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Tropical lowland rainforest reclassified as a threatened ecological community

Tropical lowland rainforest was recently classified as a threatened ecological community (TEC) at the federal level and is currently listed as endangered under the EPBC Act. This classification has the potential to impact landowners by limiting works that can be conducted on properties where tropical lowland rainforest occurs. Further, this classification may carry legal obligations for landholders, requiring them to engage in active land management practices.

For habitat to be classified as tropical lowland rainforest, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Occur between the southern end of the Cardwell Range and the northern boundary of the Endeavour Catchment, typically to the east of the coastal ranges. It can occur anywhere below 100m asl, but mostly occurs at <40m asl;
  • Exhibit a mean rainfall of >1300mm to >3500mm per annum, with the majority falling between December and March;
  • Occur primarily on fertile soils (alluvials and basaltic parent materials);
  • Exhibit an uneven canopy ranging from 20-40m in height, which is relatively open when undisturbed. Trees are mostly evergreen and can have well developed buttress roots. The leaf length is generally between 12.5cm – 25 cm (mesophyll);
  • Exhibit a varied structure, ranging from simple (1-2 growth forms dominate) to complex (i.e., many growth forms present without any particular one dominating);
  • Contain diverse growth forms including palms, vines and robust lianas, epiphytic ferns and orchids, climbing aroids, rattans and gingers;
  • Exhibit a relatively low abundance of species from the genera Eucalyptus, Corymbia, Melaleuca and Casuarina. If these species dominate in the canopy, it is unlikely that the vegetation community can be considered a rainforest community.

If a patch meets the above criteria, it is then categorised based on its size and condition, which will consequently determine how it must be managed. 4 Elements can provide landholders with assessments to determine whether habitat meets the requirements for classification as tropical lowland rainforest under the EPBC Act. We can also provide advice on how best to manage land for conservation purposes whilst also minimising the impacts on landholders.

If you have any questions about this new classification, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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