Biodiversity, fire and bitou bush management on the mid-north coast headlands of New South Wales: a study in progress

Michael Dodkin, Parks and Wildlife Group, Department Environment and Climate Change, PO Box 61 Port Macquarie, New South Wales 2444, Australia.


In New South Wales (NSW), increased urban settlement and land tenure changes have led to a reduction in fire frequency in coastal areas and seen many coastal headlands given protected status (e.g. added to national park estate). As a result, coastal headlands have become important recreational and conservation sites. Managing weeds, fire and biodiversity in conservation areas requires an integrated approach. The decision making processes for integrating these management issues on protected headlands is difficult, especially in the absence of baseline information. Bitou bush (Chrysanthemoides monilifera subsp. rotundata (DC.) T.Norl.) is the main weed of coastal headlands in NSW and poses a significant threat to biodiversity (i.e. it is listed as key threatening process under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995). Fire is a known management tool to control this weed. In an attempt to provide baseline data to assist in the management of bitou bush for biodiversity conservation, we have undertaken a pilot study to review vegetation history and other historical information from ten coastal headlands in northern NSW using aerial photographs taken between 1940 and 2006. The focus of the review is to determine the historical integration of weed, fire and biodiversity management on these headlands and understand how past management decisions, in addition to geomorphology and coastal evolution have shaped the current vegetation. This may allow us to learn from past decisions to assist future management.


Plant Protection Quarterly (2008) 23 (1) 50.