Biodiversity in Wyong

Biodiversity of Wyong

No matter where you live in Wyong Shire, whether you live up on the Bucketty Ridges or Somersby Plateau at Bucketty or Kulnura, or in the fertile valleys at the foothills of the Watagan Mountains at Yarramalong, Ourimbah, Dooralong or Jilliby, or even on the coastal and near coastal alluvial plains at Wyong, Tuggerah, Munmorah, Bateau Bay or The Entrance and Long Jetty, there is biodiversity all around you.

The varying landscapes and soils and warm temperate climate of the Shire, along with the freshwater river systems, brackish water of the large coastal Tuggerah Lakes system and the saltwater of the ocean has enabled Wyong Shire to have a very wide range of biodiversity. Many plants and animals are restricted to a particular landscape type and Wyong has 6 major landscape or ecosystem types according to Mitchell (2003). Three landscapes (Bucketty Ridges, Somersby Plateau and Watagan Ranges occur in the west of the Shire and form the watershed to the east, while the footslopes and alluvial flats comprise the Gosford-Cooranbong Coastal Slopes and Sydney-Newcastle Alluvial Plains landscapes, and the coastal sand masses which form the barriers between the sea and the Tuggerah Lakes system are known as the Sydney-Newcastle Barriers and Beaches landscape. Every one of these landscapes has a unique combination of soil type, climate and relief, which then reflects the biodiversity that occurs within them.

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity is the variety of animals, plants, insects and microorganisms (species diversity), and the variety of all the places where they live – ecological communities (ecosystem diversity). Variation within a particular species (genetic diversity) is also a type of biodiversity. Biodiversity is present in the bushland areas of the Shire, the wetlands, lagoons and lakes and in the rural areas and the urban and major town centres.

Ecosystem diversity in Wyong Shire can be represented by the differing vegetation types that occur such as forests, woodlands, wetlands and heath. Over 43 vegetation types have been described for the Shire (Bell 2002) from the tall blackbutt forests and rainforests of the Watagan Mountains, to the spotted gum-ironbark forests around Dooralong and the red gum forests of Wyrrabalong National Park and the honeysuckle banksia-coastal wattle heath on the sand dunes near the sea. At the species level, Wyong boasts at least 427 native vertebrate fauna species; mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish (Wyong Council 2010) many invertebrates and hundreds of plant species.

Threats to biodiversity

Within the natural environment, some ecosystems and species are naturally rare because of their need for a particular specialist habitat niche, while other species are very common. Urbanisation, transport corridors, pollution, disease, landscape fragmentation and introduced pests and weeds have all contributed to changes in the functioning of natural ecosystems and have led to a decline in some species and habitats. Some ecosystems, populations and species are in such low numbers that they are becoming threatened with permanent loss from the environment and thus are heading towards extinction.

Wyong Shire has 86 vulnerable, 42 endangered and 2 critically endangered species or ecological communities listed as being threatened at state level, while there are 48 nationally listed threatened species present in the Shire.

How to help protect and enhance biodiversity

Awareness and action are the keys to the long term survival of the very special components of biodiversity and everyone in Wyong Shire can play a role in the long-term survival of threatened species irrespective as to whether you live in the Shire, or are a visitor. An understanding of the issues that adversely affect biodiversity, how these affects can be minimized and what you can do to help all biodiversity is the key to reducing the threats to our native plants, animals and ecological communities.