Threatened Forests

Hornsby Shire's rarest forests

Blue Gum trees

Blue Gum High Forest – Dog Pound Creek Reserve, Westleigh

In Hornsby Shire's southern suburbs and rural areas are found small remnants of two extremely rare forest types – Blue Gum High Forest and Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest.

These unique forests only ever existed in parts of what is now Greater Sydney, having developed over millennia in response to specific combinations of geology, soil and rainfall.

They are each their own individual ecological community, created by nature and irreplaceable. An ecological community is a naturally occurring group of native plants, animals and other living things set in a unique habitat. A healthy ecological community is vital for the survival of every living thing that depends on it.

Cared for sustainably by traditional custodians for tens of thousands of years, everything changed for these forests when Europeans arrived in Hornsby Shire. Beginning in the late 1700s, trees were felled for timber, followed by wide-spread clearing of the forests for agriculture. With the construction of railway lines and road expansion in the Shire's south, suburbs replaced the once-rural areas. As Sydney's population grew, urban and rural development continued apace, and these forests were whittled away to the point of near extinction.

Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest

Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest – Carrs Bush in Fagan Park, Galston

In recent years, research and assessment by scientists and governments found the situation so dire for these forests that they were listed as threatened under NSW and national environmental legislation. They are now both listed as critically endangered ecological communities (CECC), the highest level of threat before possible extinction.

The Blue Gum High Forest and Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest patches that have survived are a rich and fundamental element of Hornsby Shire's natural heritage. They nourish our soils; shelter and sustain wildlife; protect creeks and wetlands; and absorb carbon dioxide while emitting oxygen. They are a window to the past and are vital to our future.