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9 Apr 2019

Why the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub is important

You may know that Centennial Parklands is home to a range of native and exotic flora – but do you know we also conserve an endangered plant community called the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (ESBS)? Not only do we conserve it, but we’re a best-practice site for its conservation.

What is Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub?

Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub is a nationally and state-listed endangered ecological scrub and heath vegetation community confined to deep, wind formed sand deposits in the coastal suburbs of Sydney.

Estimates are that it originally covered over 5,300 hectares, however today there is less than 127 hectares remaining (a loss of over 97%).

We have several remnant patches of ESBS in Centennial Parklands, These bushland areas of ESBS are of varying sizes and conditions and are spread across the Parklands.

These sites include:

  • Randwick Gate to Ash Paddock bushland remnant,

  • Kensington Ponds bushland remnant,

  • Queens Park bushland remnant

  • York Road West bushland remnant;

  • Bird Sanctuary; and

  • York Road remnant.

​We undertake regular bush regeneration work at the Bird Sanctuary in Centennial Park and adjacent York Road in Queens Park, as well as opportunistic works in the other remnant sites

Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub
Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub remnants are found throughout Centennial Parklands.

Survival threats

The fragments of ESBS that remain in Sydney are generally small and isolated, which inhibits the functioning of natural ecological processes.

In addition to vegetation clearing, other threats include habitat degradation resulting from increased nutrients from stormwater runoff, invasion by weed species, inappropriate fire regimes, and inappropriate access resulting in erosion and illegal rubbish dumping.

Build-up of leaf litter resulting in reduced germination of plants from the soil seed bank is also considered a threat, as are the effects of pests (rabbits and foxes) and disease. Infection of plants by the pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi is also considered a major threat that we try to control.

 Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub
ESBS remnants near York Road by Queens Park. 

Our best practice conservation

In 2008 Centennial Parklands was recognised as a best practice ‘Threatened Species Demonstration Site’ for our management program of Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub remnants.

This recognised the quality work of our horticultural and bush regeneration staff, supported admirably by a dedicated and hard working team of bush regeneration volunteers.

We have continued using best practice bushland regeneration techniques to mitigate the impacts on ESBS posed by exotic and non-ESBS species.

These include:

  • Use of fire management as a regenerative process within ESBS;
  • Seed collection from appropriate areas of ESBS;
  • Continue to encourage native species germination by using weeding, raking and other regeneration techniques.
Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub
Bush regeneration volunteers are currently helping us with three unique conservation projects..

The role of fire

Fire is an important natural element in many native plant communities, with some species – like Banksias– being reliant on fires of a particular intensity and frequency for regeneration.

Within urban environments, the suppression of fire can result in a loss of species diversity through the local extinction of species that typically require fire for seed germination.

Fire, or ecological burning, is a standard practice we undertake as part of our species management in the Parklands, as it helps germination and maintains the floristic composition and vegetation structure of the ESBS community.

Ecological pile burn controlled by NSW Fire
Ecological burn controlled by NSW Fire help to regenerate the ESBS community.

What to know more about ESBS?

Here is a great Fact Sheet (PDF) on Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub in the Sydney Region.

If you are a public or private landholder with remnant ESBS on your property, here is a more detailed publication that outlines the NSW Recovery Plan for the species: ESBS Listing and Recovery Plan.

For those seeking more scientific insight, here is a brief presentation on the importance of fire in Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub communities.
eastern suburbs banksia scrub noisy miner
Noisy miner feeding on a Banksia.


 This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.

We would also like to acknowledge:
  • the support of the Centennial Parklands Foundation for their funding support of the ESBS program
  • the dedicated and long-term work of the bush regeneration volunteers who turn up routinely, work diligently and have displayed a long-term commitment to their project – to ensure our threatened plant community is preserved.
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