Noosa Ecology: Land

The Noosa Biosphere Reserve covers around 83,000 hectares of land. 


Noosa’s population has grown more slowly than other parts of South-East Queensland in keeping with the strategic planning that began in the late 1990’s. About 50,000 people live in Noosa but the area attracts 1.65 million visitors a year.

The hinterland communities of Cooroy, Pomona and Cooran are located along the main North Coast Rail Line which links Brisbane with Cairns some 1600 km north. Smaller villages of Kin Kin and Boreen Point are located in relatively isolated parts of the biosphere reserve.

The main coastal communities include: Peregian Beach, Marcus Beach, Castaways Beach, Sunrise Beach, Sunshine Beach, Noosa Heads, Noosa Sound, Noosa Springs, Noosaville, Tewantin and Noosa North Shore.


Much of the landscape was formed 230 million years ago as sedimentary rock. More recent volcanic activity and differences in the rates of erosion has produced an interesting range of landforms. Mountains and hills to approximately 450m in the west contrast with low hills, plateaus and dramatic volcanic features in the central parts of the biosphere reserve.

Conservation - General

Noosa forms part of the region known biogeographically as the "Macleay - McPherson Overlap Zone", which is an area of exceptionally high biodiversity where the northern Torresian and southern Bassian faunas and floras of Australia meet and overlap. As a consequence, the region has the richest fauna in Australia for birds, bats, amphibians and snakes. Many species are at their northern or southern limits of distribution.

Habitats range from littoral rainforest and coastal dune heath and woodlands in the east, through riverine and lake systems, woodlands and tall open forests and mountains to the west. Most of the altitudinal range features pockets and creek systems of rainforest and ecotonal forests. Extinct volcanic plugs (inslbergs) such as Mount Cooroora, Mount Cooroy and Mount Cooran contain montane heaths.

The loss of natural areas to urban expansion within the region has been widespread and include large areas of eucalypt forests, melaleuca forests, heathlands and rainforests. The importance of conserving land in the biosphere reserve through numerous National Parks (4), Forest Reserves (4), Conservation Parks (3), Nature Refuges (8) and State Forests (2) is a priority.

Conservation - Flora

The biosphere reserve retains 40,611ha (50.6%) of its original remnant native vegetation and a further 6,109ha (7.6%) is vegetated with re-growth.

A total of 1,365 different species of plants have been identified within the biosphere reserve. Of those, 39 are protected under State legislation and 21 are protected under Commonwealth legislation. Based on the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999), 16 species of plant are listed as ‘Vulnerable’ and 5 as ‘Endangered’. These include trees, shrubs and flowers.

Conservation – Fauna

The biosphere reserve provides an altitudinal range of fauna habitats, which allows for seasonal migration to occur within Noosa. This is particularly important for birds, (e.g. Noisy Pitta) that have altitudinal migration needs.

Amongst the hundreds of native vertebrate fauna species recorded within the biosphere reserve, about 11% are listed as being ‘rare and threatened’ at state or national level. Over 40% are considered to be ‘significant’ at a local, regional, state, national and international level.

Agriculture & Bio-prospecting

Agriculture and forestry are going through a phase of reinvention in the biosphere reserve with farm forestry, organic farming, horticulture (based on local native plants) and ‘bush tucker’ all growing in popularity.

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