The cultural and natural heritage significance of Hunters Hill, both pre and post European settlement has been recognised by the National Trust, the Heritage Council of NSW and the Australian Heritage Commission and has resulted in the majority of the Municipality being listed as a Conservation Area.
The natural history of Hunters Hill has been greatly reduced in extent since 1788. It is in this context that the importance of ensuring all existing remnant vegetation in the Municipality – be it on public or private land, be it in good or degraded condition – is identified and maintained.
There is an understanding that ongoing maintenance is needed to keep the built heritage of Hunters Hill in good order, this is no less applicable for the natural heritage to survive. Care and ongoing maintenance of its natural systems is needed, and to achieve this, Council and the community need to work together. Council’s Local Environmental Plan, states that one of its aims is to retain "environmental heritage of the Municipality through conservation of items of environmental heritage."
This is in line with State Environmental Planning Policy 19 (SEPP 19) – Bushland in Urban Areas (1995), whose stated aim is to “protect and preserve bushland in urban areas.” This in turn helps promote the guidelines of Agenda 21 – helping local communities to establish a shared vision and approach to becoming more sustainable, particularly in relation to maintaining biodiversity.
Council employs qualified bush regenerators to work at various locations, covered by SEPP 19, throughout the municipality, as funding permits. Even degraded areas where work is not being undertaken have significant habitat values and the resilience of the plant communities in them should not be underestimated. As stated in SEPP 19 – Bushland in Urban Areas. “The definition of bushland (in the Policy) is designed to protect remnant areas of the original natural vegetation. These cover a wide variety of plant associations, ranging from dune thickets and coastal heaths, through various forest and woodland types, to mangroves and swamp forests. The definition reflects the dynamic nature of bushland and the variation in its type and condition in the urban setting. It allows for the fact that many disturbed areas may be restored and regenerated with suitable management. The definition should be interpreted liberally rather than restrictively to exclude areas from the Policy.”
Resident’s fortunate to either have remnant vegetation on their property or who live adjacent to bushland need to be aware of their impacts. Development adjacent to bushland requires sympathetic solutions which Council will promote through its development controls; while the work of Bushcare volunteers is valued, supported and encouraged throughout the Municipality.
Perhaps the need to protect our natural heritage is best summed up in the words of one Hunters Hill Bushcare volunteer “It seems to me now that it is urgent to protect and encourage the conservation of plants growing in increasingly rare and valuable (in world-wide terms) circumstances of natural habitat – what other cities have the opportunity?….knowing that if my generation doesn’t contribute, then no other will have the chance.” (Graham Chambers)