Restoring native bushland in Western Sydney

We're working with Bankstown Council to protect a large area of native bushland in Sydney’s West. Known as biobanking, the project is increasing biodiversity and nurturing a bushland paradise in the heart of the suburbs.

Sydney has lost over 95% of its original Turpentine-Ironbark forest, but in the Western suburb of Lansdowne this critically endangered group of plants is thriving.

The Ironbarks grow in a protected site known as the Lansdowne Biobank – a ten-hectare area of protected bushland owned by Bankstown Council and cared for by the National Trust.

The site is ringed by busy highways and houses, but just a few steps into the bush and you’re surrounded by lush swaths of Turpentine-Ironbark forest, wattle and kangaroo grass.

“This is what a lot of Sydney would have looked like before people began building roads and houses,” says Jack Holdsworth, National Trust Bankstown Crew Supervisor and one of the lead managers of the site. “Preserving areas of healthy bushland is vital to the survival of countless species that rely on high biodiversity for their survival, so the Lansdowne Biobank is a very important place.”

Bushland management
Native bushland in the Lansdowne Biobank.

Biobanking in action

With so much of Sydney under development, biobanking offers landowners the option to voluntarily offset development and invest in protecting biodiversity on their land.

The National Trust’s Bushland Management team has been working with Bankstown Council on the Lansdowne biobank for more than five years, and the land is showing strong signs of rejuvenation.

“The native plants are starting to regenerate and the site’s beginning to develop what we call resilience,” explains Jack. “This means the native plants are so dominant they’re covering the ground and actually stamping out the weeds themselves. After years of meticulous work, this bushland is in a very good place.”

Bushland management
Biodiversity offsetting is based on the theory that biodiversity values gained at an offset site will compensate for biodiversity values lost to development at another location.

A place to grow

The eradication of weeds means the biobank has become a haven for endangered native plants. In spring, the site is transformed with yellow flushes of Downy Wattle, and delicate natives such as the Spiked Rice Flower and the Native Pear can be found thriving in the undergrowth.

This beautiful and diverse woodland makes up part of the Cumberland Plain woodland, which was once widespread across Sydney’s west, but today only nine percent remains. Jack says projects like these are critical for keeping them healthy.

“In a modern world where biodiversity is in freefall, we’re at the frontline of caring for the environment. If we can make this bushland healthier and more resilient, that benefits everyone, and it will be here for years to come.”

bushland management
National Trust Bankstown Crew Supervisor Jack Holdsworth inspects the young sapling of a Dillwynia.

Progressive techniques

The National Trust takes regular care of the Lansdown Biobank and uses a holistic approach to bushland management, from liquid smokewater that promotes native seed germination, to digging fallen logs into the soil to encourage worms, termites and funghi in the soil.

However the challenges of keeping weeds at bay are constant. “In summer it can be a bit like playing Whack a Mole, where you’re running around trying to keep infestations down,” says Jack. “But we use winter to our advantage to tackle things when they’re not growing too fast.”

Jack’s team has noticed native wildlife returning to the area, including echidnas and even the endangered Cumberland Plain land snail. This, combined with the continual flourishing of the woodlands is the long-term evidence of investing in bushland.

“You can sit in a laboratory or office and talk about how to save the world,” says Jack. “But here we get to actually roll up our sleeves and do something about it.”

Bushland management
Natural funghi growing in bushland.

Are you passionate about bush regeneration and enjoy working outdoors? Contact us to find out how you can get involved in projects across Greater Sydney, or read more about the National Trust (NSW)’s Bushland Management Services.

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