Approved Conservation Advice for Broad Leaf Tea-tree (Melaleuca viridiflora)Woodlands in High Rainfall Coastal North Queensland

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This Conservation Advice was approved by the Minister on: 

11 May 2012





 Approved Conservation Advice for  

Broad Leaf Tea-tree (Melaleuca viridiflora)Woodlands in High Rainfall Coastal North 


(s266B of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999) 

This Conservation Advice has been developed based on the best available information at the 

time this Conservation Advice was approved; this includes existing plans, records or 

management prescriptions for this ecological community. 


The Broad leaf tea-tree (Melaleuca viridiflora) woodlands in high rainfall coastal north 

Queensland ecological community represents occurrences of woodland where M. viridiflora is 

dominant in the canopy and a diversity of grasses, sedges and forbs occupy the ground layer 

(Queensland Herbarium, 2011). The ecological community is restricted to the Wet Tropics 

and Central Mackay Coast bioregions in Queensland. The typical suite of species found in the 

ground layer is described below and in more detail in the listing advice 

The ecological community is typically a woodland but can have a forest structure in some 

areas. It generally consists of two clear structural layers: a canopy of broad leaf tea-tree and a 

diverse ground layer of grasses, sedges and forbs. Epiphytes are often conspicuous in the 

canopy trees. Shrubs may be present but are generally sparse although some sites have an 

obvious layer of Xanthorrhoea spp. (grass trees).  

The ground layer of this ecological community supports the majority of plant species 

diversity, with species composition varying due to differences in soil type and duration, 

timing and degree of inundation during the wet season. Themeda triandra (kangaroo grass) or 

Eremochloa bimaculata (poverty grass) are usually dominant on slightly elevated or drier 

sites. Xanthorrhoea johnsonii (grass tree) can be a prominent species on sandier soils which 

are not inundated for long periods. Wetter sites are often dominated by Ischaemum spp. 

including Ischaemum australe (large bluegrass) and I. fragile, or they may be dominated by 

sedges and rushes. 

The structure and floristics of the ecological community vary in response to different soil 

types, extent of inundation in the wet season and successional responses to fire and grazing 

impacts (Skull and Congdon, 2008). The ecological community is seasonally inundated for 

short periods during the wet season, which brings on a proliferation of ephemeral ground-

layer species. The Wet Tropics and Central Mackay Coast bioregions have an annual rainfall 

of around 2000 mm. The majority of the rainfall occurs in the wet season between December 

and May. 

The ecological community corresponds with the following Queensland Regional Ecosystems: 

7.3.8a, 7.3.8b, 7.3.8c, 7.3.8d, 7.5.4g, 8.3.2, 8.5.2a, 8.5.2c and 8.5.6. These Regional 

Ecosystems mapped by the Queensland Herbarium are broad associations which may not 

fully describe the ecological community; however they do provide guidance on which state 

mapping units are most likely to include the ecological community at the time of listing.  

A more comprehensive description of the ecological community is contained in the Listing 

Advice (TSSC, 2012) which is available on the Internet at:

This Conservation Advice was approved by the Minister on: 

11 May 2012





Conservation Status 

Broad leaf tea-tree (Melaleuca viridiflora) woodlands in high rainfall coastal north 

Queensland is listed as endangered.


This ecological community is eligible for listing as


endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 

(EPBC Act) as, in 2012, the Minister considered the Threatened Species Scientific 

Committee's (TSSC) advice and amended the list under section 184 to include Broad leaf tea-

tree (Melaleuca viridiflora) woodlands in high rainfall coastal north Queensland.  

The TSSC determined that this ecological community met criteria 2 of the eligibility criteria 

for listing as endangered because its very restricted geographic distribution makes it likely 

that multiple demonstrable threats could cause it to be lost in the near future.  The ecological 

community also met criterion 4 of the eligibility criteria as endangered as it has undergone a 

severe change in its integrity; and criterion 1 as vulnerable because it has undergone a 

substantial decline in geographic distribution as indicated by past clearing. 

In Queensland, two of the five Regional Ecosystems that correspond with the national 

ecological community are listed as ‘endangered’ and two as ‘of concern’ under the 

Queensland Vegetation Management Act 1999

Distribution and Habitat 

The Broad leaf tea-tree (Melaleuca viridiflora) woodlands in high rainfall coastal north 

Queensland ecological community is limited to the Wet Tropics and Central Mackay Coast 

bioregions (IBRA V6.1), in coastal Queensland. These bioregions experience comparatively 

high seasonal rainfall, with the majority of rainfall occurring during the wet season from 

October to April. Similar ecological communities in other bioregions which contain broad leaf 

tea-tree are not included in this listing as there are plant species assemblage differences and 

they tend to be located in areas with different rainfall characteristics (i.e. lower rainfall during 

the wet season). The ecological community occurs on poorly drained floodplains with a land 

form that is sloping to flat. The soils are duplex with an impeded layer several centimetres 

below the surface which causes surface water to pool during the wet season (Queensland 

Herbarium, 2011).  

The ecological community provides valuable habitat for a range of flora and fauna species. 

Flowering of the dominant canopy species (broad leaf tea-tree) provides a proliferation of 

nectar sources for birds, invertebrates (notably butterflies) and mammals (Queensland 

Herbarium, 2011). The sandy soils provide habitat for a variety of frog and reptile species 

(Kemp and Kutt, 2004). The diverse ground layer includes an assortment of grasses and forbs 

including ephemeral species that appear with inundation during the wet season. 

The ecological community occurs in the following Natural Resource Management Regions: 

Mackay Whitsunday, Terrain and Fitzroy Basin. The ecological community may occur in the 

Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Mackay, Cairns, Whitsunday, Cassowary Coast, 

Hinchinbrook, Burdekin, Townsville, Isaac, Rockhampton, Tablelands, Cook and Yarrabah. 


The landscape within which the ecological community occurs is subject to a range of landuses 

including grazing and state forests. Some areas are subject to small-scale clearing for hobby-

farms and fire breaks. 

The key threats impacting upon the ecological community are clearing and fragmentation; 

weed invasion; inappropriate grazing regimes; forestry practices; inappropriate fire regimes; 

and illegal wildlife harvesting. Many of the threats to the ecological community also have 

adverse impacts on threatened species associated with the ecological community. 

This Conservation Advice was approved by the Minister on: 

11 May 2012





The main potential threats to the ecological community relate to myrtle rust and changes in 

hydrological regimes. 

Research Priorities 

Research priorities that would inform future regional and local priority actions include: 


Undertake surveys across the range of the ecological community to:  



identify sites of high conservation priority and to gain a better understanding of 

its variation and dynamics in floristics, particularly for understorey species.  



locate additional remnants and identify threatened species that may require 

specific conservation measures. 


Support and enhance existing programs for the production of mapping of pre-1750 extent 

and current remnants. 


Determine optimal management regimes for high quality remnants and support and 

enhance existing weed management programs. 


Support ongoing research aimed at managing major weeds such as snakeweed 

(Stachytarpheta jamaicensis), Stylosanthes scabra, rat’s tail (Sporobolus jaquemontii), 

sensitive weed (Mimosa pudica), urena burr (Urena lobata), Chinese burr (Triumfetta 

rhomboidea), spiny sida (Sida spinosa), thatch grass (Hyparrhenia rufa), Guinea grass 

(Megathyrsus maximus) and Sida rhombifolia


Assess the vulnerability of the ecological community to climate change. 


Undertake experimental trials to identify optimal disturbance regimes for promoting 

biodiversity within remnants. For instance, to determine management prescriptions for 

ecological burning or sustainable grazing regimes that maintain plant diversity and faunal 

habitat quality


Investigate the potential and efficacy of DNA-based or other approaches for the 

identification of individual plants and/or populations of Dendrobium canaliculatum (tea 

tree orchid), Dischidia nummularia (button orchid) and Myrmecodia becarrii (ant plant) 

to provide a means for detecting and prosecuting illegal collection from the wild (see for 

example Palsboll et al., 2006).  

Priority Actions 

The following priority recovery and threat abatement actions can be done to support the 

recovery of Broad leaf tea-tree (Melaleuca viridiflora) woodlands in high rainfall coastal 

north Queensland. 

Habitat Loss, Disturbance and Modification 


Ensure that remnants that are of particularly high quality or important in a landscape 

context (e.g. as wildlife corridors or linkages) are considered for inclusion in reserve 

tenure or conserved via incentive-based schemes for landholders. 


Avoid any changes to hydrology that may result in changes to the natural hydrological 

regime, including drainage and increase or decrease in run-off, salinity, or pollution. 


Monitor known remnants to identify key threats.  


Manage threats to remnants of the ecological community.  


Monitor the progress of recovery, through improved mapping, estimates of extent and 

condition assessments of the ecological community, and effective adaptive management 



Develop and implement best practice standards for management of remnants on private 

and public lands. 


Liaise with local councils and State authorities to ensure new development, road 

widening, maintenance activities or other activities involving substrate or vegetation 

This Conservation Advice was approved by the Minister on: 

11 May 2012





disturbance in areas where the ecological community occurs do not adversely impact on 

known remnants. 


Liaise with planning authorities to ensure that planning takes the protection of remnants 

into account, with due regard to principles for long-term conservation. This may 

particularly apply where the ecological community occurs in or near to peri-urban or 

urban centres. 

Invasive Species 


Manage sites to prevent introduction or further spread of new invasive exotic weeds, and 

targeted control of existing key weeds which threaten the ecological community, using 

appropriate methods. 


Manage forestry practices to minimise potential invasion of remnants from neighbouring 



Ensure chemicals or other mechanisms used to manage weeds do not have significant 

adverse non-target impacts on remnants of the ecological community.  


Control invasive animals (such as goats, pigs and feral horses) to manage threats, 

especially to threatened species, and high quality sites through coordinated landscape-

scale control programs. 

Trampling, Browsing or Grazing  


Ensure that livestock grazing uses an appropriate management regime and density that 

does not detrimentally affect remnants of the ecological community. 


Manage known sites on private property to ensure that total grazing pressure is 

appropriate to maintain and enhance native biodiversity. 


Dot not place artificial watering or feeding points within patches of the ecological 




Develop and implement a suitable fire management strategy for the ecological 

community, which includes information for landholders on how to implement appropriate 

fire management actions. 


Identify appropriate intensity and interval of fire to promote vegetation regeneration.  


Where appropriate provide maps of known occurrences to local and state Rural Fire 

Services and seek inclusion of mitigative measures in bush fire risk management plan(s), 

risk register and/or operation maps. 


Negotiate appropriate standing procedures with local fire brigades. 

Diseases, Fungi and Parasites 


Develop and implement suitable hygiene protocols to protect sites from potential 

outbreaks of myrtle rust (Uredo rangelii)



Conservation Information 


Raise public awareness about the Broad leaf tea-tree (Melaleuca viridiflora) woodlands in 

high rainfall coastal north Queensland ecological community.  


Establish and/or maintain liaisons with private landholders and land managers of land on 

which remnants occur. 


This list does not necessarily encompass all actions that may be of benefit to Broad leaf tea-

tree (Melaleuca viridiflora) woodlands in high rainfall coastal north Queensland, but 

highlights those that are considered to be of highest priority at the time of preparing the 

Conservation Advice.  

This Conservation Advice was approved by the Minister on: 

11 May 2012





Existing Plans/Management Prescriptions that are Relevant to the Ecological 


Wet Tropics Management Plan (1998)  

Available on the Internet at: 

Draft Hinchinbrook Area Island and Marine Management Plan (2011) 

Available on the Internet at:


Queensland Coastal Plan (2011) 

Available on the Internet at: 

Whitsundays Plan of Management (2008) 

Available on the Internet at: 

Draft Mackay South Area Management Plan (2011) 

Available on the Internet at:


These prescriptions were current at the time of publishing; please refer to the relevant 

agency’s website for any updated versions.  

Information Sources: 

Kemp JE and Kutt AS (2004). The vertebrate fauna of the Clemant State Forest Lowlands: a 

significant coastal woodland remnant in the southern Wet Tropics Bioregion, North 

Eastern Queensland. Australian Zoologist 32: 508-542. 

Queensland Herbarium (2011). Broad leaf tea-tree (Melaleuca viridiflora) communities in 

high rainfall coastal north Queensland. Supporting information to the Department of 

Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Queensland 

Department of Environment and Resource Management, Townsville. 

Palsboll PJ, Berube M, Skaug HJ and Raymakers C (2006). DNA registers of legally obtained 

wildlife and derived products as means to identify illegal takes. Conservation Biology, 

20: 1284–1293. 

Skull SD and Congdon RA (2008). Floristics, structure and site characteristics of Melaleuca 

viridiflora (Myrtaceae) dominated open woodlands of the wet tropics lowlands. 

Cunninghamia 10: 423-438. 

TSSC (2011). Advice to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and 

Communities from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC) on 

Amendments to the List of Ecological Communities under the Environment Protection 

and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Broad Leaf Tea-Tree (Melaleuca 

viridiflora) woodands in high rainfall coastal north Queensland.  



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