Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Gillard Government protects rare Western Sydney natural environment

Media release
18 March 2013

The Western Sydney dry rainforest and moist woodland on shale will be protected under national environment law by the Gillard Government.

Environment Minister, Tony Burke, said that the listing of this critically-endangered ecological community was vital to protect it from threats.

"This will protect a unique rainforest-type habitat among the plains and low hills of the Cumberland Plain in far western Sydney," Mr Burke said.

"Western Sydney isn't just urban sprawl. From the north west to the west through to the south west, there are some extraordinary places of remnant vegetation which are precious unique and rare.

"Protecting these areas isn't only important scientifically for biodiversity, these are some of the places which contribute to the natural beauty of Western Sydney.

"It is home to many plants and animals, such as the endangered giant barred frog, the white flowered wax-plant and, occasionally, koalas.

"In addition to habitat, this ecological community also provides vital ecosystem services such as soil erosion control, maintaining water quality and carbon storage.

"It occurs in the wetter more rugged terrain of the Cumberland Plain, with most remnants in the Picton-Camden region to the south and around Kurrajong-Cattai to the north, but also several key remnants around Penrith.

"The western Sydney rainforest occurs in areas popular for bushwalking and bird watching such as Mulgoa Nature Reserve, with some birds in this ecological community unlikely to be seen elsewhere in western Sydney.

"Protecting these areas shows the importance of the rainforest and may provide landholders, state and local agencies or community groups with more opportunities to better manage the ongoing threats."

Any new development or other action likely to have a significant impact on the western Sydney dry rainforest ecological community is now required to be referred for assessment under national environment law.

The ecological community is a type of dry rainforest with a closed non-eucalypt canopy that transitions into a moist woodland environment with a more open eucalyptus tree canopy.

For more information on the western Sydney dry rainforest ecological community go to http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publiclookupcommunities.pl.