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1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress, 2010  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/09/2010   
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Biodiversity

Threatened ecological communities(a)
Graph Image for Threatened ecological communities(a)

Footnote(s): (a) Threatened ecological communities do not include the categories: 'Conservation dependent', 'Extinct in the wild' and 'Extinct'. (b) 'Critically endangered'. This conservation category was not used until after 2001. (c) The conservation status category 'Vulnerable' was not used until after 2001.

Source(s): Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, EPBC Act List of Threatened Ecological Communities, last viewed April 2010

THREATENED ECOLOGICAL COMMUNITIES

While Australian fauna and flora species have been relatively well studied, there remains a substantial gap in knowledge about some types of species. For example, Australia is home to around 570,000 animal and plant species, of which only 150,000 have been scientifically identified (Chapman 2009).

There is provision under the EPBC Act for scientific committees to examine whether ecological communities are considered threatened with extinction and are therefore recorded on a list. At this point in time, however, research and conservation effort has focused on the protection of individual species rather than whole ecological communities. Therefore, listings of ecological communities are likely to be less complete than the listings for individual species.

Over the past decade, the number of threatened ecological communities has more than doubled, increasing from 20 in 2000 to 48 in 2009. This increase may reflect improved information and field investigations and does not necessarily represent a change in the conservation status of all ecological communities. The increase may also represent more resources being used to assess and categorise communities. In future, once Australia has developed more knowledge on ecological communities, this measure of threatened ecological communities may be more reflective of Australia's biodiversity. However, the listed communities are not necessarily the only ones in danger of extinction. To be listed, a community must undergo significant investigation and survey work as part of a scientific committee assessment, so it is likely that other communities not listed here may also be under threat.

Of the 48 threatened ecological communities listed in 2009, 17 were critically endangered, 30 were endangered and one was classified as vulnerable.

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