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
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
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
Environment and Climate Change
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
manage fire regimes within reserves to maintain and enhance biodiversity;
culturally significant features known to exist within reserves from damage by
assist other fire agencies, land management authorities and landholders in
heritage across the landscape.
The maintenance of biodiversity to avoid the extinction of natural species,
activities within the NPWS.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Fire Management Manual details
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
3. The Fire Environment
There is little or no recorded history of fire in the Big Scrub Nature Reserves.
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.
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
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
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
Hayters Hill Nature Reserve has a steep and rocky aspect exposed to the north-
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Plants occurring in Victoria Park Nature Reserve and listed under Schedule 2 of
About half of the remnant is rainforest and a further quarter is under rainforest
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
Two large Moreton Bay figs (Ficus macrophylla) stand out as emergents. There
include Syzygium hodgkinsoniae, Tinospora tinosporoides and Macadamia
Hayters Hill Nature Reserve:
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
and Acronychia baeuerlenii.
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, 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,
Other species of interest include Archidendron muellerianum, Trichosanthes
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
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.
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
The Big Scrub remnants are the sole relics of the former sub-tropical rainforest
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
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.
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
Threatened Species Conservation Act.
Mammals recorded from the Big Scrub Nature Reserves generally include
common ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) and the mountain brushtail
possum (Trichosurus caninus) are widespread in the reserves and surrounding
The red-necked pademelon (Thylogale thetis) is found in Victoria Park and
Microchiropteran bats are likely to inhabit all the Big Scrub Nature Reserves,
Species Conservation Act. Information on these species is inadequate.
The grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) forms ephemeral camps in
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).
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
potential for roadside ignitions on Wyrallah Road, especially during periods of
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
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
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,
potential for ignitions and spread beyond the reserves.
The bushfire combat agencies maintain response capabilities proportional to
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
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
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
fire from the reserve
An asset protection zone is routinely maintained at Wilson Nature Reserve. 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
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.
These reserves generally have a very low fire
Wilson APZ is routinely maintained to provide
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
management as a fuel reduced control
Maintain existing APZ at Wilsons
fire impacting on built assets
and biodiversity values.
Private landholders adjoining the
are proactive in reducing the
impacts of fire on their
The likelihood of fire impacting
lands is reduced.
control advantages within the 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.
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.