North Head Sanctuary Foundation
is working with Government agencies
towards the establishment of
on North Head
at the gateway of Sydney Harbour
- a flagship for Australia's
and a celebration of
our natural and cultural heritage.
Car-rang-gel Sanctuary on North Head, Sydney
Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub
Click here to see photos and information about individual plants that
are found in this ecological community.
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
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
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
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 of North Head showing the area
The majority of this
diminishing ecological community is found on the Sydney Harbour
Federation Trust land, with smaller patches occurring on the
Harbour National Park.
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
Xanthorrhoea after fire
Recovery after fire
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:
Suburbs Banksia Scrub of the Sydney Region.
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.
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 &
Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub in the Sydney region
Description, Distribution, Habitat and Ecology
Protecting and Restoring Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub
NSW Office of Environment and
North Head Sanctuary Foundation Native
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
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
North Head Sanctuary Foundation, P.O.Box 506, Balgowlah, NSW 2093
This page was coded for the North Head Sanctuary Foundation
by Judith Bennett.