Category Archives: News

Flora Workshops Spring 2016

FLORA WORKSHOP – Spring 2016

Presented by Teresa James (Botanist/Ecologist)

Derived Grasslands Workshop

Native Grasslands derived from Cumberland Plain Woodland in western Sydney have only recently began to be recognised for their conservation values, but are still poorly mapped and documented. During this workshop we will cover the following:

  • The importance of derived grasslands and “paddock” trees in western Sydney
  • Mapping and condition assessment
  • Identification of grasses and herbs
  • Threatened species

Date: Two dates are planned if sufficient interest.

Friday 18th November (9 am to 3 pm) and Sunday 20th November (9 am to 3 pm)

Cost (including workshop notes): $125

Venue: TBA but we will be visiting 2-3 sites with car pooling between sites.

If interested in any of the above workshop please complete the registration form and return to Teresa James

Copies of Teresa’s latest Identification Guide Native Flora on Shale Soils of the Cumberland Plain Woodland (2016) are also available for purchase ($38).

Spring Flora Workshop 2016

Registration Form




Contact Address:



Please copy, complete and return completed form to asap. An invoice will then be sent out with payment details.

Autumn Flora Workshops 2016

Flora Workshop


Presented by Teresa James (Botanist/Ecologist)

1. Introduction to identifiying western Sydney plants (NEW)

Date: Sunday 17th April (10 am to 1 pm)

Details: A field based practical introduction to identifying native plants. No previous knowledge is required. Learn how to identify plants based on simple, user friendly keys, descriptions and photographs. Please bring a hand lens or magnifier if you have one. We will be using my latest book Native Flora of Shale Soils of the Cumberland Plain – An Identification Guide (2016) – this is an expanded version of Native Flora of Cumberland Plain Woodland (2013).

Cost: Option 1 includes a copy of Native Flora of Shale Soils of the Cumberland Plain: $75

Option 2 – workshop only : $40 Venue: TBA

*Class copies of the book will be available for use on the day

2. Grass Identification Workshop – western Sydney (NEW)

Date: Wednesday 20th April (9 am to 3 pm)

Details: A one day field-based workshop. We will cover the importance and types of grasslands found in western Sydney, basic grass morphology and terminology, main grass groups, common genera, how to examine a specimen and use a simple botanical key. The focus will be on native species but common or easily confused exotic species will be included. Please bring a ruler and a hand lens or magnifier if you have one.

Cost (including workshop notes): $140 Venue: TBA

3. Shale Sandstone Transition Forest Workshop

Date – Saturday, 23rd April, 2016 (9am – 3.30 pm)

Details: A single day workshop to assist in identification of the Shale Sandstone Transition Forest critically endangered community and explore natural variability within the community. There will be an indoor presentation, field survey along the shale sandstone transition and inspection of a few contrasting local sites (within the Hills Shire).

Cost (including workshop notes): $125 Venue: In The Hills (TBA)

All inquiries and bookings to Teresa James:

Meeting – Government’s Biodiversity Legislation Review

The NSW Government is rewriting land clearing laws and the news isn’t good for biodiversity and communities across the State, including Western Sydney. With the Government’s draft legislation due for public release in March 2016, join us to learn more about the Government’s proposed changes and be empowered to make your voice heard.

This event is organised by the Total Environment Centre and Nature Conservation Council for NSW, in collaboration with the Blacktown and District Environment Group, as part of a series of events across Sydney.

What: Baird’s War on Trees: Time for Action! (Western Sydney meeting)

When: Wednesday 10 February 2016, 6.30-8.30pm

Where: Community Room, Level 4, Westpoint Shopping Centre, Blacktown

Directions: The Community Room is located off the Level 4 open car park which is best accessed from Alpha Street at the roundabout and up the ramp. There is 3hr free parking in this car park.  For those travelling by train, enter Westpoint Shopping Centre near the railway station, take the escalator to Level 4 (where the theatres and restaurants are), turn right after the elevator, head west down the steps or ramp past the games shop, proceed to the end of the gallery and turn left.  The Community Room is about twenty metres further on.

RSVPs: By 08/02/2016

For further information about the NSW Biodiversity Review, go to: 

For further information about this meeting, email Corinne Fisher –

Harrington Forest Not Protected After All!

In a disgraceful testimony to the degraded morality of government and the failure of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment to commit anything of worth toward environmental protection we now find Transport for NSW wants to run an extension of the South-West Rail Corridor through Harrington Forest.

Harrington Forest was supposed to be the negotiated offset for extensive loss of flora & fauna habitat through the Harrington Park development some years ago. But that doesn’t seem to matter to those within Transport for NSW who believe any open space is fair game for their infrastructure projects. This is the trashing of morality and the trashing of Western Sydney.

The mob of kangaroos and other fauna inhabiting Harrington Forest will end up with diminished habitat because of the rail line, if approved, dissecting the Forest.

Make your concerns known by emailing:

Herewith is a map of the proposed corridor carving through Harrington Forest:

Proposed Rail Link - Harrington Forest

This Harrington Forest issue is not the only threat to established flora and fauna habitat in Western Sydney. Transport for NSW are also looking at extending the rail corridor north beyond the Western Rail Line through key flora & fauna habitat including an established Regional Park and a proposed National Park & Nature Reserve. Also, a major upgrade to Bells Line of Road with a feeder coming off the M7 Motorway at Dean Park will have the same effect. A proposed Outer Sydney Orbital does likewise. More about these proposed projects and the opportunity to comment via email can be found at:



TERESA JAMES FLORA CONSULTANT – Specialising in flora surveys, plant identification, conservation assessment and botanical training. Mailing address: 835 Caparra Road, Caparra NSW 2429 Tel: 02 6550 7311 Mob: 0428218502. Email address:


1. Grasslands Workshop – western Sydney (NEW)

Proposed dates: Friday 27th or Saturday 28th March (8.30 am to 4pm)

Details: A one day workshop looking at derived grasslands and their contribution to biodiversity on the Cumberland Plain. Subjects covered include ecology, threatened communities and identification of grasses and herbs. We will visit 3-4 sites with transport by minibus between sites. Limited to 20 places.

Cost (including workshop notes): $125

*Please indicate if prefer Friday or Saturday. Enrollments & payment required by March 10th but note limited places and please contact Teresa in next couple of days about this one.

2. Threatened Ecological Communities (TEC’s) Workshop – western Sydney

Proposed date: 2nd or 6th May (8.30 am to 4 pm)

Details: A one day field-based TEC workshop based on a similar workshop held in spring, 2014. The workshop provides an overview of TEC’s and associated plant species occurring In shale environments on the Cumberland Plain. We will look at vegetation patterns across the landscape and identify TEC’s using key diagnostic features. Several sites will be visited (by minibus) with rapid site/condition assessments conducted at some sites. TEC’s to be covered: Cumberland Plain Woodland; Moist Shale Woodland; Western Sydney Dry Rainforest and Shale Sandstone Transition Forest. Limited to 20 places.

Cost (including workshop notes): $125
*Please indicate if prefer the Saturday or Wednesday. Enrollments & payment required by 1st April but note limited places.


3. Shale Sandstone Transition Forest Workshop (NEW)

Proposed date – August, 2015

Details: A two day workshop to assist in identification of Shale Sandstone Transition Forest and explore natural variability within the community with particular reference to the revised final determinations at both state and national levels. Day 1 will include an indoor presentation and field sampling. Day 2 comprises a field excursion (by minibus) to several sites along the margins of the Cumberland Plain. Limited to 20 places.

Cost (including workshop notes): $195

Expressions of interest are invited with confirmation required by 1st July.

4. Northern Sydney shale threatened ecological communities (NEW)

Proposed date – September, 2015

Details: A one day field-based workshop looking at TEC’s and associated communities occurring on shale and transitional soils within northern Sydney. We will look at vegetation patterns across the landscape and identify TEC’s using key diagnostic features. TEC’s to be covered: Blue Gum High Forest, Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest and the newly described (unlisted) Coastal Shale Sandstone Forest. We will visit several sites by minibus and rapid site/condition assessments will be conducted at selected sites. Limited to 20 places.

Cost (including workshop notes): $125

*Expressions of interest are invited with confirmation required by 1st July.

We can highly recommend these workshops.

Cumberland Land Conservancy Inc – An Emerging Need

With news of the emergence of Cumberland Land Conservancy Inc to fill an increasing ‘space’ for flora and fauna protection on the Cumberland Plain, it is helpful to provide a brief background to the office bearers appointed to conduct affairs until the next Annual General Meeting:

President       Wayne Olling

  • Secretary of Blacktown & District Environment Group Inc and Secretary of Cumberland Conservation Network

Secretary       Mark Fuller

  • Editor of Cumberland Bird Observers Club and Coordinator of Birds in Schools Program of Birdlife Australia

Treasurer      Brian Powyer

  • President of National Trust of Austraila (NSW) Parramatta Regional; former senior executive in the NSW Principals’ Association; former Assistant Director Curriculum in the NSW Department of Education

Public Officer   Lisa Harrold

  • President of Mulgoa Valley Landcare Group Inc and President of Cumberland Conservation Network

We encourage those concerned for conservation of the flora and fauna of the Cumberland Plain to support this group by joining as a full and financial member. Membership $10 pa. Enquiries to



Riverstone Wildlife Refuge (former)



In 1962, Riverstone Meat Company (a subsidiary of Angliss Meats) sought to dedicate its landholding in the Riverstone area as a Wildlife Refuge.

In 1963, the Governor of NSW proclaimed the establishment of 3,700 acres of land on the western and eastern sides of South Creek to be “Riverstone Wildlife Refuge, No. 76”.

The Refuge extended from the Riverstone Abattoir site south to Richmond Rd and west to near George Street, Windsor. Half was in Blacktown Local Government Area.

Uses of the land were restricted. Sustaining and improving the native flora and fauna species of the area was required.

In the mid 1980’s, presumably under a new management board, Angliss Meats and the Government’s development arm (Landcom) commenced development on the western side of South Creek to form the suburbs of Bligh Park and Windsor Downs.

A 380ha area on the western side of South Creek became Windsor Downs Nature Reserve.

It will fail as a Nature Reserve because it is surrounded to the west, north and east by residential development and by Richmond Road on the south side. It is no habitat for terrestrial fauna and flora species diversity is reducing due to excess incidents of arson.

Terrestrial fauna had to retreat to that part of the Riverstone Wildlife Refuge in Blacktown Local Government Area. This includes Kangaroos, Wallaroos and Goannas among other species.

It is significant to note that most of the development of Bligh Park and Windsor Downs occurred prior to the formal revocation of Riverstone Wildlife Refuge by the Governor of NSW. Revocation occurred in about 1999.

Morally, if not legally, the development on Riverstone Wildlife Refuge on the western side of South Creek was a breach of conditions for wildlife conservation.

Now, the eastern side of South Creek is under consideration for development as Marsden Park North Precinct and Riverstone West Precinct.

Terrestrial fauna displaced from the west of South Creek sought refuge in these areas.

Our appeal to the land owners, NSW Government and Blacktown Council is to not destroy all that the former Riverstone Wildlife Refuge achieved.

  • Protect Indigenous and European cultural heritage sites
  • Allow sufficient flood plain to exist so as to prevent adverse effects as occurred in the huge 1867 and subsequent floods.

We would prefer that Marsden Park North Precinct development not proceed but, if it must …..

  • Ensure a continuous wildlife corridor from Garfield Road to a sufficiently sized floodplain of South Creek.
  • Protect old growth trees.

We are keen to speak to land owners, NSW Government and Blacktown Council on this matter before wrong environmental outcomes occur and all that Riverstone Wildlife Refuge achieved is wasted.




EPBC Act – One-Stop-Shop – Response to Draft Guidelines

To assist Conservationists in responding (by 18 December 2013) to draft guidelines for the proposed one-stop-shop  of EPBC Act ‘Referrals’ we provide content of the submission by Blue Mountains Conservation Society which raises salient points.

You can draw from BMCS’s submission for your own short submission in hope of salvaging something from the wreck of weakening of EPBC Act administration.

Many thanks to Blue Mountains Conservation Society for help in this.

See: for details of where to get and send information.

Nature of the proposed arrangement

The Bilateral Agreement has been presented as a platform for streamlining assessment processes while maintaining environmental outcomes in NSW.

Any legitimate attempt to reduce duplication in environmental planning would surely consolidate the responsibilities of our States and Territories into the Commonwealth; not divulge Commonwealth responsibilities into seven duplicate State jurisdictions.

The proposal in its successive iterations has been transparently a response to sectors of the business community who are opposed to the Commonwealth governments high environmental assessment standards. The NSW community and the ICAC have repeatedly raised alarm regarding this effective absolution of Commonwealth responsibilities which will significantly exacerbate corruption in NSW planning and assessment.

The Blue Mountains Conservation Society reiterate our opposition to the proposed Bilateral Agreement. However we also have specific concerns regarding the nature and detail of the current Draft Agreement. These concerns follow.

Direct alteration of Federal assessment criteria

The Society opposes the use of the Bilateral Agreement to substantially alter the Federal assessment criteria.

Presently the Environmental Protection & Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 section 139 provides that:

‘the Minister must not act inconsistently with:
(b) a recovery plan or threat abatement plan’. (own highlighting)

It is our understanding that this requirement extends to the preparation of assessment material by the Minister’s department.

Section 6.8 of the proposed Bilateral Agreement instead requires NSW, when preparing Assessment Reports, to merely ‘take into account’ Recovery Plans, Threat Abatement Plans, and the Commonwealth EPBC Act Environmental Offsets Policy. This constitutes a substantial shift of the assessment benchmark and would further cripple our ability to implement threatened species protection in NSW.

Section 6.8 must be revised to require NSW to ‘act consistently with’ Recovery Plans, Threat Abatement Plans, and the Commonwealth EPBC Act Environmental Offsets Policy when developing Assessment Reports.

We note that the attempt to use the Bilateral Agreement process to substantively alter the Federal assessment benchmark is cynical and a serious breach of trust with the NSW community.

The role of precedent and practice

As with any regulatory body successive Federal environment departments have developed a community of practice. This includes formalised non-legislated instruments such as codes of practice and assessment criteria. It also includes precedent on assessment decisions – most importantly a tradition of what is considered an acceptable environmental impact.

The degree to which a bilateral arrangement effectively protects our threatened biodiversity depends to a considerable degree on the maintenance of this precedence and practice. The Bilateral Agreement is disturbingly silent on how codes of practice, assessment criteria and precedent will be consolidated. We raise two key questions in this regard:

  • Will Federal written codes of practice and assessment criteria be maintained? If so, which ones?
  • Will precedent regarding Federal assessment benchmarks be maintained in decision making, or will the lower State benchmark precedent be used?

These matters are too serious to be left to an Administrative Agreement (s 9.1) beyond the public scrutiny. Rather they must be addressed up-front and transparently within the Bilateral Agreement.

Assessment Reports and public consultation

Aspects regarding the public consultation process are unclear and require resolution within the Bilateral Agreement instrument. No provision is made for a review of public submissions or for their incorporation as Appendices in Assessment Reports. The Bilateral Agreement must be amended to provide for a genuine review of public submissions as an integral step of the assessment process.

Stop-the-clock provisions

The apparent position that stop-the-clock provisions are unnecessary is alarmingly uninformed. Proposals are frequently lodged without sufficient information to allow an informed decision however it is typically not possible to determine the sufficiency of lodged data without first accepting and thoroughly assessing an application. Provisions to pause the assessment timeframe while necessary information is provided are essential for a functional planning system. Since existing provisions differ between State and Federal departments this is an area which the Bilateral Agreement must address. It is not appropriate to address this within the confines of an Administrative Agreement beyond public scrutiny and comment.

We hope that the exhibition of the draft Assessment Bilateral Agreement provides occasion for the serious failings of this proposal to be given legitimate attention.

The Society in representing our local community reiterate our appeal that the current program of planning intemperance is stemmed, and instead that NSW can progress once more toward an informed, balanced and corruption-free planning system.