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Ibis in flight - Click to enlarge

Theme Summary

Canavalia coastal vine - Cungulla
Click image to enlarge - Canavalia coastal vine - Cungulla


In the Townsville region there are a range of pressures on local biodiversity including; urban sprawl, agriculture, clearing of native vegetation, altered fire patterns, habitat loss or modification, noxious weeds and feral animals. Pollution of the land, air and water also places pressure on biodiversity, but this topic is covered in the SOE section titled Inland Waters.

It is clear that different pressures on ecosystems are associated with different land uses. These uses which are identified in the Town Plan include: areas of land zoned for future development growth; remnant vegetation or existing bushland under threat; and areas of land used for agriculture (see also Human Settlement and Land).

Clearing, alteration and degradation of native habitat also impose pressures on local ecosystems. These pressures are reflected in many ways – e.g. by the extent of land with altered fire patterns (based on frequency and seasonality, by documented induced wildfires, through GIS information, by current burning practices, in EPA and QFRA records), and in the rate of current and proposed clearing of native vegetation.

Pest flora and fauna species also place pressure on local ecosystems by degrading land and/or competing with native plants and animals. The extent of these pressures is directly linked to the distribution, abundance and specific adverse impacts of individual pest species.

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Twisted vine on Mt. Stuart
Click image to enlarge - Twisted vine on Mt. Stuart


As previously mentioned in the ‘Atmosphere’ section of this report, weather conditions (heavy rainfall events, cyclones, and droughts) create various pressures for local ecosystems and  human efforts to conserve biodiversity.

These conditions impact on different types of ecosystems in different ways. Because Townsville is situated in an area where the northern and southern tropics of east coast Australia meet, the city has a unique and  large variety of local ecosystems with four distinct botanical ‘bioregions’ (Northern Brigalow – Townsville Plains Province; Wet Tropics; Einsleigh Uplands; and Central Queensland Coast).

Click to visit QLD EPA Regional Ecosystems and their Status
Click image to see QLD EPA Regional Ecosystems

Other important biological and geographic attributes of the area include the proximity of Magnetic Island and World Heritage Great Barrier Reef, access to the Wet Tropics (Paluma and Mt. Elliot), Wetlands such as the Cromarty, Town Common, Ross Dam, South Bank, Serpentine Lagoon and other smaller wetlands. Townsville is the place where the tropical savanna meets the coast (Muntalunga/Sisters/Mt. Stuart, the Vine Thickets /Monsoon Scrub of Many Peaks, Mt. Stuart, Magnetic Island/Harvey Range Mt. Flagstone/Black Mountain, and Cape Cleveland and the mangrove/chenier grasslands and seagrass wetlands, South Bank) - see TCC Natural Assets Database and the Dry Tropics Biodiversity Group (DTBG) local native plant "Hot Spots".

Australian Tropical Savannas Explorer Click image to visit CRC Savanna Explorer

The coastal region surrounding Townsville (Lucinda-Mackay Marine Bioregion) is characterised by  complex high-island groups, sandy-mud substrates, mangroves with a lower level of seaside animal diversity than areas further north. There is a large tidal range in the south of the area. Animal and plant life consists of 20 mangrove species, 25 tree and understorey species, 8 saltmarsh species, with low closed-open forest communities along sheltered coasts and rivers. There are more than 70 types of corals.

Source: IMCRA Technical Group (1998)

The condition of local ecosystems can be assessed with  a number of indicators, including the;

  • number of species of vertebrates, invertebrates, vascular plants, non-vascular plants, micro-organisms and fungi  present within the local area (CSIRO Fauna Studies, Queensland Herbarium; and Defence Lands);

  • number of endemic and common species and vegetation communities (Regional Ecosystems) of the Townsville region;

  • conservation status of species (Rare, Threatened, Endangered and Extinct Flora and Fauna Species);

  • number of subspecies (useful for showing genetic diversity within a species); and

  • area of natural vegetation cover, including numbers and size of fragments of remnant vegetation (habitats).

Tropical savanna fauna - Dragonfly
Click image to enlarge - Dragonfly - Tropical savanna fauna

Coastal Tropics of Townsville and Fauna

Townsville’s rich biodiversity provides a habitat for a wide range of migratory species. It also includes many animal species either only found in this region (otherwise known as “endemic”) and or closely related to other species in surrounding regions. For example, the occurrence of endemic species on Mount Elliot (leaf-tailed gecko and a small frog) which have close affinities with species restricted to the Wet Tropics and rainforests in the Eungella-Proserpine area.

Several bird species, which are common of found in Townsville region, reach the southernmost limit of their range along the coast between Townsville and Mackay/Broad Sound areas. These include:

  • White-gaped honeyeater

  • Brown backed honeyeater

  • Yellow honeyeater

  • Little Kingfisher

  • Orange footed scrub fowl

  • Crimson finch

Other species which migrate from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, such as the Pied Imperial Pigeon and Buff-Breasted paradise kingfisher do not travel further south than the Mackay region.

Woodland and wetland birdlife are also characteristic of Townsville suburbs. Birds often seen include; Yellow Honeyeaters, Spangled Drongos; Sunbirds, Brahminy Kites, Spoonbills and Ibis.

The significance of the rainforests around Townsville is reflected in some scientific views that the Townsville lowlands and Mount Elliott should be considered as part of the Wet Tropics. One example is a review of vertebrate distributions and patterns of diversity within the Wet Tropics bioregion (Williams et al, 1996). They reiterated that the Elliot uplands should be included in any analysis of the Wet Tropics fauna. Three species found locally  are only found in the Wet Tropic (Nix Switzer, 1991) and reach the southern-most limit of their range in the Townsville area namely;

  • Tooth billed catbird (Mt. Elliot)

  • Golden Bowerbird (Paluma)

  • Limbless snake-tooth skink (Mt. Elliot)

Note: All above sourced from Planning to Protect Biodiversity (Environment North 2002) and local knowledge

Other endemic fauna includes:

  • Mt. Elliot Spiny Crayfish (Euastacus bindal)

  • Mt. Elliot Nursery Frog (Cophixalus mcdonaldi)

Leaf tailed Gecko (Phyllurus amnicola) a newly described species which is found in dense forest on the upper slopes of Mt. Elliot (Couper et al., 2000).

Saxicoline Sunskink (Lamproholis mirabilis) – endemic to Mt. Elliot, Cape Cleveland, Mt. Stuart and Magnetic Island only.

Mt. Elliot is also known to have a number of endemic insect species (Graham 1991, cited in Williams et al.1993).

Snakes of Townsville

Townsville has a variety of snakes including the following common snakes of the area: Brown Tree Snake (see photo below); Common Tree Snake; Keelback; Water Python; Spotted Python; Carpet Python; Death Adder; Black Whip Snake; Northern Crowned Snake (rarely seen); Orange-Naped Snake; Eastern Taipan (one of the world's most DANGEROUS snakes and uncommon around Townsville); and Eastern Brown Snake (Townsville's most common DANGEROUS snake and often mistaken for the Taipan).
Source: from TCC Snake Poster 2000, produced by G.Calvert (Earthworks Environmental Services).

Australian backyard critter
Click image to enlarge
Brown Tree Snake - private photo collection North Ward Resident


Bird and Animal Lists of Townsville

Wildlife Online Extract - Townsville Species List
(180kb .pdf)

At a local scale bird and animal lists have been prepared by a range of community groups for South Bank (Bird Observers), Ross Colony (RIVER Group); Stuart Creek (Earthworks); Blakey’s Crossing (Bird Observers Club). This community-based research is invaluable and provides excellent data for consideration in biodiversity conservation planning in Townsville. The RIVER Group has performed daily bird counts for 1997-1999 (The RIVER Report - Birds section).

RIVER’s research included fish surveys of the lower Ross River estuary. Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research (ACTFR) survey’s of fish biodiversity in the Lakes-Ross Creek estuarine system have been undertaken in 1990-3, 1999 and due to a fish kill in 2002. Fish species are described in the report and include some freshwater fish but mainly consist of saltwater fish.

Results are shown below:

Lakes 1 11 25 spp 10 spp 19 spp (recorded as result of fish kill)
Lakes 2 Not constructed Not constructed 18 not known
Upper Ross Ck 20 34 34 not known

Source: South Townsville Stormwater Drainage Fish Survey Report
No.99.30 ACTFR 1999

While the surveys are not conclusive, they do suggest that the biodiversity in the Ross Creek system is relatively healthy. The RIVER Report is included below, due to its value and community input of quantitative data on the biological resources of the Ross River estuary. The RIVER Report should be read in conjunction with the report on marine matters for site specific Ross Island and Ibis/Flying Fox Colony.

Click to see the Rivers Report.

Salt water crocodile
Click image to enlarge - Salt water crocodile

Another useful indicator of ecosystem health is the prevalence of frogs. Sinclair Knight Merz consultants (SKM) have compiled a list of frogs (see below) considered likely to occur in Louisa Creek (compiled from Hero et al. 1997 and from discussions with JCU herpetologist Steve Richards).

Buforidae Bufo marinus Cane Toad
Hylidae Litoria bicolor Northern Sedgefrog
  Litoria caerulea Green treefrog
Litoria fallax Eastern sedgefrog
Litoria gracilenta Graceful treefrog
Litoria inermis Bumpy rocketfrog
Litoria leseuri Stony-creek frog
Litoria nasuta Striped rocketfrog
Litoria rothi Red-eyed frog
Litoria rubella Naked treefrog
Myobatrachidae Crinia deserticola Chirping Froglet
Limnodynastes convexiusculus Marbled frog
  Limnodynastes ornatus Ornate burrowing-frog
Limnodynastes tasmaniensis Spotted Marshfrog
Notaden melanoscaphus Northern Spadefoot
Uperoleia lithomoda Stonemason Gungan
Uperoleia mimula Torres Gungan


The majority of these frog species prefer swampy, flooded wetlands rather than stream channels. While the above list is useful as a guide for biodiversity data collection in future, the extent of the distribution and prevalence of these species in Townsville rivers is not currently known with certainty.

Tropical butterflies are particulartly diverse in Townsville with 50% of the 103 named Australian species occuring within 100 kilometers of the Townsville Post Office, (P.Valentine, 1999).

Even within the city proper, 144 species are known to occur. While all [butterfly] families are present in Townsville, the large papilionids (birdwings, swallowtails) are extremely well represented. For more information on butterflies and butterfly attracting plants in Townsville see attached case study on Gardening for Butterflies (Australian Plants Online No.14 June 1999 SGAP article by P. Valentine (Lecturer, James Cook University).

Habitat Values

Habitat quality has a big impact on the capacity of communities to protect biodiversity. Habitat provides food, shelter and particular breeding conditions for all wildlife. The better the habitat quality, the more options for biodiversity protection available to the local community.

Within ecosystems, habitats can be divided into three  broad categories:

  • Natural Habitat - these areas retain the structural and compositional integrity of their natural habitats. Some level of disturbance associated with weeds, grazing, fire regime or past clearing may be present but is not discernible on remotely sensed images;

  • Disturbed Habitat - these areas; retain natural habitat values but exhibit some level of physical and ecological disturbance associated with grazing, clearing, weed invasion, erosion, isolation or existing land use i.e., rural residential areas. If not subject to further disturbance pressure, disturbed habitats are often able to maintain their condition, or may regenerate to natural habitat; and

  • Transformed and/or Degraded Habitat - these areas have been subject to intensive land use or development that has completely transformed the pre‑existing natural habitat. In most cases the transformed habitat i.e., quarry, industrial, aquaculture, cleared and/or eroded areas, represent a degradation of natural habitat values. However, some transformed habitat areas i.e. dams, reservoirs, urban gardens and grasslands created by clearing, provide natural habitat value that in some instances e.g. Ross River Dam, can have significant nature conservation value. Generally, transformed habitat areas will not regenerate to a natural habitat condition without some level of management input.

Within the Townsville region, 63% of habitat falls within the category ‘natural’ , 24% is transformed and/or degraded habitat, and the remaining 12% is disturbed habitat (TTSP Nature Conservation 1996). This suggests that the vast majority of habitat in Townsville is of a high quality – either in natural condition or restorable to such condition.  Biodiversity Maps developed by TCC provide a clearer picture of the condition of habitats in particular locations in and around the city.

Click to see all the Biodiversity Maps

Click here for Overall Biodiversity Map (TCC jurisdiction)

Click here to See Marine and Intertidal Habitat map

Pods of a deciduous native peanut
Click image to enlarge - Pods of a deciduous native peanut

Terrestrial Vegetation

In addition to its unique fauna, a significant part of habitat quality is the diversity and prevalence of vegetation cover. Townsville is home to more than 1,600 plant species. Information on the  flora of the region is available from;

· Queensland Herbarium database

· Broad-scale CSIRO vegetation mapping

· Queensland Herbarium Regional Ecosystem Mapping

· Townsville City Council commissioned local vegetation mapping


No. of Species

Angiosperms (Flowering plants)


Gymnosperms (Conifers and cycads)






Source: HERBRECS database from the Queensland Herbarium

Native croton in dry season
Click image to enlarge - Native croton in dry season

Endemic Flora

Not many plant species are endemic to the Townsville area. Endemic flora seem to be mainly associated with highland features and flora refuges (Mt. Elliot, Mt. Stuart, and Magnetic Island). The following species are endemic to Townsville:

  • Babingontina papillosa: a shrub which occurs only in Bowling Green Bay National Park in two known populations at Mt. Elliot and Cape Cleveland (Bean 1999).
  • Eucalyptus paedoglauca: (Mt. Stuart Ironbark) a eucalypt generally only known from Mt. Stuart (Brooker Kleinig 1994)
  • Croton magneticus: a shrub which occurs on Magnetic Island and Mount Stuart (note: another Croton - Croton arnhenicas is also common on Magnetic Island; Many Peaks and lower slopes of Mt. Elliot (AIMS turnoff).
  • Grewia graniticola:  a shrub on Magnetic Island and Cape Cleveland is considered a near endemic as it is found at only a couple of locations close to Townsville (Gloucester Bay near Bowen and at Mingela Bluff (Halford 1993).

Source: Compiled from TCC Planning to Protect Biodiversity Environment North 2002

Though not endemic some species once thought to be widespread across Northern Australia are now uncommon to rare in the Townsville area (Albizia canescens). Some considered  this Albizia was a common open woodland species of Townsville (occurring to coastal Central Queensland) and following exploitation for cabinet timber and drought fodder became uncommon (CSIRO pers. com.). This tree has been discovered in a few places along Ross River in recent years but still remains uncommon.

Other flora species of interest when considering Townsville’s  biodiversity  include:

  • Livistonia drudei a palm which is rare in Townsville and mainly occurs north of the Bohle River, although it is recorded at Emmett Creek and Magnetic Island (although status on MI is uncertain).
  • Livistonia decipens (weeping fan palm) occurring at its northern most limit (distribution Townsville to Fraser Island) (J. Dow pers. com.)
  • Cassia sp (Paluma Range) which is recorded for Magnetic Island vine forest and Cape Cleveland in semi-closed forest on steep rock slopes
  • Aponogeton queenslandicus a rare aquatic herb found in Townsville Common freshwater swamp
  • Terminalia arenicola is recorded at a key research site and it’s type locality occurs in Townsville. There are at least four other Terminalia spp found in Townsville area (T.mulleri, catappa, sericocarpa, melanocarpa). All species seem to be found in distinct localities either strand vegetation (beach almond); beach scrub (damson); riparian areas/semi-deciduous vine thicket (sericocarpa); or in open woodland e.g. Castle Hill/Many Peaks (melanocarpa).
  • Archontophonenix alexandrae (Alexandra Palm) which occurs on Mt Elliot along upper Alligator Creek (often bent over in rock creek beds amongst bottlebrush shrubs (Callistemon viminalis) as a result of heavy floods). Also recorded for lower slopes of Mt. Elliot (Majors Creek area and Cromarty-St Margaret Creek), Pinnacles, and in Nelly Bay on Magnetic Island
  • Musa banksii (native banana) is recorded at another key research site and type locality which is at its southern most limit on Mt Elliot. It is also recorded for gullies near the Pinnacles Range (C.Lokkers pers. com.).

Various biodiversity maps prepared by TCC provide an indication of the location and significance of different plant communities in the region.

Click here for Plant Communities of Conservation Significance Major Remnants coming.

Source: Compiled from TCC Planning to Protect Biodiversity Environment North 2002 and local knowledge/pers com.

Native gardenia leaves and fruit
Click image to enlarge - Native gardenia leaves and fruit

Regional Ecosystem Mapping

It is important to appreciate that entire regional ecosystems are, alongside individual species of plants and animals, a critical part of biodiversity. So, the nature and prevalence and condition of particular “ecological communities” are a important considerations in understanding the State of the Environment as it relates to biodiversity. Most of the regional ecosystems are within the Townsville Plains Province of the Brigalow Belt (North) bioregion (80%). The remainder are within the Einasleigh Uplands bioregion and outliers of the Wet Tropics or Central Queensland Coast bioregions. The Queensland Herbarium has mapped 55 regional ecosystems occurring within the study area.

Of these 55 Regional Ecosystems, at least;

  • 3 are endemic to and only occur in the Townsville Plains Province,
  • 11 are endemic to Townsville Plains and Bogie River Hills, and
  • 10 are endemic to Townsville Plains and Marlborough Plains.

The conservation status of each of these regional ecosystems is discussed in the TCC report “Planning to Protect Biodiversity” (Environment North 2002). The Regional Ecosystem Mapping has been evaluated for vegetation clearance and biodiversity issues.

Colour and texture of a pandanus
Click image to enlarge - Colour and texture of a pandanus

EPA Conservation Significance Mapping

(Queensland Herbarium) provides Regional Ecosystem (RE) Mapping as the primary unit for State planning to conserve biodiversity. State conservation status is based on a number of factors including;

· Remaining extent of the regional ecosystem;

· Condition of remaining examples; and

· Presence of threatening processes

See Map EPA Conservation Significance (Queensland Herbarium)

The Queensland Government’s
Vegetation Management Act 2000

(VMA and associated mapping) provides a legislative framework for managing and assessing clearing of freehold land. The mapping associated with the VMA shows the extent of vegetation controlled by the Act in different ‘bioregions’ of the State.

Vegetation mapping has also been completed at 1:25,000 scale (Skull, 1996) and also more locally for Magnetic Island (Sandercoe 1990) and at a micro scale for Nelly Bay, Horseshoe Bay and Rowes Bay. Vegetation mapping has also been completed by the Townsville based Environmental Management Section of the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) for Mt Stuart.

Pink lilly lagoon at Horeshoe Bay, Magnetic Island
Click image to enlarge - Pink lilly lagoon at Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island


Townsville City  has one RAMSAR listed wetland occurring within its boundaries (Bowling Green Bay NP) and three Wetlands of National Importance (Burdekin-Townsville Coastal Aggregation, Ross River Reservoir, and Serpentine Lagoon).

Nationally Important Wetlands:

Wetland Name

Size (km2)

Wetland Class

Criteria for inclusion

Burdekin-Townsville Coastal Aggregation


Marine & Coastal, inland, human-made

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Includes Bowling Green Bay


Marine & Coastal, inland, human made

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Ross River



1, 2, 3, 4


< 10


Not available

Source: (Blackman et al, 1996, 1999) and for Serpentine Lagoon Blackman G. (2001 pers. Com.)

Townsville has a range of regional and locally significant wetlands which have been identified by Lukacs (1996) and TTSP (Tait 1996). These wetlands include Freshwater Swamps of Cape Cleveland to Cungulla; Killymoon Creek below and above Bruce Highway; Picnic Bay to West Point Mangroves and wetlands; Sachs Creek (Oak Valley), Majors Creek; Reid River, and Ross River above and below weirs.

Local Wetland Types

Mapping by Lukacs (1996) also identified the following wetland types (1:40,000):

  • 1 lacustrine/limnetic wetland
  • 14 sites palustrine
  • 25 sites riverine (intermittent or perennial)
  • 6 sites estuarine/intertidal
  • 3 sites estuarine/subtidal
  • 3 sites tidal
  • 2 sites marine/littoral

Click to see Wetlands Map based on Lukacs and TTSP mapping

Source: TCC Report Planning For Biodiversity, Environment North 2002

Magpie geese at Bald Rock, Town Common
Click image to enlarge - Magpie geese at Bald Rock, Town Common

Other Wetland Types

The TTSP also identified six drying coral reefs (Middle Reef, Nobby Head-West Point reef, Nelly Bay reefs; Geoffrey Bay reef; Alma Bay-Arthur Bay Reefs, and Liver Point Reef). All occur around Magnetic Island and are important conservation areas because inshore coral reefs are under threat from human pressure world wide.

The coast and marine waters off Townsville in Cleveland Bay also retain significant seagrass beds and the bay is a designated Dugong Protection Sanctuary under Queensland legislation.  The largest areas of seagrass are found on the eastern side of Cleveland Bay (8,400 hectares) and Cape Pallarenda, south-west side of Magnetic Island (3,000 hectares).

Click here to See Marine and Intertidal Habitat map

(source "Planning to Protect Biodiversity" Environment North 2002, and citing Lee Long et al. 1998)

Visit the Great Barrier Reef Explorer

Key Habitat Areas and Refuges

Finally there are highly significant habitats in the Townsville area which are either important areas for populations of certain species, and/or are habitats which support a high diversity of species. There is a little data on many  species distributions in the Townsville region (especially mammals e.g. Dasyurus hallucatus or Northern Quoll which is of regional significance). Mt. Stuart is a known area of marsupial diversity (CB Consulting Group 1997). The Allied Rock-Wallaby (Petrogale assimilis) a species found in a narrow band from Palm Island/Magnetic Island/Many Peaks/Mt. Stuart/Cape Cleveland/Mt. Elliot and out west is considered regionally significant.

Refuge areas are special types of habitat which provide safe haven for wildlife during periodic adverse conditions. In Townsville there are a number of regionally significant refuge areas, including;

  • Riparian refuges along major rivers (e.g. Ross River, Stuart Creek);
  • Wetland refuges of the Townsville area such as the Town Common;
  • Vine forest refuges (especially Mt. Stuart); and
  • Montane refuges of Mt. Elliot for rainforest species.

Click here for Key Habitat Areas map, and

Click here for Refuge Areas map

Source: TCC Report Planning For Biodiversity, Environment North 2002

National Estate Listings

Townsville also has a number of environmental sites of national significance. These include National Parks, Conservation Parks and other sites listed on the Register of the National Estate (RNE).  These are listed in the following table:

Place Name
Legal Status
Cape Cleveland National Park, Townsville
Horseshoe Bay Lagoon Environmental Park, Magnetic Island
Magnetic Island (in Part), Magnetic Island
Mount Burrumbush National Park, Townsville
Mount Elliot National Park, Townsville
Townsville Town Common and Environs, Townsville
Serpentine Lagoon, Woodstock

(Note: The declaration of the Bowling Green National Park covers areas that were once Cape Cleveland National Park and Mount Burrumbush National Park).

Click here for Register of the National Estate and Queensland Heritage Register Areas map

Source: TCC Report Planning For Biodiversity, Environment North 2002

Wilderness Areas

There are two areas in Townsville LGA which are believed to qualify for wilderness status (one of national significance and one regional significance).

  • High Range Wilderness Area (80,600 hectares) the eastern end of which includes Mt. Flagstone State Forest, and
  • Mt. Elliot Potential Wilderness Area (30,868 hectares) - limited because powerlines dissect the area.

Click here for Wilderness Areas map.

Source: TCC Report Planning For Biodiversity, Environment North 2002

Vine and berries of the monsoon thicket
Vine and berries of the monsoon thicket

Introduced Pest Flora and Fauna

In Townsville, 66 plant species are known to be environmental weeds and at least fifteen species are considered to be a “severe problem” locally (TCC Draft Pest Management Plan and TCC Revegetation Strategy). Of these, twelve are declared under State legislation, which means that individual landholders must take control measures (Community Plan for Natural Resource Management and Environmental Conservation in the Townsville-Thuringowa Coastal Plains, TThLCA Inc. 2000).

Council also has responsibility for control of declared plants within its LGA (Section 64 of the Rural Lands Protection Act 1985) and exercises this responsibility.

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Chinee apple, noxious weed of the North
Click image to enlarge - Chinee apple, noxious weed of the North


Council Biodiversity Initiatives and Reports
Natural Heritage Trust Projects with Community
Conservation & Biodiversity Initiatives
Greening Townsville Program
The ALGA’s National Local Government Biodiversity Strategy
Council Reserve Management Plans
Policy Option 4
Future Directions and Research areas

The Australian New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) has recently completed a review of the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia’s Biological Diversity (ANZECC June 2001). That review established a 9 high level Priority Actions, one of which pertains to Local Government. The Report recommends that:

“By the year 2005 Australia will have Local governments that have assumed a major role in the conservation of Australia’s biological diversity...”

Townsville City Council is taking a leadership role within the community in protecting biodiversity. This is demonstrated by the range and number of biodiversity projects and programs that Council conducts in partnership with the community.

The following are five Key National Objectives and Targets for Biological Conservation that Environment Australia is seeking for the period 2001-2005 (Environment Australia 2001) and the table below shows the current status of Townsville City Council’s contributions;


To protect and restore native vegetation and terrestrial ecosystems

To protect and restore freshwater ecosystems
To protect and restore marine and estuarine ecosystems


Control invasive species


Promote ecologically sustainable grazing


Townsville City Council is addressing all of these priorities, either in planning activity already under way or in supporting on-ground programs already being implemented locally. The Council takes very seriously its role in implementing locally various important strategies including: the Australian Local Government Association approved “National Local Government Biodiversity Strategy (.pdf 420kb)” (1998) and our own “Environmental Conservation Strategy, Living Today for Tomorrow” for environmental biodiversity education and awareness.

Council is reviewing TCC managed lands for biodiversity values and setting up community based systems to assist with maintaining biodiversity values on Council owned or managed land.

Joint Council and community revegetation programs and biodiversity awareness campaigns have been launched with local businesses and industries (eg. AES Mt Stuart; BHP Billiton).

The need to maintain biodiversity has been considered in developing the new town plan (City Plan). This is reflected in environmental conditions placed on development applications, Development Control Plans, Desired Environmental Outcomes for Town Plan Review, and the Growth Options Study. This component is discussed further in the section titled human settlement.

Council has also worked with the community natural resources management (Townsville Thuringowa Landcare Association) NHT Strategy development project and provided support and input.

This project has been completed and incorporates consideration of biodiversity requirements and responses throughout the various Section themes (see below).

Townsville-Thuringowa Community Natural Resources Management Plan
Produced by Townsville Thuringowa Landcare Association

Download the whole report (.pdf)
Download the whole Document (.pdf 775kb)

or download the separates sections (also in .pdf)

Download Section One (.pdf)
A Whole of Catchment Approach
(.pdf 165kb)

Download Section 2 (.pdf)
Land, Vegetation and Wildlife
(.pdf 90kb)

Download Section Three (.pdf)
Water, Wetlands and Waterways
(.pdf 60kb)

Download Section Four (.pdf)
Coastal and Marine Environments
(.pdf 65kb)

Download Section Five (.pdf)
Environmental Quality
(.pdf 50kb)

Download Section Six (.pdf)
Community Involvement and Education
(.pdf 65kb)
Produced by Townsville Thuringowa Landcare Association

Council Biodiversity Initiatives and Reports

Council has also compiled or worked on a series of reports that have identified numerous high priority areas for retention and rehabilitation, and measures to minimise impacts on local environments. These include;

  • Rapid Identification of Key Environmental Sites (Townsville City Council, 1990);
  • Townsville City Council Region: Vegetation Communities and Conservation Priorities (Skull, 1996);
  • Wetlands of the Townsville Area (Lukacs, 1996);
  • Townsville-Thuringowa Strategy Plan: Nature Conservation Draft Policy Paper (QDLGP, 1996);
  • TCC Planning for Biodiversity (Environment North 2002);
  • Specific site reports, such as the Castle Hill Management Plan (Bill Carter et al, 1994), Rowes Bay Wetland, Nelly Bay Habitat, and Horseshoe Bay Reserves; and
  • Commencement of Environmental Management Plans for both Horseshoe Bay and Rowes Bay

Snoozing Koala
Click image to enlarge - Snoozing Koala

With respect to the local flora and fauna Townsville City Council have developed a number of responses that investigate the requirements for maintaining local biodiversity. These include;

  • Vegetation Protection. Introducing a Local Law No.2 (Vegetation Management) which incorporates a process for nomination, assessment and protection of significant vegetation and plants under a Vegetation Protection Order;

  • Investigating habitat corridors and connectivity value in relation to vegetation and  ecosystem types;

  • Biodiversity Plan. Biodiversity planning for Townsville as part of Townsville City Council’s new town planning process (City Plan);

    Revegetation Strategy. Completed a Revegetation Strategy for Townsville with prioritisation models, vegetation management information, and listed environmental weeds (TCC Local Law No.2 Vegetation Management and Transitional Planning Policy (Landscape) also identifies environmental weeds);

Natural Heritage Trust Projects with Community

Council submitting applications with community support and partnership under the Commonwealth's Natural Heritage Trust (NHT) program for community conservation projects to protect species and habitats;

  • Land for Wildlife. Introducing a Land for Wildlife (LFW) program, in association with QPWS and the North Queensland Joint Board;

    Townsville was the first regional local government to set up a Land for Wildllife program and the program is currently being expanded to the Burdekin and Dalrymple Shires with funding support from Burdekin Shire Council and the Natural Heritage Trust. 30 landholders have so far being registered as Land for Wildlife and 4 Council Reserves (Oak Valley; Castle Hill; Rowes Bay; and Nome);

Mr. Gibbs, proud of his Land for Wildlife Property
Click image to enlarge - Gamameka Land for Wildlife

  • Serpentine Lagoon TCC-NHT Rehabilitation and Protection Project. The Serpentine Lagoon 45km south of Townsville is privately owned conservation area consisting of 200 hectares of important and unique wetland habitat. The wetland is a listed as a Wetland of National Significance; is listed on the Register of the National Estate; and is a private property Nature Refuge (protected under the Qld Nature Conservation Act under a Voluntary Conservation Agreement).

    The seasonally flooded melaleuca swamp is home to a great variety of birdlife – including the rare Cotton Pygmy Goose which is listed as ‘near threatened’ by Environment Australia

    Important rehabilitation works have been conducted since cyclone damage to the site in 1998.  Working with landholders and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, TCC has been heavily involved in supporting further repairs, revegetation, weed control, and monitoring. See CASE STUDY and photographs.

Cattle in Serpentine Lagoon
Click image to enlarge - Cattle in Serpentine Lagoon

  • TCC Community NHT Projects. Implementing a Community Flora and Fauna Program to promote community involvement in on-ground works that enhance, rehabilitate and promote areas of remnant native vegetation and wildlife in Townsville’s urban environment. 
    • The co-operative program heavily involves the private sector, community organisations and local schools and covers nine different sites: Castle Hill, Pallarenda Reserve, Louisa Creek, Stuart Creek, Nome; Rowes Bay, Nelly Bay Habitat, Picnic Bay Reserve, Horseshoe Bay Reserve.
    • The program focusses on activities including: identifying and mapping vegetation, collecting and propagating native plant seeds, surveying and monitoring local wildlife, managing weeds and planting trees, and raising community awareness about our natural environment. 7,653 seedlings have been planted in these locations as part of the rehabilitation work with community volunteers and school children (see Flora & Fauna CASE STUDY).

From the Community Fauna and Flora brochure
Click image to see Community Fauna and Flora brochure

  • Community/NHT/TCC projects for Rehabilitation of Ross River and Priority Habitats Projects. To date, these two partnership projects with local Landcare groups has resulted in around 26,000 trees being planted over 20 hectares. Initial monitoring indicates that the project has substantially increased the biodiversity values of the River environment. Natural regeneration has increased while there has been a reduction in weed species.
  • Riverbank revegetation, protection and rehabilitation associated with Council/NHT Clean Seas Louisa Creek project;
  • Green Corps & CVA. TCC has also worked closely with Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) on community revegetation and NHT projects which has included sponsoring many Green Corps programs, and has led to rehabilitation works along Louisa Creek; Ross River; Rowes Bay; Nome; and Land for Wildlife/Priority Habitats project sites and properties.
  • Wildlife Reflectors. In an effort to reduce the number of Wildlife killed on Magnetic Island, TCC has been working with local Wildlife Carer, Jenny Mulcahy to coordinate the instalation of Wildlife Reflectors on the main roads of the island. Reflectors are placed on the side of island roads to re-direct vehicle light into the surrounding bush at night. When a vehicle passes the reflected light causes animals to stop before the edge of the road. While the reflectors are unnoticeable to the drivers, they provide a valuable optical warning fence which prevents significant numbers of road kills.

Conservation & Biodiversity Initiatives

  • Wildlife Carers. Council provides annual funding for administrative support to Townsville's two wildlife care groups. The carers in these two groups perform a significant and free service caring for injured birds, reptiles and mammals.

    • North Queensland Wildlife Care Inc.
    • Independent Wildlife Carers Association

  • Wildfire Management. Developing Wildfire Management Plans with Queensland Fire Service and QPWS for specific vulnerable locations including Magnetic Island and Castle Hill.

  • Provided support to Landcare for a Fire Management Workshop and the production of a Fire Management and the Vegetation Communities of the Townsville and Thuringowa Shires" (ACTFR 1997) planning document.

  • Working with  Rural Fire Service officers and consultants to prepare  locally adaptive Bushfire Hazard Mapping Report for use in the  new town plan (Overall Fire Hazard Map 2000).

  • TCC Bushfire Mapping Program

  • Pest Management. Council’s Pest Control Plan (.pdf 260kb), with annual funding for flora and fauna pest control plans and strategies (Dept Natural Resource's pamphlets, Environment Australia’s Threat Abatement Plans).

  • Site specific management plans for areas of land that have been revegetated, seed collecting and propagating by Council and community groups.

  • Education & Promotion. Development and delivery of biodiversity promotions and displays for Community Fun Days; Night Markets; and special events/conferences.
  • In addition environmental staff have contributed many articles to Townsville-Thuringowa Landcare's "Kapok" newsletter, to Council's City Update, and via other media promotions (ie.yearbooks/case studies).

  • Produced a snake poster highlighting identification, protection and nature of Common Snakes of Townsville Region. See media launch Townsville Bulletin article.

  • Introduced community agreements & contracts to facilitate integration of community bushcare aspirations with Council habitat restoration initiatives. This has enabled community groups to be actively involved in revegetation, rehabilitation and biodiversity oriented projects on Council and public lands. These groups include Tropical Urban Production and Landcare Group (TUPALG); Magnetic Island Nature Care Association (MINCA); and Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA).

TCC EMS - Biodiversity promotions and displays for Community Fun Days
Click image to enlarge - TCC EMS - Biodiversity promotions and displays for Community Fun Days

As well, Townsville City Council has made solid steps in relation to the following election commitments:

Committed resources and sought state/federal funding to develop and implement conservation and land management projects for areas of high environmental value like: Louisa Creek, Castle Hill, South Bank, Clevedon, and Townsville’s southern hinterland.

Council funds a Community Landcare (Bushcare and Coastcare) Centre (Townsville Thuringowa Landcare Association & NaREF) and is investigating options for a Landcare and Education Centre at Rowes Bay and adjacent natural areas.

Restored native vegetation corridors along waterways such as Ross River and Louisa Creek. See above for Community/NHT/TCC Ross River Revegetation project, and TCC Community Jobs Plan (CJP) Revegetation Team for Ross River Parkway implementation project. 20,000 trees were planted.

Council is progressively implementing the recommendations of the Castle Hill Management Plan to help the reforestation and environmental protection of Townsville’s most significant landmark. Council has allocated resources annually for Environmental Services to manage the area, apply for NHT funding (Community Flora & Fauna and Case Study pdf), and conduct fire management.

  • There has been a marked reduction in fire frequency on an annual basis since this fire management commenced, although wildfire is still a common occurrence. However in 2002 the hill did not burn at all, despite the drought conditions which have prevailed in Townsville in the past two years.
  • Council has upgraded the Cudtheringa Walking Track from the bottom turnaround carport to the summit under the cliff face and via the Goat Track. The remainder of the Goat Track is to be upgraded over the following year.

Expanded support for bushland regeneration projects by supporting local Landcare associations (see partnership agreement one & two), the CVA (see partnership agreement - Louisa Creekwatch) and other groups engaged in tree planting, weed clearing and creek stabilisation work.

Completed the expansion of the Council’s nursery and in particular TCC has devoted a section to the propagation of local native plant species to be used in urban forestry projects, including Greening Townsville & Community Revegetation. This has been completed at the Rowes Bay Depot in association with the Environmental Management Services (EMS) Natural Area Trainees Team.

Click to read Townsville Bulletin Greening article
Click to read Townsville Bulletin Greening article

Greening Townsville Program

Greening Townsville logo

See Townsville Bulletin articles:

Commit to planting 100,000 trees per year through free tree schemes, revegetation projects (Townsville Bulletin 26/5/1999 - Oak Valley Kids Greening), community involvement and the sponsorship of government agencies. Target areas include  newer suburbs, industrial precincts, car parks, shopping centres, road reserves and parks.

Urban Nature Community Tree Planting

ALGA’s National Local Government Biodiversity Strategy

(1998) seeks to encourage Councils across Australia to protect small reserves and Council managed lands for nature conservation outcomes. The following small environmental reserves have been set aside by Council for their local high conservation value. These areas are within or closely adjacent to existing urban infrastructure, where opportunities for conservation outcomes, are fewer, they include;


Council Reserve
Management Plan
Funding/ Support
Castle Hill Reserve
Management Plan in place
Natural Heritage Trust
(NHT) Project Schools/community
NHT/tree plantings/naturesearch/CVA
Horseshoe Bay Reserves
Draft EMP* & Survey
NHT Project/Green Corps/Community
Oak Valley Reserve
Working with Landcare
NHT Project/Oak Valley
Nome Reserve
NHT Project
NHT Project/local community
NHT Project/local community

(* Environmental Management Plan )

These areas though generally small, conserve areas of woodland, seaside vegetation (and where rainforest elements are present these are known as beach scrubs and littoral scrubs), and wetlands, located within urban areas, which would otherwise be exposed to pressures from  an expanding population and development.

This requires  vision for the future which incorporates a commitment to protecting biodiversity. 

This action also achieves key recommendations of the major investigation report into determining opportunities for local government to conserve native vegetation on public land (“Beyond Roads, Rates, Rubbish” – Research Report 1/99 National Research and Development Program on Rehabilitation, Management and Conservation of Remnant Vegetation) – Policy Option 4 (see below).

("Beyond Roads, Rates, Rubbish" 1999)

Establish Programs that Support the Conservation of Native Vegetation on Land Managed by Local Government

Outcomes Sought
Conduct an audit of all native vegetation on council-managed land to asses its conservation value
Create conservation zones for significant sites and integrate & within open space planning strategies incorporate in City Plan

Future Directions and Research areas

Numerous areas requiring further work have been identified in this and previous reports, including:

  • Promotion of biodiversity conservation in the community and appreciation of Townsville’s wet-dry tropical savannas and wetlands
  • Implement the Townsville Revegetation Strategy by providing resources for community and Council rehabilitation activities
  • Continue to develop community partnerships model for revegetation (i.e. management and delivery agreements)
  • Continue to conduct detailed site based flora studies and management plans for Council reserves
  • Develop a strategy for delivering a cost effective and efficient fauna survey
  • Survey and map land degradation (weeds, land condition use) which threatens biodiversity (including  riverbank zones of inland waters).
  • Ground truthing and assessment of viability of habitat and faunal corridors.
  • Continue the development of regional local gene pool seed bank and diversity in suitable species seedling availability (revegetation and for maintaining genetic diversity).
  • Maintain the integrated Council-community-business approach to provision of local gene pool supply of local native plants
  • Enhance and investigate the development of suitable propagation techniques for local native plants
  • Development of alternative and innovative control methods for problem weeds
  • Trials to enhance existing rehabilitation techniques and to develop new methods
  • Develop and implement additional incentives to maintain biodiversity on freehold land and in developments (e.g.. Land for Wildlife; resource/rates incentives; Nature Refuges and land management agreements).

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Vine thicket fern and insect
Click image to enlarge - Vine thicket fern and insect