Up to 100,000 trees will be planted over five years whilst 120 kilometres worth of koala fencing will be installed in critical parts of Western Sydney as part of an $84 million plan by the NSW Government aims to protect biodiversity in a huge volume of land which is slated for substantial urban development.
Up to 100,000 trees will be planted over five years whilst 120 kilometres worth of koala fencing will be installed in critical parts of Western Sydney under an $84 million plan by the NSW Government to protect biodiversity across a huge volume of land which is slated for urban development.
NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes has released the Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan covering an area of 200,000 hectares of land across Western Sydney from Wilton in the South to Windsor and Kurrajong in the North.
Under the plan:
- Up to 1,780 hectares of unavoidable impacts on threatened ecological communities will be managed through the plan’s offset program
- At least 5,475 hectares of native vegetation will be protected in perpetuity including eight threatened ecological communities
- Important habitat corridors for koalas and other species will be created, protected and managed
- 4,795 hectares of land will be zoned E2 for environmental conservation including riparian corridors.
- Around 28,300 hectares of land with biodiversity value is identified for selecting future conservation lands (reserves and biodiversity stewardship sites).
A particular focus is the koala population, whereby the plan incorporates several actions to protect habitat and reduce threats to koalas from urban development and roads.
As part of this:
- the Georges River Koala Reserve will protect up to 1,885 hectares of land for koala habitat along the Georges River corridor.
- Around 100,000 new trees will be planted to restore important koala habitat in the Georges River Koala Reserve and other priority locations.
- Over 3,500 hectares of koala habitat will be zoned E2 for environmental conservation
- A total of 120 km of koala exclusion fencing will be installed, including fencing both sides of Appin Road, to stop koalas entering urban areas and being hit by vehicles.
- At least one east-west habitat corridor between the Nepean River and the Georges River will be protected, including construction of a safe koala crossing over Appin Road.
Throughout Western Sydney, pressure will be exerted on biodiversity over coming decades as the region is expected to see significant population growth and urban development.
Housing, infrastructure and commercial development is anticipated to occur in areas such as the Wilton Growth Area, Greater Macarthur Growth Area, Western Sydney Aerotropolis and the Greater Penrith to Eastern Creek Investigation Area.
This will place pressure on the region’s biodiversity, which:
- includes more than 100 threatened species and ecological communities
- is home to the largest koala population in the Sydney basin with between 600 and 1,000 koalas
- supports 20,500 hectares of Cumberland Plain Woodland (a critically endangered ecological community that is found only in the Sydney Basin); and
- has more than 680 kilometres of waterways in the three major river catchments (Hawkesbury, Nepean and Georges rivers).
Preparation of the plan involved field surveys or 2,630 hectares of nominated areas to survey for fauna species and check vegetation mapping and condition, surveys of 258 vegetation plots as part of the biodiversity assessment across the four nominated areas and preparation of nineteen threatened species assessment reports.
Planning Minister Rob Stokes welcomed the plan.
“The Cumberland Plain Conservation Plan is a once-in-a-generation commitment to protect south-west Sydney’s rich environmental assets and important koala population, while providing certainty for investment in a growing part of Sydney,” Stokes said.
“Rather than assessing the biodiversity impact of individual development applications on an ad-hoc basis, we’ve identified upfront the key areas that need to be protected.
“With Western Sydney’s population expected to reach 1.5 million people by 2056, this plan delivers certainty for local communities and investors alike. Too often the environment has been an afterthought in urban planning. This plan prioritises and protects urban bushland before urban development. This approach secures environmental conservation but with the certainty needed to support the strategic delivery of infrastructure, housing and jobs for Western Sydney.”