Kempsey Shire has a diverse range of plant species and vegetation communities, ranging from coastal heathland to subtropical, warm temperate and cool temperate rainforests.

The major vegetation communities in our region are:

  • subtropical, warm temperate and cool temperate rainforest
  • wet and dry sclerophyll forest
  • swamp forest
  • woodland, including Melaleuca, Eucalypt and Casuarina spp
  • scrubland, including Banksia and Leptospermum spp
  • grassland (native and modified) and pasture
  • wetland, aquatic and marine, including saltmarshes, rushlands, mangroves and seagrass
  • dunal communities, such as littoral rainforest
  • wet and dry heathland
  • riparian vegetation.

For more information about local plant species, search the NSW BioNet Atlas.

Caring for our Norfolk Pines

South West Rocks has about 75 Norfolk Island Pines (Araucaria heterophylla). These large trees are an iconic feature of the township, and many are at least 80 years old.

In 2018, Council’s arborist noted that several trees were showing signs of decline, including thin canopies, open wounds, retained deadwood, delaminated bark and declining branch tips. Independent testing confirmed that at least one tree in South West Rocks was affected by Norfolk Pine Canker (Neofusicoccum parvum). This is a fast-acting fungal pathogen that can kill its host tree in as little as two years. 

The fungus has been observed throughout Australia and New Zealand. No chemical control is currently available but a program of watering and fertilisation, using seaweed-based fertiliser and high potassium, may assist.

Read our Norfolk Island Pines factsheet(PDF, 294KB)

Management Plan

Kempsey Shire Council has developed a management plan for the Norfolk Pines and is making every effort to give the affected trees the best possible chance of rejuvenation.

We will closely monitor the pines and perform ongoing maintenance, including removing diseased matter, applying water-based feed and slow release fertiliser, and limiting compaction.

Pandanus Trees

The iconic pandanus tree is found along the northern NSW coastline, and Kempsey Shire is fortunate to have this species at many beachside and headland locations.

In 2021, Council’s arborist noticed some pandanus trees were suffering from stress and dieback along the Crescent Head foreshore. Council sent samples to the NSW Royal Botanic Garden and NSW Department of Primary Industries to determine the definitive cause of the problem.

The results revealed the trees as well as the soil are infected with a natural pathogen called Phytopythium vexans, causing root rot in several trees. To treat and rehabilitate the area, unfortunately, Council will have to remove the infected trees as well as the soil.

Part of the Crescent Head Master Plan will be replanting these iconic species in suitable locations to make sure they remain healthy.

You can find out more by visiting Pandanus trees sadly infected with root rot