The area of beach from South Ballina Beach to Evans Head is internationally recognised as an important breeding, foraging and roosting habitat for migratory shorebirds.
Migratory shorebirds are listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) and are classified of national environmental significance.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service advises that the beach supports significant numbers of Pied Oystercatchers, which are listed as ‘Endangered’ under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.
Other threatened shorebirds recorded at the beach include Sooty Oystercatchers (Vulnerable), Little Terns (Endangered), Sanderlings (Vulnerable), Beach Stone-curlew (Endangered), Greater Sand-plover (Vulnerable), Lesser Sand-plover (Vulnerable), Curlew Sandpiper (Endangered) Great Knot (Vulnerable), Terek Sandpiper (Vulnerable), White-bellied Sea Eagle (Vulnerable), and Eastern Ospreys (Vulnerable).
Vehicle activity can have a substantial impact on shorebird habitats by damaging nests, forcing breeding birds away from nests, exposing eggs to predation and the elements, increasing stress that impacts feeding rates, and through direct vehicle impacts with birds.
Loggerhead turtles (Endangered), Leatherback turtles (Endangered) and green turtle (Vulnerable) nests have also been recorded on South Ballina Beach. Vehicles driving above the high-tide line can destroy sea turtle nests.
Driving in the dunes, which is not permitted but has been occurring at South Ballina Beach, also destroys stabilising vegetation resulting in acceleration of erosion.