The NQ Dry Tropics Biodiversity team has identified a unique ecosystem in a section of Ayr’s Plantation Park that has resulted in a regional ecosystem code being created specifically for this area of the park.

Regional ecosystems (REs) are groupings of vegetation based on geology, landform, and soil, which are classified into codes for use by the Queensland Government, natural resource management groups, and other landcare organisations.

NQ Dry Tropics Biodiversity project officer Jaymie Rains discovered the ecosystem when she visited Plantation Park in December 2014 as part of the Healthy Habitats project, aimed at reducing weed threats across the dry tropics region.  She found that a particular region of Plantation Park did not fit the description – or any description – for regional ecosystems in that area.

Fan palms are dominant in the new regional ecosystem in Plantation Park, Ayr.

“I noticed that the RE codes mapped for Plantation Park were not quite right,” Ms Rains said.  

“Botanist Chris Kahler and I noted an abundance of fan palms, canopy vines and a unique layer of shrubs – but the regional ecosystem map at the time said that none of that should be there.”

“We wrote to the Queensland Herbarium, submitted photos and a detailed corveg survey to show that the reality was different from what the regional ecosystem map said.

Ross Gelling, Lower Burdekin Landcare, and botanist Chris Kahler assess the new regional ecosystem.

“The Queensland Herbarium, which handles regional ecosystem coding and mapping, reviewed the case, and after a two year process, created a new regional ecosystem to describe the vegetation in the small fragment of Plantation Park, and some other similar sites in the Burdekin.

“This regional ecosystem is incredibly special and may have been more common along creek beds in pre-European times,” she said.  

Because of its current extent – less than 200ha – the ecosystem is currently listed as ‘Endangered.’

“I’m happy with the result  and I hope it will encourage people to visit the park to appreciate one of Queensland’s newest regional ecosystem, Ms Rains said.

A closed canopy within the fan palm vine forest.

The Healthy Habitats project is supported by NQ Dry Tropics through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.



Main photo: Jaymie Rains, NQ Dry Tropics Biodiversity Project Officer,Ross Gelling, Lower Burdekin Landcare, and botanist Chris Kahler assess the new regional ecosystem.