Duffy's Forest

Duffy’s Forest Vegetation Community
The Duffys Forest (Brown Stringybark-Silvertop Ash) vegetation community is a highly diverse and rare plant community that occurs on lateritic (ironstone) and deeply weathered shale derived soils on the ridgetops between Terrey Hills and Allambie Heights, with scattered occurances elsewhere in the Warringah, Kuring-gai and Pittwater areas.
It is found within and surrounding the Ardel land at Allambie Heights and contains rare and threatened plant species forming an important part of our precious and ever diminishing urban bushland in Sydney. It is widely recognised as having very high conservation significance, being naturally restricted in area, poorly represented in conservation reserves, extensively cleared through the past and present urban development, and threatened with further clearing of the few unreserved remnants.

Photo of Ardel Site c1993

Ardel Site c1993 Photo by Michael Allen ©

The Duffys Forest community was listed in Schedule 1 (Endangered Ecological Community) of the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 by the Scientific Committee in July 1998. It is likely to become extinct unless the factors threatening its survival, primarily urban and industrial development, cease to operate.

The Land and Environment Court in December 1997, received a two-page report prepared by the CSIRO for the proponent, Ardel, relating to the possible presence of the Duffys Forest Community on site. It concluded that the community was not found on or near the site despite there being substantial similarities of tree and understorey plant species. This interpretation is disputed by most Sydney flora experts. It was based largely on the soils and topographic location of the site using a large scale 1:100,000 soil landscape map and previous general studies (not on detailed site  specific survey by botanists). The report did state, however, that the forest community, regardless of name, had significant natural heritage values.

Incredibly, the CSIRO report was the only review of the Duffys Forest listing considered by the judge prior to the final determination. Warringah Council did not submit evidence to the contrary, despite an expert witness, Anne  Clements, a well qualified and respected plant ecologist, requesting they contest this interpretation of the Duffys Forest definition. It was her expert opinion through extensive surveying of the site that the Duffys Forest was not only found within and surrounding the site but that it was indeed found through most of the Ardel site, primarily along the northern half. Clements stated that there was therefore likely to be a significant impact on the community through clearing and indirect impacts. Warringah Council (under delegated authority) made a surprise withdrawal from the court case on the Friday before Christmas 1997, without this evidence being presented, and allowed the court to grant approval.
Only a small portion of Duffys Forest Vegetation is now left on the Ardel site and this is expected to deteriorate due to the impacts of the development.

Source: Save Many Dam Press Information Kit

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