Ecology

From left Simon Kane from NBBR, Adam Gosling from WetlandCare and Jeremy Holmes from NBBR From left Simon Kane from NBBR, Adam Gosling from WetlandCare and Jeremy Holmes from NBBR

Eleven studies of the site were undertaken between 1991 and 2013, so we are fortunate to have a lot of information about the flora and fauna and its history. We continue to add to this data. Many of our team have worked with this site for long periods of time.

Of the 50 acres being developed for Elements of Byron, being 193 villas and the central resort facilities, the total building footprint is 10%.

This development area contained infrastructure including roads, dilapidated buildings, landscaped gardens with mature trees and palms and man-made water bodies from previous tourist resort development. It is some of the least ecologically sensitive land within the site.

Since acquiring the property our team has carried on the excellent revegetation works, feral animal control, weed control and waterway maintenance that was undertaken by the previous owners. We continue to maintain and improve habitats. Some of our ongoing works and management practices include:

  • Co-ordinated fox control activities with National Parks and Wildlife Service and Livestock Health and Pest Authorities, with positive signs of reduced numbers.
  • Assisting Byron Bird Buddies, Marine Parks Authority and Council Rangers with the management of dogs at the Belongil Estuary.
  • Continuing to fund and work in partnership with WetlandCare Australia in the rehabilitation of the critically endangered littoral rainforest.
  • Ongoing vegetation management and fauna monitoring, including a koala SCAT survey to analyse how koalas may use this property as a corridor.

The key design driver is the landscape. We have adopted the approach of rehabilitating the spaces between the villas with endemic species to further enhance the quality and amount of natural habitat. Some of the key ecological principles are driven through the landscape and ESD practices, and include:

  • Confining development to the less sensitive areas of the site where development has previously existed.
  • Landscape rehabilitation between the cabins to increase the quality and quantity of fauna habitat. This strategy means that the whole development area can act as a corridor, and an extension of the existing core habitat areas.
  • Keeping all existing trees and working the cabins around these. All trees in the resort development area have been surveyed, tagged, measured and their species and status recorded.
  • Using only endemic and locally sourced plants and removing all non-native plants.

Landscape selections emphasise species found in littoral rainforest, coastal heathland and frontal dunes. Landscape themes are important as they create a sense of space for guests while at the same time creating fauna habitat.

We are also planning an Eco-interpretive Centre, a cluster of re-purposed cabins from the Byron Bay Beach Resort days to serve as an external classroom facility. Here, local education providers can share the unique ecological aspects of the littoral rainforest and other sensitive ecosystems in this proximity. We continue to engage with stakeholders including Southern Cross University, WetlandCare Australia, Byron Bird Buddies, Marine Parks Authority and Byron Shire Council.

History of the site

A significant part of the site was cleared by early settlers for dairying and small cropping. Much of this exotic vegetation has been removed as part of the endangered littoral rainforest management. Both the littoral rainforest fronting Belongil Creek and the swamp forest behind the frontal dunes were previously extensively cleared of native vegetation.

In the late 1960s the site was developed and known as Globetrotter’s Caravan Park.

This was later replaced by small self contained cabins in the late 1980s, a few of which still remain.

The site was in need of TLC when it was purchased by Becton in the late 1990s.

Due to proximity to the Tyagarah Nature Reserve and Belongil Estuary, remnant areas of bushland have demonstrated considerable recovery potential despite past land clearing.

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 10.57.12 AM
Byron Bay Beach Resort, mid 1990s