Extent of endangered, of concern and no concern at present regional ecosystems

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Key finding

The area of Queensland is 172.8 million hectares. In 2013, about 80% of the state contained remnant regional ecosystems, of which 1% had a conservation classification of ‘endangered’ regional ecosystems, 10% classified as ‘of concern’ and 69% of remnant regional ecosystems were of ‘no concern at present’.

Queensland

Remnant vegetation is categorised by regional ecosystem. In 2015 there were 1,383 regional ecosystems described at 1:1 million scale. Each regional ecosystem has been categorised according to its conservation classification as either biodiversity status or vegetation management class.

Both mechanisms initially base the conservation classification on the remaining pre-clear extent, where thresholds are applied to determine class. Broadly, these are defined as:

  • ‘Endangered’ regional ecosystems are those where less than 10% of their pre-clear extent remains
  • ‘Of concern’ regional ecosystems are those where between 10% and 30% of their pre-clear extent remains
  • Regional ecosystems classed as of ‘no concern at present’ (biodiversity status) or ‘least concern’ (vegetation management class) are those where more than 30% of their pre-clear extent remain.

The vegetation management class is solely reliant on the extent thresholds for determining conservation classification. The class for each regional ecosystem is listed under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 which regulates vegetation clearing in Queensland. A regulatory amendment and approvals process is required to update the classes and the related statutory mapping.

However, the biodiversity status has the ability to add weighting to the extent thresholds with additional evidence-based criteria. Additional criteria include the rarity, current condition and recent threats to individual regional ecosystems. The biodiversity status can also be regularly updated, between versions of the mapping, in response to changes to the regional ecosystem. The status is used for mining regulatory purposes under the Environmental Protection Act 1994 and planning for biodiversity conservation. For reporting purposes, the information in this indicator refers to biodiversity status as a current and accurate determination of regional ecosystem conservation classification.

In 2013, about 80% of the state contained native remnant vegetation, of which:

  • 1% of the state is covered by ‘endangered’ regional ecosystems.
  • 10% of the state is covered by ‘of concern’ regional ecosystems.
  • 69% of the state is covered by ‘no concern at present’ regional ecosystems.

Since monitoring began in 1997, clearing of remnant regional ecosystems was noted to peak in 1999-2000—more than 650,000ha were cleared in that period. Stronger vegetation protection legislation in 1999 resulted in a reduction, by more than half, of remnant clearing in 2000-2001. Land clearing steadily fell from 2003, reinforced with further regulation of vegetation clearing that came into force in 2006, reaching a low point of 24,000ha in 2009-2010.

A slight yet noticeable overall increase has since been noted, comprising:

  • ‘Endangered’ regional ecosystem clearing reduced to 1% of peak clearing (1999-2000) in both 2009-2011 and 2011-2013
  • ‘Of concern’ regional ecosystem clearing reduced to 3% of peak clearing (1999-2000) in both 2009-2011 and 2011-2013
  • ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystem clearing reduced to 5% of peak clearing (1999-2000) in 2009-2011 and increased to 8% of peak clearing in 2011-2013.

Brigalow Belt

The Brigalow Belt (BRB) bioregion in 2013 had 41.6% remnant regional ecosystems remaining, classified as:

  • ‘Endangered’ 6.1%
  • ‘Of concern’ 19.6%
  • ‘No concern at present’ 74.3%.

The peak regional ecosystem clearing occurred in 1999-2000 reducing more than three-fold in 2000-2001 and falling to 2% and 3% of peak clearing in 2009-2011 and 2011-2013 respectively.

The ‘Endangered’, ‘Of concern’ and ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystems had similar trends to that of the total regional ecosystem clearing.

  • ‘Endangered’ regional ecosystem clearing reduced to 2% of peak clearing in 2005-2006 and 1.2% and 1.5% of peak clearing in 2009-2011 and 2011-2013 respectively.
  • ‘Of concern’ regional ecosystems clearing reduced to 2.6% of peak clearing in 2009-2011 and increased to 5.5% of peak clearing in 2011-2013.
  • ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystem clearing reduced to 34% of peak clearing in 2000-2001 and then to 2.2% in 2011-2013.

Cape York Peninsula

The Cape York Peninsula (CYP) bioregion in 2013 had 99.3% remnant regional ecosystems remaining, classified as:

  • ‘Endangered’ 0.1%
  • ‘Of concern’ 4.3%
  • ‘No concern at present’ 95.6%.

The peak clearing for the CYP bioregion occurred in 1999-2000.

The ‘Endangered’ regional ecosystems peak clearing occurred in 1999-2000. No ‘Endangered’ regional ecosystem clearing was recorded from 2005-2006 and 2011-2013.

Central Queensland Coast

The Central Queensland Coast (CQC) bioregion in 2013 had 69.8% remnant regional ecosystems remaining, classified as:

  • ‘Endangered’ 8.7%
  • ‘Of concern’ 15.9%
  • ‘No concern at present’ 75.4%.

The peak regional ecosystem clearing occurred in 1999-2000.

Regional ecosystem clearing in CQC has fluctuated, reducing to 2.1% and 2.9% of the peak clearing in 2006-2009 and 2011-2013 respectively.

The ‘Endangered’, ‘Of concern’ and ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystems had similar trends to that of the total regional ecosystem clearing.

Channel Country

The Channel Country (CHC) bioregion in 2013 had 99.8% remnant regional ecosystems remaining, classified as:

  • ‘Endangered’ 0.01%
  • ‘Of concern’ 3.6%
  • ‘No concern at present’ 96.4%.

The peak regional ecosystem clearing was in 2005-2006.

Regional ecosystem clearing in CHC has fluctuated, reducing to 2.8% and 3.1% of the peak clearing in 2006-2009 and 2011-2013 respectively.

The ‘Of concern’ and ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystems had similar trends to that of the total regional ecosystem clearing. No ‘Endangered’ regional ecosystem clearing has been recorded.

Desert Uplands

The Desert Uplands (DEU) bioregion in 2013 had 81.5% remnant regional ecosystems remaining, classified as:

  • ‘Endangered’ 2%
  • ‘Of concern’ 14.6%
  • ‘No concern at present’ 83.4%.

The peak regional ecosystem clearing occurred in 1999-2000.

Regional ecosystem clearing in the bioregion has fluctuated, reducing to 0.6% and 3.3% of the peak clearing in 2009-2011 and 2011-2013 respectively.

‘Of concern’ and ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystems had similar trends to that of the total regional ecosystem clearing. The ‘Endangered’ regional ecosystems peak clearing occurred in 2001-2003, and reduced to 1.5% and 2.7% of peak ‘Endangered’ clearing in 2009-2011 and 2011-2013 respectively.

Einasleigh Uplands

The Einasleigh Uplands (EIU) bioregion in 2013 had 97.6% remnant regional ecosystems remaining, classified as:

  • ‘Endangered’ 0.1%
  • ‘Of concern’ 11.2%
  • ‘No concern at present’ 88.8%.

The peak regional ecosystem clearing occurred in 1999-2000.

Regional ecosystem clearing in the bioregion has fluctuated, reducing to 3.8% and 8.3% of the peak clearing in 2009-2011 and 2011-2013 respectively.

‘Of concern’ and ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystems had similar trends to that of the total regional ecosystem clearing. The ‘Endangered’ and ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystems peak clearing occurred in 2005-2006. No ‘Endangered’ regional ecosystem clearing was recorded in 2000-2003 and 2009-2013.

Gulf Plains

The Gulf Plains (GUP) bioregion in 2013 had 99.3% remnant regional ecosystems remaining, classified as:

  • ‘Endangered’ 0.1%
  • ‘Of concern’ 21.6%
  • ‘No concern at present’ 78.4%.

The peak regional ecosystem clearing occurred in 2003-2005.

‘Of concern’ and ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystems had similar trends to that of the total regional ecosystem clearing. The ‘Endangered’ regional ecosystem peak clearing occurred in 2000-2001 and reduced to 2013. No ‘Endangered’ regional ecosystem clearing was recorded in 1997-2000, 2005-2009 and 2011-2013.

Mitchell Grass Downs

The Mitchell Grass Downs (MGD) bioregion in 2013 had 94.2% remnant regional ecosystems remaining, classified as:

  • ‘Endangered’ 0.1%
  • ‘Of concern’ 5.8%
  • ‘No concern at present’ 94.2%.

The peak regional ecosystem clearing was in 1999-2000.

Regional ecosystem clearing in the bioregion has fluctuated with 5% and 5.4% of the peak clearing occurring in 2006-2009 and 2011-2013 respectively.

‘Of concern’ and ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystems had similar trends to that of the total regional ecosystem clearing. No ‘Endangered’ regional ecosystem clearing was recorded in 1997-1999 and 2003-2005.

Mulga Lands

The Mulga Lands (MUL) bioregion in 2013 had 75% remnant regional ecosystems remaining, classified as:

  • ‘Endangered’ 0.9%
  • ‘Of concern’ 19.3%
  • ‘No concern at present’ 79.8%.

The peak regional ecosystem clearing occurred in 2001-2003 closely followed by clearing in 1999-2000.

Regional ecosystem clearing in the bioregion has fluctuated, reducing to 2.6% and 5.7% of the peak clearing in 2009-2011 and 2011-2013 respectively.

‘Of concern’ and ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystems had similar trends to that of the total regional ecosystem clearing. ‘Endangered’ regional ecosystems clearing peaked in 1999-2000 and reduced to 0.5% of peak clearing in 2011-2013.

New England Tableland

The New England Tableland (NET) bioregion in 2013 had 36.5% remnant regional ecosystems remaining. This was the lowest for a bioregion in Queensland. Regional ecosystems present were classified as:

  • ‘Endangered’ 17.4%
  • ‘Of concern’ 60.4%
  • ‘No concern at present’ 22.2%.

The peak regional ecosystem clearing for the bioregion occurred in 1997-1999.

Regional ecosystem clearing in the bioregion has fluctuated, reducing to 3.2% and 18.1% of the peak clearing in 2009-2011 and 2011-2013 respectively.

‘Endangered’, ‘Of concern’ and ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystems had similar trends to that of the total regional ecosystem clearing from 1997-2013. The ‘Of concern’ regional ecosystems clearing reduced to 0.5% and 2.5% of its peak in 2009-2011 and 2011-2013 respectively.

Northwest Highlands

The Northwest Highlands (NWH) bioregion in 2013 had 99.6% remnant regional ecosystems remaining, classified as:

  • ‘Endangered’ 2%
  • ‘Of concern’ 9%
  • ‘No concern at present’ 89%.

The peak regional ecosystem clearing for the NWH bioregion was in 1997-1999 reducing to 46% of that peak in 2000-2001 and to 6% of peak clearing in 2005-2006. An increase to 26% in 2006-2009 was followed by a fall to 2% in the 2009-2011 and another increase to 16% in 2011-2013.

‘Of concern’ and ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystems had similar trends to that of the total regional ecosystem clearing. No ‘Endangered’ regional ecosystem clearing was recorded in 2000-2001, 2005-2006 and 2009-2011.

Southeast Queensland

The South East Queensland (SEQ) bioregion in 2013 had 44.2% remnant regional ecosystems remaining, classified as:

  • ‘Endangered’ 4.5%
  • ‘Of concern’ 24.9%
  • ‘No concern at present’ 70.6%.

The peak regional ecosystem clearing occurred in 1997-1999.

Regional ecosystem clearing in the bioregion has fluctuated, reducing to 18.8% and 13.6% of the peak clearing in 2009-2011 and 2011-2013 respectively.

‘Endangered’, ‘Of concern’ and ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystems had similar trends to that of the total regional ecosystem clearing from 1997-2013.

Wet Tropics

The Wet Tropics (WET) bioregion in 2013 had 76.8% remnant regional ecosystems remaining, classified as:

  • ‘Endangered’ 15%
  • ‘Of concern’ 20.8%
  • ‘No concern at present’ 64.2%.

The peak regional ecosystem clearing was in 1999-2000.

Regional ecosystem clearing reduced to 2.6% and 3.7% of peak clearing in 2009-2011 and 2011-2013 respectively.

The ‘Endangered’, ‘Of concern’ and ‘No concern at present’ regional ecosystems had similar trends to that of the total regional ecosystem clearing from 1997-2013.

More information:

Indicator: Extent of regional ecosystems by conservation classification

Comparison between pre-clear (pre-European settlement extent) and remnant (current extent) vegetation mapping. Categories by regional ecosystem biodiversity status of Endangered, Of Concern or No Concern at Present. Data is based on the latest Regional Ecosystems mapping (version 9, 2013).

Download data from Queensland Government data