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Biodiversity is generally defined as the variety of life forms in a particular area, including the different plants, animals, and micro-organisms, and the ecosystems that they are a part of.

The ecosystems in our city take in an array of environments, from suburban gardens to natural shrubland, sand dunes, and of course, the sea.


The trees and plants around our city are quite different to those that were here before European settlement. The dunes would have supported grasses, sedges, groundcovers, shrubs, and trees; the estuaries played host to bullrushes and reeds; and various eucalypts, tea-trees, acacias, and sheoaks would have covered the woodlands. Today, many of our public gardens and parklands include introduced species, however, we remain committed to improving biodiversity in the natural and built environments, which will benefit the community and future generations.

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If you are planting a water-wise, wildlife-friendly garden or verge and looking to use local native plants, please see our green living page.

Natural reserves

There are four designated natural areas in our city, each with its own history and ecology. However, they share the common purpose of preserving the natural environments as much as possible.

  • Barton Gully is at our most southern boundary and is centred around a gully that carries stormwater out to the sea. The upper section opens out into grasslands while the lower section becomes quite steep and narrow.
  • Gilbertson Gully is a significant natural open space, also in near southern border, and follows an ancient seasonal watercourse through a residential area.
  • Kingston Park Cliff Face covers almost three hectares and marks the point where the foothills meet the sea. At the southern base of the cliff face is the Tjilbruke Spring, a 25 square metre shallow marsh, fed by seepages that discharge there and drain into the sea.
  • Pine Gully Reserve adjoins the Kingston Park Cliff Face and forms part of a steeply-sloped gorge. Due to its terrain, only a small section of the reserve is accessible.

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