Lowland rainforest of subtropical Australia has been listed as a critically endangered ecological community. The majority of the remaining ‘big scrub’, as it is affectionately known, exists in the Byron/Ballina/Lismore region.
The new listing is the result of more than two years of effort by the Big Scrub Landcare group.
President of the group Dr Tony Parkes said, ‘This is a great achievement for a community organisation and a great outcome for the environment – we must protect these remaining patches of our magnificent lowland rainforest and its incredibly rich biodiversity’.
He added, ‘I hope that we can now access funding from the Commonwealth and NSW governments and from the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority so with our partners we can continue and expand our work in rehabilitating and providing ongoing care for the remnants of this critically endangered ecological community that is a regional, national and international treasure’.
The listing, under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 came into effect on 25 November. It will add a further level of protection to help prevent any further clearing of the remaining patches of lowland rainforest and it is hoped that critically important organisations like the Big Scrub Landcare group will now be funded for the essential ongoing management of weed infestations and other threats to the survival of this magnificent rainforest.
The listing was made by federal environment minister Tony Burke on the advice of the Commonwealth Threatened Species Scientific Committee after a comprehensive assessment.
A technical workshop with experts on the ecological community was held in Lismore in June last year. The nomination and a technical report, based on the workshop outcomes, were made available for public exhibition and comment. The committee has had regard to all public and expert comment that was relevant to the consideration of the ecological community.
Big Scrub Landcare lodged the nomination for listing in March 2009 and played a critical role in the assessment process. It financed from its own resources two expert reports by consultants that were necessary to supplement information provided by state and federal government agencies. Of critical importance was the report by Carmel Flint on the mapping of the current and pre-1750 area of this rainforest community. This showed that only seven per cent of the pre-1750 area of lowland rainforest remains, well below the threshold of 10 per cent for an endangered ecological community.
Page 2: Tweed-Byron Bush Futures project wins award