Rainforest Listing as Critically Endangered
EPBC Act listing:
On the 10th of October, rainforests surrounding Lakes Entrance in East Gippsland were listed as critically endangered under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
The ecological community entitled Littoral Rainforest and Coastal Vine Thickets of Eastern Australia is located along the east coast of Australia. This vegetation extends from the Gippsland Lakes in the south, to the base of Cape York Peninsula, Queensland in the north (see map). This community represents some of the last remnants of native forest vegetation onAustralia’s east coast, providing important habitat for many threatened plants and animals, and valuable ecosystem services such as acting as a buffer to coastal winds and erosion. It has been listed in the critically endangered category “because of its very restricted distribution and very severe decline in integrity across most of its range.” Urban development is one of the main pressures on Australia’s coastal environment (Beeton et al. 2006) where this ecological community continues to be threatened by vegetation clearance.
The list of nationally threatened species associated with the Littoral Rainforest and Coastal Vine Thickets of Eastern Australia ecological community includes 26 endangered species listed under the EPBC Act (19 flora and 7 fauna). In Victoria, the total area of this ecological community is approximately 279 ha found in East Gippsland. There are a total of 108 patches of which 91% of patches are less than 10 ha in size; no patches are greater than 100 ha each; and 59% of the area of occupancy comes from just 10 patches (which are between 10 and 100ha).
The highly significant listing under the EPBC Act means that any new activity that is likely to have a significant impact on the ecological community will need to be referred to the Department for assessment and approval.
Assistance for managing rainforests on private property can be obtained through joining the East Gippsland Rainforest Conservation Management Network, a local group which aims to protect and restore theses communities. (Go to the website www.egrainforest.org.au for details on how to join).