Objective 27 in A Metropolis of Three Cities outlines how the NSW Government seeks to protect and manage biodiversity values across Greater Sydney, from national and State biodiversity conservation legislation to information such as biodiversity mapping. This Planning Priority reinforces the importance of Objective 27 and provides a context to District issues.
Bushland areas protected in national parks and reserves support the District's significant biodiversity, while bushland and remnant vegetation throughout the District's urban and rural areas also provide habitat, help cool the environment and support cleaner waterways and air.
The scenic and cultural landscapes of the South District contribute to the identity and international profile of Greater Sydney. Scenic and cultural landscapes encourage an appreciation of the natural environment, protect heritage and culture, and create economic opportunities, particularly for recreation and tourism. Aboriginal culture is deeply entwined in the landscapes of Greater Sydney.
The South District's rural areas contribute to habitat and biodiversity, provide mineral and energy resources, and sustain local rural villages. They are part of the larger Metropolitan Rural Area.
Bushland and biodiversity
Bushland covers around 37 per cent of the South District. Much of the District's bushland is recognised for its environmental value and located within the Protected Natural Area. The major landscape areas in the southern parts of the District include the Royal National Park, Heathcote National Park and Holsworthy Defence Lands. Large areas of urban bushland follow the creek system and steep sandstone valleys, providing a bushland network close to homes in areas such as Illawong, Bangor and Woronora Heights. Figure 21 shows the extent of the District's Protected Natural Area.
The District is part of one of the most speciesdiverse bioregions in Australia. It contains at least 21 threatened ecological communities and several endangered vegetation communities, many of which are located in bushland areas.
Many areas of urban bushland are on public land managed as green infrastructure by councils, while some are on privately owned land.
Urban bushland, close to some of the District's most densely populated areas, supports opportunities for nature-based recreation and enhances liveability. Areas of bushland at the edges of urban neighbourhoods will need to be managed and enhanced to reduce edge-effect impacts, such as pollution and nutrients from stormwater runoff, weeds, domestic pets, litter and unmanaged or informal recreation trails.
A strategic approach to protecting the biodiversity in the South District involves investing in connected bushland corridors and protecting larger pockets of remnant vegetation, as large and connected areas of bushland give the District's wildlife the greatest chance of survival. Councils are also working together to map opportunities to restore and reconnect areas of habitat in established urban areas. This complements the delivery of the Greater Sydney Green Grid. Selected species of trees and understorey plants for parks and street planting in targeted areas supports the movement of wildlife and helps strengthen connections between areas of habitat.
Strengthening the protection of bushland in urban areas will help to conserve the District's biodiversity, preserve its scenic landscape, and enhance its tourism and recreation values. Remnant vegetation should be recognised as an asset that can be incorporated into the planning and design of neighbourhoods, for example in parks, school grounds and as street trees.
The Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 provides a framework and tools to avoid, minimise and offset impacts on biodiversity through the planning and development assessment process. A range of tools available to protect biodiversity on private land include biodiversity stewardship agreements, conservation agreements and wildlife refuge agreements.
Scenic and cultural landscapes
Scenic and cultural landscapes can complement green infrastructure, particularly where scenic landscapes include waterways and urban bushland. Scenic and cultural landscapes can often be prone to natural hazards: for example, escarpments can be prone to land slip and erosion.
The coastline and waterways are significant elements of the District's scenic and cultural landscapes (refer to Planning Priority S13). Bushland is also an important part of the District's scenic landscape.
Bushland creates places that provide a sense of identity and culture, and creates opportunities for tourism and recreation. The bushland ridgelines are highly valued elements of the scenic and cultural landscape of the South District. The scenic qualities of the ridgelines, as well as views to these landscape elements should be protected and maintained. For the South District, strategic planning should focus on opportunities to identify and protect important bushland vistas, scenic views, hills, ridgelines and valleys.
Continued protection of the South District's scenic and cultural landscapes is important for the sustainability, liveability and productivity of the District. It can complement the protection of biodiversity and habitat, help manage natural hazards and support tourism. Protecting scenic and cultural landscapes can also help preserve links to Aboriginal cultural heritage.
The South District's rural areas are framed by national parks within the Protected Natural Area and include the Gandangara Aboriginal Land Council land at West Menai, which is predominately bushland, and the villages of Bundeena, Maianbar and Waterfall, which adjoin national parks. Figure 22 shows the extent of the District's rural areas.
The District's rural areas provide opportunities for people to live in a more secluded bushland setting. Most of the Districts' rural area is zoned E3 Environmental Management, with the zoning of some areas at West Menai deferred from the Sutherland LEP 2015.
Extraction of construction materials in areas at Kurnell and Sandy Point Quarry continue to supply resources that support the growth and development of Greater Sydney. Sourcing construction materials locally minimises transport requirements, and reduces the cost, environmental footprint and social impact of construction.
The co-location of sandstone extraction and recycling of building materials at Sandy Point Quarry is an example of a multiple use of land by compatible activities. Stone resources from Sandy Point supply Chipping Norton Lakes Scheme and NSW State government restoration projects. Sand extraction at Kurnell is expected to continue for at least 5-10 years, after which the site is expected to be rehabilitated for light industrial development.
Urban development is not consistent with the values of the Metropolitan Rural Area. A Metropolis of Three Cities takes a strategic approach to delivering Greater Sydney's future housing needs within the current boundary of the Urban Area, including existing growth areas. Urban development in the Metropolitan Rural Area will be considered only in the urban investigation areas identified in A Metropolis of Three Cities. Urban investigation areas have been identified as part of a structured approach to managing the long-term growth of Greater Sydney in a deliberate and carefully planned way, where land use is integrated with major transport corridors. There are no urban investigation areas in the South District
Figure 21: South District Protected Natural Area and Metropolitan Rural Area
Increased demand for biodiversity offset sites and limiting urban development in the Metropolitan Rural Area will help make it more attractive for landowners to protect biodiversity on private land through stewardship agreements.
Maintaining and enhancing the distinctive character of each rural and bushland town and village is a high priority. Ongoing planning and management of rural towns and villages will need to respond to local demand for growth, the character of the town or village, and the surrounding landscape and rural activities. Rural and bushland towns and villages will not play a role in meeting regional or district-scale demand for residential growth.
The rural villages of Bundeena, Maianba and Waterfall are located are within Sutherland Shire Local Government Area. with Bundeena and Maianba are located on the shores of Port Hacking and Waterfall on the southern border. They include a small permanent resident population with many visitors from Sydney. On the southern boundary of the South District, the village of Waterfall borders the Princes Highway and the Royal National Park.
Parts of the urban-rural fringe are owned by the Gandangara Local Aboriginal Land Council. Future planning of these areas may require flexibility to balance rural values with the objectives of greater economic participation and community and cultural use of these areas by Aboriginal people.
Design-led place-based planning will help manage environmental, social and economic values, maximise the productive use of rural land areas, and incentivise biodiversity protection for remnant vegetation. Design-led planning for landscape units will provide councils with a process to engage more effectively with stakeholders, examine complex issues more clearly, identify important rural values at a local scale and set priorities for maintaining and enhancing these values through local land use planning.