STEPincLogo A

Wednesday, 01 April 2015 00:01

Vital Byles Creek Wildlife Corridor under Threat from Development

The residents of Malton Road and the Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust have been working for many months to try and save some 2 hectares of privately owned land in Malton Road, Beecroft from subdivision and residential development.

Development of these residential blocks at  79–87 Malton Road will necessitate the loss of canopy and understorey over most of these lots, due to the Rural Fire Service requirements for a 50 m inner Asset Protection Zone. This zone has to be maintained in perpetuity, destroying this critical bushland corridor habitat.

Malton Road is located within the Byles Creek Catchment which is environmentally significant. The land is part of a vegetation corridor along Byles Creek between Pennant Hills Park and Lane Cove National Park, allowing species to disperse between the reserves and national park and for the transferral of genetic material. The high conservation value of this corridor is further emphasised by its inclusion as a ‘core area’ in the pilot NSW Biodiversity Investment Opportunities Map as part of the NSW Government Green Corridors Program.

It contains a unique set of environmental elements including a natural watercourse, sandstone benches and cliff faces, locally significant Blackbutt Gully Forest, habitat for a diversity of native flora (over 100 species) and fauna (19 species) including several threatened species such as the Gang-gang Cockatoo, Grey-headed Flying-fox and the Powerful Owl.

The Gang-gang Cockatoo is listed both as ‘vulnerable’ and as an ‘endangered population’ under the Threatened Species Conservation Act with only 14 observed in the Hornsby local government area in 2013, with the Byles Creek corridor being their stronghold providing known habitat and potential breeding with suitable large hollows located throughout the corridor and at 79–87 Malton Road.

The Powerful Owl is listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the Threatened Species Conservation Act and is also known near Byles Creek, with seven sightings in the vicinity and a nearby breeding pair.

The development application was reviewed at Hornsby Council meeting on 11 March with a motion passed to allow council sufficient time to approach the NSW Government and determine if there is an opportunity to have the site acquired due to its environmental and heritage characteristics.

Hornsby Council will next consider the development application on 10 June.

What can you do?

Demonstrate your support for the acquisition of the land by the state government and the preservation of this bushland by signing the petition on the Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust website and/or write to the Minister for the Environment.