Natural environment

Our Shire has an extremely high level of biodiversity, with our region is known to support high numbers of rare or threatened plants and animals, with approximately 70 plant species and 90 animal species recognised as vulnerable or endangered. 

A combination of high rainfall, mild climatic conditions, and variation in topography, geology, and altitude interact to support a rich and diverse range of ecosystems including rainforest, wet and dry sclerophyll forest, grasslands, paperbark swamps, wetlands, sedgeland, mangroves, saltmarsh, heath, marine, and freshwater ecosystems.

Did you know?

  • NSW's Far North Coast is centred in a region with the highest frog, snake and marsupial diversity per unit area of land in Australia
  • The region’s bird diversity is second only to the wet tropics.
  • Over half the state’s plant species occur here in the northeast corner.
  • Species from tropical and temperate zones intermingle with many reaching their southern and northern distributional limits respectively in the region.

On the one hand, this reflects the region's status as a hotspot for biodiversity in Australia, but on the other, it reflects adverse consequences of land use.

For instance, species centred on the Mt Warning Caldera have been particularly threatened from clearing and logging of rainforests, particularly in the fertile lowlands. Other species are listed as threatened because they have particular habitat requirements such as:

  • needing hollows in old trees to nest/roost,
  • requiring beaches/estuaries to nest, feed and roost (which are being increasingly disturbed by humans), or
  • only feeding on certain plants e.g. Koala and Glossy Black-Cockatoo.

There are also a number of endangered ecological communities here. For example, only about 5 ha remain of the Byron Bay Dwarf Graminoid Clay Heath, which as the name suggests is unique to Byron Bay.