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This ecosystem is found locally on quaternary coastal dunes and seasonally waterlogged sand plains, usually fringing drainage system behind beach ridge plains or on old dunes, swales and sandy coastal creek levees.

The Queensland biodiversity status is ‘of concern’ and the Vegetation Management Act class is ‘Least concern’.

It was estimated in 2011 that the remnant extent was >10,000 ha and >30% of the pre-clearing area remained.

This ecosystem occurs in the following protected areas on the Sunshine Coast: Bribie Island NP, Noosa NP, Maroochy River CP, Mount Coolum NP, Mooloolah River NP and Currimundi Lake (Kathleen McArthur) CP.

Flora description

Paperbark tea trees (Melaleuca quinquenervia) or rarely soapy tea tree (M. dealbata) open forest on sand plains.

Flora commonly found in this ecosystem:

  • blue gum eucalyptus tereticornis
  • pink bloodwood corymbia intermedia
  • tumbledown gum e. bancroftii
  • swamp box lophostemon suaveolens
  • weeping cabbage palm livistona decora.

A shrub layer may occur with frequent species including blue tongue (Melastoma malabathricum subsp. malabathricum) or swamp banksia banksia robur.

The ground layer is sparse to dense and comprised of species including ferns, sedges and grasses.

The wetland system associated with this habitat is palustrine wetland e.g. vegetated swamp.

This ecosystem is an important part of the landscape and provide habitat and breeding areas for a wide variety of species.

Management considerations

Fire regimes for melaleuca ecosystems require further fire research. Melaleuca forests are fire-adapted, but too high an intensity or frequent fire will slow or prevent regeneration and lead to lower species richness (since these communities contain numerous obligate seed regenerating species that require sufficient fire intervals to produce seed). High intensity fires may kill trees and lead to whipstick regeneration. Too frequent fire may result in a net loss of nutrients over time from an already nutrient poor system.

Naturalised species associated with this regional ecosystem include the pest plant, groundsel bush (Baccharis halimifolia). Dense stands may occur as a tall shrub understorey.