Byron Shire Biodiversity



Our Shire has an extremely high level of biodiversity


From the Byron Shire Council: This shire supports 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.


A new species of Eidothea, a genus of rainforest trees that was only named in 1995, was discovered in the Nightcap Range in September 2000


Eidothea belongs to the plant family Proteaceae, which also includes more familiar members such as the waratahs, grevilleas, banksias, macadamias and proteas.


E. zoexylocarya, the only other species of Eidothea, is known only from Mt Bartle Frere, near Cairns in North Queensland. The discovery of another species in New South Wales was exciting for a number of reasons.


The Proteaceae is a very old family of flowering plants that probably originated while the ancient supercontinent Gondwana was still in one piece. Gondwana consisted of what are now the continents of Australia, Africa, South America and Antarctica, as well as smaller bits and pieces such as New Zealand, New Caledonia and Madagascar. Gondwana began splitting up over 120 million years ago and the fragments carried a diverse array of plants and animals with them, including a variety of lineages of the Proteaceae. Eidothea is the only relic of one of those early lineages that has barely survived in the rainforests of eastern Australia. Other lineages went on to diversify spectacularly, resulting in hundreds of descendant species.


Read more here...