Byron Bay Dwarf Graminoid Clay Heath Community

Purple flowers in foreground of vast and lush green scrub with rolling hills in background and blue sky.

Byron Bay's Graminoid Clay Heath is an endangered ecological community with:

  • Low-growing woody shrubs
  • Grasses and grass-like plants
  • Patches of taller shrubs
  • Occasional larger trees.

The most common plant species are:

  • Fern-leaved Banksia
  • Hairy Bushpea
  • Kangaroo Grass
  • Broad Sword Sedge. 

Clay Heath is a significant cultural landscape for the Bundjalung of Byron Bay Arakwal People who used fire to maintain the heathland as a vital source of bush foods including edible tubers.

Clay Heath also provides a unique habitat to a range of threatened flora and fauna including the critically endangered Byron Bay Donkey Orchid.

Clay Heath is found only at Paterson Hill, Byron Bay and the Arakwal National Park. The restoration project has increased the extent of the Clay Heath community from about 5 to 16 hectares. 

Key Threats

  • Invasion by introduced weeds including garden escapes and encroaching native trees including Coral Fern (Gleichenia dicarpa) and paperbarks (Melaleuca quinquenervia).
  • Low-frequency of fire events.
  • Erosion, sedimentation and pollution due to runoff from adjacent urban areas surrounding the Clay Heath.
  • Predation of heath fauna by foxes and free roaming domestic cats and dogs.
  • Habitat disturbance during maintenance of roads, trails, pipeline and powerlines. 

Restoration Strategies

To assist in restoring the Clay Heath, we work in partnership with NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service and are guided by the Graminoid Clay Heath Management Plan(PDF, 17MB).

The primary management aim is to restore, to the maximum extent possible, the extent, structure, function, dynamics and integrity of the Clay Heath and associated woodlands and forests and the habitats they support.

There are two broad management strategies to restore the Clay Heath.

  1. Restore the Clay heath to the maximum extent possible by improving the fire and hydrological (water) regime.
  2. Management of encroaching species which displace Clay Heath including environmental weed and native trees and tall scrubs.

What can you do to help?

  • Plant locally occurring native heath species in gardens in adjoining urban areas.
  • Prevent ornamental plants and weeds escaping from gardens into native heath areas.
  • Control weeds.
  • Stay on established walking trails.
  • Control domestic cats and dogs, particularly at night and follow dog restriction signage.
  • Protect remaining areas of habitat from destruction or disturbance.
  • Support the restoration activities by taking time to find out about the on-ground works.

Additionally, NSW State Government have a targeted strategy for managing this species under the Saving Our Species program.