Natural Areas

What is Natural Areas?

The Shoalhaven is home to extraordinary natural environments. Council manages around 2,000 hectares of Natural Area reserves spread across more than 200 locations. Almost all these reserves are on our urban doorstep and include a variety of habitats comprising bushland, wetland, escarpments, foreshores and dunes.

Natural Areas benefits

These natural areas are valuable and important to protect. They are home to a diverse range of life, including threatened species and vegetation communities. Well-managed natural areas also protect soil from erosion, coastal dune systems protect the coast from storm damage, capture carbon, and improve the health of waterways and air quality.

The reserves provide valuable recreational opportunities to the community – for both
locals and tourists. Research has shown that being in nature:

  • Reduces feelings of anger, fear and stress
  • Increases ‘pleasant’ feelings
  • Improves physical wellbeing by reducing blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension

Help us to look after Natural Area reserves

Locals and visitors can take simple steps to help look after natural area reserves:

Dispose of Garden Waste Appropriately

Garden waste does not belong in Natural Areas. Lawn clippings and garden waste can contain weeds and their seeds, pathogens and excess nutrients that can damage our bushland. 

Green waste can be composted at home or taken to the tip to make mulch. Alternatively, Council offers a green waste pick up service upon request for a fee.

Respect Boundaries

Expanding your yard into public reserves is unlawful. This includes clearing or damaging vegetation, placing objects or building structures in public reserves. This can result in loss of amenity to others, increased public risk and loss of habitat areas.

Try Growing Native Plants in Your Garden

Native plants attract birds and other wildlife, as they provide food and shelter. Gardens can be important refuges in times of drought, or after fires.

Local native plants often grow well in gardens as they are better suited to the local conditions. They generally need little maintenance and water.

Find out a list of recommended plants

Protect Vegetation

Vegetation is a key value of natural areas and habitat for wildlife. It is illegal to clear or damage native vegetation on public land. A maximum penalty of over $1million applies.

Protect our Local Wildlife

Cats and dogs are great companions, but if allowed to roam they can kill, maim, or scare away native birds and animals. It can also make cats and dogs more susceptible to disease.

  • Keep your pet safe and prevent them from roaming
  • Follow regulations for dog on-leash, off-leash and prohibited areas
  • Microchip, desex and register both your cat and dog

Find out more about Pets and Animals

Leave No Trace

Use established access ways, do not create new access ways. Enjoy natural areas, but please only take photographs and leave only footprints.

Habitat includes all components of the environment, including living and dead plants, rocks, soil and water. Plant and animal material provides the basis for essential nutrient recycling.

‘Take 3’ for Rubbish

Have you heard of the ‘Take 3 for the Sea’ movement? This approach works in natural areas too. When out bush, bring home three or more pieces of rubbish and dispose of them properly. Littering is prohibited and can result in penalties of up to $450.

Know Your Asset Protection Zone (APZ)

If you live next to the bush, Asset Protection Zones (APZ) may be established to protect built assets from potential bushfires. Leave these clear, to be maintained by Council. Do not extend clearing beyond the designated width.

Find a bushfire mitigation area

What is That?

Learn about the wildlife in your area by getting involved in the Budawang Coast Atlas of Life. You can record your observations and have them identified by experts on iNaturalist.

Let us Know

Report issues or opportunities to Council. Phone the Council’s Contact Centre on 1300 293 111. Rangers work 7 days per week.