Cumberland Plain Woodland

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Environment Australia

Woodlands vanishing from Sydney's outskirts

The Cumberland Plain Woodlands is the name for the distinct groupings of plants that occur on the clay soils derived from shale on the undulating Cumberland Plain in central New South Wales. The most commonly found trees in the woodland are Grey Box Eucalypts Eucalyptus moluccana, Forest Red Gums Eucalyptus tereticornis, Narrow-Leaved Ironbarks Eucalyptus crebra and Spotted Gum Eucalyptus maculata. A variety of other lesser-known eucalypts as well as shrubs, grasses and herbs are also found. It is the dominance of Grey Box and Forest Red Gum that makes the community distinctive.

Where is it found?

In 1877 Cumberland Plain Woodlands covered 107,000 hectares occupying approximately 30 per cent of the Sydney Basin. This community type was once widespread in the Plains but has been reduced to a few fragmented stands by human use for farming, industry and housing. Today less than six per cent remains in small fragments scattered across the western suburbs of Sydney, totalling only 6400 hectares. The remaining fragments occur in areas subject to intense pressure from urban development.

Although some areas occur within conservation reserves, this is in itself not sufficient to ensure the long-term survival of the community unless the factors threatening the integrity and survival of the community are eliminated.

What are the threats?

The remaining stands of this ecological community are threatened by the spread of the Sydney suburban areas. Threats include clearance for agriculture, grazing, hobby and poultry farming, housing and other developments, invasion by exotic plants and increased nutrient loads due to fertiliser run-off from gardens and farmland, dumped refuse or sewer discharge.

What's happening?

Both New South Wales and the Commonwealth have listed the Cumberland Plains Woodland as an endangered ecological community under their respective Legislation. A Recovery Plan for this Woodland is being prepared by the NSW Government. Environment Australia, under the Natural Heritage Trust, is supporting a number of projects restoring and rehabilitating these woodlands through Landcare and Bushcare programs and through community groups

How can I help?

You can help by:

  • limiting access to the Cumberland Plain Woodland by you, your pets, your garden plants, your rubbish and your vehicles;
  • practising environmentally safe bushwalking by keeping to paths, not trampling or picking plants, and keeping pets on a lead (or at home!);
  • disposing of cigarette butts and garden waste wisely and report any unauthorised fires or dumped rubbish to the appropriate authorities;
  • supporting local efforts to conserve threatened species in your area by joining a local organisation such as a Landcare or catchment group, natural history or a 'friends of' group or by volunteering for Green Corps or the Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers; and
  • participating in special events, information nights, tree planting days and weed eradication programs in your local area.

To find out more about saving your state's threatened species check out the Threatened Species Network (TSN) web site or call the Network's National Office on (02) 9281 5515.

You can also find out more information about Australia's threatened species by calling the Department of the Environment and Heritage's Community Information Unit on free call 1800 803 772