Biodiversity

Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist in referral, environmental assessment and compliance issues, refer to the Listing Advice and/or Conservation Advice and Recovery Plan. The Listing and/or Conservation Advice define the national ecological community and may include Key Diagnostic Characteristics, Condition Thresholds, Priority Research and Conservation Actions and additional considerations.
In addition, for recovery planning, mitigation and conservation information, refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice.


EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Endangered
Date Effective 04 Apr 2001
Listing and Conservation Advices For ecological communities listed from 2013 onwards, there is no separate listing advice. Instead, the advice from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee regarding the listing status of the ecological community and recommendation regarding a recovery plan are contained within the Conservation Advice.
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla dominant and co-dominant) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2001s) [Listing Advice].
Commonwealth Conservation Advice for Brigalow Ecological Community (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2013fy) [Conservation Advice].
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan required, a recovery plan would contribute to the protection, conservation and management of the listed ecological community and would provide for the research and management actions necessary to stop the decline of, and support the recovery of, the listed ecological community so that the chances of long-term survival in nature are maximised (17/11/2009).
 
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Policy Statements and other Information Sheets Brigalow Regrowth and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Environment Australia, 2001i) [Information Sheet].
Federal Register of Legislative Instruments Inclusion of ecological communities in the list of threatened ecological communities under section 181 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (12/10/2007) (Commonwealth of Australia, 2007j) [Legislative Instrument].
Indicative Distribution Map(s) Map of Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla dominant and co-dominant) threatened ecological community (Environment Australia, 2003b) [Indicative Map].
Distribution Map Community Distribution Map

This map has been compiled from datasets with a range of scales and quality. Species or ecological community distributions included in this map are only indicative and not meant for local assessment. Planning or investment decisions at a local scale should seek some form of ground-truthing to confirm the existence of the species or ecological community at locations of interest. Such assessments should refer to the text of the Listing Advice, which is the legal entity protected under the EPBC Act.

For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.

The ecological community is known as 'Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla dominant and co-dominant)'. For the purposes of this profile it has been abbreviated to the 'Brigalow ecological community'.


Brigalow is the commonly accepted name for the species Acacia harpophylla and the vegetation in which this species is dominant or co-dominant, and is used in both Queensland (e.g. see Sattler and Williams 1999) and in New South Wales (e.g. Keith 2004; New South Wales Scientific Committee 2002, 2005) to described the regional ecosystems/vegetation communities that correspond with the listed Brigalow ecological community.

For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.

'Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla dominant and co-dominant)' was listed as Endangered on 4 April 2001 under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (C'th) (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2008a).

All 16 of the regional ecosystems (REs) that comprise the listed Brigalow ecological community in Queensland (see Description) are listed as Endangered under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld) (Bulter 2007; Queensland Environmental Protection Agency 2008).

In New South Wales, two ecological communities in which Brigalow is dominant or co-dominant in the vegetation are also listed as 'Endangered' under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (NSW). They are 'Brigalow within the Brigalow Belt South, Nandewar and Darling Riverine Plains Bioregions' (New South Wales Scientific Committee 2002) and 'Brigalow-gidgee Woodland/shrubland in the Mulga Lands and Darling Riverine Plains Bioregion' (New South Wales Scientific Committee 2005).


Threatened plants

The listed Brigalow ecological community is known to contain nine plant species that are threatened nationally and/or in Queensland and/or in New South Wales (see table below). The plants include one species endangered nationally and four species that are nationally vulnerable.

    Status1
Scientific name Common name C'lth2 Qld3 NSW4
Aponogeton queenslandicus   - R E
Cadellia pentastylis Ooline Vulnerable V V
Capparis humistrata   - E -
Eucalyptus argophloia Chinchilla White Gum, Lapunyah, Queensland White Gum, Queensland Western White Gum, Scrub Gum, White Gum. Vulnerable V -
Homopholis belsonii Belson's Panic Vulnerable E -
Lepidium aschersonii Spiny Pepper-cress Vulnerable - V
Rutidosis lanata   - E -
Solanum adenophorum   - E -
Xerothamnella herbacea   Endangered E -

Source: Appendix 5 of Butler (2007)

Notes

1. E = Endangered; R = Rare; V = Vulnerable

2. Status under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (C'th) (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2008b).

3. Status under the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 2006 (Qld) (Queensland Government 2006).

4. Status under Schedules 1, 2 and 3 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (NSW), as at July 2007 (New South Wales Scientific Committee 2007).

Threatened animals

The listed Brigalow ecological community is known to contain 17 animal species that are threatened nationally and/or in Queensland and/or in New South Wales (see table below) (Butler 2007). The animals include one species endangered nationally and seven species that are nationally vulnerable.

    Status1
Scientific name Common name C'lth2 Qld3 NSW4
Alectura lathami Australian Brush-turkey - - E*
Calyptorhynchus lathami Glossy Black-cockatoo - V V
Chalinolobus picatus Little Pied Bat - R V
Delma torquata Collared Delma Vulnerable V -
Denisonia maculata Ornamental Snake Vulnerable V -
Egernia rugosa Yakka Skink Vulnerable V -
Furina dunmalli Dunmall's Snake Vulnerable V -
Grantiella picta Painted Honey-eater - R V
Hemiaspis damelii Grey Snake - E -
Jalmenus evagoras ebulus Northern Imperial Hairstreak Butterfly - V -
Kerivoula papuensis Golden-tipped Bat - R V
Mormopterus sp. 6 Hairy-nosed Freetail Bat - - E
Macropus dorsalis Black-striped Wallaby - - E
Nyctophilus timoriensis Eastern Long-eared Bat Vulnerable V V
Onychogalea fraenata Bridled Nail-tail Wallaby Endangered E PE
Paradelma orientalis Brigalow scaly-foot Vulnerable V -
Turnix melanogaster Black-breasted Button-quail Vulnerable V E

Source: Appendix 5 of Butler (2007)

Notes

1. E = Endangered; PE = Presumed Extinct; R = Rare; V = Vulnerable

2. Status under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (C'th) (Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2008b).

3. Status under the Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 2006 (Qld) (Queensland Government 2006).

4. Status under Schedules 1, 2 and 3 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (NSW), as at July 2007 (New South Wales Scientific Committee 2007).

* Applies only to the population in the Nandewar and Brigalow Belt South bioregions

For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.

The listed ecological community is characterised by the presence of Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) as one of the three most abundant tree species (Butler 2007). Brigalow is usually either dominant in the tree layer or co-dominant with other species such as Casuarina cristata (Belah), other species of Acacia, or species of Eucalyptus. Occasionally Belah, or species or Acacia or Eucalyptus may be more common than Brigalow within the broad matrix of Brigalow vegetation. The structure of the vegetation ranges from open forest to open woodland. The height of the tree layer varies from about 9 m in low rainfall areas (averaging around 500 mm per annum) to around 25 m in higher rainfall areas (averaging around 750 mm per annum) (Butler 2007). A prominent shrub layer is usually present.

In Queensland, the listed Brigalow ecological community comprises the following 16 regional ecosystems (REs) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee 2001):

  • RE 6.4.2-Casuarina cristata +/- Acacia harpophylla open forest on clay plains,
  • RE 11.3.1-Acacia harpophylla and/or Casuarina cristata open forest on alluvial plains,
  • RE 11.4.3-Acacia harpophylla and/or Casuarina cristata shrubby open forest on Cainozoic clay plains,
  • RE 11.4.7-Open forest of Eucalyptus populnea with Acacia harpophylla and/or Casuarina cristata on Cainozoic clay plains,
  • RE 11.4.8-Eucalyptus cambageana open forest with Acacia harpophylla or A. argyrodendron on Cainozoic clay plains.
  • RE 11.4.9-Acacia harpophylla shrubby open forest with Terminalia oblongata on Cainozoic clay plains,
  • RE 11.4.10-Eucalyptus populnea or E. pilligaensis, Acacia harpophylla, Casuarina cristata open forest on margins of Cainozoic clay plains,
  • RE 11.5.16-Acacia harpophylla and/or Casuarina cristata open forest in depressions on Cainozoic sand plains/remnant surfaces,
  • RE 11.9.1-Acacia harpophylla-Eucalyptus cambageana open forest on Cainozoic fine-grained sedimentary rocks,
  • RE 11.9.5-Acacia harpophylla and/or Casuarina cristata open forest on Cainozoic fine-grained sedimentary rocks,
  • RE 11.9.6-Acacia melvillei ± A. harpophylla open forest on Cainozoic fine-grained sedimentary rocks,
  • RE 11.11.14-Acacia harpophylla open forest on deformed and metamorphosed sediments and interbedded volcanics,
  • RE 11.12.21-Acacia harpophylla open forest on igneous rocks; colluvial lower slopes,
  • RE 12.8.23-Acacia harpophylla open forest on Cainozoic igneous rocks,
  • RE 12.9-10.6-Acacia harpophylla open forest on sedimentary rocks, and
  • RE 12.12.26-Acacia harpophylla open forest on Mesozoic to Proterozoic igneous rocks.

In New South Wales, the listed Brigalow ecological community comprises Brigalow vegetation in the Mulga Land bioregions and the northern floodplains (Threatened Species Scientific Committee 2001). It includes the following three vegetation communities of Benson et al. (2006):

  • Community 29-Brigalow open woodland on red earth and clay plains mainly in the Mulga Lands Bioregion,
  • Community 31-Brigalow-Gidgee open woodland on clay plains west of the Culgoa River, Mulga Lands Bioregion, and
  • Community 35-Brigalow-Belah woodland on alluvial often gilgaied clay soil mainly in the Brigalow Belt South Bioregion.

Not all vegetation in which Brigalow is dominant or co-dominant is part of the listed ecological community (see Similar Communities).


Climate

The Brigalow ecological community occurs roughly within the 500-750 mm annual rainfall belt with a predominance of summer rainfall, although winter rainfall peaks occur in the south of its distribution (Johnson 1997) where the climate in western areas is more arid (Pulsford 1984).

Landforms

In Queensland, about 85% of the listed Brigalow ecological community remnants occur on flat to gently undulating Cainozoic clay plains that are not associated with current alluvium, and on gently undulating landscapes on more or less horizontally bedded fine grained sedimentary rocks. About 10% of remnants are associated with river and creek flats, and the remainder with old loamy and sandy plains, basalt plains and hills, or hills and lowlands on metamorphic or granitic rocks. (Information from Accad et al. 2001 and Queensland Environmental Protection Agency 2002b).

In New South Wales, the listed Brigalow ecological community occurs on undulating plains or sandplains in the western areas and on flat or gentle rises on alluvial plains or undulating peneplains in eastern areas (Benson et al. 2006).

Soils

Brigalow vegetation is usually associated with deep gilgaied clays, sedentary clays, alluvial clays, miscellaneous deep clays and loamy red soils (Isbell 1962). The soils usually have a clay field-texture throughout the profile, are relatively fertile and tend to have high salt content (Bui and Henderson 2003).

In Queensland, the soils are predominantly cracking clays where Brigalow is dominant, but texture contrast soils are common where Eucalyptus species are co-dominant. In New South Wales, Brigalow is associated with red, brown and grey clays, red and grey earths and red-brown earths (Benson et al. 2006).


Plants

Brigalow flowers between April and October but plants tend not to flower every year and seed set tends to be very low (Johnson 1964, 1997; Benson et al. 2006; Butler 2007). In New South Wales Benson et al. (2006) noted that Brigalow flowers spasmodically and may flower heavily only once every 30 years or so. The production of viable seed requires cross-pollination between trees (Coaldrake 1971). When set, seeds normally mature in late spring or early summer (Butler 2007). They show no dormancy period (Coaldrake 1971), do not have hard seed coats (testas) and are able to germinate quickly with suitable conditions (Johnson 1964; Coaldrake 1971; Benson et al. 2006). Germination can occur across a wide range of temperatures but decreases with temperatures >40oC and fails by 45oC (Reichman et al. 2006). Seeds can also germinate under relatively saline conditions (Reichman et al. 2006).

Brigalow seeds generally remain viable for less than a year, even under controlled conditions, and thus seedlings are relatively rare in natural landscapes and are likely to be produced in large numbers only in exceptional years (Butler 2007). In Queensland, Johnson (1997) noted that germination and establishment requires good rainfall following seed set during what is traditionally the driest time of the year.

Brigalow trees sucker easily from their roots and resprout after damage as long as the root stocks remain intact (Johnson 1997; Benson et al. 2006). The suckers are reported to grow far more rapidly than Brigalow seedlings (Johnson 1964). Brigalow trees have a well-developed lateral root system, with these horizontal roots storing large quantities of starch that enable suckering (Johnson 1964). Trees and suckers are often joined by horizontal roots and form dense colonies (Johnson 1964). The extent of suckering in Queensland depends on seasonal conditions, tree size and age and the level of damage to the tree, with dry conditions, younger trees and severe damage promoting more suckering than wet conditions, older trees or less damage (Johnson 1964). In New South Wales west of the Culgoa River, Brigalow regrowth was found to be strongest on soft red earth soils (Wade 1992).

Brigalow may be killed by fire (Benson et al. 2006), although in Queensland only high intensity fires kill the root systems (Johnson 1964). The pre-European fire regime in the Brigalow ecological community is not known, although in New South Wales Benson et al. (2006) believed the presence of Brigalow between the Culgoa and Warrego rivers and the presence of associated rainforest genera may be the result of infrequent fires historically. Butler (2007) notes that the low density of herbage and other fine fuels in most types of Brigalow vegetation suggest that, historically, fire would have been rare in the ecological community.

Many of the shrub and tree species associated with Brigalow are capable of re-sprouting after damage to their above ground parts (Butler 2007). Johnson and Purdie (1981) noted that in Brigalow open forests, six of the nine most common canopy trees and six of the eight most common understorey trees sucker freely from butts or horizontal roots and many survive fires of low to moderate intensity.

Native tree or shrub species known to form dense regrowth after clearing and burning of Brigalow vegetation include Acacia argyrodenron (Blackwood), Alectryon diversifolius (Scrub Boonaree), Carissa ovata (Blackberry, Currantbush, Kunker Berry), Citrus glauca (Limebush), Eremophila mitchellii (False Sandalwood), Eucalyptus cambageana (Blackbutt, Coowarra Box, Dawson Gum) and Terminalia oblongata (Yellowwood) (Johnson 1964; Anderson 1984). Pressland (1982) noted that Carissa ovata, Eremophila deserti (Ellangowan Poison Bush), Eremophila mitchellii and Terminalia oblongata are all susceptible to hot fires.

Despite the effects of fire on Brigalow and its associated plant species, long term studies in Queensland have shown that Brigalow communities are highly resilient to pulling and burning, and their suckering ability has enabled remnants to survive in cleared pasture lands and on reserves and roadsides (Johnson 1997). Johnson found that if left alone after originally being pulled and burnt, the communities showed no diminution of the diversity of small shrub and herb species, although their density was very low, while the Brigalow sucker density was very high. The species diversity in remnant stands of suckers was similar to that in a comparable mature stand. Natural thinning of suckers (through intra-specific competition) reduced the stem density from 28,000 per ha nine months after burning to half that amount after c. 30 years. Johnson considered that areas of suckers left alone for long enough will develop into mature communities indistinguishable from uncleared communities, although it may take 50 years for this to occur. In New South Wales it is expected that maturation of regrowth stands will take 50 to 100 years (New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service 2002).

Brigalow and Belah (Casuarina cristata) are tolerant of saline conditions (van der Moezel et al. 1989; Reichman et al. 2006), which are common in the soils on which they grow (see Description). Brigalow appears to be extremely drought tolerant (Connor and Tunstall 1968, Tunstall and Connor 1975), with plants in western areas exhibiting more drought tolerant characteristics than those in areas with higher and more reliable rainfall (Coaldrake 1971).

Grazing can strongly affect recruitment and growth of shrubs and trees in Brigalow vegetation (Butler 2007). Shrub and tree species common in the Brigalow ecological community, including Acacia pendula (Myall), Alectryon oleifolius (Western Rosewood), Atalaya hemiglauca (Whitewood), some forms of Geijera parviflora (Wilga), Owenia acidula (Emu Apple), Ventilago viminalis (Supplejack) and many others, are readily eaten by domestic stock and native or feral herbivores (Butler 2007).

The density and composition of herbage in Brigalow forests is partly controlled by the density and size of the larger plants, particularly Brigalow trees (Scanlan 1991). In undisturbed Brigalow, the floristic composition of the understorey varies with the density of the canopy, soil type and climatic and weather conditions. More open woodlands can be quite grassy, whereas tall, dense forests in eastern areas support very sparse herbage. The relative contribution of annual grasses and broad-leaved herbs to total herbage increases as Brigalow basal area increases (Scanlan 1991). In New South Wales, the regrowth of co-dominant grass species such as Chloris gayana (Rhodes Grass) is stimulated by burning (New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service 2002).

Animals

Woody debris and other litter on the ground in Brigalow forest provides important habitat for some faunal species, especially reptiles (World Wide Fund 2001). Animal species associated with the Brigalow ecological community rely on a range of attributes in the vegetation for habitat. These include litter and woody debris on the forest floor (especially important for reptiles), tree hollows and pockets under the bark of large trees (roost sites for various birds and mammals, including bats), and mistletoes and other sources of nectar and fruit (food for birds, including Belah seed for the Vulnerable Glossy Black-cockatoo) (Butler 2007).

Butler (2007) notes that the above attributes are best developed in relatively undisturbed Brigalow forests, which may thus have higher faunal habitat value than younger or more frequently disturbed forests. However Butler (2007) also comments that some native species, such as the Spotted Bowerbird (Chlamydera maculata), prefer or are more common in regrowth than remnant Brigalow, and that Brigalow regrowth also provides habitat for a suite of fauna and flora suited to early 'successional' environments that contribute to the diversity and functioning of landscapes (House et al. 2006).


Geographic variation of vegetation within regional ecosystems in Queensland are outlined under Survey and Monitoring.

For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.

The floristic composition and structure of the listed Brigalow ecological community vary considerably. The following description is based on the references shown in Survey and Monitoring and Butler (2007). The species listed below do not all occur in every remnant.

Tree layer

The vegetation is usually dominated by Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) with or without Casuarina cristata (Belah), and with or without Eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus trees may be scattered or form an emergent layer that is taller than the Brigalow canopy. Eucalyptus species commonly present include E. argophloia (Chinchilla White-gum), E. brownii (Reid River Box), E. cambageana (Blackbutt, Coowarra Box, Dawson Gum), E. largiflorens (Black Box) E. microcarpa (Grey Box), E. moluccana (Grey-topped Box), E. pilligaensis (Gum-topped Box, Ribbon Gum, Mallee Box, Molly Box, Narrow-leaved Grey Box), E. populnea (Poplar Box, Bimble Box) or E. thozetiana (Mountain Yapunyah), or less often E. coolabah (Coolibah) or E. orgadophila (Mountain Coolibah).

Other tree species such as Lysiphyllum carronii (Red Bauhinia) and Brachychiton rupestris (Queensland Bottle Tree) may be common in the tree layer in Queensland (Butler 2007). Acacia cambagei (Gidgee) and A. argyrodendron (Blackwood) may be co-dominant with Brigalow in northern areas in Queensland, while A. melvillei (Yarran, Melville's Wattle) or A. omalophylla (Yarran) may be associated with the vegetation in central and southern Queensland and in New South Wales (Butler 2007).

In some areas Casuarina cristata, Acacia argyrodendron, A. melvillei, A. omalophylla, Eucalyptus populnea or E. pilligaensis may be locally dominant and more abundant than Brigalow, and form pockets of vegetation within or on the margins of the Brigalow ecological community (New South Wales Scientific Committee 2002; Butler 2007). In New South Wales, Casuarina cristata favours less well drained sites, and Eucalyptus populnea better drained areas (New South Wales Scientific Committee 2002).

Lower tree and shrub layer/s

A moderately dense low tree layer or low to tall shrub layer/s are frequently present in the vegetation, and typically include Eremophila mitchellii (Sandalwood) and Geijera parviflora (Wilga), or in northern areas, Terminalia oblongata (Yellowwood). Other common species include Alectryon diversifolius (Scrub Boonaree), Alectryon oleifolius (Western Rosewood), Apophyllum anomalum (Broom Bush), Capparis loranthifolia (Narrow-leaved Bumble), Capparis mitchellii (Wild Orange), Carissa ovata (Currant Bush), Citrus glauca (Lime Bush), Ehretia membranifolia (Peach Bush), Eremophila deserti (Ellangowan Poison Bush) and Notelaea microcarpa (Small-fruited Mock-olive).

Climbing plants are usually present in the vegetation and often include Clematicissus opaca (Small-leaf Grape, previously called Cissus opaca), Capparis lasiantha (Nipan), Jasmimum didymium subsp. lineare and J. didymium subsp. racemosum (native jasmines) and Parsonsia lanceolata (Northern Silk-pod).

Ground layer

The listed Brigalow ecological community typically has a sparse ground layer. Graminoids (i.e. grasses and grass-like plants) often present include the grasses Enteropogon acicularis, Panicum decompositum, Paspalidium spp and Sporobolus spp and the sedge Cyperus gracilis (Slender Sedge). Forbs (i.e. non-grass herbs) commonly present include Brunoniella australis (Blue Trumpet), Rostellularia adscendens (Pink Tongue) and the ferns Cheilanthes distans (Bristly Cloak Fern) and C. sieberi (Rock Fern) (Butler 2007).

Sub-shrubs are often present in the ground layer and include species from the families Malvaceae (especially species of Abutilon and Sida) and Chenopodiaceae (Story et al. 1967; Gunn et al. 1967; Galloway et al. 1974; Neldner 1984). Common chenopods include Einadia nutans (Climbing Saltbush), Enchylaena tomentosa (Ruby Saltbush), Maireana microphylla (Eastern Cottonbush), Rhagodia spinescens (Prickly Saltbush), Salsola kali (Soft Roly-poly), Sclerolaena muricata (Prickly Roly-poly) and Sclerolaena tetracuspis (Brigalow Burr) (Butler 2007). Nyssanthes diffusa or N. erecta (Barb-wire Weed) and Roepera apiculata (Twinleaf, formerly Zygophyllum apiculatum) may also be common (Butler 2007).

For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.

Not all vegetation in which Brigalow is a prominent component is included within the listed Brigalow ecological community. In Queensland, the following regional ecosystems (REs) that contain Brigalow are excluded from the listed ecological community: RE 6.4.3, RE 4.9.17, RE 4.9.15, RE 10.4.2, RE 10.4.7, RE 11.3.17, RE 11.9.10, RE 11.9.11, RE 11.11.13, RE 11.11.16 and RE 11.11.19. Such vegetation is concentrated in the Brigalow Belt (North and South), Mitchell Grass Downs, Mulga Lands and Desert Uplands bioregions (Appendix 2 of Butler 2007).

The latest regional ecosystem maps of the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency should be consulted to determine whether vegetation in which Brigalow is a prominent component is part of the listed Brigalow ecological community or not.

For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.

The listed Brigalow ecological community extends from south of Charters Towers in Queensland, in a broad swathe east of Blackall, Charleville and Cunnamulla, south to northern New South Wales near Narrabri and Bourke. A map showing its distribution is provided by Environmental Resources Information Network (2003).

In Queensland, the listed ecological community occurs predominantly within the Brigalow Belt North, Brigalow Belt South, Darling Riverine Plains and Southeast Queensland bioregions, with smaller amounts in the Mitchell Grass Downs, Mulga Lands and Einasleigh Uplands bioregions (Appendix 8 of Butler 2007).

In New South Wales, remnants of the listed ecological community mostly occur north of Burke, west of Narrabri and north of Moree (Environmental Resources Information Network 2003; Butler 2007). Other minor occurrences occur near Walgett and Gunnedah, at Mt Misery and in the Pilliga East State Forest (Benson et al. 2006). Remnants are associated mostly with the Mulga Lands and Brigalow Belt South bioregions, with lesser areas in the Cobar Peneplain, Darling Riverine Plains and NSW South-western Slopes bioregions (Benson et al. 2006) and the Nandewar Bioregion (Butler 2007).


In Queensland, the original extent of the Brigalow ecological community was estimated to be more than 7.3 million hectares (Butler 2007). In 2003, about eight per cent remained (Butler 2007); Butler (2007) notes this was likely to be an over-estimate of the true extent of remnants at that time. Core areas with remnants are located in the Northern Bowen Basin, Belyando Downs, Isaac-Comet Downs and Claude River Downs subregions of the Brigalow Belt North bioregion (total area of Brigalow about 256,000 ha), and in the Southern Downs and Moonie River-Commoron Creek Floodout subregions of the Brigalow Belt South Bioregion (total area of Brigalow about 110,000 ha) (Appendix 8 of Butler 2007).

In New South Wales, the Brigalow ecological community originally occurred northeast of Moree, west of Narrabri and north of Bourke (Isbell 1962; Pulsford 1984). In the Western Plains botanical region, it is thought originally to have covered around 300,000 ha of land, with around one third remaining in 2006 (Benson et al. 2006). Areas of Brigalow north of Moree have largely been cleared (Pulsford 1984).

Subregions within which remnants of the Brigalow ecological community occur in Queensland and New South Wales are listed in the table below.


Occurrence of Brigalow ecological community remnants in Queensland1
SubregionBioregion3SubregionBioregion3
Anakie InlierBBN (9)Isaac-Comet DownsBBN (11)
ArcadiaBBS (20)Macintyre-Weir Fan4DRP (36)
Balonne-Culgoa FanDRP (35)Marlborough PlainsBBN (14)
Banana-Auburn RangesBBS (22)Moonie River-Commoron Creek Floodout BBS (33)
Barakula BBS (27)Moonie-Barwon Interfluve BBS (34)
Basalt DownsBBN (10)Moreton BasinSEQ (2)
Belyando DownsBBN (7)Mount Morgan RangesBBS (18)
Beucazon HillsBBN (4)Nebo-Connors RangesBBN (12)
Bogie River HillsBBN (2)Northern Bown BasinBBN (6)
Boomer RangeBBS (17)Scenic RimSEQ (1)
Brisbane-Barambah VolcanicsSEQ (5)South BurnettSEQ (6)
Broken RiverEU (4)South Drummond BasinBBN (13)
Buckland BasaltsBBS (23)Southern DownsBBS (26)
Burnet-Curtis Hills and RangesSEQ (10)Southern Wooded DownsMGD (4)
Callide Creek DownsBBS (19)Tara Downs BBS (30)
Cape River HillsBBN (3)Taroom DownsBBS (25)
Carnarvon RangesBBS (24)Townsville PlainsBBN (1)
Claude River DownsBBN (15)Upper Belyando FloodoutBBN (8)
Dawson River DownsBBS (21)Weribone High BBS (29)
Dulacca Downs BBS (28)West Balonne PlainsML (1)
Eastern Darling Downs BBS (31)WoorabindaBBS (16)
Eastern Mulga PlainsML (2)Wyarra HillsBBN (5)
Inglewood Sandstones BBS (32)  
Occurrence of Brigalow ecological community remnants in New South Wales2
SubregionBioregion3SubregionBioregion3
Block RangeMLNebine PlainsML
Canbelego DownsCPNorthern BasaltsBBS
Castlereagh-BarwonDRPNorthern OutwashBBS
Culgoa-BokharaDRPNymageeCP
Liverpool PlainsBBSPilliga OutwashBBS
Lower Slopes NSS  


1. Data from Appendix 8 of Butler (2007)

2. Data from Benson et al. (2006)

3. Bioregion name and subregional number (in brackets, for Queensland only) within bioregion. Bioregions: BBS, Brigalow Belt North; BBS, Brigalow Belt South; CP, Cobar Peneplain; DRP, Darling Riverine Plains; EU, Einasleigh Uplands; MGD, Mitchell Grass Downs; ML, Mulga Lands; NNS, NSW South-western Slopes; SEQ, Southeastern Queensland.

4. The Macintyre-Weir Fan is part of the Darling Riverine Plains bioregion, but is included in the Brigalow Belt South region by the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (Sattler and Williams 1999).


The listed Brigalow ecological community cannot be considered naturally rare or restricted as its pre-European extent was estimated to be more than seven million hectares (see Distribution).


The size of many Brigalow remnants across the range of the listed ecological community is small (Queensland Herbarium 2002a). A study in the Moree/Narrabri region of New South Wales showed most patches were only 100 to 300 ha in area (New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service 2002). Cox et al. (2001) reported a median size of 78 ha for 41 Brigalow remnants in the northern wheatbelt of New South Wales. In their study, patch size ranged from a minimum of 11 ha to a maximum of 606 ha.

For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.

The Brigalow ecological community has been extensively cleared (see Threats) and is now highly fragmented through most of its range (New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service 2002; Queensland Herbarium 2002a; Benson et al. 2006). It often occurs as small linear patches along roadsides and the edges of paddocks (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service 2000; New South Wales Scientific Committee 2002). In New South Wales west of the Culgoa River, small units of unmodified Brigalow vegetation were still linked by thinned or semi-natural woodlands in 1992 (Wade 1992).

Butler (2007) noted that today most Brigalow fragments are located within substantially modified landscapes, or occur adjacent to uncleared eucalypt woodlands, or occupy small clay pans or the toe-slopes of jump-ups and escarpments dominated by acacias such as Lancewood (e.g. Acacia petraea, A. shirleyi), Bendee (Acacia catenulata) or Rosewood (Acacia fasciculifera).

For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.

Brigalow regrowth that retains the species composition and structural elements typical of that found in the undisturbed listed regional ecosystems is considered to be part of the listed Brigalow ecological community (Environment Australia 2001). Such regrowth will usually be 15 years or more old.

Butler (2007) recommends that remnants of component regional ecosystems in poor condition be excluded from the listed Brigalow ecological community. They include:

  • vegetation that has been comprehensively cleared (not just thinned) within the last 15 years,
  • vegetation in which exotic perennial plants have more than 50% cover, assessed in a minimum area of 0.5 ha (100 m by 50 m), and
  • individual patches of Brigalow that are smaller than 0.5 ha.

For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.

The following table provides, for each subregion in which there are major occurrences of regional ecosystems that are part of the listed Brigalow ecological community, an overview of studies that provide further information. The list of subregions and regional ecosystems present within them is not comprehensive, but only applies to the major occurrences of regional ecosystem remnants. Only studies up to 2003 have been included for Queensland; more recent studies are listed in Butler (2007).


Sub-reg'n1Major regional studies2Other studiesMajor REs present3
 123456  
Mulga Lands Bioregion
1    +* 6.4.2
Brigalow Belt Bioregion
2 ?     11.4.9
3+      11.3.1, 11.4.8, 11.4.9
4+      11.4.8, 11.4.9
5+      11.3.1, 11.4.8, 11.4.9
7*      11.3.1, 11.4.7, 11.4.8, 11.4.9
8*      11.4.7, 11.4.8
11+++   Dowling and Stephens (1997)11.3.1, 11.4.8, 11.4.9, 11.5.16, 11.9.1
13*      11.4.8
14  +   Forster and Barton (1995)11.3.1, 11.4.9, 11.11.14
15*      11.3.1, 11.9.1, 11.9.5
16 +*   Dowling and Stephens (1997)11.5.16
17  *    11.11.14
18  +   Forster and Barton (1995)11.9.1, 11.9.5, 11.11.14
21  *    11.9.1, 11.12.21
22  +    11.12.21
25  *  x 11.9.1, 11.9.5
26  + ++Dawson (1972); Turner (1978)11.4.3, 11.4.7, 11.9.1, 11.9.5
27  +  x?Dawson (1972)11.4.3, 11.9.5
28    *xDawson (1972)11.4.3, 11.9.5
29    *+Dawson (1972)11.3.1, 11.4.3, 11.4.7, 11.4.10
30    +xDawson (1972); Mullins (1980)11.4.3, 11.4.7, 11.4.10
31      Dawson (1972); Fensham and Fairfax (1997); Young and McDonald (1989); Mullins (1980); Vandersee (1975) 11.3.1, 11.9.5, 11.9.6
32      Dawson (1972); Young and McDonald (1989); Mullins (1980); Vandersee (1975)11.4.3
33    +xMullins (1980)11.4.3, 11.4.7
34    *+ 11.3.1, 11.4.3, 11.4.7
Darling Riverina Plains Bioregion4
36    ++ 11.3.1
Southeast Queensland Bioregion
2      Bean et al. (1998); Young and McDonald (1989); Vandersee (1975?)12.8.23, 12.9-10.6
5      Bean et al. (1998)12.8.23, 12.12.26
6      Bean et al. (1998); Vandersee (1975?)12.8.23


Notes

1. The number and name of each subregion is as shown in the table under Distribution.

2a. Key to symbols:

* = subregion located entirely within study region

+ = subregion partly located in study region

x = subregions mapped in the South Central Queensland by Neldner (Wilson 2002) ? = uncertain whether study region includes the subregion

2b. Key to studies:

1. Nogoa-Belyando Area (Gunn et al. 1967)

2. Isaac-Comet Area (Story et al. 1967)

3. Dawson-Fitzroy Area (Speck et al. 1968)

4. Fitzroy Region (Gunn and Nix 1977); this study synthesises studies 2, 3 and 4 above.

5. Balonne-Maranoa Area (Galloway et al. 1974)

6. South Central Queensland (Neldner 1984)

3. From Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b).

4. The Darling Riverina Plains in Queensland is included within the Brigalow Belt Bioregion by the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (Sattler and Williams 1999).

The following tables show, for each regional ecosystem that is part of the listed Brigalow ecological community, details of relevant information provided in the studies outlined above.

RE 6.4.2 - Regional studies from which further information may be obtained


Author/s & date1Relevant land systems, land units, map units or other categories in study
Galloway et al. (1974)Land unit 55
Neldner (1984)Map unit 9, Floristic Association 131


  • Data from Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b)

RE 11.3.1 - Regional studies from which further information may be obtained


Author/s & dateRelevant land systems, land units, map units or other categories in study3
Forster and Barton (1995)1Coreen
Galloway et al. (1974)1Land unit 70
Gunn and Nix (1977)2Land units 127, 132
Gunn et al. (1967)1, 2Land System name (Land Unit no.): Alpha (3), Blackwater (5), Borilla (5), Comet (6, 7), Craven (6), Cungelella (4), Disney (4), Durrandella (5), Hillalong (4), Hope (4), Islay (5), Lennox (5), Loudon (6), Monteagle (6), Pinehill (4), Portwine (4), Rutland (6), Skye (5), Somerby (6), Tichbourne (5), Ulcanbah (4), Wharton (6), Willows (5)
Neldner (1984)1Map unit 6, Floristic Association 124
Speck et al. (1968)1,2Land System name (Land Unit no.): Barwon (4, 5), Coreen (3-6), Dakenba (5-8), Eurombah (10, 11), Ramsay (8)
Story et al. (1967)1,2Land System name (Land Unit no.): Barwon (4), Comet (3, 5), Connors (6), Funnel (3), Monteagle (6), Somerby (6)
Vandersee (1975)1Land System name (Land Unit no.): Dalby (4)


  • Data from Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b)
  • Data from Queensland Herbarium (2002b)
  • Data from the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b), and Queensland Herbarium (2002b)

RE 11.4.3 - Regional studies from which further information may be obtained


Author/s & dateRelevant land systems, land units, map units or other categories in study3
Dawson (1972)1 Land System name (Land Unit no.): Tara (1, ?2, 3, ?4), Hopelands (?1, 2), Humbug (3)
Fensham and Fairfax (1997)1Map unit 3
Galloway et al. (1974)1 Land units 38, 58
Gunn and Nix (1977)2Land units 34, 37, 38, 41, 50, 72, 93, 100, 101
Gunn et al. (1967)2Land System name (Land Unit no.): Avon (2), Blackwater (2), Cungelella (3), Disney (3), Humboldt (?), Islay (2), Loudon (5), Monteagle (5), Somerby (2,4), Willows (3,4), Wondabah (2)
Mullins (1980)1 Land System name (Land Unit no.): Tara, Sedgley
Neldner (1984)1Map units 6, 9; Floristic Association 124
Speck et al. (1968)2Land System name (Land Unit no.): Dakenba (2-4), Doonkuna (8), Highworth (3,6,8), Juandah (3), Kiddell (4,7), Thomby (5,7), Wandoan (10), Woleebee (4,9)
Story et al. (1967) 2Land System name (Land Unit no.): Blackwater (2), Humboldt (5,6), Monteagle (5), Somerby (4,5)


  • Data from Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b)
  • Data from Queensland Herbarium (2002b)
  • Data from the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b), and Queensland Herbarium (2002b)

RE 11.4.7 - Regional studies from which further information may be obtained


Author/s & dateRelevant land systems, land units, map units or other categories in study3
Galloway et al. (1974) 1Land units 53, 55
Gunn and Nix (1977) 2Land units 22, 23, 97
Gunn et al. (1967) 1Land System name (Land Unit no.): Humboldt (2), Lennox (4), Monteagle (5), Pine Hill (2), Playfair (4)
Neldner (1984) 1Map units 22a, 22b; Floristic Associations 44, 47
Speck et al. (1968) 2Land System name (Land Unit no.): Thomby (9), Wandoan (11)
Story et al. (1967) 2Land System name (Land Unit no.): Somerby (1)


  • Data from Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b)
  • Data from Queensland Herbarium (2002b)
  • Data from the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b), and Queensland Herbarium (2002b)

RE 11.4.8 - Regional studies from which further information may be obtained


Author/s & dateRelevant land systems, land units, map units or other categories in study3
Gunn and Nix (1977) 2Land units 34, 124
Gunn et al. (1967) 1Land System name (Land Unit no.): Blackwater (2,3), Borilla (4), Disney (3), Durrandella (4), Humboldt (3), Islay (2), Pinehill (3), Playfair (4), Portwine (3), Ulcanbah (2), Willows (3)
Speck et al. (1968) 2Land System name (Land Unit no.): Highworth (2), Kiddell (4), Ramsay (1), Thomby (3)
Story et al. (1967) 2Land System name (Land Unit no.): Connors (6), Somerby (2)


  • Data from Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b)
  • Data from Queensland Herbarium (2002b)
  • Data from the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b), and Queensland Herbarium (2002b)

RE 11.4.9 - Regional studies from which further information may be obtained


Author/s & dateRelevant land systems, land units, map units or other categories in study3
Dowling and Stephens (1997) 1 
Forster and Barton (1995) 1 Somerby, Blackwater
Gunn and Nix (1977) 2Land units 34, 37, 38, 40, 41, 46, 50, 51, 52, 53, 127
Gunn et al. (1967) 1Land System name (Land Unit no.): Blackwater (3,4), Durrandella (4), Humboldt (3, 4 in part), Kareela (3), Kinsale (1,3,4), Loudon (5), Monteagle (5), Peak Vale (3), Playfair (4), Somerby (3), Ulcanbah (3), Waterford (2)
Speck et al. (1968) 2Land System name (Land Unit no.): Ramsay (7), Wandoan (8), Westwood (6)
Story et al. (1967) 1Land System name (Land Unit no.): Blackwater (3,4), Moorooloo (3), Racecourse (2), Somerby (3)


  • Data from Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b)
  • Data from Queensland Herbarium (2002b)
  • Data from the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b), and Queensland Herbarium (2002b)

RE 11.4.10 - Regional studies from which further information may be obtained


Author/s & date1Relevant land systems, land units, map units or other categories in study1
Mullins (1980) Land System name (Land Unit no.): Remeura (4)


  • Data from Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b)

RE 11.9.1 - Regional studies from which further information may be obtained


Author/s & dateRelevant land systems, land units, map units or other categories in study3
Gunn and Nix (1977) 2Land units 34, 46
Gunn et al. (1967) 1Land System name (Land Unit no.): Hillalong (3), Humboldt (3), Rutland (5), Skye (4) Wharton (3),
Speck et al. (1968) 1Land System name (Land Unit no.): Eurombah (6), Wandoan (5),Womblebank (4)
Story et al. (1967) 2Land System name (Land Unit no.): Arcadia (2), Daunia (3,4)
Turner (1978) 1Land System name (Land Unit no.): Highlands (30)


  • Data from Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b)
  • Data from Queensland Herbarium (2002b)
  • Data from the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b), and Queensland Herbarium (2002b)

RE 11.9.5 - Regional studies from which further information may be obtained


Author/s & dateRelevant land systems, land units, map units or other categories in study3
Dawson (1972) 1 Land System name (Land Unit no.): Ulimaroa (1-3)
Galloway et al. (1974) 1Land units 38, 40, (41), 43, 44
Gunn and Nix (1977) 2Land units 34, 37, 38, 41, 46, 50, 53, 72, 75, 93, 100, 101
Gunn et al. (1967) 1 Land System name (Land Unit no.): Craven (4), Cungelella (1,3), Hillalong (3), Humboldt (3, 4 in part), Kareela (4), Rutland (4), Skye (4), Wharton (4)
Mullins (1980) 1 Land System name (Land Unit no.): Bringalilly, Burnt Creek, Greys Gate
Neldner (1984) 1Map units 5, 6, 7, 9; Floristic Associations 123, 124, 131
Speck et al. (1968) 1 Land System name (Land Unit no.): Eurombah (8,10), Ramsay (5), Surprise (7), Wandoan (7), Womblebank (6)
Story et al. (1967) 2Land System name (Land Unit no.): Arcadia (2), Daunia (4), Rewan (3)
Vandersee (1975) 1 Land System name (Land Unit no.): Moola (1,3,4)
Young and McDonald (1989) 1Map units 9h, 12a


  • Data from Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b)
  • Data from Queensland Herbarium (2002b)
  • Data from the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b), and Queensland Herbarium (2002b)

RE 11.9.6 - Regional studies from which further information may be obtained


Author/s & date1Relevant land systems, land units, map units or other categories in study
Fensham and Fairfax (1997)Map unit 4


  • Data from Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b)

RE 11.11.14 - Regional studies from which further information may be obtained


Author/s & dateRelevant land systems, land units, map units or other categories in study3
Gunn and Nix (1977) 2Land unit 41
Speck et al. (1968) 1Land System name (Land Unit no.): Banana (6), Bannockburn (5), Malakoff (4)
Story et al. (1967) 2Land System name (Land Unit no.): Girrah (4)


  • Data from Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b)

2. Data from Queensland Herbarium (2002b)

3. Data from the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b), and Queensland Herbarium (2002b)

RE 11.12.21 - Regional studies from which further information may be obtained


Author/s & date1Relevant land systems, land units, map units or other categories in study1
Speck et al. (1968)Land System name (Land Unit no.): Orana (5) Toonda (4), Torsdale (6)


  • Data from Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b)

REs 12.8.23, 12.9/10.6 and 12.12.26 - Regional studies from which further information may be obtained


Regional ecosystemAuthor/s & date1Relevant land systems, land units, map units or other categories in study1
RE 12.8.23Bean et al. (1998)Vegetation map units H1 (in part), H47
RE 12.9/10.6Bean et al. (1998)Vegetation map units H1 (in part), H47
RE 12.12.26Bean et al. (1998) Vegetation map unit H1 (in part)


  • Wilson (2002).

Further information on vegetation types in New South Wales


Vegetation Type1Author/s & date1Relevant land systems, land units, map units or other categories in study1.
ID 29Dykes (2002) 
 Northern Floodplains Planning Committee (2004) 
 Pickard and Norris (1994) 
 Sawtell and Miller (2001) 
 Wade (1992)Vegetation type 1
ID 31Hunter and Earl (2002) 
 Northern Floodplains Planning Committee (2004) 
 Pickard and Norris (1994) 
 Wade (1992)Vegetation type 2; map types 1 and 3
ID 35Benson et al. (1996) 
 Ecology Australia (2000) 
 Isbell (1962) 
 Kerr et al. (2003) 
 New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (2000) 
 Paull (2000) 
 Peasley (2000, 2001)Map units N05, N05a-c
 Pulsford (1984) 
 Sawtell (2000a,b) 
 Sivertsen and Metcalfe (2001)Map unit P10
 Sparshott (1995)Map unit 1
 White (2002) 


  • Data from Benson et al. (2006); the number in the first column represents the vegetation community identification number used by Benson et al. (2006)


Under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Qld) remnant vegetation is defined as 'vegetation that had at least 70% of the height and 50% of the cover of the dominant stratum, relative to the undisturbed height and cover of that stratum and was dominated by species characteristic of the vegetation's undisturbed canopy' (Wilson et al. 2002). Only vegetation that falls within this definition is mapped as a regional ecosystem in Queensland. Mapped regional ecosystems thus include 'vegetation that has not been cleared or has been lightly thinned or vegetation that has been cleared or heavily thinned but substantially regrown' (Wilson et al. 2002). Mapped Brigalow regional ecosystems may therefore include areas of Brigalow regrowth.

In Queensland the latest maps should always be consulted to determine the most accurate distribution of each regional ecosystem that is a component of the listed Brigalow ecological community. It is important to note however that remnants 5 ha or less in area, or less than 75 m wide, will not be shown in the distribution maps for regional ecosystems because such remnants are too small to be consistently mapped (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency 2002a).


Descriptions of the specific components of the listed Brigalow ecological community in Queensland and New South Wales are provided below. Descriptions of each regional ecosystem (Queensland) and vegetation type (New South Wales) have been developed using information from a number of sources; the descriptions are not intended to describe accurately any individual Brigalow remnant.

In the regional ecosystems described under 4, 5, 7 and 14 below, the vegetation structure given in the heading differs from the structure provided in the description. This is an 'artefact' of the naming system used for the regional ecosystems. While the structure given in the description is correct, the heading corresponds with that shown in the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency's on-line database (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency 2002b).

1. Casuarina cristata + Acacia harpophylla open forest on clay plains (RE 6.4.2) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is open forest dominated by Casuarina cristata (Belah) ± Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow). The Casuarina cristata trees are usually 12-20 m high and form a continuous canopy, while the Acacia harpophylla trees are 8-15 m high and are either part of the canopy or form a lower tree layer (Neldner 1984). Eucalyptus trees are occasionally present. The projective foliage cover of the canopy is 30-45% (Neldner 1984). A moderately dense tall shrub layer (height to 7 m, projective foliage cover 20-45%) is usually present and dominated by Geijera parviflora (Wilga) and/or Eremophila mitchellii (Sandalwood) (Galloway et al. 1974; Neldner 1984). The ground layer is open to sparse (Galloway et al. 1974; Neldner 1984).

The open forest occurs on Cainozoic flat plains and lower slopes of undulating plains, on gilgaied cracking clay soils (Galloway et al. 1974; Neldner 1984).

2. Acacia harpophylla and/or Casuarina cristata open forest on alluvial plains (RE 11.3.1) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is open forest dominated by Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) and/or Casuarina cristata (Belah), with or without scattered emergent Eucalyptus trees such as E. coolabah (Coolibah), E. populnea (Poplar Box, Bimble Box), E. orgadophila (Mountain Coolibah), and E. pilligaensis (Gum-topped Box, Ribbon Gum, Mallee Box, Molly Box, Narrow-leaved Grey Box). A low tree layer dominated by Geijera parviflora (Wilga) and Eremophila mitchellii (Sandalwood) is usually present. The vegetation sometimes occurs as low open forest or woodland. Tree height has been recorded as 15±5 m in the northern part of its distribution and the tall tree understorey layer as 5±3 m high (Gunn and Nix 1977).

Communities in the southern part of its distribution may be dominated by Casuarina cristata (Galloway et al. 1974). The open forest may be 10-22 m high with a projective foliage cover of 30-40%, and have a tall shrub layer of Geijera parviflora and/or Eremophila mitchellii 2.5-6 m tall with a projective foliage cover of 10-45% (Neldner 1984). Eucalyptus orgadophila may occur in the community in this area (Neldner 1984).

Throughout its range, the ground cover is generally sparse (Gunn and Nix 1977; Gunn et al. 1967; Neldner 1984; Story et al. 1967).

The community is associated with Cainozoic alluvial plains which may be occasionally flooded. It occurs on level to very gently sloping plains, alluvial flats, drainage floors, back-swamps and abandoned channels (Galloway et al. 1974; Gunn and Nix 1977; Gunn et al. 1967; Neldner 1984; Story et al. 1967). Slopes are usually <1% (Galloway et al. 1974; Gunn and Nix 1977; Gunn et al. 1967; Speck et al. 1968).

The soils are predominantly deep to very deep cracking clays, sometimes with gilgai (Galloway et al. 1974; Gunn and Nix 1977; Gunn et al. 1967; Speck et al. 1968; Story et al. 1967; Vandersee 1975). The substrate may tend towards deep to very deep texture contrast soils where Eucalyptus populnea is present (Gunn and Nix 1977; Gunn et al. 1967; Speck et al. 1968).

3. Acacia harpophylla and/or Casuarina cristata shrubby open forest on Cainozoic clay plains (RE 11.4.3) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is open forest dominated by Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) and/or Casuarina cristata (Belah). It may be with or without scattered eucalypts such as Eucalyptus pilligaensis (Gum-topped Box, Ribbon Gum, Mallee Box, Molly Box, Narrow-leaved Grey Box), E. populnea (Poplar Box, Bimble Box), E. cambageana (Blackbutt, Coowarra Box, Dawson Gum), E. thozetiana (Mountain Yapunyah) and E. largiflorens (Black Box). Brachychiton rupestris (Bottle Tree, Narrow-leaved Bottle Tree, Queensland Bottle Tree) may also be present in places. Tree height has been recorded from 12±3 m to 15±5 m for Acacia harpophylla, 14-18 m for Casuarina cristata and 15-18±4 m for the eucalypts (Gunn and Nix 1977; Neldner 1984).

A low tree or tall shrub (e.g. Dawson 1972; Gunn and Nix 1977; Mullins 1980; Speck et al. 1968) layer dominated by species such as Geijera parviflora (Wilga) and Eremophila mitchellii (Sandalwood) is present, often with lower shrubs such as Carissa ovata (Blackberry, Currantbush, Kunker Berry). Tree/shrub height may range from 3±1 m to 8±3 m (Gunn and Nix 1977). Melaleuca bracteata (Black Tea-tree, River Tea Tree) may be present in low-lying areas (Dawson 1972; Mullins 1980). The ground layer is frequently sparse (e.g. Fensham and Fairfax 1997; Gunn et al. 1967; Neldner 1984).

This regional ecosystem occurs on Cainozoic clay plains with cracking clay soils which are often gilgaied. The plains may be flat to gently undulating, with slopes to 3% (e.g. Dawson 1972; Gunn and Nix 1977; Mullins 1980; Neldner 1984).

The cracking clay soils are usually deep to very deep, often self mulching, and sometimes with surface stone (e.g. Dawson 1972; Gunn and Nix 1977; Nelder 1984). Texture contrast soils and other clays may also be present in places (e.g. Galloway et al. 1974; Gunn and Nix 1977; Speck et al. 1968).

4. Open forest of Eucalyptus populnea with Acacia harpophylla and/or Casuarina cristata on Cainozoic clay plains (RE 11.4.7) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is tall woodland dominated by Eucalyptus populnea (Poplar Box, Bimble Box) and Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) and/or Casuarina cristata (Belah) in a lower tree layer. Poplar box trees have been recorded from 14-18 m high, and the lower tree layer 6-14 m high (Gunn and Nix 1977; Neldner 1984). A tall shrub layer is frequently present and dominated by Eremophila mitchellii (Sandalwood) and Geijera parviflora (Wilga) (Galloway et al. 1974; Gunn et al. 1967; Neldner 1984; Story et al. 1967). Other tall shrub shrubs, such as Ventilago viminalis (Supplejack, Vinetree) and Archidendropsis basaltica, and lower shrubs such as Carissa ovata (Blackberry, Currantbush, Kunker Berry) and Alectryon oleifolius, may be locally present (e.g. Gunn et al. 1967; Neldner 1984; Story et al. 1967). The ground stratum is often sparse (Galloway et al. 1974; Neldner 1984; Story et al. 1967).

The regional ecosystem is associated with Cainozoic clay plains. It usually occurs on flat plains and lower, middle and upper slopes of gently undulating plains (Galloway et al. 1974; Gunn et al. 1967; Neldner 1984), but occasionally occurs on drainage floors and adjacent slopes (Speck et al. 1968). Slopes are usually less than 3% but may reach 5% (Gunn and Nix 1977).

Soils are usually texture contrast, but gilagaied cracking clays and earths may also be present (Galloway et al. 1974; Gunn and Nix 1977; Neldner 1984).

5. Eucalyptus cambageana open forest with Acacia harpophylla or A. argyrodendron on Cainozoic clay plains (RE 11.4.8) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is woodland dominated by Eucalyptus cambageana (Blackbutt, Coowarra Box, Dawson Gum) and Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) or, in the north, A. argyrodendron (Blackwood) on Cainozoic clay plains. It usually occurs on lowlands and level to gently undulating plains, with slopes <2%, on texture contrast soils that sometimes have surface gravel (Gunn et al. 1967).

6. Acacia harpophylla shrubby open forest with Terminalia oblongata on Cainozoic clay plains (RE 11.4.9) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is open forest, occasionally woodland, dominated by Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) usually with a low tree midstorey of Terminalia oblongata (Yellowwood) and Eremophila mitchellii (Sandalwood). (The presence of Terminalia oblongata distinguishes this regional ecosystem from RE 11.4.3 in southern Queensland.) Casuarina cristata (Belah) sometimes replaces Acacia harpophylla in the overstorey and Lysiphyllum cunninghammii (Bauhinia) sometimes co-dominates. Other low tree or shrub species such as Alectryon diversifolius (Scrub Boonaree), Carissa ovata (Blackberry, Currantbush, Kunker Berry), Citriobatus spinescens, Ehretia membranifolia (Peach Bush, Weeping Koda), Geijera parviflora (Wilga) and Flindersia dissosperma may occur in the midstorey or low shrub layer (Gunn et al. 1967; Story et al. 1967). Acacia harpophylla trees have been recorded as 14±3 m high, the midstorey layer 5±3 m tall and the low shrub layer 1-2 m high (Gunn and Nix 1977).

This regional ecosystem occurs on Cainozoic plains, including weathered basalt. The landforms are usually lowlands and level to gently undulating plains with slopes up to 2% (Gunn and Nix 1977; Gunn et al. 1967; Story et al. 1967).

The soils are predominantly moderately deep to deep cracking clays that may be brown, red-brown or grey-brown, and with much surface gravel in some areas (Gunn et al. 1967; Story et al. 1967). Texture contrast soils may also be present, e.g. where the regional ecosystem is associated with depressions on lowlands (Gunn et al. 1967).

7. Eucalyptus populnea or E. pilligaensis, Acacia harpophylla, Casuarina cristata open forest on margins of Cainozoic clay plains (RE 11.4.10) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is tall woodland dominated by Eucalyptus populnea (Poplar Box, Bimble Box) and/or E. pilligaensis (Gum-topped Box, Ribbon Gum, Mallee Box, Molly Box, Narrow-leaved Grey Box) with an understorey of Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) or Casuarina cristata (Belah).

The regional ecosystem is associated with the edges of Cainozoic clay plains, on the lower parts of the plain around its dissecting edges and on natural discharge areas where the clay plains meet higher landforms. It occurs on deep texture contrast soil (Mullins 1980).

8. Acacia harpophylla and/or Casuarina cristata open forest in depressions on Cainozoic sand plains/remnant surfaces (RE 11.5.16) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency 2002b)

This regional ecosystem is open forest dominated by Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) and/or Casuarina cristata (Belah). It is associated with intact Tertiary surfaces on Cainozoic sand plains, where it occurs as small patches in depressions that are possibly of alluvial origin.

This regional ecosystem has a naturally small distribution pre-clearing (<8,000 ha) (Accad et al. 2001).

9. Acacia harpophylla-Eucalyptus cambageana open forest on Cainozoic fine-grained sedimentary rocks (RE 11.9.1) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is open forest of Eucalyptus cambageana (Blackbutt, Coowarra Box, Dawson Gum) or E. thozetiana (Mountain Yapunyah) and Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow). Eucalyptus cambageana is commonly co-dominant with Acacia harpophylla in the open forest (e.g. Gunn et al. 1967), or the open forest may be dominated by A. harpophylla and have scattered emergent Eucalyptus cambageana or E. thozetiana trees (e.g. Gunn and Nix 1977; Speck et al. 1968; Story et al. 1967). The Acacia harpophylla trees may range from 12±3 m to 14±4 m in height and the eucalypts 15-18±4 m (Gunn and Nix 1977). In central western areas the Acacia harpophylla may form tall shrubland c. 4 m high with emergent Eucalyptus cambageana trees 10-12 m high (Turner 1978). The community has a moderately dense to dense lower tree/tall shrub layer dominated by Eremophila mitchellii (Sandalwood), Carissa ovata (Blackberry, Currantbush, Kunker Berry) and Geijera parviflora (Wilga), with Terminalia oblongata (Yellowwood) often present in the north (Gunn and Nix 1977; Gunn et al. 1968; Story et al. 1967). The ground layer is frequently sparse (e.g. Story et al. 1967; Turner 1978).

The regional ecosystem is associated with Cainozoic to Proterozoic consolidated, fine-grained sediments. It occurs on the slopes and crests of undulating plains and on slopes below low ridges and escarpments (Gunn et al. 1967; Speck et al. 1968; Story et al. 1967; Turner 1978). Slopes may range from <2% to 4% (e.g. Gunn et al. 1967; Turner 1978).

Texture contrast soils predominate, often with surface stone or gravel in sub-surface horizons (e.g. Gunn and Nix 1977; Gunn et al. 1967), but other soils such as clays, sandy clay loams and cracking clays may also be present (e.g. Gunn and Nix 1977; Gunn et al. 1967; Speck et al. 1968).

10. Acacia harpophylla and/or Casuarina cristata open forest on Cainozoic fine-grained sedimentary rocks (RE 11.9.5) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is open forest dominated by Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) and/or Casuarina cristata (Belah). Open forest dominated by C. cristata is more common in south-western areas (Galloway et al. 1967; Neldner 1984). The open forest has a prominent low tree or tall shrub (e.g. Galloway et al. 1974; Mullins 1980; Neldner 1984) layer dominated by species such as Geijera parviflora (Wilga) and Eremophila mitchellii (Sandalwood), and often with semi-evergreen vine thicket species. The latter include Flindersia dissosperma, Excoecaria dallachyana (Blind-your-eye, Brush Poison Tree, Scrub Poison Tree), Macropteranthes leichhardtii (Bonewood) and Acalypha eremorum (Soft Acalypha) in eastern areas (e.g. Gunn et al. 1967; Story et al. 1967), and species such as Carissa ovata (Blackberry, Currantbush, Kunker Berry), Owenia acidula (Emu Apple), Croton insularis (Native Cascarilla Bark, Queensland Cascarilla, Silver Croton), Denhamia oleaster and Notelaea microcarpa (Small-fruited Mock Olive) in south-western areas (Galloway et al. 1974; Neldner 1984). Brachychiton rupestris (Bottle Tree, Narrow-leaved Bottle Tree, Queensland Bottle Tree) may also be present occasionally (Dawson 1972; Gunn et al. 1967; Vandersee 1975). Melaleuca bracteata (Black Tea-tree, River Tea Tree) may be present along watercourses (Mullins 1980).

The regional ecosystem occurs on Cainozoic to Proterozoic consolidated, fine-grained sediments. The topography includes gently undulating plains with slopes from 0.5% to 3.5% (e.g. Galloway et al. 1974), valley floors and undulating foot slopes with slopes to 6% (e.g. Gunn et al. 1967), and rarely on low hills with slopes to 30% (Mullins 1980).

The soils are generally deep texture-contrast and cracking clays. The cracking clays are usually black or grey to brown or reddish-brown in colour, often self mulching and sometimes gilgaied in flatter areas (e.g. Dawson 1972; Galloway et al. 1974; Gunn et al. 1967; Mullins 1980; Neldner 1984). Some texture contrast soils are shallow to only moderately deep (Gunn et al. 1967).

11. Acacia melvillei ± A. harpophylla open forest on Cainozoic fine-grained sedimentary rocks (RE 11.9.6) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is open forest dominated by Acacia melvillei (Yarran, Melville's Wattle) with or without Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow), and with or without Eucalyptus populnea (Poplar Box, Bimble Box). The crown cover may range from 50% to 70%, and the ground cover may be sparse (Fensham and Fairfax 1997).

This regional ecosystem occurs on Cainozoic to Proterozoic consolidated fine-grained sediments on gently undulating landscapes on more or less horizontally bedded fine grained sedimentary rocks. It may include some areas occurring on clay plains.

This regional ecosystem has a naturally small distribution pre-clearing (<15,000 ha) (Accad et al. 2001).

12. Acacia harpophylla open forest on deformed and metamorphosed sediments and interbedded volcanics (RE 11.11.14) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is open forest dominated by Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) with a distinct low tree or tall shrub (Speck et al. 1968) layer of Geijera parviflora (Wilga) and Eremophila mitchellii (Sandalwood). Other tree species such as Casuarina cristata (Belah), semi-evergreen vine thicket species and Eucalyptus emergents (e.g. E. cambageana, Blackbutt, Coowarra Box, Dawson Gum) are sometimes present. In some areas other shrubs such as Carissa ovata (Blackberry, Currantbush, Kunker Berry), Denhamia obscura, Acalypha eremorum (Soft Acalypha) and Croton phebalioides may also be present (Story et al. 1967).

The regional ecosystem occurs on Mesozoic to Proterozoic moderately to strongly deformed and metamorphosed sediments and interbedded volcanics. It is usually located on colluvial lower slopes of hills and undulating plains (Speck et al. 1968).

The soils are deep cracking clays, and shallow to deep texture contrast soils (Speck et al. 1968; Story et al. 1967).

13. Acacia harpophylla open forest on igneous rocks; colluvial lower slopes (RE 11.12.21) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is open forest dominated by Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) with or without semi-evergreen vine thicket species. A moderately tall dense shrub layer of Geijera parviflora (Wilga) and Eremophila mitchellii (Sandalwood) may occur where semi-evergreen vine thicket species are absent (Speck et al. 1968). Lower shrubs of Carissa ovata (Blackberry, Currantbush, Kunker Berry), Alectryon sp. and Capparis spp may also be present (Speck et al. 1968).

It occurs on Mesozoic to Proterozoic igneous rocks on colluvial lower slopes of volcanic hills and strongly undulating plains. Soils range from moderately deep cracking clays to clay loams and deep texture contrast soils.

14. Acacia harpophylla open forest on Cainozoic igneous rocks (RE 12.8.23) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is tall open forest dominated by Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) with or without semi-evergreen vine thicket species, with or without Casuarina cristata (Belah), and with or without Eucalyptus populnea (Poplar Box, Bimble Box). Semi-evergreen vine thicket tree species include Acacia fasciculifera (Rosewood), Excoecaria dallachyana (Brush Poison Tree), Geijera salicifolia (Brush Wilga), Atalaya salicifolia (Brush Whitewood), Flindersia collina (Broad-leaved Leopard Tree, Leopard Ash), Notelaea microcarpa (Small-fruited Mock Olive) and Pouteria cotinifolia (Coondoo, Small-leaved Coondoo) (Bean et al. 1998). Melaleuca bracteata (Black Tea-tree, River Tea Tree) is conspicuous along associated watercourses.

It is associated with Cainozoic igneous rocks, especially basalt on plains and hills.

This regional ecosystem has a naturally small distribution pre-clearing (<8,000 ha) (Accad et al. 2001).

15. Acacia harpophylla open forest on sedimentary rocks (RE 12.9/10.6) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is open forest dominated by Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) with or without Casuarina cristata (Belah) and semi-evergreen vine thicket tree species that include Acacia fasciculifera (Rosewood), Excoecaria dallachyana (Brush Poison Tree), Geijera salicifolia (Brush Wilga), Atalaya salicifolia (Brush Whitewood), Flindersia collina (Broad-leaved Leopard Tree, Leopard Ash), Notelaea microcarpa (Small-fruited Mock Olive) and Pouteria cotinifolia (Coondoo, Small-leaved Coondoo) (Bean et al. 1998).

It is associated with Cainozoic to Proterozoic sediments, especially fine-grained rocks, on gently undulating landscapes.

16. Acacia harpophylla open forest on Mesozoic to Proterozoic igneous rocks (RE 12.12.26) (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (2002b) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This regional ecosystem is open forest dominated by Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) with or without semi-evergreen vine thicket species, with or without Casuarina cristata (Belah), and with or without Eucalyptus populnea (Poplar Box, Bimble Box). It occurs on Mesozoic to Proterozoic igneous rocks, on lower slopes and valley floors of hills and lowlands.

This regional ecosystem has a naturally small distribution pre-clearing (<11,000 ha) (Accad et al. 2001).

New South Wales

17. Acacia harpophylla open woodland (Vegetation type ID Number: 29) (from Benson et al. (2006) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This vegetation type is usually open woodland dominated by Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow). The trees are usually 8-11 m high, and occasionally form woodland and low open forest vegetation (Wade 1992). A range of small trees and shrubs is usually present (Benson et al. 2006), forming a midstorey 2.5-3.2 m tall (Wade 1992). Characteristic species include Eremophila sturtii (Turpentine Bush), Geijera parviflora (Wilga), Eremophila deserti (Turkeybush), Acacia cambagei (Gidgee) and Eremophila mitchellii (Budda, False Sandalwood).

The community usually occurs on undulating sandplains, on red earth and clay soils.

18. Acacia harpophylla-A. cambagei open woodland (Vegetation type ID Number: 31) (from Benson et al. (2006) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This vegetation type is open woodland co-dominated by Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow) and A. cambagei (Gidgee). The trees are usually 6-10 m tall, and occasionally form woodland and low open forest vegetation (Wade 1992). A range of small trees and shrubs is frequently present. Characteristic species include Flindersia maculosa (Leopardwood), Eremophila mitchellii (Budda, False Sandalwood), Alectryon oleifolius subsp. canescens (Western Rosewood, Bonaree), Apophyllum anomalum (Warrior Bush, Currant Bush), Atalaya hemiglauca (Whitewood), Eremophila sturtii (Turpentine Bush) and E. deserti (Turkeybush).

The community occurs on undulating plains composed of clay soils. The landforms are usually alluvial in origin (Wade 1992).

19. Acacia harpophylla-Casuarina cristata woodland and open forest (Vegetation type ID Number: 35) (from Benson et al. (2006) with supplementary information as shown in individual references)

This vegetation type is woodland and open forest up to 25 m high dominated by Acacia harpophylla (Brigalow), with a range of shrub species in the understorey. Pockets of Casuarina cristata (Belah), Eucalyptus populnea (Bimble Box, Poplar Box) and E. pilligaensis (Narrow-leaved Grey Box) may also be present. Characteristic shrub species include Geijera parviflora (Wilga), Capparis mitchellii (Wild Orange, Native Orange), Eremophila mitchellii (Budda, False Sandalwood), E. deserti (Turkeybush), Apophyllum anomalum (Warrior Bush, Currant Bush), Pittosporum angustifolium (Weeping Pittosporum, Butterbush, Berrigan), Citrus glauca (Desert Lime, Limebush), Acacia pendula (Boree, Weeping Myall), Carissa ovata (Currant Bush) and Alectryon oleifolius subsp. canescens (Western Rosewood, Bonaree). The ground cover is frequently sparse or bare (New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service 2002).

The community occurs on flat or gentle rises on alluvial plains or undulating peneplains on Quaternary heavy, gilgaied cracking clay or clayey loam soils over sedimentary strata.

For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.

Past threats

Over most of its range the Brigalow ecological community has been extensively cleared for cropping and/or pasture (Lloyd 1984; New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service 2002; Queensland Environmental Protection Agency 2002b) and been subject to altered fire regimes and the introduction of exotic plant and animal species (Johnson 1985, 1997; Lloyd 1984).

Natural Brigalow communities were of low grazing value because of their relatively sparse ground cover and the difficulty in handling stock in vegetation with high tree densities. The fertility of their soils and their location in climates suitable for growing summer and winter crops resulted in Brigalow lands being targeted for clearing and development (Johnson 1964, 1997). This included ringbarking and felling to convert lands to crop and pasture. The rate of clearing greatly accelerated after World War II due to increased rates of land release for soldier settlement and the introduction of heavy machinery (Gasteen 1985; Johnson 1985, 1997; Lloyd 1984). Many cleared areas were planted to crops such as cotton, wheat and sorghum (Lloyd 1984).

In Queensland large scale development occurred in the southern Brigalow from the 1950s and in the central and northern Brigalow from the early 1960s (Lloyd 1984). Thinning of the Brigalow vegetation (Benson et al. 2006) and extensive clearing and cropping of it occurred in New South Wales in the 1960s and 1970s (New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service 2002; Pulsford 1984).

The longer term impact of clearing on the component species of the Brigalow ecological community is not known. This is because around a century is probably required to re-establish a local and regional equilibrium between the number of species supported in an ecological community, and the reduced area of available habitat (McAlpine et al. 2002).

Current threats

The listed Brigalow ecological community is threatened by any activities that further reduce its extent, cause a decline in the condition of the vegetation, or impede its recovery (Butler 2007). The most important current threats are clearing, fire, plant and animal pests, and lack of knowledge (Butler 2007). Weed invasion and overgrazing by native fauna are both promoted by the high levels of fragmentation (Johnson 1997; Benson et al. 2006).

Continued tree clearing, high total grazing pressure and proliferation of exotic species are considered to be ongoing threats to many regional ecosystems within the Brigalow Belt Bioregion in Queensland (Young et al. 1999). Butler (2007) considers that fire and invasive plants will be the most serious threats, provided vegetation clearing is successfully mitigated by legislative controls.

The main threats to Brigalow in New South Wales are considered to be thinning, overgrazing of the understorey, further clearing, logging for fence posts, road widening, weed invasion and feral animals (Benson et al. 2006; New South Wales Scientific Committee 2002, 2005).

Disturbances such as fire, grazing, and clearing also tend to adversely affect one or more of the key habitat requirements (see Description) for animal species that are associated with the Brigalow ecological community (Butler 2007).

Clearing

Clearing of vegetation remnants >2 ha in area for agricultural or pastoral purposes ceased in Queensland in 2006 under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (Queensland) (Butler 2007; McDonald 2007). In New South Wales, the Native Vegetation Act 2003 (NSW) similarly is likely to protect much of the extant remnants of the listed Brigalow ecological community (Butler 2007). Despite these laws, broad-scale clearing for mining, smaller scale clearing for routine activities (such as establishment or clearing of firebreaks, clearing of fence lines, clearing for road construction), and illegal clearing (Butler 2007; McDonald 2007) may result in further loss and fragmentation of remnants in both states (Butler 2007).

In Queensland clearing for mining remains a serious threat. The coal industry there currently has nearly 700,000 hectares under mining lease or mineral development license within the Bowen Basin, and more than 3 million hectares under exploration permit (Fitzroy Basin Association 2007). Butler (2007) notes that the Bowen Basin supports substantial areas of remnant and regrowing Brigalow.

As outlined under Description, Brigalow develops regrowth from suckers after mechanical or other disturbance. Research has shown that while the total number of plant species in Brigalow regrowth appears to be similar to that in mature Brigalow forests (Johnson 1981, 1997), most plant species in the regrowth are spread sparsely among the dense Brigalow stems (Johnson 1981). However with increasing time after disturbance, the diversity and prominence of woody species increases in the regrowth vegetation (Johnson 1981).

Brigalow regrowth can be killed if associated with programs of burning, spraying with chemicals and/or stock grazing (Johnson 1964). If the trees and sucker regrowth are successfully removed, Brigalow vegetation in Queensland usually changes to grassland dominated by Dichanthium sericeum (Bluegrass) or Astrebla spp (Mitchell Grasses) on heavy clay soils, and by Bothriochloa, Aristida and Heteropogon on duplex soils (Johnson 1997). Small shrub and herb species characteristic of the communities and dependent on Brigalow for survival disappear (Johnson 1997). In New South Wales, clearing of Brigalow vegetation has been found to decrease the average and range of the per cent tree cover and increase both the per cent shrub cover and per cent bare soil (Wade 1992).

In many areas in Queensland exotic grass species such as Chloris gayana (Rhodes Grass), Pennisetum ciliare (Buffel Grass, previously known as Cenchrus ciliaris) and Megathyrsus maximus var. pubiglumis (Green Panic) were introduced after clearing to improve the value of the pasture for domestic stock (Lloyd 1984). Fairfax and Fensham (2000) noted that in central Queensland, it was the introduction of exotic pasture species after clearing, rather than the tree clearing itself, that caused substantial declines in the diversity of native plant species in Brigalow communities. They found that tree clearance without exotic pasture establishment had a non-significant effect on species richness and diversity, although clearance per se did cause some decline in species richness.

Fire

Although natural fire has probably been rare in the Brigalow ecological community (see Description), extreme fire weather or other unusual circumstances, such as heavy fuel loads associated with the widespread death of prickly pear in the early 1930's, have facilitated occasional significant incursion of fire into extensive intact Brigalow forests (Butler 2007). Butler (2007) notes that the impact of fires early in the twentieth century is still apparent in remnant Brigalow in some parts of Queensland. In Queensland, fire was frequently used as a management tool after mechanical clearance of Brigalow, and its frequency and intensity were known to affect both the floristic composition and structure of many communities (Johnson 1984).

While Brigalow and many other associated plant species resprout vegetatively after fire (see Description), intense fire can alter the structure of Brigalow vegetation (Butler and Fairfax 2003) and is likely to have adverse impacts on elements of faunal habitat such as litter, woody debris and large tree stems (Butler 2007). Recovery from root suckers can be a slow process (Butler 2007).

Fire is a major threat to the ecological community where exotic grasses such as Pennisetum ciliare (Buffel Grass, previously known as Cenchrus ciliaris), Chloris gayana (Rhodes Grass) or Megathyrus maximus var. pubiglumis (Green Panic) have invaded Brigalow remnants or regrowth, or areas adjacent to them, especially in more open communities in the west and north of the ecological community's distribution (Butler 2007). The presence of these grasses changes the fuel characteristics of the vegetation, and is a particular problem in patchy Brigalow regrowth or Brigalow woodlands in low rainfall areas, which are susceptible to grass invasion without major fragmentation of the vegetation (Butler 2007). Once such areas of Brigalow vegetation are burnt, the exotic grasses grow back more vigorously and thus increase the chances of subsequent fires (Butler 2007).

Linear remnants of the Brigalow ecological community, such as those located along roadsides, have large edge to area ratios and are often growing in a matrix of bulky introduced pasture grasses (Butler 2007). Butler (2007) noted that fire has resulted in extensive degradation of such roadside Brigalow remnants because of their extensive edges and inflated fuel loads.

Pest plants

Butler (2007) notes that pasture grasses, such as Buffel Grass, are currently the most threatening pest plants in the Brigalow ecological community because they increase the risk of fire in the vegetation (see above).

Brigalow vegetation with a dense, healthy tree canopy is relatively resistant to weed invasion, especially by pasture grasses (Scanlan 1991; Butler and Fairfax 2003). Many weeds species (except prickly pears, Opuntia spp.) are not considered able to compete with native vegetation in relatively undisturbed Brigalow communities and are restricted to vegetation margins or along tracks (Johnson 1985). The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (2000) noted that while intact Brigalow is usually free of serious weed problems, it may be colonised by weeds like Kalanchoe tubiflora (Mother-of-millions) and Harrisia martini (Harrisia Cactus). Even within essentially undisturbed Brigalow vegetation, gaps in the tree canopy, disturbance to the soil or natural events such as floods, severe drought and fire can facilitate weed invasion (Butler 2007).

Butler (2007) noted that succulent weeds such as Opuntia stricta (Prickly Pear), O. tomentosa (Tree Pear), Harrisia Cactus and Mother-of-millions appear to be well suited to the salty drought prone Brigalow lands. In New South Wales, Benson et al. (2006) noted that invasion by weeds such as Opuntia aurantiaca and O. stricta var. stricta (Prickly Pears) and Rapistrum rugosum are most likely in the eastern Brigalow vegetation in remnants with a high edge to area ratio.

Climbing weeds such as Asparagus, Cryptostegia grandiflora (Rubber Vine) and Solanum seaforthianum (Brazilian Nightshade) may be a problem in the Brigalow ecological community (Butler 2007). Weed invasion by Asparagus africanus is considered a specific threat to RE 12.9-10.6 in Queensland (Queensland Environmental Protection Agency 2008). Shrubs and trees such as Lycium ferocissimum (African Box Thorn) and Parkinsonia aculeata (Parkinsonia), and herbaceous weeds including Parthenium, Phytolacca octandra (Ink Weed), Rivina humilis (Coral Berry), Verbesina encelioides (Crownbeard) and Xanthium occidentale (Noogoora Burr) can also be locally common (Butler 2007).

Pest animals

Many tree, shrub, sub-shrub and grass species present in the Brigalow ecological community are eaten readily by domestic stock and native or feral herbivores (Butler 2007; see also Description). Trampling and grazing by large herbivores can reduce the amount of leaf litter and woody debris, and the density of herbs and shrubs in the understorey of Brigalow forests (Butler 2007) and thus adversely affect plant species and the habitats of animals species that are components of the ecological community (see Description).

Johnson (1997) noted that in Queensland, Brigalow remnants surrounded by grazing and cropping lands generally are subject to increased grazing pressure from native fauna. Brigalow with an understorey of semi-evergreen vine thicket species is more sensitive to such grazing than more open Brigalow communities, as grazing can greatly reduce seedling regeneration of the understorey species. Johnson (1997) also noted that cattle grazing may facilitate invasion by weed species although he indicated this impact may be counter-balanced by stock disturbance also promoting Brigalow regeneration through suckering.

Butler (2007) considered the most widespread and problematic pest animal in Brigalow country to be the feral pig, although he noted that other animals such as cane toads, cats, foxes and goats are also serious pests. He noted that while there is inadequate information on the impacts of these species on the Brigalow ecological community, pigs have the potential to substantially degrade Brigalow vegetation. Cane toads are also serious pest animals, impacting on native frogs, goannas, snakes and mammalian carnivores such as quolls (Butler 2007).

Lack of knowledge

Butler (2007) commented that current knowledge on some aspects of the Brigalow ecological community are inadequate to protect it. Knowledge gaps he identified include:

  • how to successfully restore or reclaim degraded Brigalow communities,
  • how best to manage some of the more serious plant and animal pests and their impacts, and
  • how climate change is affecting the Brigalow ecological community.

Emerging threats

Although Brigalow communities have experienced changes of climate in the past (e.g. during the Quaternary), future climates may be unlike those previously experienced and the rate of change is likely to be at historically high levels (Butler 2007). Butler (2007) considered that habitat fragmentation and the presence and abundance of new plant and animal species have considerable potential to compromise the dynamics of Brigalow under changing climate. Increasing temperatures and lower, more erratic rainfall, coupled with abundant exotic pastures and the small size of Brigalow remnant patches, may result in unplanned, high-intensity fires becoming a greater threat throughout the Brigalow Belt, while increased flood frequency may exacerbate the threat from other weeds such as Parkinsonia (Butler 2007). For these reasons, Butler (2007) considered climate change to be a serious emerging threat to the Brigalow ecological community.

For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.

The national recovery plan for the listed Brigalow ecological community (Butler 2007) will provide the main framework for the community's recovery. The main objective proposed is "to conserve and enhance the environmental values of the brigalow ecological community over the long term, by working to increase the extent of both remnant and regrowth brigalow and improving its condition and management".

Specific objectives proposed for the recovery plan (Butler 2007) are to:

  • increase the area of the Brigalow ecological community and its representation in conservation reserves,
  • improve knowledge of the Brigalow ecological community and its condition as habitat for native species, and
  • mitigate key threats to the Brigalow ecological community by controlling fire, weeds and animal pests.


Recovery of the listed Brigalow ecological community will need to involve ongoing protection of remnants in conservation reserves, sustaining the integrity of remnants outside reserves, rehabilitating Brigalow regrowth to mature forests (possibly with management intervention; see Chandler et al. 2007), and restoring degraded Brigalow woodlands, although the latter is likely to be slow and difficult in many situations (Butler 2007).

Retention of the diversity of all types of Brigalow vegetation together with their full range of landscape positions and surrounding associated vegetation types will be important (Wade 1992). On-ground management will need to take account of long-term changes that may be caused by factors such as changed fire regimes and altered climatic conditions (Johnson 1997).

The main recovery actions proposed in the national recovery plan (Butler 2007) for the listed Brigalow ecological community include the following.

Conservation:

  • avoiding further clearing and fragmentation of the Brigalow ecological community,
  • increasing the extent and representativeness the ecological community within the reserve estate, and
  • encouraging the use of conservation agreements over remnant and regrowth Brigalow outside reserves.

Improving the knowledge base:

  • researching the ecology of Brigalow ecosystems,
  • surveying key areas of Brigalow vegetation to assess their condition and identify relevant threats, and
  • experimenting with methods to assist advanced regrowth to attain the structural and floristic characteristics of mature remnant Brigalow.

On-ground management:

  • facilitating the restoration of degraded remnants,
  • establishing regional benchmarks for habitat condition for each of the component vegetation types and regional ecosystems,
  • establishing and implementing pest plans for key areas of the ecological community, and
  • establishing and implementing fire reduction plans for key areas of the ecological community.

Community involvement:

  • promoting awareness of the ecological community's conservation and management,
  • encouraging landholders (especially coal mining companies) to become involved in the ecological community's conservation and management, and
  • consulting with traditional owner groups to identify indigenous knowledge of and association with the ecological community.

Butler (2007) also noted that the potential to earn carbon credits through restoring cleared Brigalow lands may provide a significant impetus for restoration attempts.


Protected areas in Queensland and New South Wales that contain remnants of the listed Brigalow ecological community are shown in the tables below.

In Queensland, 34 reserves contain remnants of the listed Brigalow ecological community (see table). The greatest extent is in Carnarvon National Park, which contains 40% of the extent of all the reserved Brigalow ecological community in Queensland (Butler 2007). Dipperu National Park (Scientific), Southwood National Park and Culgoa Floodplain National Park each contain more than 5000 hectares of remnants of the Brigalow ecological community.

Of the 16 component regional ecosystems of the Brigalow ecological community in Queensland, six regional ecosystems (RE 11.5.16, RE 11.9.6, RE 11.12.21, RE 12.8.23, RE 12.9-10.6 and RE 12.12.26) are not represented in the reserve system, and two regional ecosystems (RE 6.4.2 and RE 11.4.7) each have less than 200 ha located within reserves (Appendix 19 of Butler 2007). Butler (2007) also notes that many subregions in Queensland contain no reserved areas of the listed Brigalow ecological community.


Protected areas in Queensland containing the Brigalow ecological community1
NameArea (ha)2NameArea (ha)2
Bendidee National Park723Lake Murphy Conservation Park 
Blackdown Tableland National Park1125Mazeppa National Park123
Bunya Mountains National Park Mount O'Connell National Park 
Carnarvon National Park18,725Nairana National Park434
Carraba Conservation Park Nairana National Park (Recovery)861
Chesterton Range National Park381Narrien Range National Park160
Culgoa Floodplain National Park5201Palmgrove National Park (Scientific)242
Dipperu National Park (Scientific)5298Peak Range National Park167
Epping Forest National Park (Scientific)134Roundstone Conservation Park184
Erringibba National Park845Rundle Range National Park561
Expedition National Park713Rundle Range Resources Reserve 
Goodedulla National Park624Southwood National Park5529
Homevale National Park152Taunton National Park (Scientific)2798
Homevale Resources Reserve Thrushton National Park162
Irongate Conservation Park Tregole National Park584
Isla Gorge National Park Wilandspey Conservation Park 
Junee National Park848 Zamia Creek Conservation Park 


1. Data from Appendix 19 and Appendix 20 of Butler (2007)

2. Only areas >100 ha shown

Four reserves in New South Wales contain remnants of the Brigalow ecological community (see table below), although one of the three component vegetation communities (Community 29) has only 15 ha protected within them (Benson et al. 2006).


Protected areas in Queensland containing the Brigalow ecological community1
NameArea (ha)
Ledknapper Nature Reserve 10
Brigalow Park Nature Reserve 370
Yathong Nature Reserve 5
Culgoa National Park 500


1. Data from Benson et al. (2006)


Butler (2007) identified 20 subregions in Queensland that have the highest priority for recovery actions. These priorities were based on an analysis of the extent of the Brigalow ecological community prior to clearing, the extent of subsequent clearing of the ecological community, and the extent of vegetation cleared. The twenty subregions and their priority rank are listed in the table below.


Subregion*Priority rankSubregion*Priority rank
Taroom Downs (BBS)1Weribone High (BBS)11
Tara Downs (BBS)2Moreton Basin (SEQ)12
Moonie River-Commoron Creek Floodout (BBS)3Southern Downs (BBS)13
Dawson (BBS)4Upper Belyando Floodout (BBN)14
Callide Creek Downs (BBS)5Mount Morgan Ranges (BBS)15
Dulacca Downs (BBS)6Belyando Downs (BBN)16
Moonie-Barwon Interfluve (BBS)7Banana-Auburn Ranges (BBS)17
Isaac-Comet Downs (BBN)8Arcadia (BBS)18
Eastern Darling Downs (BBS)9Basalt Downs (BBN)19
Macintyre-Weir Fan (DRP)10Boomer Range (BBS)20


Source: Appendix 16 of Butler (2007)

* Subregions within the following bioregions: BBS, Brigalow Belt South; BBN, Brigalow Belt North; DRP, Darling Riverine Plains; SEQ, Southeast Queensland.

Management of areas located outside reserves is a high priority, as almost 90% of the total area of extant Brigalow ecological community remnants occur outside the reserve estate (Appendix 7 of Butler 2007). In Queensland, important off-reserve areas are located in state forests such as Yuleba, Junee, Blair Athol and Barakula (Butler 2007). Large remnants are also located south-east of Tambo, north-west of Clermont and around Mungalalla (Butler 2007). Within heavily cleared areas, such as priority subregions 1-7 in the table above, small remnants (especially those with advanced regrowth) are also important. Butler (2007) notes that Brigalow remnants in the area between Dysart and Nebo in the Brigalow Belt North bioregion are particularly important in this regard. The best way to manage such areas for biodiversity conservation, e.g. by providing assistance to landholders for off-reserve conservation or by acquiring them for the reserve estate, needs to made on a case-by-case basis (Butler 2007).


Regional

At a landscape scale, it is desirable to establish connectivity/linkages between remnants of Brigalow vegetation and associated vegetation types to promote the conservation of faunal values associated with the Brigalow ecological community (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service 2000; Sparshott and Samnakay 2000; Butler 2007). Sparshott and Samnakay (2000) also recommend using buffers to promote conservation values associated with birds.

The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (2000) noted that in cropping and grazing areas, Brigalow appears to survive in strips as narrow as a few metres, although it is better to retain strips 50-100 metres wide and connect them with each other and with larger patches of remnant Brigalow vegetation. Wherever possible, existing stands of Brigalow should also be enlarged, for example by retaining regrowth adjacent to intact patches (Butler 2007).

Local

Johnson (1997) considered that some form of ongoing disturbance may be necessary in mature Brigalow communities to retain the structural integrity of the vegetation. Johnson drew this conclusion after observing remnant stands of forest reverting to open shrubland over 40 years and believed it was due to a lack of disturbance to promote suckering.

On-ground management activities likely to assist the recovery of the listed Brigalow ecological community include:

  • limiting disturbance (e.g. clearing for, or maintenance of, fence lines and roads) in or adjacent to remnants to minimise weed incursion (Butler 2007),
  • making regular checks and carrying out appropriate treatment to avoid weed invasion (especially by exotic grasses) (Butler 2007),
  • managing grass fuel loads and maintaining fire breaks to avoid hot fires in remnants (Butler 2007),
  • managing grazing by domestic and native herbivores in a way that enables recruitment of native plant species and maintains a good cover of litter and woody debris including logs and fallen tree limbs (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service 2000; Butler 2007),
  • avoiding the use of the Brigalow ecological community for stock feed during droughts (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service 2000), and
  • avoiding damage to Brigalow and other native plants from aerial application of herbicides to control crop weeds (e.g. by using ground rig technology for herbicide application) (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service 2000).

For the legal definition of the ecological community please refer to the listing advice and other documents under Legal Status and Documents.

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla dominant and co-dominant) in Community and Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: http://www.environment.gov.au/sprat. Accessed 2014-09-16T22:27:59EST.