In scenic Sydney we’re lucky to have quite a few patches of “urban bushland” dotted around the traps that have been mercifully spared from the bulldozers.
|Unblemished Sydney bushland|
The sad truth though, is that most of these remnants are being smothered by introduced invasive weeds, used as convenient dumpsites and are fast losing their (once) amazing biodiversity.
|This ancient Banksia has been smothered to death by introduced weeds|
Just look along the fence lines of properties backing onto bushland and you’ll discover, almost universally, the same story, a total disconnection from and lack of respect for the natural vegetation. Sydney homeowners invariably seem to grow plant species that “escape” from their gardens into the bush (such as Agapanthus) and “out compete” the fragile natives. They also turn a blind eye to (and neglect to tackle) destructive weeds such as Morning Glory, Lantana, Ginger Lily and Privet that thrive on the fertilizers washed out of their flower beds.
To compound this problem they tend
to think that it’s their god given right to hurl garden clippings, unwanted
bricks and scrap metal into the bush, providing species of unwanted weeds from
around the globe, a perfect springboard to assault our fragile native flora.
|Ginger Lily, Fishbone Fern and Morning Glory will totally replace fragile native plants.|
|Almost everyone grows this same boring weed species called Agapanthus|
The upshot is that Sydney bushland, far from being the richly diverse “larder” that sustained indigenous peoples for millennia, or the wondrous spectacle that would have greeted Captain Cook and his crew, is fast disappearing before our very eyes.
|A typical Sydney fenceline..the yellow (Senna) and blue (Morning Glory) are strangling the bushland.|
Worryingly, virtually no one living next to bushland appears to have any knowledge of what’s happening, very few are inclined to retain or grow endemic native plants on their land, are bothered to remove weed species or express concern at the disturbing rate of land degradation (apart from isolated “Bushcare” groups).
Indeed, almost the only interaction between residents and bushland is the increasingly popular practice of poisoning surviving Eucalyptus trees to enhance views. Some people also have a habit of moving into bushland suburbs for the natural beauty values only to then complain about the fire risks and lobby for greater “hazard reduction” zones.
There is an incredible amount of ignorance in the community about native flora and fauna, so most residents would fail to distinguish between native plants and the introduced species that are fast replacing them. If the trend continues, our natural areas will just become one big weedy desert. As a consequence the birds, animals and insects that relay on native plants for their food source, will vanish too.
|When native plants disappear, so does most biodiversity|
So what’s the solution? Residents whose houses back onto bushland, should be encouraged to learn more about their “duty of care”, prompted to remove invasive plants species from their gardens and fined for doing the “wrong thing”. Councils and government should be much more proactive in regards to community education (as should our schools). According to the Australian Conservation Foundation, people today recognise less than 10 plant species but more than a thousand corporate logos.
Australia these days is populated by people from around the world. Not surprisingly, most have little understanding or awareness of this nation’s natural heritage and many have an unnatural fear of this continent’s nature. I believe new citizens should have to learn not just about the nation’s history but about its natural history.
It doesn’t help that TV “gardening” shows totally ignore the plants that grow naturally in this country and concentrate on promoting only exotic hybrids and cultivars. Who is going to protest the loss of something that the community doesn’t even realise is going? The reality is that it would take a massive capital expenditure to substantially and professionally restore areas of degraded bushland plus a political will that just doesn’t exist ( most current rehabilitation programs are small scale and cosmetic).
|Gardening "experts" will never tell you about native Boronias!|
The trouble is, once you possess the knowledge that urban bushland is in deep crisis, a walk in your local reserve will never be quite the joyful experience that it once was.
In a society that puts such a high premium on beauty and good looks...where did it all go so horribly wrong?
|Fancy a walk amongst the weeds??|
Check out this other blog post if you are interested in "Re-wilding" your backyard