Council is responsible for managing and maintaining a significant amount of native vegetation in reserves that include:
- land owned freehold by Council,
- crown and state lands managed by Council, including road and waterway reserves, and
- reserves protected by state legislation and managed by Council, such as Conservation Parks.
These natural areas constitute Council's natural area estate.
Natural areas are managed for their biodiversity value. Indicators of biodiversity value are remnant vegetation and high-value regrowth as mapped under the Vegetation Management Act 1999 (VMA). The VMA emphasises structural maturity and the extent of vegetation.
Council manages over 10,000 hectares of natural areas, including riparian corridors and road reserves, with high biodiversity values.
Vegetation structure / size
Complexity of vegetation structure and size correlates with greater species richness and abundance.
Vegetation structures and size in conservation reserves
||Endangered Remnant Vegetation
||Of Concern Remnant Vegetation
||Least Concern Remnant Vegetation
||High-value Regrowth Vegetation
|Reserves of Conservation Significance1
|Road reserves with natural values
|Riparian corridors with biodiversity values2
Note these figures represent areas of high biodiversity value using vegetation recognised by the Vegetation Management Act 1999 as a primary indicator. The data is indicative only and based on available data sets as at March 2011. Some data-sets were incomplete at compilation.
1 Includes Council's natural area reserves and protected areas such as Conservation Parks, Nature Refuges and implicated state forest
2 Riparian corridors not mapped to registered parcels.
Figure 1 - Biodiversity Values of Council Managed Natural Areas
Endangered Remnant Vegetation (800ha)
Of Concern Remnant Vegetation (1178ha)
Least Concern Remnant Vegetation (6063ha)
High-value Regrowth Vegetation (2936ha)
Figure 1 (above) shows Endangered, Of Concern and Least Concern remnant vegetation and High-Value Regrowth vegetation (recognised by the Vegetation Management Act 1999) as a percentage of the total vegetation that is maintained or managed by Council.
Reserves of Conservation Significance
Much of the natural area estate, including Council's Nature Refuges and Conservation Parks, has been classified as 'Reserves of Conservation Significance' because of the high biodiversity value they exhibit. This value is based on a number of criteria, including:
- Diversity of the regional ecosystem (including conservation significance under the VMA);
- Priority species [PDF 4.6MB] likely to be present;
- Size and location of the reserve (i.e. proximity to other natural areas); and
- Value to the community (i.e. passive recreation, environmental education and well-being).
To be classified as Reserve of Conservation Significance, a reserve needs to contain a minimum of 0.25 hectare of natural area with high biodiversity value.
Nature Refuges (protected areas)
A Nature Refuge is an area of land voluntarily protected for conservation purposes. It is based on an agreement between a landholder and the State and is recognised under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. The agreement acknowledges a commitment to manage and preserve land with significant conservation and biodiversity values and protects these in perpetuity. Council maintains three Koala Nature Refuges (Whiteside Road Park, Whiteside; Kurwongbah Park, Petrie, and Brian Burke Reserve, Samford Valley).
Conservation Parks (protected areas)
Conservation Parks are protected areas managed according to the principles defined under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. These parks support high biodiversity and are managed under trustee arrangements between Council and the State Government. Six Conservation Parks are subject to this arrangement:
- Buckley's Hole Conservation Park
- Sheep Station Creek Conservation Park
- Neurum Creek Conservation Park
- Beachmere Conservation Park
- Byron Creek Conservation Park
- Wararba Creek Conservation Park
Natural area reserves, riparian corridors & road reserves
Approximately half of the natural area estate is mapped at parcel level, with the balance located on unallocated land forming important vegetation linkages along creeks and road reserves. This includes wet and dry eucalypt-dominated forest, mountain and lowland rainforest, forested creek systems, and coastal heath and wetland ecosystems.