) and uses a three-numbered system to identify and represent these elements.
Our region is one of the most biologically diverse areas in Australia. This is because of its wide variety of habitats, ranging from mangroves and wetlands to dry eucalypt forests, rainforests and coastal heath.
Under the Queensland Herbarium's regional ecosystem classification system 84 different ecosystem types occur within the Sunshine Coast's boundaries.
There are currently 63 known vegetation communities (regional ecosystems) in the Moreton Bay region, defined by a combination of landscapes, topography, geology, soil types and water.
How are Regional Ecosystems Identified?
The Queensland Herbarium has developed a system for classifying vegetation and habitat types known as the Regional Ecosystems mapping. This mapping underpins vegetation management laws in Queensland.
Regional Ecosystems are given a 3 digit number such as 12.3.5:
- The 1st number shows what region the vegetation is located within (e.g. 12 stands for South East Queensland).
- The 2nd number indicates the type of geology and land zone.
- The 3rd number is for the different vegetation types (or combination of native plants).
- The three numbers together give the Regional Ecosystem number.
12 - Bioregion:3 - Substrate type:
- The Sunshine Coast is located within the South East Queensland bioregion so all regional ecosystems on the Sunshine Coast will start with the number 12;
- Quaternary alluvial plains (coastal flood plain)
- Melaleuca quinquenervia tall open-forest to woodland with an understorey dependent on period of inundation.
The Queensland Herbarium and the Department of Environment and Natural Resource Management have mapped the entire state using the Regional Ecosystem methodology. This methodology also allows a comparison to be made between areas of retained remnant vegetation and cleared areas to determine the type and extent of vegetation cover that may have been present in the past.
Find What Regional Ecosystem Communities Are In Your Area
The Department of Environment and Resource Management offers a great mapping tool that you can use to find out what regional ecosystems map be on your property or within the surrounding area.
The Sunshine Coast Biodiversity Strategy 2010-2020, identifies all of the Regional Ecosystems on the Sunshine Coast.
What does it mean to you?
The Regional Ecosystem Description Database lists the status of regional ecosystems as gazetted under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (their Vegetation Management Status) and their biodiversity status.
A regional ecosystem is listed as endangered under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 if:
- Remnant vegetation is less than 10% of its pre-clearing extent across the bioregion; or 10-30% of its pre-clearing extent remains and the remnant vegetation is less than 10,000 hectares.
- In addition to the criteria listed for an endangered regional ecosystems under the Vegetation Management Act 1999, for biodiversity planning purposes a regional ecosystem is listed with a Biodiversity Status of endangered if:
- Less than 10% of its pre-clearing extent remains unaffected by severe degradation and/or biodiversity loss; or
- 10-30% of its pre-clearing extent remains unaffected by severe degradation and/or biodiversity loss and the remnant vegetation is less than 10,000 hectares or
- It is a rare regional ecosystem subject to a threatening process.
A regional ecosystem is listed as of concern under Vegetation Management Act 1999 if:
- Remnant vegetation is 10-30% of its pre-clearing extent across the bioregion; or more than 30% of its pre-clearing extent remains and the remnant extent is less than 10,000 hectares.
- In addition to the criteria listed for an of concern regional ecosystems under the Vegetation Management Act 1999, for biodiversity planning purposes a regional ecosystem is listed with a Biodiversity Status 'of concern' if: 10-30% of its pre-clearing extent remains unaffected by moderate degradation and/or biodiversity loss.
A regional ecosystem is listed as Not of concern under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 if:
- Remnant vegetation is over 30% of its pre-clearing extent across the bioregion, and the remnant area is greater than 10,000 hectares.
- In addition to the criteria listed for Not of concern regional ecosystems under the Vegetation Management Act 1999, for biodiversity planning purposes a regional ecosystem is listed with a Biodiversity Status of No concern at present if the degradation criteria listed above for endangered or of concern regional ecosystems are not met.
Clearing of vegetation mapped as a regional ecosystem may require permits under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 dependent on the purpose required for clearing. For further information, visit Department of Environment and Resource Management website.
For Further InformationLinks and Other Resources.
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Useful Tips and Facts
- Create urban wildlife corridors and stepping stones to larger local bushland or parkland areas.
- In nature there is no such thing as waste everything is linked and contributes to the cycle. As a plant reaches the end of its life cycle it is not discarded by nature, instead it provides habitat for animals and food for micro-organisms as it lies on the ground, the waste from the micro-organisms, bacteria and fungi feeding on it replace nutrients and organic material to the soil for new plants to grow.
- Plant local native species
- The best way to attract native wildlife to your backyard is to provide a variety of healthy natural foods in the form of seeds, leaves, flowers, nectar, pollen, fruits and nuts throughout the year.
- The use of pesticides and herbicides can damage your soils and kill non target species. The poisoning of insects with chemicals can also cause larger species relying on those insects as a food source to become sick or even die from eating poisoned insects.
- To create habitat for smaller native birds you can grow shrubs close together to create dense corners or pockets in your garden which will provide protection and refuge from larger aggressive birds such as noisy miners
- Wattles (Acacias). While most wattles only live between 6 - 10 years, they are an important pioneer species which colonise disturbed areas, where other plants find it hard to grow. They improve soil conditions enough to allow other species to germinate and thrive by fixing nitrogen into the soil through their roots and adding high levels of organic leaf litter.