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Home / Activities / Perth's Banksia Woodlands / Banksia Woodlands: a TEC

Banksia Woodlands Nomination as a Threatened Ecological Community

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07-owen dsc 0072The Department of Environment has confirmed that the federal Minister has decided to list the Banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain as an Endangered ecological community under the EPBC Act.

The registration process for the listing is now complete and the listing is effective from 16 September 2016. The Indicative Distribution Map is available here.

Information on the listing is available on the DoE website.  You can also download a copy of their very comprehensive Conservation Advice here.  

The Urban Bushland Council and the Wildflower Society of WA are delighted with this listing and very proud of our roles as nominators in this process.  

Why was it listed?  

(extracts from the Conservation Advice)

elythranthera brunonis purple enamel orchid dscn3351c k sartiThe Committee considered that there has been a substantial decline in geographic extent overall across the Swan Coastal Plain, in the order of 50 to 60 percent. The Committee also notes patterns of very severe regional declines, fragmentation into smaller patches, especially in the central distribution of the ecological community around the Perth metropolitan region, and recognition of separate components as threatened under State legislation. These contribute to the overall impacts of decline in extent and are consistent with a decline in geographic distribution that is substantial. Therefore, the ecological community has been demonstrated to have met the relevant elements of Criterion 1 to make it eligible for listing as Vulnerable. 

Patch size distribution indicates the ecological community now has a highly fragmented geographic distribution with most patches (about 82%) under ten hectares in size and facing demonstrable threats. The median patch size has reduced from an estimated pre-European value of 146 ha to a current size of only 1.6 ha. The Committee considers that the heavily fragmented nature of its geographic distribution plus the nature of the threats to the ecological community over the near future indicates that the ecological community has met the relevant elements of Criterion 2 to make it eligible for listing as Endangered.

The Banksia Woodlands ecological community is subject to a number of threats across its range and the combined impacts of these threats have severely reduced the integrity of the ecological community. Furthermore the combined effects of threats have a compounding detrimental effect on the integrity of the ecological community and increase the complexity of appropriate management requirements at various scales. ...community has – and will continue to – experience a serious reduction in its integrity. Given the very high diversity and complexity of this ecological community, full restoration is unlikely to be possible over a short time-frame. The Committee considers that the available information indicates the ecological community has met the relevant elements of Criterion 4 to make it eligible for listing as Endangered

Our Banksia Woodlands video 

Hosted by internationally renowned Perth botanists Bronwen and Greg Keighery. Let Bronwen and Greg take you through the wonderland that is Perth's bushland treasure. We must protect them!


The Nomination

08-owen dsc 0051The Urban Bushland Council believes that the Banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain are under such threat that they should be classified as a Threatened Ecological Community; recognised as being of national environmental significance and afforded the full protection of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

In May 2012, UBC joined forces with the Wildflower Society to formally nominate the Banksia dominated woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain IBRA region as a Threatened Ecological Community. 

We proposed that our precious banksia woodlands be classified as ‘Vulnerable’ because of the decline in their geographic distribution; the loss of functionally important species; the reduction in community integrity and the continuing detrimental change.

We believe that only 30% of the banksia woodlands on the Swan Coastal Plain remain; and that the decline has been most marked in the last 20 years with a loss in the order of 30% of the original woodlands since Beard’s estimate in 1989 that 61% of the original woodlands remained. 

However, the situation is much worse in the inner regions, where it is estimated that only 10% remains.  

Because Banksia Woodlands show great variation in understorey species, this level of clearing has resulted in such loss of species that some of the floristic community types are now listed as Threatened Ecological Communities. However, that alone is not sufficient to protect the biodiversity of our banksia woodlands. 

You can read UBC's submission here. 

 Why is the nomination important?  

01-owen dsc 0056The Banksia Woodlands are part of the unique biogeographic region of Southwest Australia, recognised as an international biodiversity hotspot, and stretching from Shark Bay in the north to Israelite Bay in the south. They have regional, national and international significance and must be protected. 

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places — defined in the EPBC Act as matters of national environmental significance. Listed threatened species and ecological communities are recognised as a matter of national environmental significance. 

Consequently, any action that is likely to have a significant impact on listed threatened species and ecological communities under the EPBC Act must be referred to the Minister and undergo an environmental assessment and approval process. It is for this protection that we nominated the Banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain.

What are the Banksia Woodlands?

11-cr img 2908-001Banksia Woodlands are the iconic landscape setting for Perth.

Their main feature is the presence of both Banksia attenuata and/or B. menziesii occurring on deep sands.  Both species commonly co-occur and are ancient species.

They occur on the Quindalup Dunes, Spearwood Dunes, Bassendean Dunes and rarely on the Pinjarra Plain landforms, all of which comprise the dominant landforms of the Swan Coastal Plain.  Chains of wetlands are features of the zones between each of these (pairs of) landforms.  

The Banksia Woodlands typically have three layers: (1)  the tree canopy of Banksias (in patches or scattered), with scattered eucalypts and Allocasuarina in some areas, (2) a dense species-rich shrub layer and (3) a diverse ground cover layer including annuals and many geophytes.  

02-owen dsc 0021They are known for the exceptionally high number of common or dominant species in the shrub and ground level layers; the very large number of species in each sub-community and for the marked changes in composition of the understorey over its range (i.e. moving north - south or east – west)

Although no vertebrate fauna are unique to Banksia Woodlands, these woodlands support a rich and diverse array of reptile and bird species on the Swan Coastal Plain.

Over 70% of the native ground mammal fauna known from the Swan Coastal Plain at the time of European settlement has now become extinct.  The area is rich in fungi species.

 The importance of ecological linkages


melaleuca scabra dscn3733c k sartiOur submission highlighted the importance of protecting the ecological linkages connecting areas of banksia woodlands one to the next.

While there are some larger patches of intact Banksia Woodland, there are many smaller intact patches as well as remnants of Banksia menziesii and B attenuata overstorey scattered across the suburbs of Perth along roadways and through parklands, golf courses, and backyards forming regionally and locally significant ecological linkages.

These linkages are under increasing threat from urban development, and urban 'infill' due largely to the lack of appreciation and understanding of their ecological significance at the local level and regional levels.

This is combined with the lack of formal legally binding recognition that such linkages are valuable ecologically and need to be retained, maintained and enhanced

10-owen dsc 0041The sustainability of the biodiversity of these species-rich Banksia Woodlands is now critically dependent on maintenance of these linkages.  

They are essential as wildlife corridors for seasonal movement of fauna (eg. small bird species, invertebrates), and to act as refugia and corridors for recolonisation after catastrophic events.

To read our full nomination, click this link....

To link to our other Banksia pages - here for our main Banksia page and

here for our Banksia Woodlands Symposium page

This is to inform the Urban Bushland Council and Wildflower Society of WA, as the nominators, that the Minister has decided to list the Banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain as an Endangered ecological community under the EPBC Act. The registration process for the listing is now complete and the listing is effective from today 16 September 2016.