In 2011, the Forests of East Australia region was identified as the 35th biodiversity hotspot by a team of researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation working with Conservation International. The area was determined to be a hotspot because it has more than 2,100 endemic vascular plant species and has lost 77 percent of its original habitat, thereby surpassing the requirements of 1,500 endemic plant species and 70 percent of lost habitat.
The hotspot consists of a discontinuous coastal stretch along the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales, extending inland and further west, and includes the New England Tablelands and the Great Dividing Range. Although covering a large latitudinal range, the region has a predominantly summer rainfall pattern with increasing rainfall seasonality northwards into the tropical areas of north Queensland.
The hotspot covers a broad range of environments—coastal plains, coastal and mountain range escarpments, elevated tablelands, and naturally occurring freshwater lagoons and lakes among them. Sclerophyllous communities dominated by Australia's iconic plant, the gum tree (Eucalyptus species), is the most prevalent vegetation type. Significant areas of rainforest also exist throughout the region.