Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, Australia

Plants … vegetation … landscape … country

Doug Benson, Plant Ecologist

Sydney’s natural vegetation patterns are determined by geology and climate. Rainforest and grassy woodlands grow on rich basalt and river flat soils; sclerophyll woodlands and heaths grow on poor soils on sandstone. My research involves mapping these plant communities, and studying issues such as seed germination, seedling establishment, weed invasion and fire impacts. This information helps us to select conservation reserves for threatened species and improve biodiversity management. With colleague Jocelyn Howell, I have written Taken for Granted and Sydney’s Bushland: More than meets the eye.

Did you know?

  • More plant species (2500) are native to Sydney than the British Isles.
  • Early settlers used the grassy woodlands of western Sydney and river flats of the Hawkesbury for agriculture.
  • Native grassy woodland on the Cumberland Plain, now threatened by urban development, is only 13% of its pre-European extent.
  • Only 3% of pre-European Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub remains.
  • Most of Sydney’s remaining bushland is on Hawkesbury Sandstone because the poor soils were useless for agriculture.
  • Weeds such as Privet, Lantana and Chilean Needle Grass are a threat to bushland survival.


Royal National Park