Defence is creating an important environmental legacy in Western Sydney by protecting and regenerating bushland to support the development of the Nancy Bird-Walton Airport.
Defence land often provides coincidental protection of natural values, especially on city fringes where natural areas are extensively cleared. Defence Establishment Orchard Hills in Western Sydney contains one of the largest and best examples of critically endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland in the world. This area creates a buffer between the Defence base and surrounding areas and is also used for low-impact Defence training exercises. It will now have broader environmental importance for Western Sydney by offsetting clearance of native vegetation for the development of the new Nancy Bird-Walton Airport, just south of Orchard Hills.
The Australian Government has committed to protecting and improving the locations of habitats
that need to be cleared for the airport. Defence Establishment Orchard Hills is one of these sites,
and provides an excellent opportunity to generate real environmental improvements. Natural
woodland still grows on the site, and adjoining areas are regenerating after historically being
cleared for farming.
An intensive improvement program will allow for permanent removal of pests and reintroduction
of locally extinct species such as bandicoots and bettongs that perform important ecosystem
functions. Trees and shrubs will be replanted on old farmland to re-create bushland. Specialist
burning will improve the health of existing bushland remnants, and research programs will address management challenges such as regional dieback of mature tree canopies.
Defence is privileged to be able to simultaneously support the development of the new airport
and the economy of Western Sydney, maintain an operational base, and create an enduring
environmental legacy by regenerating and preserving this important area of bushland.