Hawkesbury River County Council to focus on Bilpin Shale Cap Forest preservation

Hawkesbury River County Council (HRCC) has launched the Blue Mountains Shale Cap Forest (BMSCF) Bilpin Project, which seeks to preserve and rehabilitate key habitat supporting endangered species such as the glossy black cockatoo.

Chairman for the County Council, and Councillor on Hawkesbury City Council, Nathan Zamprogno, said the initiative was funded over multiple years to identify and map the remaining Blue Mountains Shale Cap Forest, educate and incentivise landowners, provide on-the-ground help to assist in bush regeneration, conduct weed control, and track progress.

Conservation crew: Members of the HRCC and member for Hawkesbury Robyn Preston meet for the launch of the Bilpin Shale Cap Forest preservation project. Picture: Supplied

Conservation crew: Members of the HRCC and member for Hawkesbury Robyn Preston meet for the launch of the Bilpin Shale Cap Forest preservation project. Picture: Supplied

"The project also aims to found a dedicated Bilpin Landcare group to carry the work forward. The grant is the first-time a private property engagement that focuses on conservation and land management has been done on this scale. Over 400 private properties have been contacted covering over 2,835 hectares in Hawkesbury, I encourage residents to get involved," Cr Zamprogno said.

The aim of the project is to engage landholders and provide an assessment of the BMSCF, which is currently listed as a threatened ecological community. Due to ongoing external pressure from land clearing, fragmentation, and weed invasion, the original BMSCF remains in small remnants, primarily on private land.

The Bilpin BMSCF Project aims to address the circumstances and factors threatening BMSCF survival and bring hope back for the species that rely on it.

The project seeks to engage in longer-term partnerships with landholders to improve the viability of the threatened endangered community by mitigating critical threats.

The forest community is found on Wianamatta shale in the Blue Mountains and Wollemi areas and supports a greater diversity of fauna, including threatened species such as the powerful owl.

Surveys of the vegetation on properties for the presence of BMSCF will be undertaken by Dragonfly Environmental - a private contractor who has over 18 years' experience in environmental assessment and restoration. Stage one of the project is expected to commence in late November 2020 and will focus on the area extending east to west from Kurrajong heights to Berambing, northeast to Mountain Lagoon, and north to Mt Tootie.

Member for Hawkesbury, Robyn Preston, was present at the launch to support the initiative.

HRCC has been serving the community since 1948. It is a single purpose Council, with its goal being to administer the Biosecurity Act 2015 throughout its Council areas of Blacktown, Hawkesbury, Penrith, and The Hills Shire. This involves the organisation taking a nil-tenure, landscape approach to weed management across the region. It focuses on early detection and containment of high-risk plant species that impact biodiversity, agriculture, and property.

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