An ecological community is a naturally occurring group of 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 Australian Government is working in partnership with state, territory and local governments, non-government organisations, tertiary institutions and community groups to ensure the protection of our native species and ecological communities.
About threatened ecological communities
- What are ecological communities and why are they important?
- What is a threatened ecological community (TEC)?
- Why does the Australian Government list threatened ecological communities?
- What does listing a threatened ecological community achieve?
- How does an ecological community become listed as threatened?
- What does the listing of an ecological community mean for land managers or potential developers?
- Is funding available to protect ecological communities?
- How do nationally listed ecological communities relate to State & Territory listed ecological communities?
- What threatened ecological communities are listed nationally?
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.
- 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.
- Listing threatened species, ecological communities and key threatening processes - EPBC Act fact sheet
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 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.
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.
A person must not take an action that has, will have, or is likely to have, a significant impact on a listed threatened ecological community, without approval from the Australian Government Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts.
To obtain approval, an action must undergo an environmental assessment and approval process. To find out whether an action is likely to have a 'significant' impact on a listed threatened ecological community, read the following:
- Matters of national environmental significance
- Environment assessment and approval process
- EPBC Act policy statements
To find out if a listed threatened ecological communities are on your property or area of interest, use the following tools:
For a comprehensive understanding of the provisions relating to listed threatened ecological communities, you should refer directly to the:
- Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
- Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000
See also: general information about the EPBC Act.
For general information about threatened species and threatened ecological communities contact the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Community Information Unit:
Freecall: 1800 803 772
Open for public comment under the EPBC Act:
- Comment on nominations
- Recovery plans
- Referrals and assessments
- Threat abatement plans
- Wildlife trade applications
EPBC Act lists
- About the EPBC Act
- Critical habitat
- Key threatening processes
- Migratory species
- Recovery plans
- Species and communities under the EPBC Act
- Threat abatement plans
- Threatened ecological communities
- Threatened fauna
- Threatened flora
- Listings since commencement of the EPBC Act