GBMWHA lands within the Cessnock LGA are located in the central eastern section of Yengo National Park (Department of Lands 2013; Land and Property Information NSW 2013). Yengo National Park covers 154,271 ha (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2009), extending further west beyond the Cessnock LGA boundary to Putty Road (Department of Lands 2013; Land and Property Information NSW 2013). The section of Yengo National Park within the LGA is 40,044 ha in area.
Yengo National Park forms part of a group of sandstone national parks within the Sydney Basin bio-region and is part of the Hornsby Plateau, a dissected sandstone plateau which extends from the Blue Mountains to the Hunter Valley (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2009). The Hornsby Plateau consists of a large number of narrow sandstone ridges and steep-sided valleys, extending from the eastern edge of the Blue Mountains from a height of about 270 metres and gradually increases in altitude to 370 metres in the north on the southern rim of the Hunter Valley (Bell et al, 1993) (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2009).
The majority of streams within Yengo National Park flow south-east into the Hawkesbury River near Wisemans Ferry via the Macdonald River and Webbs Creek. Streams in the north-eastern section of Yengo National Park flow north-easterly into the Hunter River via Wollombi Brook (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2009).
Yengo National Park provides part of a naturally vegetated east-west link between the coastal and sub-coastal conservation areas in the Hawkesbury Valley/Broken Bay region and those of the Central Tablelands (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2009).
The area is located in a ‘rainshadow’ and, as a result, receives lower rainfall than the higher tableland areas to the west and the coastal ranges to the east. Lower rainfall, together with milder local climates and a few areas of good quality soils, has resulted in an area of high biodiversity including plant species and communities with affinities to the Coast, Tablelands and Western Slopes (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2009).
Examples of World Heritage biodiversity values within the Cessnock portion of the GBMWHA are summarised in Table 3.1 below.
Table 3. Examples of World Heritage Biodiversity Values of the Cessnock portion of the GBMWHA
GBMWHA World Heritage Values
Presence in Cessnock portion of the GBMWHA (Bionet 2013)
outstanding levels of plant diversity:
high diversity at different taxonomic levels:
ca. 1500 species and
the genera Eucalyptus (>100 species), Acacia (64 species)
high plant diversity at different taxonomic levels:
Primitive plants with Gondwanan affinities present including:
Members of the Lauraceae including:
Neolitsea spp. & Cryptocarya microneura
rare or threatened species (127 species)
threatened species (8 species)
Animal taxa of conservation significance (listed under state and/or Commonwealth legislation) including:
53 vertebrate taxa composed of 19 mammals, 24 birds, 6 frogs and 3 reptiles
Comparable numbers of animal taxa of conservation significance including:
34 vertebrate taxa listed as threatened species under the EPBC Act and/or the TSC Act composed of 14 mammals, 17 birds, 2 frog species and 1 reptile
Vegetation communities and species diversity
The information used in this section has been considered as part of the prioritisation and weighting process for the conservation priority modelling and mapping. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (2009) identifies Yengo National Park as containing a high diversity of vegetation communities and plant species due to high variability in microclimates and soil fertility. This variability causes quite different communities to occur side by side. The park is located within the Central Coast Botanical Sub-division at the convergence of three botanical provinces: the Central Western Slopes, Central Tablelands and Central Coast.
Over 700 plant species have been recorded with Yengo National Park, with high eucalypt diversity comprising 43 species of eucalypts including seven ironbark species (Bell et al, 1993 in NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2009). The vegetation is unique compared to other national parks in the area such as Dharug and Wollemi. At least 20 plant species are at their limit of their known distribution within Yengo National Park and the adjoining non-World heritage Parr State Conservation Area (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2009).Of particular significance are the warm temperate rainforests found in sheltered valleys and a dry rainforest found on the basalt tops of Mt Yengo and Mt Wareng (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2009).
Yengo National Park protects undisturbed valley areas. These are of high conservation value as logging and clearing concentrated in valley areas after European settlement has disturbed most valley ecosystems in adjoining areas (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2009).
The vegetation of Yengo National Park has been mapped by DECC (2008a). Forty three vegetation communities occur, within eleven broad floristic groups:
Sheltered Hawkesbury sandstone dry forests.
Narrabeen sandstone dry sclerophyll woodlands.
Narrabeen series shale and sandstone dry sclerophyll forests.
Hawkesbury and Narrabeen sandstone wet sclerophyll forests and rainforest.
Alluvial and basalt herb and grass forests and woodlands.
Sandstone warm temperate rainforest.
Those six groups in bold above occur within Cessnock LGA portion of the GBMWHA. Within these six floristic groups, found in Cessnock LGA, 20 native vegetation communities (Table 3.2) have been mapped (Department of Environment and Climate Change 2008a). Of these three correspond to state listed TECs and one community nominated under the EPBC Act.
Table 3. Vegetation communities mapped in the Cessnock LGA in Yengo National Park
2. V = Vulnerable, E = Endangered under the TSC Act.
Animal species and habitats
There are 268 native vertebrate animal species recorded on the NPWS Wildlife Atlas within the Yengo National Park section of the GBMWHA comprising 47 mammals, 158 birds, 20 frogs and 43 reptiles (Office of Environment and Heritage 2012a).
These relatively high numbers are probably related to the lack of disturbance and the extensive and topographically diverse areas of sandstone terrain. The richness of the herpetofauna (reptiles and frogs) in Yengo National Park has been compared to the World Heritage Area rainforests in northern NSW which have a well-documented diversity of amphibians and reptiles (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service 2009).
Threatened species of animal
Thirty-four threatened species of animals (refer Table 3.) are known from the GBMWHA within Cessnock LGA (Office of Environment and Heritage 2012a).
Table 3. Threatened animals that are known from the GBMWHA within Cessnock LGA
1. V=Vulnerable, E=Endangered, CE = Critically Endangered listed under the EPBC Act
2. V = Vulnerable, E = Endangered listed under the TSC Act.
The World Heritage Area protects threatened species such as the Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, which occurs only in very small distinct populations in New South Wales and Queensland. Other examples of the species listed above include the Regent Honeyeater and Swift Parrot.
A recent Swift Parrot and Regent Honeyeater project has recorded a population of Regent Honeyeater, a critically endangered species under the TSC Act and endangered species under the EPBC Act, in the Wollombi Valley adjoining Yengo National Park. In addition the major sightings for this species have been recorded as being centred on Cessnock and Abermain with a southern population recorded at Morisset. Modelling of the extent of Regent Honeyeater populations was concentrated in three main areas, Wollombi Valley, Cessnock-Abermain and to the south at Morisset (Roderick et al, 2013). Therefore, important habitat resources occur for the Regent Honeyeater within the Wollombi and Cessnock areas.
Foraging habitat for the Swift Parrot differs slightly from that of the Regent Honeyeater. Swift Parrot records are not common within Yengo National Park and the Wollombi Valley, however many records occur within the central and eastern portion of the Cessnock LGA (Roderick et al, 2013). Roderick et al, (2013) highlighted the importance of the Cessnock LGA for Swift Parrot foraging resources.