11 May 2012
(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
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:
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
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.
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
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.
The main potential threats to the ecological community relate to myrtle rust and changes in
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
locate additional remnants and identify threatened species that may require
specific conservation measures.
and current remnants.
Determine optimal management regimes for high quality remnants and support and
(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
ecological burning or sustainable grazing regimes that maintain plant diversity and faunal
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).
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
Habitat Loss, Disturbance and Modification
Ensure that remnants that are of particularly high quality or important in a landscape
tenure or conserved via incentive-based schemes for landholders.
Avoid any changes to hydrology that may result in changes to the natural hydrological
condition assessments of the ecological community, and effective adaptive management
and public lands.
Liaise with local councils and State authorities to ensure new development, road
disturbance in areas where the ecological community occurs do not adversely impact on
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
targeted control of existing key weeds which threaten the ecological community, using
Ensure chemicals or other mechanisms used to manage weeds do not have significant
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
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
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
risk register and/or operation maps.
Negotiate appropriate standing procedures with local fire brigades.
outbreaks of myrtle rust (Uredo rangelii)
Raise public awareness about the Broad leaf tea-tree (Melaleuca viridiflora) woodlands in
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
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)
Whitsundays Plan of Management (2008)
Draft Mackay South Area Management Plan (2011)
These prescriptions were current at the time of publishing; please refer to the relevant
agency’s website for any updated versions.
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,
Skull SD and Congdon RA (2008). Floristics, structure and site characteristics of Melaleuca
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.