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Discover how we are protecting the Gold Coast's natural environment - our spectacular beaches, hinterland ranges, bushland and waterways - and how you can help.

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Native vegetation groups

The Gold Coast is home to more than 1730 recorded species of native plants, making it one of Australia’s most biodiverse cities. The World Heritage-listed Gondwanan rainforests and Ramsar convention-listed coastal wetlands protect internationally significant environments. The waterfalls, open forests, freshwater and tidal wetlands, sand dunes and long stretches of beach bordering the Coral Sea are some of the features that give the City its iconic reputation and are central to why people choose to come to the Gold Coast to visit, live and invest.

The biodiversity of the City is created in part by a large number of interesting and beautiful native vegetation groups.

Native vegetation grows in groups of species and these groups vary depending on soil, landform, aspect and climate. It is useful to understand the vegetation that grows on your property, as this can guide selecting the right species for your garden, landscaping or restoration project. When you plant the right native plant in the right place, you save time, money, effort, energy and you do less maintenance. Why wouldn’t you?

Eucalypt open forests and woodlands

Eucalypt open forests and woodlands are the quintessential Australian bush. With gum trees and wattles, grasstrees and wildflowers, koalas and kookaburras, eucalypt forests occupy the Gold Coast’s lowlands, foothills and much of the higher country on a range of soil types.

Eucalypt open forests and woodlands are home to an amazing variety of native animals including many Australian icons such as kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas and possums. These species are commonly seen on Gold Coast properties, even small blocks, which retain native bushland.

More than twenty species of eucalypts and related trees are found on the Gold Coast. These trees take 120-180 years to form hollows, which are essential breeding, nesting and roosting sites for native fauna. Where hollows exist, they do not indicate that a tree is unsafe; in fact hollow trees can be stronger and sturdier. We need to retain gum trees in our environment for a long time to ensure our coexistence with the wonderful local fauna.

Wet eucalypt forests

The canopy of wet eucalypt forest is dominated by gum trees, but because conditions are moister, rainforest trees and shrubs are often found in the understorey. Fire is very important in determining the structure and species composition of wet eucalypt forests. If fire occurs, the vegetation group may change towards a dry eucalypt forest and where excluded the vegetation may become rainforest over time.

Wet eucalypt forests can be found adjacent to both open forest and rainforest and share characteristics of both adding to habitat diversity and providing food and other resources for a wide variety of fauna species.


The Gold Coast’s rainforests contain great biological wealth. This has been recognised internationally by the World Heritage status awarded to the rainforests of Springbrook and Lamington, but all rainforest is of great importance for the diversity of plants, animals and other life forms it supports. Rainforests tend to be home to many rare and threatened species, such as the Macadamia nut, (Macadamia integrifolia).

Rainforest communities are generally found in areas with moist, rich, volcanic or alluvial soils, located in sheltered gullies and along watercourses. A number of subgroups of rainforest occur on the Gold Coast, including subtropical, gallery, dry, warm temperate, cool temperate and littoral rainforest. Littoral rainforest describes the coastal rainforests that once existed close to beaches, such as the magnificent Surfers Paradise rainforest that once grew between Main Beach and Broadbeach. The coastal rainforest that grows on the basalt rock at Burleigh Headlands, is another type of rainforest and is the only example of this type in the whole city.

Stream bank (riparian) vegetation

The stream bank or riparian vegetation found along creeks and rivers is often different to the surrounding vegetation groups because of the additional moisture and nutrients available and due to the presence of better soils.

Watercourses and the associated riparian vegetation provide critical habitat and corridors for native wildlife, even when water runs in the streambed only part of the time. Much of the Gold Coast’s riparian vegetation has been cleared for farming or residential purposes so protecting what remains and restoring degraded and cleared riparian vegetation is essential for the survival of many species.

Paperbark open forests and woodlands

A large part of the Gold Coast was covered by a magnificent feature, the Great Swamp. It extended from Burleigh Waters west to Mudgeeraba, north to Nerang River and east to the edge of the coastal dune systems. This fantastic swamp was home to a range of native vegetation groups, heathland, wetlands and paperbark open forests and woodlands.

Paperbarks (Melaleuca species) are the dominant species forming this vegetation group and often found in association with eucalypts such as Queensland blue gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) or swamp oak (Casuarina glauca). This vegetation group has been extensively cleared and its habitat modified on the Gold Coast, largely by the construction of the canal systems and draining of the floodplain. Less than 8 per cent of this vegetation community remains on the Gold Coast. Remaining areas of paperbark open forests and woodlands type are of high environmental significance.


Mangrove forests fringe our coastal waterways and cover the mud islands in our open estuaries. A mangrove is a plant that grows above the average sea level of an intertidal zone.

An important habitat for a wide range of species, mangroves provide nursery, feeding and protective areas for fish and crustaceans and are vital for nutrient cycling.

Mangroves also play a valuable role in foreshore protection with their extensive root systems assisting shoreline stability.


If you reside close to mangrove wetlands you may notice a pungent rotten egg-like odour, between the months of May and November.

This odour is typically the result of the breakdown of organic material such as leaves and seeds in wetland areas. Bacteria facilitate this breakdown of organic material by consuming oxygen from the water, creating a sulphur reaction with distinctive hydrogen sulphide (rotten egg) odour.

As this is a natural process, little can be done to reduce the odour. Planting outdoor perfumed flowering plants that thrive in winter can help manage these odours.

For further information please visit or download and view more information about mangroves of the Gold Coast.

Wallum or heathlands

Wallum is a term used to name the wildflower heathlands that were common to the east coast of Australia prior to European settlement. Wallum is a common vegetation group found in sandy, coastal areas and low-nutrient soils, but can be found growing on rock in the mountains. Wallum describes a variety of vegetation communities and are typically very diverse, supporting shrubs including tea trees, grasstrees and wildflowers.

An important species common to wallum on the Gold Coast is the Wallum Banksia, (Banksia aemula). This species is the floral and arboreal emblem of the Gold Coast. The best place to see wallum or wildflower heathlands on the Gold Coast is at Pine Ridge Conservation Park. In late winter and spring, the wallum here bursts into bloom with an amazing diversity of wildflowers.

The Gold Coast Stories website provides further information on the Wallum Banksia.

Dune vegetation

The vegetation type most familiar to beachgoers, dune vegetation is dominated by species like coastal she-oak (Casuarina equisetifolia), coastal banksia (Banksia integrifolia), and beach spinifex. Dune vegetation stabilises the dunes in the face of salt laden winds but much has been cleared, or is suffering from weed invasion, including garden escapee plants.

Dune vegetation protects the dynamic coastline from wind and from salt and buffers the effects of storms and cyclones. Council’s Ocean Beaches Strategy aims to improve the quantity and condition of dune vegetation along the coast.

Regional ecosystems and vegetation types

The Queensland State government uses Regional Ecosystems to classify and describe vegetation within a region associated with a particular combination of geology, landform and soil. You can request a map of biodiversity status or broad vegetation group to find out what preclearing vegetation, remnant vegetation and regional ecosystems your property has, or view descriptions of regional ecosystems.

The City uses vegetation types to map its vegetation cover. Vegetation types were defined by botanists from the Queensland Herbarium for the City in 2003 and are more descriptive, locally relevant and provide more information than Regional Ecosystems.

The Remnant and regrowth vegetation cover mapping report summarises the extent and distribution of native vegetation types across the Gold Coast local government area as of 2011. The Gold Coast City vegetation community representation report identifies current and historic representation of each vegetation type within the conservation network, gaps in representation and expert panel-agreed targets to ensure adequate representation for each vegetation type.

Download the Vegetation types of the Gold Coast to view the 77 currently listed vegetation types within the city.


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