The network of feral predator-free areas is one of several strategies in the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Threatened Species Framework to meet our commitment of zero extinctions and restore threatened species populations.
Yiraaldiya National Park feral predator-free area
This park is Greater Sydney's only site within the feral predator-free network, one of the most significant threatened fauna and ecological restoration projects in NSW history.
Wildlife returning to Sydney
Formerly called Shanes Park, the new park name Yiraaldiya was established in consultation with the local Aboriginal community. The name comes from an 1899 record of the Aboriginal word that described the area between South Creek and Eastern Creek.
Yiraaldiya National Park is in western Sydney and Blacktown Local Government Area, 40 km west-northwest of the Sydney CBD and 10 km northeast of Penrith.
Yiraaldiya National Park is 535 hectares, which, combined with an additional 20 hectares along the property's southern boundary, will make 555 hectares of feral predator-free national park land once the project is fully established. The pistol club remains on 5 hectares of land reserved for this specific purpose.
The 20 hectares on the southern boundary is a potential future road corridor. If Transport for NSW requires this strip of land in the future, National Parks and Wildlife Service will be compensated under the Revocations Policy.
How many animal species will be reintroduced?
Up to 30 species are being considered for reintroduction in NSW feral predator-free areas, making it one of the world's biggest urban wildlife restoration projects.
Priority species that formerly occurred in western Sydney but have become locally extinct because of feral cats and foxes are being assessed for reintroduction including:
- eastern bettong
- brown antechinus
- southern Long-nosed bandicoot
- eastern quoll
- brush-tailed phascogale
- New Holland mouse
- common dunnart
- bush rat
- bush stone-curlew.
Up to 20 additional reptiles and amphibians, which are now locally extinct or declining, will also be considered for reintroduction to Yiraaldiya National Park.
How did we select the species for reintroduction?
All species being considered for reintroduction are species that once lived in this location.
The suitability of the mammal and bird species selected for reintroduction has been confirmed by one of Australia's leading ecologists, Dr Chris Dickman from the University of Sydney. The list of species is based on specimen records, sightings, distribution modelling, reports or other accounts, knowledge of their habitat requirements and their historic ranges.
For all species except the emu, populations could be expected to increase 3- or 4-fold above the estimates provided in the report in the absence of feral cats and foxes. Such increases would be most likely for mid-sized mammals such as eastern bettong and eastern quoll, as shown in other feral predator-free areas.
Species such as the eastern bettong disappeared from New South Wales more than 100 years ago. The eastern quoll was last recorded in Sydney in the 1960s.
What are the other ecological benefits of the project?
The program will see the reintroduction of animals that are 'ecosystem engineers', which play an important role in turning over soil, seed and spore dispersal, and population management through predation, among others. Individual eastern bettongs turn over tonnes of soil every year, while eastern quolls are important predators.
The return of these ecosystem engineers will help restore the health of ecosystems at Yiraaldiya National Park. The park hosts a number of threatened ecological communities which are in poor-moderate condition as a result of past disturbance and the ongoing impact of feral animals, weeds and illegal use.
The project will significantly improve the ecological condition of the site through the removal of all feral animals, the return of up to 30 species of locally extinct wildlife, the restoration of ecological processes and remnant vegetation, the effective management of fire and the prevention of unlawful activity (tracks, dumping of rubbish, etc.).
Several threatened bird species use the site and will benefit from the project including speckled warbler, scarlet robin and rose robin.
What will it be like to visit the park?
Yiraaldiya National Park will provide a visitor experience for the community of western Sydney and a must-see destination for domestic and international visitors that has never been seen in an urban environment in New South Wales.
Visiting Yiraaldiya National Park will be like stepping back in time to see the Australian bush as it was before the arrival of foxes, cats and rabbits – to a time when the Australian bush was alive with native animals.
New visitor facilities such as interpretive signage, an education centre, walking trails and wildlife-viewing hides are planned.
What are the next steps?
The same broad steps are followed for each of the 7 feral predator-free areas.
Building the 1.8-metre-high predator-proof, conservation fence at Yiraaldiya National Park involves 2 stages. Stage 1 is a small soft release area of 56 hectares within the planned stage 2 outer perimeter fence. Stage 1 conservation fencing and control of feral animals is complete and ready for the reintroduction of the first locally extinct mammal, the eastern bettong.
Once eastern bettongs have been successfully established within this smaller area, other locally extinct species, such as koalas, antechinus and bandicoots will be reintroduced following the preparation and approval of translocation plans. Reintroduction will be an ongoing process over several years to accommodate the large number of species being brought back to this site.
The site is expected to open to visitors in 2023–2024. Development and adaptive reuse of existing visitor infrastructure will follow the reintroductions of locally extinct mammals in a staged approach.
Updates on the Yiraaldiya National Park feral predator-free area project will be published on this webpage as they occur.