The North Byron Parklands site covers 256 hectares, or 660 acres.
North Byron Parklands is a huge property and with such a large site comes many environmental opportunities. Historically the property has been subject to a range of agricultural demands including forestry (timber felling), cattle, sugarcane and banana production. This will be the first time in this land’s long history where it will be rested for 355 days of the year.
While the site is 660 acres, only 37% of the land will ever be used for event purposes, including camping and parking. The remainder of the site will be conserved and improved for habitat and will be strictly “out of bounds”.
A portion of the property adjoins the Billinudgel Nature Reserve. Part of the site (approximately 35%) falls into an area which has been identified as a wildlife corridor. While considered wildlife corridor from a planning perspective, due to many years of destruction the flora has been hugely fragmented and is in need of serious regeneration and reforestation.
Likewise the ability of fauna to move between forested areas has been compromised by this fragmentation and a host of physical barriers including the Tweed Valley Way and the recently upgraded Pacific Highway. Single ownership of the two amalgamated North Byron Parklands sites has provided a unique opportunity to help restore the wildlife corridor link between Billinudgel Nature Reserve and the Mount Warning Caldera from its existing state of long-term farming land.
The Director-General of the Department of Planning and Infrastructure wrote in his Environmental Assessment Report (30/11/11):
Public benefits of the proposal include:
- rehabilitation and revegetation works along Marshalls Ridge, strengthening this area as a vegetated wildlife corridor; and
- the creation of permanent new habitat with constructed wetlands along the boundary of the Billinudgel Nature Reserve.
An agreement with the Department of Environment and Climate Change to legally commit key strategic habitat sites to the National Parks reserve system has been reached in principle. The Minister for the Department of Environment and Climate Change has approved the transfer and we will immediately enact these land transfers upon North Byron Parklands being granted permanent approval. 35 hectares would be transferred to DECC, with 8 cleared hectares being transferred from DECC to North Byron Parklands.
Further areas within Parklands continue to be carefully managed to enhance their habitat values. A key priority is to restore the native vegetation so that we can link what currently are fragmented patches of forest for the benefit of the animals and birds that live there, allowing better and safer movement to and from coastal and inland habitats
We have already planted in excess of 7,000 native trees in currently cleared parts of the wildlife corridor. Our statement of commitment to the Department of Planning to revegetate large tracts of currently cleared land will result in the planting of tens of thousands of trees over the coming years.
By repairing the destroyed native vegetation, managing the weeds and feral animals and closely monitoring the biodiversity of our land, the benefits that the proposal will bring far outweigh its limited use as an event venue.
Our local bush regeneration team have done an incredible job over the past five years planting thousands of trees and managing invasive weeds. With all the wet weather over the past few years many of these trees are now six to eight metres high. These newly established forests are thriving and already we have recorded the return of many bird species.
In February 2009 we completed our summer Fauna survey. The survey detected 94 vertebrate species, bringing the total known vertebrate fauna species on the property to 167. Three fauna species listed as vulnerable under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 were recorded, and four exotic species were detected.
During 2012 we have fenced off our central forest blocks to permanently exclude cattle. This has involved the installation of approximately 3km of fauna friendly fencing. We are also about to complete fencing of over 1.3km of a 20m wide fauna corridor which will allow us to establish a range of native trees and shrubs on currently clear pasture lands to the north and east of our property.
Another important milestone was consulting with members of our Regulatory Working Group regarding our Habitat Restoration Program. The group made up of various government agencies and community members (including Byron Shire Council and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage) reviewed the program and agreed it was an important part of the rehabilitation plans for the site..
While we have spent hundreds of hours surveying fauna and flora and have developed a host of management plans to protect and enhance the site’s biodiversity, we continually look for inspiration from our friends and colleagues.
We were thrilled to learn in October that Splendour in the Grass received a “Highly Commended” awarded from the international “A Greener Festival Committee”. We look forward to hosting them in 2013.
Mat Morris December 2012
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