Planting project to help save endangered shrub

A new project in Kentlyn’s bushland is contributing to attempts to save the endangered Persoonia Hirsuta shrub, commonly known as Hairy Geebung.

In partnership with Kentlyn Bushcare, the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan and the NSW Department of Planning and Environment ‘Saving Our Species’ team, Council have translocated 100 plants from the Botanic Garden, where scientists had been propagating the plant, to bushland at Kentlyn.

Distinguishable by the long coarse hairs on its yellow flowers, the Hairy Geebung is scattered throughout Sydney and NSW but has gradually declined over the past two decades, with many adult plants wiped out during the 2019-20 Black Summer Bushfires.

“The Hairy Geebung previously flourished in our bushland so it’s encouraging to see the efforts being made to restore the population of this endangered species,” Mayor George Greiss said.

“This exciting project could make a big impact on restoring an important plant species across NSW so we’re proud to be working alongside other organisations on this important project,” Cr Greiss said.

State Member for Camden, Peter Sidgreaves, said the Kentlyn bushland planting project was a great example of how community collaboration can make a big difference to the local environment.

“Persoonias like the Hairy geebung provide a key food resource for local wildlife, such as birds, kangaroos and wallabies, across different ecosystems,” Mr Sidgreaves said.

“Conservation projects like this one are invaluable for our understanding on how to grow, maintain and reintroduce threatened plants into the natural environment to reduce the risk of extinction.”

Dr Nathan Emery, a Restoration Biology Officer at the Australian Institute of Botanical Science based at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, is helping Council and Kentlyn Bushcare members translocate the endangered plant.

Dr Emery said his team’s research into restoring the sprawling shrub with distinct yellow flowers began in 2014 thanks to funding by the Australian Coal Industry’s Research Program (ACARP) with the aim to reintroduce the species back into the landscape at mine sites.

“Working closely with the horticulturalists in our Nursery team, we were able to propagate more than 400 plants at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan, which at the time was possibly more than the number of plants found in the wild,” Dr Emery said.

“Following the project’s success, ACARP was supportive of us to collaborate with Campbelltown City Council to also translocate this species where it once flourished locally.

“It has also been a joy to work with the Kentlyn Bushcare group, sharing our expertise about this threatened species and providing conservation, propagation and translocation advice for Persoonia species,” Dr Emery said.

Data collected from the program will be used to help with the management and propagation of other small or declining populations of Hairy Geebung across Sydney.

Council will work with Kentlyn Bushcare to monitor the ongoing success of the translocation.

The project is funded by the Wettenhall Environment Trust in conjunction with Campbelltown City Council and the NSW Government’s Saving our Species program.

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