An ecological community is a unique group of plants, animals and micro-organisms that occupy, and interact within, the same geographical space. Each ecological community is adapted to occur in a particular habitat type, usually determined by factors such as soil type, position in the landscape, climate and water availability.

Ecological communities may occur in land, marine, freshwater or cave environments.

Many of South Australia's ecological communities are considered to be threatened or of conservation concern because their future survival is at risk. Threatened ecological communities are often so because they have been extensively cleared and fragmented, or are naturally restricted in distribution.

They may be exposed to a number of other threats, including pest plants and animals, and surface and groundwater changes.

Many threatened ecological communities also support a high number of threatened species within them.

Protecting threatened ecological communities

In order to protect threatened ecological communities there is both state and national level legislation that restricts activities that may have a significant impact on these communities.

National legislation

Threatened ecological communities listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) are considered to be matters of National Environmental Significance (NES).

Under the EPBC Act any activities that may have a significant impact on a matter of NES must have approval from the Australian Government Minister for the Environment.

For ecological communities listed as threatened, conservation advice is available suggesting practical management activities. For some ecological communities detailed Recovery Plans have also been developed.

View a list of ecological communities in South Australia that are nationally threatened.

South Australian legislation

In South Australia, the Native Vegetation Act 1991 regulates the clearance of native vegetation, and provides incentives and assistance to landholders to help them preserve, enhance and manage native vegetation.

All property owners, in matters not covered by an exemption, are required to submit a proposal to the Native Vegetation Council seeking approval to clear native vegetation.

Find out more about protecting native vegetation in South Australia.