The Shanes Park Woodland is the most diverse & intact remnant of the grassy woodlands which once covered Sydney's west. Tucked away between the residential subdivisions of Willmot and Shanes Park, this 560 hectare woodland is home to over 300 species of native wildlife and has unsurpassed environmental & cultural value.
The conservation of this property was the centerpiece of the approval conditions for the Western Sydney Growth Center developments, and the Federal Government who own the site propose to donate it to the people of NSW as a permanant conservation reserve. Regretably this has been stalled by the NSW government who wish to build the Castleragh Freeway (M9) on this 'protected' land.
As the largest single patch of woodland remaining Shanes Park offers the last chance to restore the wildlife of Western Sydney which has been all but destroyed by introduced Foxes and Cats. Rewilding Shanes Park is a partnership plan to reintroduce the native wildlife of Western Sydney by creating a free, public-accessible predator proof reserve so that future generations can enjoy.
In contrast to the large sandstone forest reserves which characterise Sydney's affluent north and south, almost all of western Sydney's shale woodlands have been cleared, initially for agriculture but increasingly to accommodate the city's explosive population growth. These woodlands are now listed as Critically Endangered.
Shanes Park is acknowledged as one of the best birding sites in the Sydney region especially for endangered woodland species. The sites low level of disturbance means that aggressive urban species are rare here, and a visit to Shanes Park offers a unique glimpse of Western Sydney's wildlife as nature intended.
The site is also popular for passive recreation and relaxation, with over 20 km of walking trail winding through habitats ranging from open grassland to woodland, creeks & swamps. The trails are a welcome change from the barren fire trails of other local reserves and Shanes Park is increasingly popular with walkers, birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts for it's unspoilt beauty.
Australia's coastal woodlands have suffered some of the greatest losses of any ecosystem in Australia and less than 4% of healthy Cumberland Plain Woodland remains. However habitat loss is not the only problem. Introduced Foxes and Cats have decimated wildlife In the few small pieces of habitat that still remain.
There were once 14 native ground mammals in the Cumberland Plain but today just 5 species remain. Our woodlands have become empty.
Todays children no longer have the opportunity to see the Antechinus, Bettong and Quoll which once called Western Sydney home. As these species have been lost so too have their role in the ecosystem. Without 'ecosystem services' like burrowing to keep the soil healthy and predation to keep insect populations in check our woodlands are suffering.
Shanes Park presents a unique opportunity to bring back this wildlife by creating a public-access predator free reserve. The property will soon be isolated on all sides by urban development and will need fencing to protect existing wildlife - so why not install a predator-proof fence and reintroduce the wildlife we have lost?
A parnership between Rewilding Australia, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Western Sydney University - Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment and the Cumberland Conservation Network has stepped forward with a detailed plan for 'Rewilding' Shanes Park.
You can read more about rewilding here.
The proposal is independently funded and includes additional funds to resolve the failure to allocate basic site management needs such as weed control to NPWS for managing the furutre reserve.
Shanes Park is the only unbroken reserve of sufficient scale remaining to restore our native wildlife. Without acting now to create this predator-free reserve, future generations will never have the opportunity to see Western Sydney’s most iconic wildlife species.
Shanes Park is presently owned by the Federal Government, who propose to donate the site to the people of NSW as a permanant conservation reserve. The transfer of the entire property for conservation was a condition of the Western Sydney Growth Center development approvals.
Regretably this process has been stalled by repeated attempts by the NSW government to accomodate development on the land. The primary development is the proposed Castlereagh Freeway Corridor (M9). The NSW Office of Environment & Heritage are currently preparing a proposal to slice off parts of Shanes Park for development - in breach of the Growth Center conditions.
The M9 corridor would reduce the size of Shanes Park and destroy local communities and homes. It would also set an alarming precident by breaching the conditions and committments on which the Western Sydney Growth Centre developments were approved.
The site is also threatened by the enforced development of surrounding rural lands by the NSW Growth Centres Commission. To date the Commission has refused to provide a suitable buffer between these developments and the future reserve, or retain a corridor to mainain wildlife connections to other bushland areas..
The NSW Government have also suggested the site as the location of future 'active' recreational facilities such as bike trails and kiosks. These uses are not compatable with passive recreation or with wildlife conservation.
Please visit How you can help to support the future of this remarkable part of our local heritage.
A formal proposal for 'Rewilding' Shanes Park has been presented to government agencies by Rewilding Australia, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Western Sydney University and the Cumberland Conservation Network. The proposal incorporated independent funds including additional funds for general site management. The proposal has been opposed by the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage.
Future still uncertain
We understand that an alignment for the proposed M9 highway has been agreed for the south of the reserve. This contravenes the Growth Centres development approval offsets.
We also understand that a religeous organisation has been promised the lease of the heritage buildings in a political deal - even before NPWS own the land!
We will forward any further news on these developments.
Letters to new State and Federal Environment Ministers
We have written to the new NSW Liberal Environment Minister Rob Stokes (letter) and Federal Liberal Minister for the Environment Greg Hunt (letter) to honor the requirements to reserve Shanes Park. We will update you with any responses recieved.
3rd Feb 2013
NSW Liberals raise classification
NSW Liberal Environment Minister Robyn Parker has written to the Federal Government requesting removal of the requirement for Regional Park classification, finally opening the way for Shanes Park to become a Nature Reserve. See the Media Release. We continue to wait on a firm committment for Nature Reserve classification.
8th November 2012
Federal Labor stand by promise
The Hon Tony Burke MP, Federal Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Population & Communities has written to confirm that any clearing for Freeway construction on Shanes Park would be a breach of the Federal transfer conditions. Read Minister Burke's letter.