North Head Sanctuary Foundation
is working with Government agencies
towards the establishment of
Car-rang-gel Sanctuary
on North Head
at the gateway of Sydney Harbour
- a flagship for Australia's
environmental resolve
and a celebration of
our natural and cultural heritage.
Car-rang-gel Sanctuary on North Head, Sydney
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Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub

Click here to see photos and information about individual plants that are found in this ecological community.


ESBS
Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub
What is Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub?

ESBS is a dry heathland scrub community that occurs on patches of nutrient-poor, ancient windblown (aeolian) dune sand. Known as a Wallum Sand Heath, it may contain small patches of woodland or low forest in wetter areas.

A rich variety of shrubs and other plants occur in ESBS. The species present vary widely, depending on the soil, topography, time since disturbance and local weather.

While few, if any, of the individual plant species characteristic of ESBS are rare or endangered, the whole plant community is found only between the Hawkesbury River and Royal National Park.

Estimated to have occupied between 5355ha and 9643ha prior to European settlement, ESBS now remains on as little as
1-8% of its original area.

As a consequence, ESBS is now recognised as a Critically Endangered Ecological Community, likely to disappear within the next 50 years if it is not managed to reverse the threats to it. Those threats include clearing and fragmentation, invasion by weeds and escaped garden plants, grazing by rabbits, altered fire regimes, trampling and other impacts of human access, loss of native species and climate change.

North Head is home to one of the largest remaining areas of ESBS. Other patches of this ecological community are found in Sydney's Eastern Suburb areas near Maroubra and a few patches are located further south in Royal National Park.

The ESBS at North Head is home to animal species, including the Endangered Long-nosed Bandicoot population, several bat species, frog species and the Eastern Pygmy-possum reintroduced by Australian Wildlife Conservancy.

Map ESBS
Map of North Head showing the area of ESBS.

The majority of this diminishing ecological community is found on the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust land, with smaller patches occurring on the surrounding Sydney Harbour National Park.

Bushfire
Bushfire

After a burn
After a burn
Fire and its role in managing Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub

Like many of Australia’s plant species and ecological communities, ESBS has evolved with fire. If fires are too frequent some species do not have time to set seed and grow past seedling stage. If left without fire for too long, a small number of species (especially Coast Tea-tree) dominate, crowding out other species and reducing the rich diversity of the community.

The preferred interval between fires in ESBS is 10-15 years, with some patches left unburnt for up to 30 years, in a mosaic pattern.

While fire is an important part of ESBS conservation, our studies at North Head highlight the importance of excluding rabbits during the post-fire period.

The amount of rainfall in the months following a burn also determines the speed at which the ecological community can regenerate.

Xanthorrhoea after fire
Xanthorrhoea after fire

Recovery after fire
Recovery after fire

Xanthorrhoea

ESBS

ESBS

ESBS

Typical patches of Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub on North Head

More information about ESBS

The ‘Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub of the Sydney Region’ ecological community was nominated for uplisting from nationally Endangered to Critically Endangered status in 2018 and was prioritised for assessment in 2019. The ecological community has been listed as Endangered under national environment law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), since 2000. Information on the currently listed ecological community can be found at:
Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub of the Sydney Region.

Please note that the ecological community named ‘Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub of the Sydney Basin Bioregion’ is also listed under New South Wales legislation, the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, as Critically Endangered.
The Threatened Species Scientific Committee’s assessment and advice to the Australian Government Minister for the Environment is due by 31 October 2021.

Department of Agriculture, Water & Environment (2021)


Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub in the Sydney region

Description, Distribution, Habitat and Ecology

Best Practice Guidelines

Protecting and Restoring Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (2018)                                                       

 

North Head Sanctuary Foundation Native Plant Nursery
Nursery

NHSF's native plant nursery was established in 2009 to assist in conserving the plants indigenous to North Head, and especially the species that together make up ESBS.

Working under an approved licence to collect seed, our Nursery volunteers work regularly to collect, propagate, and maintain indigenous plants at planned locations across the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust's North Head site.

While it is difficult to fully restore the complex mix of species that together form ESBS, the restoration of sites changed by past uses makes a significant contribution to the conservation of this Critically Endangered ecological community.

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North Head Sanctuary Foundation, P.O.Box 896, Balgowlah, NSW 2093

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This page was coded for the North Head Sanctuary Foundation by Judith Bennett.
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