An ecological community is a naturally occurring group of plants, animals and other organisms interacting in a unique habitat. The complex range of interactions between the component species provides an important level of biological diversity in addition to genetics and species.
Because ecosystems and the links between their community members are so complex, it is important to identify, maintain and manage whole ecosystems, their processes and communities (including the many thousands of species of invertebrates, non-flowering plants like fungi and seaweeds, and micro-organisms), rather than just on a species by species basis.
It is also more cost-effective and efficient to prevent species from becoming threatened by conserving them as part of viable, functioning communities than it is to attempt to manage individual species.
The Minister for Environment may list an ecological community as being threatened if the community is presumed to be totally destroyed or at risk of becoming totally destroyed.
The department has been identifying and informally listing threatened ecological communities since 1994. As of May 2014, 376 ecological communities had been entered into the threatened ecological community database.
Ecological communities with insufficient information available to be considered a threatened ecological community, or which are rare but not currently threatened, are placed on the Priority list and referred to as priority ecological communities.
Glimpses into disappearing landscapes. Nationally Listed Threatened Ecological Communities of the South West Region.
Download this beautiful booklet, produced by South West Catchment Council, in conjunction with the Department of Parks and Wildlife, which photographically captures eight communities of the south-west region and the importance of protecting them.