Our place – Noosa Biosphere Reserve

World Class. It’s in our Nature.

Noosa Biosphere Reserve status is a celebration of community and environment. It recognises the ongoing efforts of our community to manage Noosa’s land, waters and wildlife sustainably.

In 2007, the Noosa Shire was designated as the Noosa Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) under its Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme. In 2018 this designation was reinstated, recognising decades of the Noosa community working together to live sustainably and in harmony with the natural environment.

Noosa was the first biosphere reserve in Queensland to achieve designation and neighbours the Great Sandy Biosphere Reserve to the north, and Sunshine Coast Biosphere Reserve to the south, making our region three adjoining biosphere reserve sites.

The factors that have helped shape the Noosa Biosphere Reserve include its unique natural landscape, social history, cultural traditions, government and regulatory systems as well as its political, social and economic activities.

Noosa has a rich cultural history that values the arts, culture and environment. The Noosa community respects the traditional owners of this land, the Kabi Kabi/Gubbi Gubbi people, and works closely with Elders to ensure connection to country and Indigenous knowledge continues to be shared.

Designation as a biosphere reserve reinforces Noosa’s reputation as an environmental success story. Our biosphere reserve status helps Noosa demonstrate to communities around the world how environmental protection lies at the heart of a community’s prosperity and success.

The Noosa Biosphere Reserve area

  • The Noosa Biosphere Reserve is the geographical area known as the Noosa Shire plus three kilometres offshore.
  • The boundary extends from Peregian Beach in the south to Kin Kin in the north and from neighbouring townships in the western hinterland to Noosa’s eastern beaches.
  • The Noosa Biosphere Reserve covers approximately 150,000 hectares of freshwater/tidal and terrestrial areas.

Features of the Noosa Biosphere

Noosa is recognised globally for its rich biodiversity surrounding and weaving through a thriving urban population.

  • The total population of Noosa in 2016 was 54,033.
  • Tourism is a key priority for the local economy with more than 2 million visitors to the Noosa Shire in 2016.
  • Located within the MacPherson-Macleay overlap, where temperate and subtropical climate zones meet.
  • Nearly 42% of its area is protected in national parks, conservation parks, State forests, lakes and systems.
  • An ocean corridor important to mega marine fauna such as the 18,000 annual humpback whale migration, some resting with their calves in the region’s bay on their journey south.
  • 65 distinct regional ecosystems, 11 of them are on the endangered list, 26 are of concern.
  • A species-rich river and lakes system with 2 nationally important wetlands, the Noosa River and Lake Weyba.
  • 2,224 native plant species, including Noosa’s floral symbol Key’s Boronia, endemic to Cooloola.
  • 637 native animal species, including a number of iconic species.
  • 343 bird species, accounting for 44% of Australia’s total bird varieties; 35 of which are listed under international migratory bird agreements.

Vulnerable and iconic species

One flowering plant endemic to our region is the Boronia keysii (Key’s Boronia), represented on the Noosa Council and Noosa Biosphere® logos. There are many vulnerable and iconic species that live in or visit the Noosa region:

  • Koala
  • Grey-headed Flying Fox
  • Glossy Black-Cockatoo
  • Water Mouse
  • Ground Parrot
  • Coxen’s Fig Parrot
  • A number of frog species, including the Giant Barred frog and acid frog species
  • Greater Glider
  • Mary River Cod
  • Cooloola Blind Snake
  • Australian Lung Fish
  • Three-toed Snake-tooth Skink

Who manages the Noosa Biosphere Reserve

Noosa Council is the governing authority of the Noosa Biosphere Reserve.

In 2015, Noosa Council established the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation to progress the global aims of the UNSECO MAB Programme. Find out what we do to protect our place.

noosa biosphere map