The Friends of Kalang Headwaters [FOKH] is a community-based organisation, including the Bellingen Environment Centre, Kalang River Forest Alliance, National Parks Association of NSW, businesses, and individuals from our community.
Achieve permanent protection of the Kalang forests and headwaters by extending the Baalijin Nature Reserve via the Headwaters Conservation Proposal – A nature reserve for the Upper Kalang, Middle Bellinger and Nambucca Rivers (Headwaters Conservation Reserve);
Support the Great Koala National Park campaign.
Achieve these goals through non-violent, direct action.
The Kalang Headwaters
The mature native forests of the Kalang Headwaters provide a safety and buffer zone to old growth trees and rain forested areas at the headwaters of the Kalang River and its tributaries, filtration to the river system, as well as habitat for a myriad of threatened and endangered flora and fauna. This land is Gumbaynggirr Nation Country and important to maintaining their cultural heritage.
Logging in this steep fragile environment with a high annual rainfall will inevitably, as it has historically, result in heavy run off and sedimentation of the pristine Roses Creek and the Kalang River. This increased turbidity and associated sedimentation reduces water flows through siltation and smothers aquatic flora and fauna.
Environment groups, community members, businesses and the residents of the Kalang valley, some of whom rely on the river’s clean water for drinking, cooking and the watering of organic crops and stock are united in their goal to have these areas so vital to preserving a healthy water supply protected from an inevitable damage.
In 1992 a Department of Land and Water Conservation (DLWC) report found the Forestry Commission and its contractors had repeatedly breached soil-erosion control guidelines, creating several major landslips on Catbird Road in Oakes State Forest. DLWC estimated that over 88,000 tonnes of soil had been mobilised towards the headwaters of the Bellinger River near Mt Killiekrankie on the NSW Mid North Coast. In places, whole sections of land and vegetation moved en masse as the foundation rocks sheared. The river’s tributary creeks down slope of road works and logging operations were choked with spoil and rubble six feet deep in places. Downstream the creeks ran red with sediments. Evidence of this is still visible today. The steep terrain of the proposed logging operation in Oakes and Roses Creek SF, is again setting the scene for another possible mass erosion event.
Forestry Corporation is now able to log on steeper slopes, and buffer zones to fourth order streams ha to get to the big, old trees so vital to our threatened species. Extensive forests of big trees are the seed banks for making rain and we need greater protection for our waterways, not less.
Any logging in the proposed Headwaters Conservation Reserve (Buckra Bendinni, Rose’s Creek, Scotchman Oakes and Die Happy State Forests) is inconsistent with the protection and conservation of forest values including, water quality and quantity, biodiversity, ecosystem services and carbon storage required by the Bellingen community. We therefore call on the NSW Government to permanently end logging immediately and create the Headwaters Conservation Reserve protect the headwaters and tributaries of the Kalang, Bellinger and Nambucca Rivers in perpetuity.
The community ran a successful camp in the Kalang State forests (biodiversity Embassy) for 4 months until the November closure of public forests due to the risk of fires. This camp stopped logging in the headwaters and drew attention of the issue to the broader community, and is now reopening. Morning vigils have continued throughout this period. Vigil, and camp, have helped to provide a visible presence, met incoming vehicles and explained the concerns of the community.
A comprehensive reserve proposal has been prepared and submitted to the Minister. This proposal is supported in principle by Bellingen Shire council. The Friends of Kalang Headwaters (FOKH) has weekly meetings and is made up of individuals and alliances with Kalang River and Forest Alliance, Bellingen Environment Centre Inc and National Parks Association. This Strategic Plan is formulated to direct and prioritise FOKH’s actions. As such FOKH recognises that there are many others within the Bellingen, and the wider communities, that are working as individuals to stop the proposed logging of the Kalang Headwaters and are grateful for their continual efforts.
The reserve proposal encompassing the forests of the Upper Kalang, Middle Bellinger and Nambucca Rivers are public land. The Friends of the Kalang Headwaters (FoKH) have commissioned this proposal to ensure permanent protection of these forests within a formal conservation reserve, particularly for ensuring water security at a time of unprecedented water shortage. FoKH is an affiliation of the Bellingen Environment Centre, Kalang River Forest Alliance, National Parks Association of NSW and other organisations, and has joined with concerned members of the local community to form a coordinated effort to protect, promote and preserve the natural and cultural values of the forests in this reserve proposal, and to seek their immediate, permanent protection.
Intensive expert ecologist-led and community biodiversity assessment work has been focused within Scotchman State Forest (compartments 125&126) and Roses Creek State Forest (compartments 127&128). This has resulted in a significant number of new records of key threatened flora and fauna species, major range extensions and a great improvement in the understanding of the distribution and abundance of many species within this part of the public forest estate. These results are likely to be replicated, or potentially improved upon, with equivalent survey effort in other compartments and State Forests across the proposed reserve. High intensity Biodiversity Assessment results from Compartments 125-128 highlight the national conservation values within these forests; reservation is compatible with the maintenance of these values.
From discussions with traditional custodians and representatives of the Gumbaynggirr Nation it is apparent that there are many cultural values across the proposed reserve, these values will be best maintained with the cooperative and protective management strategies of a conservation reserve.
The reserve proposal encompasses the entirety of the Upper Kalang River headwaters, the Bellinger River catchment and part of the Nambucca River catchment. Within this reserve proposal is all of Buckrabendinni, Roses Creek and Oakes State Forests and part of Diehappy, Irishman and Scotchman State Forests.
STATEMENT OF VALUES AND SIGNIFICANCE
The proposal covers 13,233 ha of public land that provides connectivity between the New England and Dorrigo National Parks Gondwana World Heritage properties as well as connecting these reserves with both Baalijin and Juugawaarri Nature Reserve and Gumbaynggirr National Park and State Conservation Area. This proposed reserve contains extensive areas of nationally significant intact and inter-connected tall wet sclerophyll forests at low to mid elevation. These forests are interspersed with subtropical rainforest communities and contain extensive areas of old growth forest. These ecosystems are in excellent condition, mostly lacking environmental weeds and feral animals, and support intact and functional populations of threatened apex predators such as the Spotted-tailed Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus) and Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua)and other threatened species, such as the Long-nosed Potoroo (Potorous tridactylus), that are responsible for keystone ecosystem health functions.
There is strong and emerging evidence of the antiquity and stability of aquatic ecosystems in the Bellinger Valley, with many specific elements of these ecosystems representing amongst the oldest and most stable freshwater ecosystems on the planet. These aquatic ecosystems supply residents of Urunga and Bellingen with their drinking water supply and for future water security every effort must be expended to ensure the continued availability of adequate flows of clean water from the headwaters.
Aquatic ecosystems in drainage lines within and adjoining this reserve proposal in the Upper Bellinger Valley are known to support remnant populations of the Critically Endangered Bellinger River Snapping Turtle, Myuchelys georgesii; this species in considered amongst the most ancient of known chelid turtles. Genetic dating work for this species has indicated an evolutionary age of approximately 80 million years, a lineage considerably pre-dating the extinction of the dinosaurs.
The forests of the proposed reserve represent core habitat for a great diversity of threatened and declining forest fauna species, notably supporting a nationally significant interconnected breeding population of Koalas, many hollow-dependent and ancient threatened species and large complexes of the Lowland Subtropical Rainforest threatened ecological community, protected under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) Car Reserve System and JANIS Criteria. Collectively these forests comprise a key component of a core Gondwanan refuge that is of critical significance for the survival of ancient ecosystems and species such as the Rufous Scrub-bird (Atrichornis rufescens), Sphagnum Frog (Philoria sphagnicolus ), Stuttering Frog (Mixophyes balbus) and the many species of passerine birds inhabiting these forests (such as the Superb Lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) and the Southern Logrunner (Orthonyx temminckii) that are known to represent the most primitive and basal lineages of all passerines.
The reserve proposal covers a significant and unique section of both the Great Escarpment and the adjoining Great Eastern Ranges forests. The Great Escarpment in the hinterland of Bellingen andBowraville broadly follows the Horseshoe Road and is a key element of this continental-scale wildlife corridor. Beyond the proposed reserve, elevation extends to in excess of 1500m above sea level, meaning that the reserve is a key component of the shortest (and in many parts the steepest) intact gradient of native vegetation connecting habitats from sea level to the subalpine ecosystems on the continent. Management of this entire landscape has important implications for the globally significant assemblage of biodiversity known to be dependent upon it. Industrial logging of these forests is simply not compatible with maintenance and the future viability of this astonishing natural heritage legacy.
Because of the high level of ecosystem intactness and the very broad connectivity of the forests of the proposed reserve, many of the threatened fauna species known to occupy these forests are able to migrate broadly. This enables long-distance genetic exchange and interbreeding, thereby supporting genetically diverse large and viable populations of species that have become extinct across much of their historic range (e.g. Koala, Rufous Scrub-bird, Greater Glider and Long-nosed Potoroo). If allowed to continue to structurally develop, following extractive forest management 30-50 years previously, these forests will have improved capacity to support many sensitive and threatened species; this is particularly the case for hollow-dependent threatened fauna species.
WATER RESOURCE VALUES AND WATER SECURITY
With widespread extreme and record drought conditions now afflicting much of the eastern seaboard of Australia, many rivers that have never ceased flowing in recorded history have now stopped flowing. Because of the extensive forest cover in their headwaters the Bellinger and Kalang Rivers are still flowing cool and clean, despite historically low rainfall in recent years. The retention of all forest cover in these catchments must be a priority to ensure water security for the residents of the Bellingen and Nambucca Shires and for the viability of agricultural, fishing and tourism industries.
There is a substantial body of evidence globally that forests create rainfall as well as moderating climatic extremes. Maintenance and enhancement of forest cover across the Bellinger, Kalang andNambucca River Headwaters will be important for the maintenance of rainfall in the region and for the moderation and reduction of climatic extremes happening as a consequence of global climate heating. There are good prospects for retention of water and maintenance of stream flows in the Bellinger, Kalang and Nambucca Rivers into the future if all the headwater forests are protected.
CARBON STORAGE VALUES
The forests within the proposed Headwaters reserve are a diverse mixture of tall rainforest and eucalypt dominated forest communities with a high biomass, occurring within a high rainfall landscape with a stable and moist microclimate. Although the soils and parent rocks underlying most of the proposed reserve are relatively infertile, the primary productivity of these forests is high, resulting in large existing volumes of stored carbon and a very high potential for significant additional carbon storage as these forests regenerate and structurally mature after selective logging 30-50 years previously. If protected these forests will continue to structurally develop over the decades and centuries to come and will draw down and store atmospheric carbon.
There is an excellent opportunity to allow these forests to continue to structurally develop and to build biomass. The processes of structural development occurring in these forests following historic logging (30-50 years previously) create additional habitat resources for hollow-dependent species and for primitive Gondwanan species that are dependent upon a stable cool moist microclimate. As these forests structurally develop they increase in biomass, this enables the storage of greater volumes of water and provides a growing buffer against future droughts and heatwaves because of the known “air-conditioning” and cloud-seeding properties of these forests.
KOALA HABITAT VALUES
Native forests of the Upper Mid North Coast (Nambucca to Clarence Valley) are known to support a significant proportion of the population of the state population, there are some indications that 20% of the NSW Koala population resides in these forests. The headwaters of the Bellinger, Kalang and Nambucca Rivers are completely connected by forest cover, enabling the movement and interbreeding (and hence survival) of Koalas across the entire proposed reserve. Sections of the proposed Reserve are well-known Koala breeding hotspots and there are reliable indications of the occupation of healthy breeding Koalas across all sectors of the reserve proposal.
Preliminary professional ecological and community-led Koala surveys have focused on Compartments 125&126 Scotchman State Forest and Compartments 127&128 Roses Creek State Forest. Substantial evidence of Koalas has been gathered from across these four compartments including many direct observations of animals, substantial acoustic evidence, camera-trap evidence and the identification of feed trees spread across all four compartments from scat searches.
Koala feed tree species and those occupied by Koalas that were documented during the surveys of compartments 125-128 include Tallowwood, Eucalyptus microcorys, New England Blackbutt, E. campanulata, Coastal Blackbutt, E. pilularis, White Mahogany, E. acmenoides, Forest Oak, Allocasuarina torulosa, Brush Box, Lophostemon confertus and Turpentine, Syncarpia glomulifera. A distinct feature of the forests across Compartments 125-128 is the near-complete absence of environmental weeds. Few weeds are present in low numbers. Weeds are mostly Lantana, Crofton Weed and Mistflower along roads and trails with very few apparent in core forest areas of these compartments. The general lack of weeds is a consequence of the lack of extractive forest management activities for 30-50 years and there has been negligible disturbances that have facilitated or enabled weed invasion. With a nationally significant Koala population there is a management priority to ensure that areas of habitat that are currently well utilised with a relatively open under storey remain free from Lantana, and that other weed-generating ground disturbances are avoided.
A diversity and abundance of Koala feed trees are present in the complexes of wet and dry sclerophyll forest communities across the proposed reserve. Patches of rainforest vegetation within this forest matrix are cool moist refuges that Koalas move into during heatwave conditions, enabling their survival in such adverse climatic conditions.
POPULATIONS OF GREATER GLIDER AND LONG-NOSED POTOROO ACROSS COMPARTMENTS 125-128
Expert ecologist and community spotlighting and camera-trap surveys in compartments 125&126 Scotchman State Forest and compartments 127&128 of Roses Creek State Forest have confirmed the presence of breeding populations of both the Greater Glider, Petauroides Volans and the Long-nosedmPotoroo, Potorous tridactylus within the boundaries of these localities.
The climate is humid-subtropical with a peak in rainfall during late summer and autumn. Cyclonic and ex-cyclonic weather events and East Coast lows can deliver extremely high rainfall intensitiesand rainfall totals occasionally exceeding 1000mm per event. Temperatures rarely exceed 35C and winter frosts are common in low lying and exposed landscapes. Average annual rainfall across the proposed reserve varies from approx. 1300mm – over 2000mm per annum (Bureau of Meteorology data).
DRAINAGE, WATER USE AND WATER USERS
Three major river systems drain eastwards from the proposed reserve, from north to south, the Bellinger, Kalang and Nambucca Rivers. The Bellinger River is the largest catchment with the most extensive and diverse aquatic ecosystems within the proposed Reserve. With a much larger catchment area the Bellinger River also has a substantially greater volume of flow than either the Kalang or Nambucca Rivers. Part or all of the following sub-catchments are within the Bellinger River catchment section of the proposed Reserve: Angys, Clear, Cleavers, Diehappy and Fishers Creek.
Sub-catchments of the Kalang River section of the proposed reserve include Middle Camp and RosesCreek on the northern boundary of the Kalang River catchment and Graces Creek flowing southwards into the Nambuca River. Sub-catchments within the Nambucca/Buckrabendinni section of the proposed Reserve include Argents, Gravelly, Stinging Tree and Sullivans Creeks and Bottle Gully.
In the Bellinger River catchment all municipal water supply, limited agricultural irrigation and substantial stock and domestic supply is derived from the main channel of the river; residents of Urunga and Bellingen are therefore critically reliant upon the maintenance of water quality and ofwater security (water quantity). In both the Kalang and Nambucca River catchments there are a range of water users including stock and domestic uses and agricultural irrigation.
ELEVATION AND TOPOGRAPHY
Elevation in the Bellinger River section of the proposed reserve ranges from approximately 80mnabove sea level (asl) along the main river channel at Orama, to 820m asl at the top of both Angys and Clear Creek sub-catchments. In the Kalang River catchment, elevation ranges from 80m asl along the Kalang River at Upper Kalang to 850m asl between Bellbucca and Owl Road and adjoining Hawk Road in the far west and southwest of the catchment. In the Nambucca River catchment elevation ranges from 90m asl along Gravelly Creek to 850m asl along Hawk Road in the far north of them catchment.
The forests of the Bellinger, Kalang and Nambucca Valleys are unique in their steepness and vulnerability to erosion, structural failure and mass-movement, particularly during the frequent intense rainfall events that occur. The structural failings of the landscape are because of the dominance and weaknesses of the underlying Nambucca shale beds. In upper catchment areas there are few if any areas of gentle relief and many slopes across the proposed reserve are precipitously steep.
LANDFORM AND LANDSCAPE
A significant proportion of the proposed reserve is the broadly arcing ridge upon which the Horseshoe Road is positioned. This arc of ridges separates the Bellinger Valley from the Kalang Valley and the Nambucca Valley as well as separating parts of the Kalang Valley from the Nambucca Valley. Across a large proportion of its length there are precipitous slopes either side of the Horseshoe Road, and headwater tributaries are all steep in the upper reaches and quickly reach their confluence with the major stream channels on the valley floor.
The vegetation of the area varies from dry open forest on the exposed ridges to moist tall open forest on sheltered slopes to well-developed rainforest on sheltered creek flats and gullies. Forest Types are described in Research Note No. 17 (Forestry Commission of NSW 1989), as the descriptors of vegetation. Forest Types are a relatively simple classification of vegetation mainly based on commercial timber species. The Forest Type mapping maps just over half the area as Dry Blackbutt (FT 37), with Brush Box (FT 53) and Myrtle (FT 23) the only other types mapped on more than 10% of the area. A number of other Forest Types occupy smaller areas. There are other more ecologically based classifications of vegetation communities notably forest ecosystems, that are available.
In the proposal area much of the area mapped as Dry Blackbutt (FT 37) would be better assigned to Moist Blackbutt (FT 36), and much of the area mapped as Myrtle (FT 23) is not a dry rainforest type and should be assigned to either Corkwood – Sassafras – Crabapple – Silver Sycamore (FT 3) or one of the warm temperate Forest Types.
The following descriptions of the more extensive Forest Types are based on available site data from earlier surveys and unpublished field notes.
Dry Blackbutt (FT 37) ]
On dry ridges and exposed slopes an open to tall open forest dominated by Blackbutt Eucalyptus pilularis occurs. Other canopy species include New England Blackbutt E. campanulata, Tallowwood E. microcorys, Turpentine Syncarpia glomulifera, Diehard Stringybark E. cameronii and Broad-leaved White Mahogany E. carnea. There is often a small tree layer of Forest Oak Allocasuarina torulosa, Black Oak A. littoralis and Daviesia arborea. The ground layer includes small shrubs (such as Prickly Shaggy Pea Podolobium ulicifolium, Crinkle Bush Lomatia silaifolia and Beard Heath Leucopogon lanceolatus), as well as Bracken Fern Pteridium esculentum, Spiny-headed Matt-rush Lomandra longifolia and Wiry Panic Entolasia stricta.
Moist Blackbutt (FT 36)
This type is much more extensive than mapped by existing Forest Type mapping, particularly on steep sheltered slopes south of the Horseshoe Road. On more sheltered sites a moister tall open forest dominated by Blackbutt Eucalyptus pilularis occurs. Other canopy species include Tallowwood E. microcorys, Turpentine Syncarpia glomulifera, Brush Box Lophostemon confertus, White Mahogany E. acmenoides and Sydney Blue Gum E. saligna. The small tree and shrub layer includes Forest Oak Allocasuarina torulosa, Blackwood Acacia melanoxylon, Soft Corkwood Akama paniculosa, Rough Treefern Cyathea australis, Daviesia arborea and Rose Myrtle Archirhodomyrtus beckleri. Ground layer species include Gristle Fern Blechnum cartilaginium, Coopernookia chisolmii, Bracken Fern Pteridium esculentum, Soft Bracken Calochleana dubia and Spiny-headed Matt-rush Lomandra longifolia.
Brush Box (FT 53)
On sheltered lower slopes often adjacent to rainforest vegetation a moist tall open forest dominated by Brush Box Lophostemon confertus occurs. Other common canopy species include Sydney Blue Gum Eucalyptus saligna, Tallowwood E. microcorys and Blackbutt E. pilularis. There is usually a well-developed small tree layer of species such as Blackwood Acacia melanoxylon, Soft Corkwood Akama paniculata, Murrogun Cryptocarya microneura and Forest Oak Allocasuarina torulosa. Shrubs such as Rose Myrtle Archirhodomyrtus beckleri, Forest Maple Cryptocary rigida and Bolwarra Eupomatia laurina, and the vines Five-leaved Water Vine Cissus hypoglauca, Giant Water Vine Cissus antarctica and Austral Sarsaparilla Smilax australis are often present. The ground layer is generally sparse with Soft Bracken Caloclaena dubia and Native Ginger Alpinia caerulea the most frequent species.
Rainforest Communities (mapped as Myrtle (FT 23) and Corkwood – Sassafras – Crabapple – Silver Sycamore (FT 3))
On sheltered creek flats, particularly along the upper Kalang River, a well-developed subtropical rainforest occurs. This is dominated by large Yellow Carabeen Sloanea woollsii, Brush Box Lophostemon confertus and Strangling Fig Ficus watkinsiana with occasional emergent large mature Flooded Gum Eucalyptus grandis. Other tree species present include Coachwood Ceratopetalum apetalum, Red Carabeen Geissois benthamiana, White Beech Gmelina leichhardtii and Northern Acradenia Acradenia euodiiformis. Common midstorey species and shrub include Bangalow Palm Archontophoenix cunninghamiana, Prickly Tree Fern Cyathea leichardtiana and Featherwood Polyosma cunninghamii. The ground layer is generally sparse with Adiantum sylvaticum, Cyperus filipes and Strap Water Fern Blechnum patersonii present.
At higher elevations, such as on the southern slope of Boot Hill are areas of warm temperate rainforest. Canopy species include a number of tree species such as Sassafras Doryphora sassafras, Black Booyong Heritiera actinophylla, Soft Corkwood Akama paniculata, Black Wattle Callicoma serratifolia, Prickly Ash Orites excelsa, Pencil Cedar Polyscias murrayi, Coachwood Ceratopetalum apetalum and Northern Acradenia Acradenia euodiiformis. Common mid-storey and shrub species include Rough Tree Fern Cyathea australis, Grey Possumwood Quintinia verdonii, Five-leaved Water Vine Cissus hypoglauca and Walking Stick Palm Linospadix monostachyos. Ground layer includes the ferns Lastreopsis microsora and Strap Water Fern Blechnum patersonii.
The narrower gullies and creeks contain less well developed examples and gradations between these two rainforest communities.
These areas of rainforest would probably include the following Floyd suballiances:
Suballiance 12 Sloanea woollsii-Dysoxylum fraserianum-Argyrodendron actinophyllumCaldcluvia
Suballiance 33 Ceratopetalum/Schizomeria-Argyrodendron/Sloanea
Suballiance 35 Ceratopetalum/Schizomeria-Doryphora
New England Blackbutt (FT 163)
On higher altitude exposed ridges Blackbutt Eucalyptus pilularis tends to be replaced by New England Blackbutt E. campanulata. Mid and under-storey species are similar to those found in the Dry Blackbutt community.
There are also small areas of the following Forest Types:
Grey Gum – Grey Ironbark – White Mahogany (FT 62a)
Tallowwood – Sydney Blue Gum (FT 47)
Fig – Giant Stinger / Myrtle (FT 23)
Narrow-leaved White Mahogany – Red Mahogany – Grey Ironbark – Grey Gum (FT 60)
Sydney Blue Gum (FT 46)
River Oak (FT 211)
Rock (FT 234)
Improved Pasture and Cropland (FT 216)
Significant vegetation communities and plant species
Endangered Ecological Communities
Some parts of the mapped rainforest could be included in the following listed communities:
Lowland Rainforest in NSW North Coast and Sydney Basin Bioregion; listed in NSW as an Endangered Ecological Community
Lowland Rainforest of Subtropical Australia: listed Federally as Critically Endangered
Listed Threatened Species
Milky Silkpod Parsonsia dorrigoensis:
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Endangered
Milky Silkpod is locally common, particularly at intermediate altitude, in moist and dry Blackbutt communities.
Scrub Turpentine Rhodamnia rubescens Conservation status in NSW: Critically Endangered.
Scrub Turpentine was a common under and mid storey species but it has been severely affected by Myrtle Rust Austropuccinia psidii in recent years.
Rusty Plum Niemeyera white:
Conservation status in NSW:
Vulnerable Rusty Plum is rare in low altitude rainforest patches.
Other species and features of significance
This recently described orchid (Jones and Copeland 2014) was observed in dry Blackbutt forest near Sirius Road. The known habitat of this species is generally tall moist forest or Snow Gum woodland at high elevations, mainly above about 1300m, in the vicinity of Point Lookout in New England National Park. So, this occurrence at about 550m in dry open forest is of significance (L. Copeland pers. comm. 2107).
Old Growth Forest
Significant areas of high conservation value old growth forest occur within the proposal area. Such old growth forest provides important nest and roost resources for a number of threatened fauna species, such as large forest owls and gliders.
The Coffs Harbour region is recognised as having exceptionally high diversity of tall eucalypt species. In the small area of this proposal 16 species of tall forest trees have been recorded (11 Eucalyptus, 3 Corymbia, Lophostemon confertus and Syncarpia glomulifera).
Glossy Black Cockatoo feed trees
The small trees Forest Oak Allocasuarina torulosa and Black Oak Allocasuarina littoralis are common in much of the non-rainforest area. These trees provide food for the Vulnerable Glossy Black-cockatoo.
Over 300 plant species have been recorded in the proposal area.
Forestry Commission of New South Wales 1989: Research Note No. 17 Forest Types in New South Wales,
Floyd AG (1990a). Australian Rainforests in New South Wales. Surrey Beatty and Sons Pty Limited, Chipping Norton, NSW
Jones D.L. and Copeland L.M 2014 Speculantha amabilis (Orchidaceae: Pterostylinidae), a new species of Tiny Greenhood from the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales. The Australian Orchid Review October-November 2014.
Critically Endangered Lowland Rainforest – EPBC Act 1999
The reserve proposal also contains significant areas of lowland rainforest. Since European settlement Lowland Rainforest has undergone a large reduction in geographic distribution (particularly its area of occupancy) due to clearing (Floyd 1990a, b). For example, Floyd (1990a) estimated the Big Scrub lowland rainforest near Lismore, originally estimated to cover 75 000 ha, had been reduced to only 300 ha (0.07%) since European settlement. Other districts as far south as Ourimbah have suffered similar losses of Lowland Rainforest. Relative to the longevity of rainforest trees, many of which live for several hundred years, these represent large reductions in the geographic distribution of the community. ‘Clearing of native vegetation’ is listed as a Key Threatening Process under the then NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act.
Extensive clearing of Lowland Rainforest has resulted in fragmentation and loss of ecological connectivity. The integrity and survival of small, isolated stands is impaired by the small population size of many species, enhanced risks from environmental stochasticity, disruption to pollination and dispersal of fruits or seeds, and likely reductions in the genetic diversity of isolated populations (Lott 1990, Rossetto et al. 2004a, b). Disruption of these ecological processes may result in a large reduction in the ecological function of the community.
The invasion and establishment of exotic species in Lowland Rainforest results in a large reduction in the ecological function of the community. ‘Invasion and establishment of exotic vines and scramblers’ is listed as a Key Threatening Process under the then NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act.
Some stands of Lowland Rainforest are included within the conservation estate (including components of the Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves of Australia World Heritage listing). However, not all Lowland Rainforest suballiances occur in conservation reserves and many small stands, important for connectivity and maintenance of landscape-scale ecological processes, remain outside conservation reserves.
Lowland Rainforest in the NSW North Coast and Sydney Basin Bioregions is eligible to be listed as an endangered ecological community as, in the opinion of the Scientific Committee, it is facing a very high risk of extinction in New South Wales in the near future, as determined in accordance with the criteria as prescribed by the Threatened Species Conservation Regulation 2002.