WeFish: Marine seismic survey

Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999


Map of AustraliaAn ecological community is a naturally occurring group of native plants, animals and other organisms that are interacting in a unique habitat. Its structure, composition and distribution are determined by environmental factors such as soil type, position in the landscape, altitude, climate and water availability.

Types of ecological communities listed under national environmental law include woodlands, grasslands, shrublands, forests, wetlands, marine, ground springs and cave communities.

The native plants and animals within an ecological community have different roles and relationships that, together, contribute to the healthy functioning of the environment. Protecting native communities also supports ecosystem services such as clean air, clear land and clean water. These all contribute to better productivity of our land and water, which benefits people and society.

The Australian Government is working in partnership with state, territory and local governments, non-government organisations, tertiary institutions and community groups to ensure the protection, management and recovery of our native species and ecological communities.

Find a threatened ecological community

For a full list of nationally listed threatened ecological communities see: EPBC Act List of Threatened Ecological Communities.

Nominations for listing

The assessment of an ecological community as threatened is the first step to promoting their recovery under the Commonwealth law.

Any person may nominate an ecological community for listing under any of the three categories.

An invitation to nominate is extended by the minister each year ahead of a new assessment cycle. Nominations received during the invitation period are considered by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee for inclusion in a proposed priority assessment list.

Nominations included on the finalised priority assessment list are assessed by the committee, which makes these nominations available for public and expert comment.

After assessment, the committee's advice is forwarded to the minister, who decides whether an ecological community is eligible for listing under the EPBC Act.

More information

  • Ecological communities: A way forward, this paper seeks to improve the clarity and workability of these definitional issues, and to identify improved methods for assessing ecological communities.

Protecting listed threatened ecological communities

Once an ecological community is listed under the EPBC Act its recovery is promoted using conservation advice, recovery plans, and the EPBC Act's assessment and approval provisions.

Conservation advices

Conservation advice is developed by the Threatened Species Scientific Committee based on the best available information regarding the conservation status and threats to an ecological community at the time of listing. Conservation Advice provides guidance on known threats and priority recovery actions for an ecological community that can be immediately undertaken at a local and regional level.

Recovery plans

In addition to conservation advice, the Threatened Species Scientific Committee also provides to the minister a recommendation on the need for a recovery plan for listed ecological communities. Recovery plans are comprehensive management tools that enable recovery activities for threatened ecological communities to occur within a planned and logical framework. They describe key threats and identify specific recovery actions.

Assessment and approval provisions

Listed threatened ecological communities are matters of national environmental significance (protected matters) under the EPBC Act assessment and approval provisions.

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