Urban ecology

Urban ecology


Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is the variety of all species on earth. It is the different plants, animals and microorganisms that exist.

As Sydney grows, we need to remember our small neighbours too. Most of the animals in the local area are indigenous or introduced species that are used to the hustle and bustle of urban environments.

A lot of the plant life has also been introduced and very few natural areas remain today.

Luckily for us, some habitat still remains for less common plants and animals.

Patches of coastal saltmarsh, an endangered ‘ecological community’, occur within our villages and 4 threatened animal species live locally: the green and golden bell frog, powerful owl, eastern bent-wing bat and the southern myotis microbat. Sightings of the long-nosed bandicoot have also been recorded in the local area. This is an animal that has disappeared from most parts of inner-city Sydney.

Parks, gardens and wetlands throughout our villages provide a home for lots of other species, including the eastern blue-tongue lizard, superb fairy-wren, royal spoonbill, buff-banded rail, eastern water dragon, New Holland honeyeater, peregrine falcon, dwarf eastern tree frog, silvereye and tawny frogmouth.

Together we can create an environment where biodiversity can flourish and we look out for all the creatures that live in our city.

Urban ecology strategic action plan

We love local species in our city. With a bit of clever thinking we can provide a pretty nice home to lots more indigenous creatures.

Our urban ecology strategic action plan is based on a survey of the plants and animals that live in the local area and outlines the best ways to keep them here and help them thrive.

Green and golden bell frog

Our work to protect biodiversity

The City has already begun doing its part to promote biodiversity in the local area. Here are just some of our initiatives.

Frog ponds in Rosebery and Glebe

We have built frog ponds in 2 of our reserves, Kimberley Grove Reserve in Rosbery and Lewis Hoad Reserve in Glebe. The pond in Glebe has been built to support the growing population of frogs in the existing pond. The pond in Rosebery has been built due to various sightings of frogs in the suburb and the need to create habitat for them in the area. 

Blackwattle Bay Park habitat enhancement

We have planted hundreds of shrubs, grasses and groundcovers in the foreshore park to improve the diversity of locally indigenous plants and create dense understorey habitat to encourage small birds. We have also installed a number of rock features to encourage lizards and invertebrates.

Johnstons Creek Canal habitat creation

Contractors and hundreds of volunteers have been involved in transforming the areas along, and nearby a concrete-lined stormwater channel with locally indigenous shrub, grass and groundcover plantings. This is intended to contribute to the creation of a green corridor connecting the Glebe foreshore to Orphan School Creek in Forest Lodge.

Sydney Park stormwater harvesting

Thousands of locally indigenous reeds, sedges, grasses and shrubs have been incorporated into a piece of land designed to absorb nutrients from stormwater at Sydney Park wetlands, improving the habitat for a range of species.

Native bees for community gardens

Hives of a native stingless bee have been installed in 6 of the city’s community gardens, where they assist to pollinate fruit and vegetables as well as native species elsewhere, and produce small amounts of delicious honey.

Birds of Sydney parks and gardens

The City assisted BirdingNSW to produce a brochure guide to the birds found in parks and gardens around Sydney, in partnership with Birdlife Australia, the Royal Botanic Garden and Domain Trust and the Centennial and Moore Park Trust. The brochure is available at all customer service centres.

In the urban jungle

We have supported some leading researchers to carry out surveys and projects in the city that will help us protect plants and animals that call the local area home. 

Native vegetation, flora and fauna review

Throughout 2016 to 2018, a number of consultants carried out a review of the native vegetation, flora and fauna in the City of Sydney local area. In summary:

  • 9.5ha of bush restoration sites have been mapped and identified – this has seen an almost 300% increase since 2013
  • 5 insectivorous bat species were identified, all of which were previously recorded in the local area 
  • a total of 76 birds (including 14 unique community sightings) were recorded across the 2016 to 2017 period
  • 4 frog species and 11 reptile species were detected in the local area during the 2018 surveys.

Find out more and download the survey reports.

Ecology of Pyrmont Peninsula

With the help of an environmental grant, Dr John Broadbent, under the auspices of Pyrmont Progress Inc, examined the flora and fauna of the Pyrmont peninsula, past and present.

The report, Transformations: Ecology of Pyrmont Peninsula 1788–2008, describes the major transformations over the past 200 years of the peninsula and made recommendations to improve and restore biodiversity in the area.

This report was reviewed as part of the urban ecology strategic action plan.

Superb fairy-wren habitat in Glebe and Forest Lodge

Another environmental grant funded the Glebe Society’s Blue Wren Group to conduct a study on superb fairy-wrens in Glebe and Forest Lodge. Once common, wrens and other small birds are now rare in these and many other urban areas. The report includes recommendations for conservation and enhancement of small bird habitat, including what you can do at home, which was incorporated into the urban ecology strategic action plan.

Blackwattle Bay marine habitats

An environmental grant was awarded to the University of Sydney's Centre for Research on Ecological Impacts of Coastal Cities to attract and monitor the types of sealife found in harbour waters, following the City's multi-million dollar transformation of the Glebe foreshore walk. Already, 28 unique new marine species have been recorded.

Last updated: Thursday, 11 October 2018