The reserve protects a small but significant remnant area of Tablelands dry open forest, and is capped by a moist, tall open eucalypt forest more typical of the sub-coastal mountain forests found further to the east. Several newly described and rare orchids occur within the reserve. It also provides habitat for a diverse range of native fauna.
Surrounding the majority of Duval Nature Reserve is Newholme field laboratory, a research and extension facility of the University of New England. Since 1988 most of the Newholme land adjacent to the reserve has been managed by the University for native vegetation regeneration, wildlife conservation and study purposes. The University regularly conducts undergraduate and postgraduate research and tertiary education training within the reserve. This research provides information relevant to management of the reserve.