Department of 1 Environment and Climate Change Big Scrub Nature Reserves



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                    Department of  

 

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                    Environment and Climate Change 

 Big Scrub Nature Reserves 

(incorporating Andrew Johnson Big Scrub, Victoria Park, 

Davis Scrub, Hayters Hill, Boatharbour and Wilson Nature Reserves) 

Type-1 Reserve Fire Management Strategy 

 

 

1.  Introduction 

The Big Scrub Nature Reserves Type-1 Reserve Fire Management Strategy 

(RFMS) encompasses the following six nature reserves: 

  Andrew Johnson Big Scrub Nature Reserve 



  Victoria Park Nature Reserve 

  Davis Scrub Nature Reserve 



  Hayters Hill Nature Reserve 

  Boatharbour Nature Reserve 



  Wilson Nature Reserve 

 

1.  Fire Management Principles 

The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) manages about seven 

per cent of the land area of NSW. These areas have been reserved to conserve 

their natural and cultural values. These values include biodiversity, landscapes, 

Aboriginal sites, historic structures and recreational settings. 

 

Under the Rural Fires Act 1997, the NPWS is a fire authority and is responsible 



for the management of fire on all lands under its control. This includes the 

detection and suppression of fires and the implementation of risk prevention 

programs to protect life and property from fires. The NPWS also assists with the 

suppression of fires on adjacent lands, as may be required 

under plans prepared under the Rural Fires Act 1997

 

Cooperative arrangements are derived from the Bush Fire Coordinating 



Committee and implemented through local Bush Fire Management Committees. 

The other three agencies that participate in cooperative fire management across 

NSW are the Department of Primary Industries, the NSW Rural Fire Service and 

NSW Fire Brigades.  



 

NPWS is an active member of the Northern Rivers and Far North Coast Bush 

Fire Management Committees.  

 

The management of fire is a critical component of land management across the 

NSW landscape. As both a fire authority and conservation agency, DEC plays 

an important role in protecting life and property and conserving natural and 

cultural heritage. 


Big Scrub Nature Reserves  Type-1 Reserve Fire Management Strategy 

 

                     



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2. Fire Management Objectives 

The primary objectives of fire management by the NPWS are to: 

 



  protect life, property and community assets from the adverse impacts of fire; 



  develop and implement cooperative and coordinated fire management 

arrangements with other fire authorities, reserve neighbours and the 

community; 

  manage fire regimes within reserves to maintain and enhance biodiversity; 



protect Aboriginal sites known to exist within NSW and historic places and 

culturally significant features known to exist within reserves from damage by 

fire; and 

  assist other fire agencies, land management authorities and landholders in 



developing fire management practices to conserve biodiversity and cultural 

heritage across the landscape. 

 

The maintenance of biodiversity to avoid the extinction of natural species, 



populations and communities within the landscape underpins fire management 

activities within the NPWS. 

 

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Fire Management Manual details 



the policies and procedures for all fire management planning and fire operations 

on lands reserved under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974 and any land 

managed by DEC on behalf of the Minister for the Environment. 

 

This strategy is a Relevant Plan under Section 38(4) and Section 44(3) of the 



Rural Fires Act 1997. 

 

3. The Fire Environment  



3.1 Fire history 

There is little or no recorded history of fire in the Big Scrub Nature Reserves. 

 

3.2 Topography 

The area covered by the Big Scrub is a low volcanic plateau associated with the 

Mount Warning shield volcano lying between l00 and 150 metres above sea 

level. There are however, variations in both topography and soil types in the six 

areas now dedicated as the Big Scrub Nature Reserves. 

 

Boatharbour Nature Reserve: 

Boatharbour Nature Reserve (24 ha) is situated on the Wilsons River near its 

confluence with Coopers Creek. The four separate sections which comprise this 

nature reserve are bounded by Wilsons River and Coopers Creek, grazing land 

and the Lismore-Bangalow Road. A small tributary creek flows north-easterly 

through the nature reserve. The whole area is subject to periodic flooding from 

the Wilsons River and from Coopers Creek which lies to the north. 

 

 

 



Big Scrub Nature Reserves  Type-1 Reserve Fire Management Strategy 

 

                     



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Victoria Park Nature Reserve: 

Victoria Park Nature Reserve (17.5 ha) is located 16 km south-east of Lismore 

near the village of Meerschaum Vale. It is bounded on two sides by roads and 

paddocks. Surrounding land use is primarily fruit growing and cattle grazing. The 

gently sloping topography of Victoria Park Nature Reserve is typical of much of 

the Big Scrub country. No distinct drainage lines occur, but surface runoff 

eventually drains in a south-easterly direction into Tuckean Swamp, 2 km to the 

south.  


 

Davis Scrub Nature Reserve: 

Davis Scrub Nature Reserve (13.9 ha) is located near the village of Rous and is 

surrounded by agricultural land used for grazing and macadamia growing. 

 

Davis Scrub Nature Reserve slopes gently to the west. There is a fairly distinct 



drainage line running from east to west that originates near the middle of the 

forest. 


 

Hayters Hill Nature Reserve: 

Hayters Hill Nature Reserve (4.5 ha) is located 5 km south-west of Byron Bay on 

a moderately steep escarpment which lies on the north-eastern edge of the 

original Big Scrub. It is bounded by the Byron Bay to Bangalow Road, the 

Lismore-Murwillumbah railway line and by banana growing and grazing 

properties. 

 

Hayters Hill Nature Reserve has a steep and rocky aspect exposed to the north-



east. 

 

Andrew Johnston Big Scrub Nature Reserve: 

Andrew Johnston Big Scrub Nature Reserve (22.5 ha) is located 9km west of 

Bangalow and 2km south-west of the village of Eureka. It is bounded by Coopers 

Creek on the north-west side and by grazing land and macadamia growing. 

 

The Andrew Johnston Big Scrub Nature Reserve slopes to the north-west and 



north-east. A small, ephemeral creek runs north near the eastern edge of the 

nature reserve. 

 

Willson Nature Reserve: 

Wilson Nature Reserve (27.2 ha) is located on the southern limits of the Lismore 

urban area. It is bounded by the Wyrallah Road, a water reservoir, urban 

dwellings and grazing land. 

 

Wilson Nature Reserve has a steeply sloping east to south aspect. Two major 



drainage lines run towards the east and join to form a small creek.  

 

3.3 Vegetation 

The Big Scrub Nature Reserves primarily contain subtropical rainforest flora and 

fauna, which have little or no adaptations to fire and are fire intolerant.  Fire 

should be excluded from rainforest communities. 

 


Big Scrub Nature Reserves  Type-1 Reserve Fire Management Strategy 

 

                     



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Some parts of the Big Scrub Nature Reserves contain areas of wet sclerophyll 

forest, which is adapted to a regime of infrequent fire that may require 

application of prescribed fire in the future.  

 

The plant communities of each nature reserve are discussed below. 



 

Boatharbour Nature Reserve: 

One hundred and ninety plant species have been recorded in Boatharbour 

Nature Reserve. The nature reserve is a sub-tropical rainforest described as a 

pepperberry  - fig sub-alliance. It exhibits a classical three storey structure and 

includes many of the largest trees occurring in the Big Scrub remnants. 

 

The reserve also includes an ecotone between the rainforest and a woodland 



community dominated by forest redgum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) Austromyrtus 

fragrantissima  and  Ochrosia moorei are two endangered plant species listed 

under Schedule 1 of the Threatened Species Conservation Act. Plants occurring 

in the nature reserve and listed under Schedule 2 of that  Act include Floydia 

praealta and Desmodium acanthocladum.  

 

Victoria Park Nature Reserve: 

One hundred and fifty-two plant species have been recorded in Victoria Park 

Nature Reserve. The plant community on the nature reserve is a subtropical 

rainforest, white booyong sub-alliance with a classical three storey structure 

including many tall strangler figs (Ficus watkinsiana and F. macrophylla)  as a 

feature. 

 

Plants occurring in Victoria Park Nature Reserve and listed under Schedule 2 of 



the Threatened Species  Conservation Act include  Baloghia marmorata, 

Macadamia tetraphylla and Floydia praealta. 

 

About half of the remnant is rainforest and a further quarter is under rainforest 



reforestation. The remainder of the nature reserve includes a picnic area and a 

cleared paddock proposed for rainforest reforestation work. 

 

Davis Scrub Nature Reserve: 

Davis Scrub Nature Reserve is a sub-tropical rainforest predominantly of a black 

bean-red bean sub-alliance. One hundred and thirty-four plant species have 

been recorded. 

 

Two large Moreton Bay figs (Ficus macrophylla) stand out as emergents. There 



are also exceptionally large specimens of small-leaved doughwood (Melicope 

micrococca),  red bean  (Dysoxylum mollissimum)  and rosewood (Dysoxylum 

fraserianum).  Species listed under Schedule 2 of the Threatened Species Act 

include  Syzygium hodgkinsoniae, Tinospora tinosporoides  and  Macadamia 



tetraphylla.  Other species of interest include  Archidendron muellerianum, 

Rhodamnia maideniana, Acronychia baeuerlenii and a species of Quassia. 

 

 



Big Scrub Nature Reserves  Type-1 Reserve Fire Management Strategy 

 

                     



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Hayters Hill Nature Reserve: 



Hayters Hill Nature Reserve is a dry rainforest dominated by emergent hoop 

pines  (Araucaria cunninghamii).  One hundred and twenty-five plant species 

have been identified. 

 

Species listed under Schedule 2 of the Threatened Species Act include Floydia 



praealta, Owenia cepiodora, Syzygium hodkinsoniae  and  Tinospora 

tinosporoides.  Other species of interest include  Archidendron muellerianum 

and Acronychia baeuerlenii. 



 

Andrew Johnston Nature Reserve: 

Floyd (1977) describes this rainforest as the "finest and most impressive 

remnant of the Big Scrub". It includes 4 distinct rainforest types, combining 

elements typical of the Victoria Park, Davis Scrub and Booyong remnants, 

together with dry rainforest elements on the western edge. 

 

Over 170 species of trees, shrubs and vines have been identified from this 



reserve. One species of native plant which occurs in Andrew Johnston Nature 

Reserve,  Ochrosia moorei is  listed on Schedule 1 of the Threatened Species 

Conservation Act as endangered. Species listed on Schedule 2 of the 

Threatened Species Conservation Act include  Desmodium acanthocladum, 



Syzygium hodgkinsoniae, Floydia praealta,  and  Tinospora tinosporoides. 

Other species of interest include  Archidendron muellerianum, Trichosanthes 



subvelutina and Milletia australis. 

 

Wilson Nature Reserve: 

Wilson Nature Reserve is a large sample of dry rainforest remaining from the 

periphery of the Big Scrub. It is dominated by emergent hoop pines. Part of the 

reserve is sclerophyll forest dominated by forest red gum and pink bloodwood 



(E. intermedia). 

 

Over 190 species of plant have been recorded from Wilson Nature Reserve. 

One species of native plant which occurs in Andrew Johnston Nature Reserve, 

Austromyrtus fragrantissima, is listed on Schedule 1 of the Threatened Species 

Conservation Act as endangered. Species listed on Schedule 2 of the 

Threatened Species Conservation Act include Desmodium acanthocladum and 

Tinospora tinosporoides.  Other species of interest include  Archidendron 

muellerianum, Xeromphis sp. and Parsonsia lilacina. 

 

3.5 Built assets vulnerable to fire  

There are 5 residences along City View Drive, adjacent to the northern boundary 

of Wilson Nature Reserve,

  

that are vulnerable to fire.  



 

3.6 Natural assets vulnerable to fire  

Big Scrub Nature Reserves  Type-1 Reserve Fire Management Strategy 

 

                     



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                    Environment and Climate Change 

The Big Scrub Nature Reserves have been established to protect remnant areas 

of sub-tropical rainforest which are either fire-free or subject to very infrequent 

fire. 

 

The Big Scrub remnants are the sole relics of the former sub-tropical rainforest 



communities and afford valuable insights into what the rainforest may have been 

like before clearing. The remnants are also important as foci for the dispersal of 

rainforest seeds to nearby regrowth areas. 

 

Andrew Johnston Big Scrub and Boatharbour Nature Reserves have been listed 



as containing Lowland Rainforest on Floodplain in the NSW North Coast 

bioregion by the NSW scientific committee. This threatened ecological 

community has been listed under Part 3 Schedule 1 of the Threatened Species 

Conservation Act 1995. 

 

The Big Scrub Nature Reserves are significant as a rich avifauna habitat. 



Locally, many species are highly dependant upon these rainforest remnants 

including species typically associated with open habitats. Most bird species are 

highly mobile and unlikely to  reside permanently within any one of the nature 

reserves. The protection of a system of remnant areas is however, essential for 

their continued survival in the district. 

 

The marbled frogmouth (Podargus ocellatus) is known to be resident at Wilson 



Nature Reserve. This bird is listed as vulnerable under Schedule 2 of the 

Threatened Species Conservation Act. 

 

Mammals recorded from the Big Scrub Nature Reserves generally include 



species not fully dependent upon rainforest habitat. Species such as the 

common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) and the mountain brushtail 

possum (Trichosurus caninus) are widespread in the reserves and surrounding 

rural lands. 

 

The red-necked pademelon  (Thylogale thetis)  is found in Victoria Park and 



Davis Scrub and is dependent upon rainforest and adjacent grasslands and 

woodlands. 

 

Microchiropteran bats are likely to inhabit all the Big Scrub Nature Reserves, 



including species listed as vulnerable under Schedule 2 of the Threatened 

Species Conservation Act. Information on these species is inadequate. 

 

The grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) forms ephemeral camps in 



Boatharbour and Davis Scrub Nature Reserves and may cause localised canopy 

damage. Grey-headed flying foxes are important as dispersal agents for 

rainforest plants. Also present in the nature reserves are black flying foxes 

(P.alecto) and little red flying foxes (P. scapulatus). 

 


Big Scrub Nature Reserves  Type-1 Reserve Fire Management Strategy 

 

                     



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Koalas  (Phascolarctos cinereus)  are known to range through the sclerophyll 

forest in Wilson Nature Reserve. The koala is also listed under Schedule 2 of the 

Threatened Species Conservation Act. 

The herpetofauna includes a few species solely dependent upon the rainforest 

habitat such as the southern angle-headed dragon  (Gonocephalus spinipes) 

and the skink Ophioscincus truncatus. 

 

Koalas and dry rainforest may be threatened by upslope runs of fire through the 



wet sclerophyll forest on the lower slopes of Wilson Nature Reserve. There is 

potential for roadside ignitions on  Wyrallah Road, especially during periods of 

drought. 

 

 

3.7 Cultural Heritage values vulnerable to fire  

There are no Aboriginal sites recorded for the Big Scrub Nature Reserves 

however, the rainforests of the Big Scrub and Wilson Nature Reserve may be 

associated with Aboriginal mythology. 

 

There are no cultural heritage sites within the Big Scrubs Nature reserves 



vulnerable to fire. 

 

3.8 Bushfire risk  

The Big Scrub Nature Reserves pose little threat to life and property, except for 5 

residences adjoining the northern boundary of Wilson Nature Reserve. where an 

existing clearing on the Nature Reserve will be maintained as an Asset 

Protection Zone (APZ) to compliment the APZ within the adjoining allotments.  

 

The reserves are small, isolated remnants of mostly rainforest which has a low 



bush fire potential and in most conditions is unable to support bushfire

surrounded by cleared pasture, other agricultural land or urban development. 

There is little opportunity for fire to spread into or from the reserves. 

 

Maintenance of control advantages on the reserves and on key  adjoining lands, 



as well as most of the existing adjoining land use practices also minimise the 

potential for ignitions and spread beyond the reserves. 

 

The bushfire combat agencies maintain response capabilities proportional to 



this level of threat. 

 

3.8 Bushfire zoning 

The ‘NPWS Approach to Fire Management Planning’ (2002) uses a system of 

bushfire management zones for bushfire management in NPWS reserves. These 

zones are compatible with the system adopted by the Bushfire Coordinating 

Committee for use in District Bushfire Management Committee (DBFMC) 

bushfire risk management plans. 

 

The approach divides reserves into fire management zones. These zones are 



management areas where specified fire management operational objectives, 

Big Scrub Nature Reserves  Type-1 Reserve Fire Management Strategy 

 

                     



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                    Environment and Climate Change 

strategies and performance indicators have been developed to militate against 

the threat of a wildfire. 

 

NPWS has assessed the Big Scrub Nature Reserves for fire management 



planning purposes and has zoned most of each reserve as a Land Management 

Zone (LMZ). The primary fire management objectives within this zone are to 

prevent the extinction of all species that are known to occur naturally within the 

reserve, and to protect culturally significant sites. Fire will be excluded from 

rainforest communities, and other vegetation communities will be managed with 

appropriate fire regimes. 

 

The LMZ does not require intensive management and focuses on those actions 



appropriate to conserve biodiversity and cultural heritage including exclusion of 

fire from the reserve

.  

 

An asset protection zone is routinely maintained at Wilson Nature Reserve. The 



Wilson APZ primarily aims to provide fire protection to built  assets along the 

northern boundary.  A three metre wide strip  is maintained  within the reserve 

along the boundary and  this compliments any  fire protection measures 

undertaken by the landowners on the respective private properties.  

 

The lower sections of this APZ in the east of the reserve provides protection from 



roadside ignitions along Wyrallah Road. Whilst no such ignitions are recorded, 

there is some  potential  for an ignition in this section  to threaten  upslope built 

assets  and biodiversity values.  The lower eastern sections of the Wilson APZ 

may be reduced in area over  time to enable strategic rehabilitation and 

replanting  to occur to meet nature conservation objectives of the reserve. This 

will be subject to funding and be designed to ensure that the modified APZ in this 

section remains functional. 

 

  


 Big Scrub Nature Reserves  Type-1 Reserve Fire Management Strategy 

 

                     



                    Department of  

 

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                    Environment and Climate Change 

 

Current Situation 

Desired outcomes 

Strategies 

Priority 

These reserves generally have a very low fire 

risk 

Wilson APZ is routinely maintained to provide 



fire protection for built assets adjacent to the 

northern boundary. The lower eastern section 

is also maintained to reduce the likelihood of 

roadside ignitions from  Wyrallah  Road 

impacting on biodiversity values and 

residences adjoining the northern boundary. 

 

Mown areas around visitor facilities in Victoria 



Park Nature Reserve  contribute to fire 

management as a fuel reduced control 

advantage. 

 

Maintain existing APZ at Wilsons 



Park  to minimize the threat of 

fire impacting  on  built assets 

and biodiversity values. 

 

Private landholders adjoining the 



northern boundary of Wilson NR 

are proactive in reducing the 

impacts of fire on their 

properties.  

 

The likelihood of fire impacting 



the  Wilson NR  from adjoining 

lands is reduced.  

 

 

 



Liaise with adjoining landholders to  identify

 

control advantages within the Wilson NR.   



Encourage  adjoining landholders of Wilson NR 

to  seek advice from the Rural Fire Service so 

they can undertake appropriate  bush fire 

protection activities on their properties. 

Maintain mown areas around visitor facilities in  

Victoria Park Nature Reserve 

Participate in the Bush Fire Management 

Committees and liaise with Rural Fire Service.  

High 

 

High 



 

 

Medium 



 

High 


 

Legend for priorities 

High priority activities are those imperatives to achievement of the objectives and desired outcomes.  They must be undertaken in the near future to avoid significant 

deterioration in natural, cultural or management resources. 

Medium priority activities are those that are necessary to achieve the objectives and desired outcomes but are not urgent. 

Low priority activities are desirable to achieve management objectives and desired outcomes but can wait until resources become available. 

 

 

 



 

 

 



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