Native biodiversity

Sydney has a rich variety of native plants and animals. Learn about what you can do to support native plants and animals that live near you.

Two female volunteer bush regenerators wearing yellow gloves, on a slope with tree behind them and helping bushland.

Sydney is a city rich with nature, despite being Australia’s largest city with over 5 million people.

Greater Sydney is part of the Sydney Basin Bioregion, a natural region that extends from Batemans Bay in the south to Nelson Bay in the north, and almost as far west as Mudgee.

It has a rich variety of landscapes that support a diverse range of plants, animals and other organisms, making it one of the most biodiverse places in Australia.

 

Support your local native plants and animals

There’s a lot you can do to learn about and help native plants and animals that live near you. You can:

Restoring native bush on the Grose River

A group of Blue Mountains volunteers standing in front of green bush for a group photo.Paddling up and down the Grose River, Blue Mountains Bass Fishos members saw the negative impacts of weeds like lantana and decided to work to return an impenetrable patch of lantana to native bushland.

Club member, Garry Blount, said ‘Native species are growing back and now we see wallabies eating the native grass, and the birds are coming back too. We also see platypus and carpet pythons when we paddle up the river.

‘Trees that are there now will grow, die and fall into the river and become important fish habitat. We’ve been able to help restore the natural forest cycle.

‘It felt good to give something back to the environment. With more volunteers we could get so much more done and make a bigger difference to the bush and rivers.’

Removing choking weeds

Group of about 15 Baha'i Faith volunteers standing in shade on edge of dirt road in front of trees for a group photo.A small patch of bush in northern Sydney is home to the beautiful but endangered Grevillea caleyi, with some growing within the native bush grounds of the Baha’i Temple.

Members of the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i Faith are working side by side with Pittwater Natural Heritage Association volunteers and government staff to remove choking weeds from around the plants.

This improves the habitat for the many animals that live there too.

Threats to Sydney native biodiversity

Fox (Vulpes vulpes) standing in bush with eastern blue tongue lizard as prey in its mouth.One third of Australian threatened species live in our cities and Sydney is a hotspot.

Threats to native plants and animals include habitat loss, pests, weed, injury and death from vehicle strikes and climate change.

Find out about threats to native plants and animals by looking at our database: select 'Sydney Basin' and choose a habitat and species type.

 
Close up image of an African olive (Olea europaea subspecies cuspidata) with dark green leaves and green and red fruit on slender branches.

The biggest threat to our region’s biodiversity is habitat loss. Accommodating Sydney’s growing population has adversely affected native plants and animals, but recent changes to environmental legislation aims to balance land management and nature conservation.

Fragmentation puts remnant bushland at greater risk of threats such as weed and pest invasions.

Weeds threaten our biodiversity when introduced plants escape from gardens and choke our native bushland.

Photo: African olive (Olea europaea subspecies cuspidate) is a highly invasive woody weed that threatens native bushland. Greg Steenbeeke

Pesticide, fungicide and herbicide application can kill bacteria and fungi, and beneficial insects and other invertebrates that live in our gardens.

These poisons can make their way into our waterways, killing aquatic animals and plants.

Cats, foxes and wild dogs kill our native animals.

Cats kill more than 1 million native birds in Australia every day. Foxes are a big threat to native animals in Sydney. In 2016, one fox killed one-fifth of Manly’s endangered little penguins.

Domestic dogs chase birds, kill lizards like blue tongues, and attack and kill mammals like koalas.

Wild rabbits and feral goats outcompete native animals for food.

Green turtle (chelonia mydas) sick with plastic ingestion on table at Taronga Zoo wildlife hospital with female staff sitting behind with hand of turtle's shell.Rubbish, including tiny plastic particles that form when plastic breaks down in the environment, hurts our wildlife on the land and in the water.

CSIRO has identified plastics and marine debris as major environmental concerns, with balloons, plastic bags and bottles among the top 3 most harmful pollutants to marine life.

Photo: Marine animals such as this green turtle suffer from plastic ingestion. Paul Fahy/Taronga Conservation Society Australia

Cars and other vehicles kill hundreds of thousands of native animals every year.

This includes larger animals like kangaroos and wombats as well as native frogs, reptiles and smaller birds. These animals try to find food and shelter in fragmented habitats so go to the edge of roads to feed or cross, often at sunset. It’s then that they’re particularly vulnerable to being injured or killed.

Climate changes, like increasing temperatures, shifts in rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and more intense extreme events such as heat waves or storms, threaten all aspects of our biodiversity.

You can help reduce threats

Domestic cat with collar and lead attached standing in its enclosure (cat run).

You can help by:

  • stopping your cat from catching wildlife – put a bell round its neck and keep it inside, especially at night
  • stopping your dog from chasing and catching wildlife by keeping it on a lead and preventing it from entering bush
  • reporting fox sightings.

You can also support organisations that rescue and nurse injured and orphaned wildlife back to health, such as Sydney Wildlife and WIRES. Download the International Fund for Animal Welfare app to find your nearest rescue organisation.

Photo: A large enclosed cat run can give cats access to outdoors, keep them safe and stop them harming native wildlife. Janice Bagot

Yellow and black 'Slow down endangered bandicoots' sign on a metal pole on the side of a road lined by trees.

Help reduce threats to wildlife by:

  • driving slowly around bushland, particularly around dawn and dusk
  • don’t throw litter/food out of your car as this can attract wildlife to the road
  • turn your headlights on at dusk and consider putting your lights on high beam if safe to do so.

Combat our rising city temperatures

Use green cover to help keep your local area cooler and enjoy the many benefits.

Find out more about climate change and what we are doing to understand how our species, ecosystems and landscapes can adapt.

Become a weed warrior

Don’t plant introduced plants that could become weeds. Find out what weeds are in your local area and avoid them.

Hardy exotic plants with fruits that can be dispersed by birds (e.g. mulberries) or those distributed by the wind (e.g. dandelions) are those most likely to become weeds.

For more information about native plants local to your area, go to your local nursery:

Don’t dump your garden clippings in parks or waterways as this also spreads weeds. Dispose of them in council green bins or let them rot in water for six weeks and put them in your own compost bin. You can use the diluted ‘tea’ (1 part tea to 9 parts water) as a fertiliser on your garden.

Find out about Greater Sydney Local Land Services strategic weed management plan and how to report and manage priority weeds for Greater Sydney.