How to use QUICK INDEX Ecosystem Reporting Categories

Ecosystem Reporting Categories

You are here: Home > Ecosystem Reporting Categories > Montane


This ecosystem is characterised by low stunted heath like vegetation growing in mountainous areas. Other characteristics include lack of soil nutrients, hard rock and tough growing conditions.



Mountain Ecosystems


What ecosystem functions do montane ecosystems perform?


The tough growing conditions on Mount Barney.

From the Latin word "mons", a mountain (mountaineer, "montanus"). This is a 'hardy' ecosystem adjusted to cope with extreme elements including cool air, wind, rain and intense sunshine. The mountains and ranges of SEQ are key landscape features, being both scenic and diverse in nature (offering landscape opportunity). The vegetation and ecosystems that are supported on mountain peaks are quite spectacular. Table 1 below presents the relative magnitude montane ecosystems perform different ecosystem functions (relative to other ecosystems) in SEQ.

Due to the isolated nature of mountains (geological isolits), the evolutionary process of plant speciation has been encouraged. Many rare plant species are found on these mountains, with some being known only from one mountain. The spring flowers are important for insects and invertebrate encouraging mountain topping by butterflies. This results in the presence of very high ecosystem functions such as of pollination, barrier effect of vegetation and supporting habitats. 

Rocky shelfs and pavements with plants colonising crevices can create micro climates complete with small streams and rock pools. This in turn provides for climate regulation and water regulation which benefit unusual plants and lowland ecosystems, and creating a high biological control function as many species are unable to inhabit such harsh conditions. The stabilising nature of these plant communities that colonise the tops of old volcaninc plugs (mostly) also provide high disturbance regulation.


Table 1:The relative magnitude (to other Ecosystem Reporting Categories) montane ecosystems perform each ecosystem function.

Ecosystem Function Category Ecosystem Function 0
Regulating Functions
Gas Regulation            
Climate Regulation            
Disturbance Regulation            
Water Regulation            
Soil Retention            
Nutrient Regulation            
Waste Treatment and Assimilation            
Biological Control            
Barrier Effect of Vegetation            
Supporting Functions
Supporting Habitats            
Soil Formation            
Provisioning Functions
Raw Materials            
Water Supply            
Genetic Resources            
Provision of Shade and Shelter            
Pharmacological Resources            
Cultural Functions
Landscape Opportunity            


What types of montane ecosystems are in SEQ?

Vegetation types can vary from mountain to mountain from rainforest to heath depending on soil and rainfall. One can find 'cloud forests' with moisture collected from mist and low clouds, along parts of the Border and Main Ranges. The mountain tops and slopes in the more exposed aspects support montane heath, the land cover type supported by this Ecosystem Reporting Category. This Ecosystem Reporting Category contains the Regional Ecosystems: 12.8.19, 12.12.10.


What is the area and extent of montane ecosystems in SEQ?


Some montane ecosystems receive water from condensation as clouds pass through the vegetation.

Links to other publications and websites

Qld Govt. - Tewantin Nat. Park
Qld Govt. - Mt Coolum Nat. Park
Qld Govt. - Glass House Mountains
Fire Management Guidelines

Montane ecosystems cover approximately 22 km2, 0.09% of greater SEQ. This map shows montane ecosystems are isolated to mountain tops. Look for examples at Mt. Tinbeerwah and Mt Coolum, Glasshouse Mountains - Mt Beerwah and Mt Ngungun, Mt Barney, and Mt Tamborine. Small patches of Montane often are missed under current mapping methodologies. 


What is the vulnerability and threats to montane ecosystems in SEQ?

Montane is a robust ecosystem characterised by low stunted vegetation, slow growing conditions, good drainage, and frequent moisture. The shallow soils low in nutrients has encouraged a self composting ecosystem generating sufficient growing conditions. With its isolated nature which support special biodiversity values (e.g. rare and unusual plants and animals; disjunct or isolated plant/species populations; and species at edge of range and range limited, due to geological and climatic conditions), any climate changes can have extreme impacts with small populations that only need a small alteration in conditions to cause total extinction. 

Although robust, this ecosystem doesn't handle disturbance due to slow recovery time under tough conditions. Montane can be sensitive to trampling and trails (including from livestock and humans). Fire can also threaten this ecosystem, however there is some fire resistance due to growth amongst rocky outcrops.  Being found on the tops of mountains, fire intensity can be quite extreme.


How do we manage montane ecosystems in SEQ?

In SEQ, montane ecosystems are mostly protected through Estates and National Parks. Wild fires not threatening life or property have impacted this ecosystem along the Main Range and possibly in other parts. Montane ecosystems support remnant vegetation protected under the Vegetation Management Act 1999. All plants and animals associated with montane ecosystems are protected under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. Montane ecosystems provide for ideal conditions for views and lookouts.  Nature based recreational activities (e.g. bushwalking and twitching) can be supported, however require proactive management to limit impacts. Designated zones need to be identifed for improved management that include access, viewing and exclusion zones for nature conservation. Not all areas of montane need to be made accessible however and require facilities to enjoy ecosystem services.