The Burnett Mary region is located in overlapping climate zones with tropical influences to the north, predominantly subtropical lowlands in the south, and temperate climatic conditions in the Bunya Mountains to the south west of the region. The area also spans two biogeographic regions: the Southeast Queensland Bioregion in the east, and the Brigalow Bioregion in the west. See map. The region’s variety of climates, soils, vegetation, topography, and historical management by indigenous peoples and others make it a region of great ecological diversity.
Remnant vegetation covers about 45% of the region, with most of this existing in public estate lands and a large proportion in State forest. Areas with very high biodiversity values within the region include the Fraser Island / Cooloola Coast, Cania Gorge, Bunya Mountains, Kinkuna / Woodgate, Bustard Bay, Bulburin, Conondale / Kilkivan range and the Burrum-Cherwell catchments. These areas have large tracts of relatively intact remnant vegetation, providing habitat for numerous threatened species and serving as major bastions for biodiversity.
The Burnett Mary region contains the State’s highest number of priority species requiring urgent attention through improved conservation practices. Communities under threat include semi-evergreen vine thicket, Brigalow, and littoral rainforest. Key threatening processes to biodiversity in the region are a result of ongoing reduction in the extent and condition of native habitat. Clearing for agriculture and the continuing demand for land for urban growth, particularly along the coast, continue to place pressure on an already fragmented natural environment.
The intrusion of threatening processes6 further threatens the condition and extent of terrestrial ecosystems. Unchecked threatening process6 incursions adversely alter ecosystem function, reduce primary industry productivity and profitability, and seriously limit the long-term sustainability of natural systems. They can increase the risk of fire, change the structure of vegetation, increase costs for infrastructure maintenance and reduce the amenity of recreation areas. The coupling of effective threatening process6 control with appropriate land management is critical to maintaining or improving terrestrial ecosystem function.
Altered fire regimes have also been identified as a significant threat to priority native flora and fauna in the Burnett Mary Region. Examples include grassland decline in the Bunya Mountains associated with low fire frequency, and declining condition of rainforest boundaries caused by too frequent fire associated with invasive pasture grasses. Projected climate change scenarios raise the spectre of a more intense “fire weather future”, posing an overarching threat to the structural integrity of many of the region’s terrestrial ecosystems. Extended drought periods, reduced Spring rainfall and more frequent “fire weather” periods, overlain on the inherent temperature tolerances of species and ecosystems, will challenge the current extent, structure and integrity of terrestrial ecosystems.
Improving the condition and relative connectivity of our native vegetation and freshwater ecosystems is the best way to increase their resilience to long and short term environmental changes.
Terrestrial ecosystems of the region were delineated using 1:1 Million Broad Vegetation Group (BVG) Classification. Further delineation by geographic area for several Broad Vegetation Groups was necessary to capture the discrete differences in Asset sensitivity and adaptive capacity in the region.
The following table identifies collections of like BVG’s, a detailed description of the constituent assets in Background paper – Plants and Animals.