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Environmental works

The Harbour Trust is responsible for protecting and conserving the environmental values of the extraordinary places under its protection and management.

In fulfilling this responsibility, we are guided by the principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD). We also collaborate with like-minded community organisations on desirable environmental outcomes, and, when appropriate, consult the community about strategic plans.

Ongoing works

Ecological restoration and landscape works are routinely carried out across the precincts of Headland Park in Mosman as well as at North Head Sanctuary in Manly and within pockets of remnant bushland and revegetated areas at Cockatoo Island / Wareamah. Works are also carried out at Macquarie Lightstation in Vaucluse, Sub Base Platypus in North Sydney, and Woolwich Dock and Parklands on the Hunters Hill peninsula. These works include the ongoing maintenance of bush tracks, access trails, and lawns and gardens; extensive weed control; bushfire hazard reduction works near built assets; the pruning of trees in public spaces; extensive weed control; and the revegetation of parkland areas with local provenance plant species.

Since the Harbour Trust was formally established in 2001, thousands of native trees, shrubs, grasses and groundcovers have been planted across our sites. Not only does this enrich local habitats, but it also contributes to carbon sequestration and improves the amenity of our parklands for visitors. This is made possible, in part, through the efforts of our contractors and volunteers, with the latter caring for the beautiful garden beds that surround Cockatoo Island’s heritage accommodation as well as the historic ASOPA precinct at Middle Head / Gubbuh Gubbuh in Mosman.

A key priority for the Harbour Trust at North Head Sanctuary is the conservation of the area’s unique and endangered flora and fauna. To this end, volunteers and ecological restoration contractors maintain and monitor the area’s rich biodiversity, which spans hundreds of species, including birds, bats, reptiles, mammals and invertebrates. Special focus is given to the endangered population of long-nosed bandicoots, and recently reintroduced native species, such as eastern pygmy possums, bush rats and brown antechinuses. Further, we maintain predator detection cameras to keep an eye on foxes, cats and dogs that pose a threat to the biodiversity of the headland.

Working with others

We collaborate with various neighbouring landholders at North Head Sanctuary and Headland Park including the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) to protect the endangered native animal and plant species, populations and communities. This includes working together to control feral animals and weeds.

We also liaise with adjoining land managers when undertaking bushfire mitigation works at Headland Park and North Head Sanctuary. Notably, we have contributed to the preparation of District Bushfire Risk Management Plans, including for the Mosman / North Sydney / Willoughby and Northern Beaches bushfire districts. Our objective is to reduce the impact of unplanned fires on life, property, heritage assets and the natural environment while promoting the regeneration of bushland, including the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub at North Head Sanctuary.

Further, we have a close working relationship with tenants to deliver environmental outcomes. We have supported the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) with their White’s seahorse captive breeding program at Chowder Bay / Gooree and, more recently, partnered with them on the Cockatoo Island marine restoration pilot project. Meanwhile, at North Head Sanctuary, we receive invaluable assistance from the North Head Sanctuary Foundation (NHSF). The foundation’s volunteers propagate and plant local provenance plants in former lawn areas and run various community events, such as talks, tours, and citizen science projects to raise awareness of – and generate an appreciation for – the area’s biodiversity.

Government grants

We have been fortunate to receive grants to enhance environmental outcomes across our destinations. In 2022-23, we successfully applied for a NSW Environmental Trust grant from the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. This grant has helped us to monitor and regenerate North Head Sanctuary’s Eastern Suburbs banksia scrub, which is listed as a critically endangered ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).

Meanwhile, in 2023-24, we received a Saving our Species program grant from the NSW Department of Environment and Heritage for the seventh consecutive year. This funding is helping us to conserve the endangered sunshine wattle subspecies, Acacia terminalis subspecies Eastern Sydney (previously named Acacia terminalis subspecies terminalis) that occurs across North Head Sanctuary and the precincts of Headland Park.


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