The endangered Banksia Woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain, Western Australia
Imperiled: The Encyclopedia of Conservation
School of Science
An integral component of the global biodiversity hotspot of south-west Australia are the Banksia woodlands of the Swan Coastal Plain. These woodlands develop on old, deep sand dune systems, are dominated by small trees of Banksia (mostly B. attenuata and B. menziesii), and harbor a diverse understory of low shrubs and monocots adapted to the infertile soils and harsh dry summers characteristic of this Mediterranean-type climate. Reptiles, small mammals, frogs and birds also abound. Despite its richness and uniqueness, over half of these woodland been cleared over the last century or so, initially mostly for agriculture and plantations, but increasingly to cater for the rapidly expanding metropolis of Perth. As of 2016, these Banksia woodlands are listed as Endangered by the Australian Government, with several of its subtypes also protected at the State level. However, clearing of these woodlands continues, with smaller remnants, which are very common through the urban area, slowing degrading due to frequent fire, plant pathogens, weed invasion, feral animals, human overuse, and declining groundwater. Many of these threatening processes are being accelerated by a drying and warming climate. Several large and well-managed conservation reserves function to protect much of the biodiversity, although the conservation network needs urgent strengthening to ensure all vegetation subtypes and significant conservation assets are adequately protected, and that examples of the remaining large expanses of good-quality woodland in the peri-urban zone are reserved before the inevitable spread of urbanization reaches them.