Big Scrub Restoration, Australia


The Big Scrub is an area of subtropical rainforest in north coast (the largest contiguous area of this forest) almost 99% of it was cleared by 1900, mainly for dairy farming. Efforts to regenerate the remaining fragments and expand and link them with plantings have been ongoing since the 1970s but over the last two and half decades Big Scrub Landcare has coordinated a huge increase in restoration activity and community engagement. 

Working in partnership with private landholders, NSW National Parks & Wildlife, all levels of government and the community, Big Scrub Landcare has developed, funded and managed over 40 projects funded by grants and donations of $2.7 million. Over 75% of these funds been invested in regeneration works in over 90 remnants (including 8 remnants in Nightcap NP and NPWS Nature Reserves), with a total area of more than 600 ha, and in replanting on both private and public lands. This has been bolstered by substantial funds and in-kind work by private landholders. 

Most of the significant Big Scrub remnants (52 of the 90 remnants now listed) have been subjected to systematic regeneration treatments, showing substantial levels of recovery. Of these remnants, 25 are now on maintenance, with 27 sites still undergoing follow up works. This means that the threat of invasive weeds is being managed about 530ha of remnants. 

More than 1.5 million trees have been planted on Big Scrub sites, involving about 300 ha. The goal is to include a diversity of trees species, matched to terrain, but many plantations increase in diversity as more species are dispersed into the site by birds or bats feeding on the remnant and planted trees. 

Big Scrub Landcare successfully nominated lowland subtropical rainforest for listing as critically endangered under the Commonwealth EPBC Act and as endangered under the NSW TSC Act. It has also produced widely acclaimed manuals on subtropical rainforest restoration and on the identification and control of subtropical rainforest weeds - and, with the support of many local organisations, has run 19 annual Big Scrub Rainforest Days with an aggregate attendance of more than 26,000, making this day one of the most successful and enduring Landcare community engagement events in Australia. 

Contact: Mike Delaney EnviTE Environment. Tel: 02 6627 2840 Mob: 0429 968 070. Email:

Big Scrub Rainforest Restoration (Parkes et al 2012)
Video of conference presentation by Mike Delaney
Rocky Creek Dam EMR project summary
Rocky Creek Dam conference presentation, Brett Weissel

Fig 1 (a) Regenerators at work in Jephcotts stinger gulley 1992. (b) Recovering rainforest at the same site in 2006, 14 years later. (Photos: Mark Dunphy).

Fig 1 (a) Regenerators at work in Jephcotts stinger gulley 1992. (b) Recovering rainforest at the same site in 2006, 14 years later. (Photos: Mark Dunphy).