Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area Values Study in the Cessnock Local Government Area and Surrounds



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Priority conservation areas

  1. Wollombi Valley and surrounds


The Wollombi Valley and surrounds encompasses a large area that is situated between the GBMWHA to the west and a conglomerate of State Forests in the east. This is the largest and most significant area located outside the GBMWHA that contains complementary World Heritage values. Refer to Figures 4.1 and 4.2 for the location of this area.

This area has been poorly studied in the past due to its relative isolation. Some older studies such as the Wollombi Vegetation and Habitat Plan (Fallding & Bell 1996) and the Wollombi Valley Catchment Management Plan 2003 (Wollombi Valley Landcare Group Inc 2003) exist and provide useful information on relevant aspects of the biodiversity and vegetative characteristics of the valley and surrounds, however these do not focus directly on World Heritage values.

The Wollombi Valley and surrounds are characterised by expansive areas of native vegetation on footslopes, hills, mountains and ridges. Conversely, the valley floor is mostly cleared due to its relatively fertile soils and suitability for agricultural uses.

The World Heritage values-focussed mapping exercise has identified that the Wollombi Valley and surrounds contains important complementary values that protect the existing World Heritage areas within Yengo National Park. Important characteristics of this area are that it:

provides important buffering capacity to the boundaries of the GBMWHA

contains similar complementary vegetation to that contained within the GBMWHA

contains areas of high eucalypt diversity

contains similar threatened ecological communities

contains similar threatened species and their habitats

is directly connected to the GBMWHA

is in close proximity to the GBMWHA

contains large patches of intact vegetation

contains important riparian areas that eventually flow into the Hunter River

provides a ‘critical mass’ of adjoining vegetation that increases the biodiversity of the entire region including the GBMWHA in totality.

It is evidently important that this area warrants further attention and management in the future to achieve protection of the GBMWHA in perpetuity.

Generally these are either privately owned properties or State Forests.

This area has also been identified as important for the Regent Honeyeater and Swift Parrot Project (Roderick et al. 2013).

The Lower Hunter Regional Conservation Plan (Department of Environment Climate Change and Water 2009) and Lower Hunter Regional Strategy (Department of Planning 2006) outlines that some of these lands are proposed conservation lands. These include areas within and adjoining Pokolbin State Forest, areas within Corrabare State Forest and a small area adjoining Olney State Forest.


        1. Inholdings


As mentioned previously, inholdings within Yengo National Park have been mapped as generally containing high priority conservation value. The reasons for this are generally similar to the reasons outlined above for the important Wollombi Valley and surrounds area. Although patch size within the individual lots is generally small, the vegetation is contiguous with the Yengo National Park and contributes to its biodiversity value. If managed poorly or used insensitively these areas could have a profound impact upon the World heritage values for Yengo National Park and correspondingly the GBMWHA. Generally these are privately owned properties. Refer to Figures 4.1 and 4.2 for the general location of these inholdings – shown as the non-National Park areas.

The Lower Hunter Regional Conservation Plan (Department of Environment Climate Change and Water 2009) and Lower Hunter Regional Strategy (Department of Planning 2006) outlines that a minority of these inholdings are already proposed conservation lands.


        1. Hunter Economic Zone


The Hunter Economic Zone (HEZ) is of high biodiversity value and ranks highly with all modelled parameters except direct connectivity and proximity to the GBMWHA. While some of the species of flora and fauna are different to Yengo National Park, the totality of threatened ecological communities and threatened flora and fauna species is similar. Other attributes such as high eucalypt diversity, remnant vegetation that has been highly cleared in the region, large patch size and importance in local habitat connectivity and riparian protection have also identified this area as important. Land ownership of this area is a mixture of Crown Land, private land and Aboriginal land. Refer to Figures 4.1 and 4.3 for the location of this area.

This areas has also been identified as important in Parsons Brinckerhoff (2013b), Cessnock Biodiversity Management Plan (Office of Environment and Heritage 2012b) and the HDC report (Eco Logical Australia 2012). This area has also been identified as important for the Regent Honeyeater and Swift Parrot (Roderick et al. 2013).


        1. East Pelton


East Pelton lands contain large patches of threatened ecological communities combined with threatened species records and habitat. It is eucalypt diverse, contains vegetation that has otherwise been highly cleared, is well connected to other areas and contains important riparian value. Much of this area is managed within Werakata State Conservation Area, although southern parts also occur on private land. This area has also been identified as important for the Regent Honeyeater and Swift Parrot Project (Roderick et al. 2013). Refer to Figures 4.1 and 4.3 for the location of this area.
        1. Congewai Road


Lands surrounding Congewai Road contain large patches of threatened ecological communities combined with threatened species records and habitat. It is eucalypt diverse, contains vegetation that has otherwise been highly cleared, contains large patches, is well connected to other areas and contains important riparian value. Much of this area is private land. Refer to Figures 4.1 and 4.3 for the location of this area.
        1. Cessnock/Broke Roads


Land around Cessnock and Broke Roads contain large patches of threatened ecological communities combined with threatened species records and habitat. It is eucalypt diverse, including several highly restricted species, contains vegetation that has otherwise been highly cleared, contains large patches, is well connected to other areas and contains important riparian value. Much of this area is private land. Refer to Figures 4.1 and 4.3 for the location of this area.
        1. North Rothbury


North Rothbury lands contain large patches of threatened ecological communities combined with threatened species records and habitat. It is eucalypt diverse, contains vegetation that has otherwise been highly cleared, contains large patches, is well connected to other areas and contains important riparian value. Much of this area is private land and forms part of the future Huntlee lands. This areas has also been identified as important in Parsons Brinckerhoff (2013b), Cessnock Biodiversity Management Plan (Office of Environment and Heritage 2012b) and the HDC report (Eco Logical Australia 2012). This area has also been identified as important for the Regent Honeyeater and Swift Parrot (Roderick et al. 2013). Refer to Figures 4.1 and 4.3 for the location of this area.

The Lower Hunter Regional Conservation Plan (Department of Environment Climate Change and Water 2009) and Lower Hunter Regional Strategy (Department of Planning 2006) outlines that a portion of the southern part of this priority area is proposed conservation land. This conservation land is proposed to be created as a biodiversity offset for the development of the Huntlee township.


        1. East Richmond Vale


East Richmond Vale lands contain large patches of threatened ecological communities combined with threatened species records and habitat. It is eucalypt diverse, contains vegetation that has otherwise been highly cleared, contains large patches, is well connected to other areas and contains important riparian value. Much of this area is private land. Refer to Figures 4.1 and 4.4 for the location of this area.

The Lower Hunter Regional Conservation Plan (Department of Environment Climate Change and Water 2009) and Lower Hunter Regional Strategy (Department of Planning 2006) outlines that a majority of this land and large private lands to the east are proposed conservation lands. These conservation lands are proposed to be created as biodiversity offsets for a number of developments in the Lower Hunter.


        1. Comparison to other studies


The mapping results are informative when compared to those areas that were identified in the expert workshop as being likely to be priority conservation areas. The main areas that were not identified as important from a World Heritage complementary values perspective but have been identified by other reports as important for biodiversity were Bow Wow Gorge and Ellalong Lagoon. Whilst Bow Wow Gorge and Ellalong Lagoon have not shown up as having high complementary value to the World Heritage area, they are however generally agreed to be of high biodiversity value for other purely biodiversity reasons.

The current World Heritage assessment priority conservation lands that are similar to other studies’ conclusions include Hunter Economic Zone, Huntlee/North Rothbury, the areas around Werakata National Park, east of Pelton, and the Wollombi Valley. These areas, along with the other nominated areas listed in the previous sections, are considered to have high complementary values to the World Heritage area.


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