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The depletion of native vegetation on the Cumberland Plain has been well documented. In 1995, Cumberland Plain Woodland was the first ecological community listed as endangered under the NSW Threatened Species Act (1995) and has subsequently been elevated to the status of critically endangered. Cumberland Plain Woodland comprises part of the Coastal Valley Grassy Woodlands distributed through coastal NSW and south-east Queensland. This paper examines the ecological significance of the Cumberland Plain Woodland in this broader context using quantitative survey data that have been amassed since the 1980s. The results show that Coastal Valley Grassy Woodlands in different regions of NSW are floristically distinct and support large numbers of endemic species. Similarities among regional variants relate to a relatively small group of widespread and abundant species which contribute strongly to the essential character of this vegetation type, but represent only a small percentage of total floristic diversity. Significant variation and endemism are also evident at a local scale within regions. Within NSW, the Cumberland Plain occupies a unique ecological niche defined by temperature and rainfall, and supports species and assemblages not replicated in other parts of the state. Continued clearing of Cumberland Plain Woodland will inevitably result in the loss of these ecological values.

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