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Cooks River/Castlereagh Ironbark ecological community facts for kids

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Cooks River /
Castlereagh Ironbark Forest
Location Cumberland subregion of the Sydney basin bioregion, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Area 1,101 hectares (2,721 acres)
Status Open all year
  • Endangered Ecological Community
    (NSW, 10 May 2020)
  • Critically Endangered
    (Cwlth, 17 March 2015)

The Cooks River/Castlereagh Ironbark Forest (CRCIF) is a 1,101-hectare (2,721-acre) area of dry sclerophyll open-forest to low woodland which occurs predominantly in the Cumberland subregion of the Sydney basin bioregion, between Castlereagh and Holsworthy, as well as around the headwaters of the Cooks River. The majority of the community is found in the north-west section of the Cumberland Subregion in the Castlereagh area between Penrith and Richmond. Other significant patches occur in the Kemps Creek and Holsworthy areas. Smaller remnants occur in the eastern section of the Cumberland Subregion.

On 10 May 2002 the NSW Government gazetted the forest as a critically Endangered Ecological Community under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995; and on 17 March 2015 the forest was listed as Critically Endangered by the Australian Government under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.


The forest is dominated by broad-leaved Ironbark (Eucalyptus fibrosa) and Paperbark (Melaleuca decora). The main threat is further clearing for development, as well as weed invasion, inappropriate fire regime, damage from vehicles, and impacts from surrounding development. Fencing also prevents wildlife movement and increases injuries and deaths. There is also the potential of clay/shale extraction. The forest's canopy includes Eucalyptus resinifera, Syncarpia glomulifera, Eucalyptus eugenioides, Acacia parramattensis, Melaleuca nodosa, Melaleuca decora and Casuarina glauca. The smaller trees include Acacia longifolia, Bursaria spinosa, Solanum aviculare and Polyscias sambucifolia. The ground covers include Entolasia marginata, Cymbopogon refractus, Dichondra repens, and Commelina cyanea. Vines include Eustrephus latifolius, Glycine tabacina and Cayratia clematidea.

Beverly Grove Bushland

Beverly Grove Bushland, part of the CRCIF, is 1.87 hectares (5 acres) of remnant bushland between Canterbury Golf Course and the M5 East Motorway. It is one of the larger patches of the CRCIF and has been preserved as an offset for the construction of the M5 East. Despite this, 1.4 hectares (3 acres) of the site has been proposed as a construction compound for Stage 2: King Georges Road Interchange and New M5 of WestConnex.

Following approval of a secret biobanking package to offset the destruction of the 1.4 hectares (3 acres) of Beverly Grove Bushland, it was expected that the bushland be bulldozed on 31 August 2016. Bulldozers moved in on Threatened Species Day (7 September 2016) and started demolishing the bushland. However, despite reports of protestors halting work, demolition continued.

Western Sydney Airport

A 2014 biodiversity report indicated that parts of the CRCIF will be impacted by the development of the Western Sydney Airport.

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