The Willoughby Natural Heritage Register establishes a new methodology for identifying, assessing and protecting natural geodiversity and remnant native vegetation (including threatened plant species and endangered ecological communities) in urban areas.
The Register provides a detailed data base of places and items, including an assessment of community status, condition, level of fragmentation and past disturbance, ecological resilience, invasive species, continuing threats, current protection and management regimes and recommendations for conservation strategies.
While the scope of the study has included major bushland reserves the approach specifically targets ancillary open spaces, public verges, easements, foreshores and private property. The initial study focussed on Willoughby's remnant Blue Gum High Forest, scheduled as a critically endangered ecological community under the Australian EPBC Act 1999 and NSW TSC Act 1995.
The initial study has been expanded to identify and assess the quality of natural geodiversity and native vegetation throughout the local government area.
The Register affords improved protection of places and items of natural heritage significance. Furthermore this document facilitates recovery of fragmented habitat and provides strategies for enhanced social-ecological connectivity.
The conservation strategies are being implemented under Council's e-restore program and community-based Bushcare volunteer initiatives.
The enhanced data base also assists Council in the review and assessment of development applications and provides supportive material in cases before the NSW Land & Environment Court.