• agricultural land;
  • biodiversity;
  • exotic plants;
  • farm forestry;
  • habitat restoration;
  • hardwood plantation;
  • rare and threatened species

Summary  Plant species composition in plantation monoculture of the native Gympie Messmate (Eucalyptus cloeziana F. Muell.) was assessed and compared with native eucalypt forest and cleared grazing land in southeast Queensland, Australia. A total of 18 sites (11 in the plantations, four in native eucalypt forests and three on cleared grazing land) were surveyed. The four plantation age classes during the 18-month survey period were 0.3–1.8 (very young), 2.1–3.8 (young), 15–16.5 (mid-aged) and 38–40.5 (old) years of age. Significantly more native plant species were recorded in the plantations, regardless of their age, than on cleared grazing land. The number of native plant species in the old plantations was not significantly different from the native eucalypt forests. Native tree and shrub species richness increased significantly with plantation age. Two species (Ricinocarpos speciosus Muell. Arg. and Xanthostemon oppositifolius F. M. Bailey) listed as Vulnerable and one species (Alyxia magnifolia F. M. Bailey) listed as Rare were recorded in the old plantations. Two Rare species (A. magnifolia and Acianthus amplexicaulis (F. M. Bailey) Rolfe) were recorded in the native eucalypt forests. Exotic plant species, consisting mainly of herbs, grasses and shrubs in the plantations, were significantly more abundant in the very young and young plantations. However, the number of exotic species decreased significantly with increasing age of the plantations. The results suggest that even small-scale plantation can increase landscape heterogeneity and help protect biodiversity.