Land managers and volunteers have worked hard over many years to protect Eastern Suburbs banksia scrub (ESBS). Threats remain and ESBS needs your help.
Some active programs, like Bushcare, focus on threats such as weed control, fragmentation and replanting of ESBS species. Fragmentation of ESBS remnants is a problem as small patches of vegetation are less able to adapt to climate change.
Rabbits impact ESBS by feeding on plants and seedlings, and disturbing the soil.
Other threats are harder to manage, like gaps in our knowledge of ESBS. For example, ESBS can exist as a patch of sand with stored seed, and we don’t know how much of this form of ESBS exists. And because we don’t know where it occurs, we can’t protect it or nurse it back to health.
Managed fire plays an important role in maintaining many Australian vegetation communities, including ESBS. ESBS needs managed fire to regenerate.
From ashes to woodland
To best protect ESBS we need to understand the life cycle of this vegetation community and its relationship with fire. Some species, for example banksia, need fire to release seeds from their woody pods.
Fire benefits the whole ESBS community, as long as it’s not too frequent and is the right temperature and duration.
If the interval between fires is greater than 15 years, the deep-sand form of ESBS slowly changes from dense and diverse heathland to a shady woodland with fewer species below. With a longer fire interval, the vegetation community becomes senescent, which means it ages to the point that it doesn’t maintain the diversity of species that could live there.
The intensity and pattern of burning is also important as it determines which species will emerge after a fire. Very intense fires will kill species and their seeds in the soil. To protect the diversity within this vegetation community we need to understand the fire history of each remnant, and how intense the fire needs to be to get the best outcomes.
Help care for ESBS
Some of the reasons we need to care for ESBS are to:
- enjoy its beauty
- support the wildlife that relies on these plants for shelter and food
- keep the sand it grows on from blowing away.
Aboriginal communities and other groups are working to protect our ESBS and improve the health of Country.
IndigiGrow and Bush to Bowl are examples of First Nation-owned nurseries that use cultural knowledge about ESBS to help restore and grow plants which occur in this critically endangered ecological community.
Dedicated bush regenerators have successfully removed weeds and promoted the growth of ESBS for many years. Landholders with ESBS on their land, such as Centennial Parklands and golf clubs, are managing these places for better outcomes for these plants.
ESBS also needs your support to help it thrive. You can provide support by becoming a Bushcare or Landcare volunteer and work with ESBS where it occurs in a national park, council area, or even Centennial Parklands.
To help save ESBS you can:
- join the dedicated bush regeneration volunteers looking after ESBS in Centennial Park
- join the Randwick Council Bushcare team
- help the Foundation for Green Future Australia regenerate ESBS
- join the Northern Beaches Council Bushcare volunteers and work with ESBS in North Head National Park/Car-rang-gel in Manly
- become a member of Friends of Malabar Headland who successfully lobbied government to create this national park in 2017 and continue to support National Parks and Wildlife Service with management such as weed control.