Recent Question/Assignment

Faculty of the Built Environment
Landscape Architecture Program


Lecture support material : weeks 10, 11 pp 2 - 10

Excursion 3 details : pp 11

Assessment 3 Visual Report : pp 12 - 14

Weighting: 30% Due: Friday 13 June [week 14] hand in to Lisette on Level 4

Lecture 7 The Cumberland Plain & fluvial processes

The Cumberland Plain Woodland sites are characteristically of woodland structure, but may include both more open and denser areas, and the canopy is dominated by species including one or more of the following: Eucalyptus moluccana, Eucalyptus tereticornis, Eucalyptus crebra, Eucalyptus eugenioides and Eucalyptus maculata.

The understorey is generally grassy to herbaceous with patches of shrubs, or if disturbed, contains components of indigenous native species sufficient to re-establish the characteristic native understorey.

The Cumberland Plain Woodland includes regrowth which is likely to achieve a near natural structure or is a serial stage towards that structure.

The Community has been reported as occurring in the local government areas of Auburn, Bankstown, Baulkham Hills, Blacktown, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Holroyd, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith and Wollondilly.

Only 6% of the original extent of the community remained in 1988 (Benson, D. & Howell, J. 1990 Proc. Ecol. Soc. Aust. 16, 115-127) in the form of small and fragmented stands. Although some areas occur within conservation reserves, this in itself is not sufficient to ensure the long term conservation of the Community unless the factors threatening the integrity and survival of the Community are ameliorated.

Threats to the survival of the community include clearance for agriculture, grazing, hobby and poultry farms, housing and other developments, invasion by exotic plants, and increased nutrient loads due to fertiliser run off from gardens and farmland, dumped refuse or sewer discharge.

In view of the substantial reduction in the area occupied by the Community, its fragmentation and the numerous threats to the integrity of the Community, the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that the Cumberland Plain Woodland is likely to become extinct in nature in New South Wales unless the factors threatening its survival cease to operate.

Nepean River Subcatchment

The Nepean River subcatchment is located downstream of the Upper Nepean subcatchment, which contains significant dams and protected water supply catchments, and joins the Hawkesbury River catchment at its confluence with the Grose River.
A significant section of the river, known as the Nepean Gorge, has the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area on the east and west banks. The reserved lands on the west bank fall into the Erskine Creek subcatchment.
Outside the gorge, the floodplains and riparian zones have been extensively developed to support agricultural and rural-residential properties and there are also significant urban and industrial areas in this subcatchment, including the city of Penrith.
Stormwater, agriculture, mining and water extraction are all having adverse affects throughout the reaches.
There are 11 weirs located on the Nepean River that are significantly regulating the natural flows. The river has been segmented into a series of ‘weir lakes' rather than a freely flowing river and is also impacted by dams in the Upper Nepean catchment.
There remains natural bushland in the lower reaches and isolated pockets in the mid reaches. Bents Basin State Conservation Area is one such example and is a popular recreational area for the people of Sydney.

Stream Order

A stream is classified as a body of water that flows across the Earth's surface via a current and is contained within a narrow channel and banks.
Based on stream order, the smallest of these waterways are called creeks. Large waterways (at the highest level the stream order) are called rivers and exist as a combination of many tributary streams.

The Stream Order
The stream order hierarchy was officially proposed in 1952 by Arthur Newell Strahler, a geoscience professor at Columbia University in New York City- he outlined the order of streams as a way to define the size of perennial (a stream with water its bed continuously throughout the year) and recurring (a stream with water in its bed only part of the year) streams.

When using stream order to classify a stream, the sizes range from a first order stream all the way to the largest, a 12th order stream. A first order stream is the smallest of the world's streams and consists of small tributaries. These are the streams that flow into and -feed- larger streams but do not normally have any water flowing into them. In addition, first and second order streams generally form on steep slopes and flow quickly until they slow down and meet the next order waterway.

First through third order streams are also called headwater streams and constitute any waterways in the upper reaches of the watershed. It is estimated that over 80% of the world’s waterways are these first through third order, or headwater streams.

Going up in size and strength, streams that are classified as fourth through sixth order are medium streams while anything larger (up to 12th order) is considered a river. For example, to compare the relative size of these different streams, the Ohio River in the United States is an eighth order stream while the Mississippi River is a tenth order stream. The world’s largest river, the Amazon in South America, is considered a 12th order stream.

Unlike the smaller order streams, these medium and large rivers are usually less steep and flow slower. They do however tend to have larger volumes of runoff and debris as it collects in them from the smaller waterways flowing into them.

Going Up in Order
When studying stream order, it is important to recognize the pattern associated with the movement of streams up the hierarchy of strength. Because the smallest tributaries are classified as first order, they are often given a value of one by scientists. It then takes a joining of two first order streams to form a second order stream. When two second order streams combine, they form a third order stream, and when two third order streams join, they form a fourth and so on.

If however, two streams of different order join, neither increases in order. For example, if a second order stream joins a third order stream, the second order stream simply ends by flowing its contents into the third order stream, which then maintains its place in the hierarchy.

The Importance of Stream Order
This method of classifying stream size is important to geographers, geologists, hydrologists and other scientists because it gives them an idea of the size and strength of specific waterways within stream networks- an important component to water management. In addition, classifying stream order allows scientists to more easily study the amount of sediment in an area and more effectively use waterways as natural resources.
Stream order also helps biologists in determining what types of life might be present in the waterway. Different types of plants for example can live in sediment filled, slower flowing rivers than can live in a fast flowing tributary of the same river.

More recently, stream order has also been used in geographic information systems (GIS) in an effort to map river networks. The new algorithm, developed in 2004, uses vectors (lines) to represent the various streams and connects them using nodes (the place on the map where the two vectors meet). By using the different options available in ArcGIS, users can then change the line width or color to show the different stream orders. The result is a topologically correct depiction of the stream network that has a wide variety of applications.

L e c t u r e 8 E n d a n g e r e d C o m m u n i t i e s & R e p o r t w r i t i n g

Endangered ecological communities of the Cumberland Plain [as of 2002]

Agnes Banks Woodland
Blue Gum High Forest
Castlereagh Swamp Woodland
Cooks River/Castlereagh Ironbark Forest
Cumberland Plain Woodland
Elderslie Banksia Scrub Forest
Moist Shale Woodland
Shale Gravel Transition Forest
Sydney Coastal River Flat Forest
Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest
Western Sydney Dry Rainforest

Agnes Banks Woodland: geology: Agnes Banks sands soil association: Moore structure: “low woodland” main community: east bank of the Hawkesbury River, on a small area of wind-blown sand dune.

characterized by the following species: [*indicates threatened species]

dominate canopy species: Eucalyptus sclerophylla
Angophora bakeri Banksia serrata
diverse understorey shrubs: Banksia aemula
Banksia oblongifolia
*Acacia bynoeana
*Persoonia nutans
*Dillwynia tenuifolia
Dillwynia sericea
Cononspermum taxifolium
Ricinocarpus pinifolius
ground layer: Platysace ericiodes
Pimelea linifolia ssp linifolia
Stylidium graminifolium

Shale-Sandstone Transition Forest:
occurs at the edges of the Cumberland Plain where shalerock and clay soils gradually change to sandstone. The boundaries of this plant community are indistinct. The main tree species are forest red gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis), grey gum (E. punctata), stringybarks (E. globoidea, E. eugenioides) and ironbarks (E. fibrosa and E.crebra).

There are two forms of Shale-Sandstone Transition Forest: low sandstone influence and high sandstone influence. The high sandstone influence form includes sandstone species, such as tick bush (Kunzea ambigua) and narrow leaved geebung (Persoonia linearis), and is most widespread in the southern section of the
Cumberland Plain. The low sandstone influence form has an understorey layer that is closer to Cumberland Plain Woodland and includes shrub layer dominated by blackthorn (Bursaria spinosa) with grasses, such as kangaroo grass (Themeda australis), hedgehog grass (Echinopogon ovatus), and other herbs, such as Dichondra repens.
Before European settlement, Shale-Sandstone Transition Forest was extensive at the edges of the Cumberland Plain and covered43,990 hectares. Today, it is reduced to 22.6 percent of its original extent in an area bounded by Sackville (north), Mulgoa (west), Wilton (south) and Revesby (east)

ref: (NPWS 2002a, NPWS 2002b).

Western Sydney Dry Rainforest is a dry vine scrub community of the Cumberland Plain. Canopy trees include prickly paperbark (Melaleuca styphelioides), hickory wattle (Acacia implexa) and native quince (Alectryon subcinereus).

There are many rainforest species in the shrub layer, such as large mock olive (Notolaea longifolia),hairy clerodendron (Clerodendron tomentosum) and yellow pittosporum (Pittosporum revolutum). The shrub layer combines with vines, such as gum vine (Aphanopetalum resinosum), wonga vine (Pandorea pandorana) and slender grape (Cayratia clematidea) to form dense thicketsin sheltered locations.

Western Sydney Dry Rainforest occurs most commonly in the southern section of the Cumberland Plain, where it occurs on the sheltered lower slopes and gullies of steeply sloping rugged country, such as the Razorback Range near Picton. Outlying occurrences have been recorded at Grose Vale and Cattai.

Western Sydney Dry Rainforest is now reduced to 338 ha which is 26.4% of its original distribution

(NPWS 2002a, NPWS 2002b).

Windsor Downs Nature Reserve contains five vegetation formations (Benson, 1985).
An open forest-woodland association occurs on the clay soils within the nature reserve. The dominant species are broad-leaved ironbark Eucalyptus fibrosa ssp fibrosa, mugga ironbark Eucalyptus sideroxylon, drooping red gum Eucalyptus parramattensis and narrow-leaved apple Angophora bakeri, with Melaleuca decora as a prominent component of the understorey.

A low woodland occurs on more sandy, better drained soils in the south-west of the reserve. It consists of Hard-leaved Scribbly gum [Eucalyptus sclerophylla], Drooping Red Gum and Narrow-leaved Apple. A taller open forest occurs in the reserve’s north-eastern corner. It consists mainly of Thin-leaved Stringybark [Eucalyptus eugenioides.]

A woodland consisting of Grey Box [Eucalyptus moluccana] and Broad-leaved Ironbark [Eucalyptus fibrosa ssp. fibrosa], with isolated occurrences of thin-leaved stringybark [Eucalyptus eugenioides] occurs on a relic natural levee of shale in the south-east of the reserve.

Closed low forest is found in depressions and is dominated by Melaleuca decora and Melaleuca lineariifolia with Eucalyptus amplifolia occurring as emergents along creeks and on recent alluvium. The understorey is dominated by Melaleuca nodosa but near the creek, shrubs give way to herbaceous groundcover species such as Adiantum aethiopicum, Entolasia marginata and Dichelachne micrantha.

Four threatened plant species Dillwynia tenuifolia, Pultenaea parviflora, Nodding Geebung [Persoonia nutans ]and Grevillea juniperina, and one regionally rare species, Murdannia gramminea occur in the understorey of the nature reserve.

Cattle grazing, informal timber harvesting, firewood collection and frequent fires occurred prior to the area’s dedication as a nature reserve. Much of the vegetation is therefore sub-mature and does not have the optimal species and structural diversity and associated native animal populations which would be expected from a mature forest in this area. An old paddock in the reserve is naturally regrowing with Hakea sericea.

Endangered, threatened, vulnerable flora
At the commencement of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) the list of threatened species, ecological communities and threatening processes consisted only of those previously listed under the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992.

Under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995, a list is given that describes:
• all species and ecological communities listed as critically endangered in NSW under the Act • those listed as endangered
• those listed as presumed extinct
• those listed as vulnerable, and
• all key threatening processes to species and ecological communities.

Extinct: flora (41)
Extinct in the wild:
Critically Endangered: flora (123)
Endangered: flora (533)
Vulnerable: flora (643)
Conservation dependent:
Total: Flora (1340)


Threatened Species of Plants
The highest proportions of threatened plants are found in the Sydney Basin bioregion and along the coast. This is no coincidence – these are the areas with most people. Principle threats in this region include development of areas for houses, roads and businesses involving clearing native vegetation and building of infrastructure. Loss of habitat and reduced connection between patches of remaining vegetation or along rivers are major threats to biodiversity. The Murray Darling Depression (far-western NSW) bioregion also has a high percentage of threatened plants. The major threats here are alteration of rivers and wetlands, grazing pressure and burning regimes.
One of the key threatening processes to animals is modification to major vegetation groups. Since European settlement, approximately 40% of native vegetation in NSW has been cleared and replaced by crops, introduced pastures or urban and industrial landscapes. Eucalypt woodlands, eucalypt open forest, and mallee woodlands and shrublands, in particular, have been extensively cleared, mostly for agriculture, and in some regions are retained only as remnants in relatively small patches. In the sheep-wheat belt of NSW (the Brigalow Belt South and NSW South-west Slopes bioregions), clearing has reduced native vegetation to small, fragmented areas, covering less than 40% in these bioregions. This has had, and continues to have, a major impact on all native species, especially mammals and woodland birds.

Exotic Species of Plants
Competition from invasive species is one of the most frequently noted threats in formal documentation for national listing and recovery of threatened species and communities.
Nationally, of the 27,000 alien plant species that have been introduced into Australia, approximately 2,800 have naturalised. The rate of naturalisation is estimated at about 10 species per year. Many of these species compete successfully with Australian native plants and have become abundant and widely distributed.
Highest proportions of exotic plants are found in and around urban areas of the Sydney Basin, and in the agricultural regions of Nandewar, NSW South Western Slopes and the Riverina. Introducing plants for gardens or agriculture provides plants that can become weeds, human activities then move plants around the landscape, and disturbing native vegetation communities allows weeds to establish.

NSW State of the Environment Report 2012, prepared by the Environmental Protection Authority [EPA] [SMH 24.1.13]
A summary:
negative news:
? NSW has 4,677 plant species, of which:
o 643 are threatened [14%] – that is:
? 33 extinct
? 44 critically endangered ? 335 endangered
? 231 vulnerable. We have more threatened plant species than ever before.

? Only 9% of NSW still has native vegetation considered to be in a “close to natural condition.” While 61% of the state has native vegetation, it is degraded due to :
o land-use, particularly farming o industrial pollution o development o logging.

? Weeds now make up 21% of the total flora of NSW.

? Biodiversity is declining. NSW population has increased by 21% over the last 20 years.

positive news:
? 2 years of heavy rains have broken the decade-long drought in NSW and this has gone some way to replenishing dams & natural river systems.
? there are now more national parks that 3 years ago, and the number of protected inland wetlands is now 7% [twice the number of 3 years ago.]
? 19% of coastal wetlands now have some sort of protected status.

Report Writing Basics to assist in the preparation of landscape analysis reports.

The main emphasis of the assignment is to:

? Present a professional report – including all formal parts of a report
? Present clear information – derived from first hand sources AND from research
? Provide an objective of view of findings, rather than just a rehash of the source material.

report structure

1 title page: title of assignment, course name & code, student name [“prepared by....”], tutor name, date

2 contents page: listing of sections of the report by title together with page number

3 introduction: what the purpose of the Report is; what your ‘goals/aims/objectives’ of the Report are; how the information will be presented.

4 body: methodology – ie, how you collected your information; discussion of your research findings; implications of your research findings – ie, draw some conclusions from what you have found out.

5 conclusion: a summary of your findings together with a few finalising paragraphs about your major conclusions. NOT merely a rehash of the introduction!

6 appendices: consider whether images/maps/drawings are better to support your textural information- or whether to place these documents in an appendix.

7 references: a select list of references from the body of your report compiled using the Harvard Reference System

8. selected bibliography: correct referencing of all sources consulted in your research. You can never provide a full bibliography of ALL sources, so this is correctly referred to as a ‘selected’ bibliography.


9 presentation of source material
10 comparison between source material, cross referencing with researched material
11 conclusion of findings; objective view


13 use of tables/graphs/schedules/illustrations/etc: used throughout the body of the Report or compiled at the back of the Report as Appendices, each drawing to have a caption and reference number beneath.
14 page numbers; footers: every page except the title page must have a footer which includes: Name of Report – Page Number – Total Number of pages.
15 use of sub-headings, dot points, etc: logical prioritisation of information into major headings then sub headings.

EXCURSION #3 : 3 Western Sydney sites
Monday 26 MAY 2014 [week 12]
Activity: Walk in tutorial groups along the track, distance is approx 4.5km. This walk is longer and more difficult than the walk along the Yena Track.
You will be listening, taking graphic and verbal notes along the way.
Time + Location
• Meet at 8:15am for departure at 8:30am at Central Station
• arrive 9:45 Agnes Banks, then to Scheyville and Windsor Downs
• Return by 4:00 pm to Central Station
Travel + Cost
Students should have paid for the bus trip- any student who hasn’t paid will not be joining us on the excursion.
Edwina Brooks, Mel Bargwanna, Noel Ruting, Lyndall Streten.
Emergency Contact: 1- Your buddy.
2- LISETTE in the Landscape Architecture Admin office: 9385-4843
3- Mobile Phone contact for lecturers 0407385135

? Be prepared to take notes in the field: a clip board, the sheets handed out in class, and your own mud maps. Be prepared to exist comfortably in the field: FOOD, water and appropriate protection from the weather and site conditions. Weather often ranges from cold and windy to warm and calm on the same day. NO SANDALS or heels.

? This excursion involves three sites, so there is some logistics involved in getting on and off buses. Please enter and leave the bus as instructed by the tutors so that we are able to keep to the excursion programming.

Assessment 3 A Landscape Analysis report on
Endangered Vegetation Communities of the Cumberland Plain

Weighting: 30% Due: Friday 13 June [week 14] hand in to Lisette on Level 4

? A3 Report, in Landscape orientation. A4 landscape is acceptable but any A3 sheets MUST be folded properly into A4 size.
? Clear structure is required. You must use headings and subheadings, page numbers and headers/footers to organise the report.
? All ideas, words, images etc that are not your own must be referenced, properly.
? All images must be referred to in the text, and have captions with sources identified (author and date only, not websites!!)
? Length: approximately 2500 words NOT INCLUDING references and captions.

Students will study a selection of vegetation communities of the Cumberland Plain. The aim is to demonstrate comprehension of
1. the range of vegetation communities on the Cumberland Plain
2. environmental factors influencing this range and variety, in the past and present, and 3. in particular, environmental and cultural factors that have contributed to their degradation,
4. environmental and cultural factors that may contribute to their recovery.

Students will prepare a report based on research and field observation. As with any research report, in general, you must explain what the report is about, why the research was undertaken, how the research was undertaken, summarise your findings, and discuss the results—and include data (tables, lists, photos, sketches, maps, diagrams) and a list of sources.
THE SUGGESTED OUTLINE for this research report is:
1) Introduction
Explain what the report is about, the structure of the report, and why it is important to study these vegetation communities.
You are expected to cover at a minimum: the names and broad characteristics of the 3 endangered ecological vegetation communities we document on our excursion; an overview of factors influencing their distribution, in the past and present and the importance of these communities: why bother studying? A location map is helpful here.

2) Methodology: what sort of information did you collect and how?

3) Background:
Provide an overview of
a) the Cumberland Plain, briefly covering geology, soils, landform, hydrology, climate, fire, human impact
b) endangered ecological communities and threatened species in general,
c) the situation with regard to endangered ecological communities and threatened species on the Cumberland Plain.

4) Findings
Your findings on three endangered ecological vegetation communities in the Northwestern area of the Cumberland Plain, as researched by you and as you have observed at Windsor Downs Nature Reserve, Scheyville National Park, and Mitchell Park. This must be based on your field research plus the assigned data from the NPWS and any other relevant sources.

Your summary of findings for each of these communities must include annotated sketches of each community (thumbnail section style as done for Centennial Park), maps locating the parks/reserves and vegetation communities within them, PLUS maps/text covering....
? Geology, topography and soils
? Catchment and hydrology issues which are influencing the vegetation at each park ? Climate and microclimate
? Landuse: past and present.
? Environmental issues and opportunities

5) Summary Discussion
What do your field observation reveal about these communities, as a group, and individually? What does your research reveal about the role of the national parks and reserves in Western Sydney?

6) Conclusion

7) List of References you have used to collect data and prepare the report. ALPHABETICAL ORDER.

8) Appendices if applicable: field work data such as vegetation community profile sheets; tables/lists of vegetation communities not directly relevant to your text, etc.


Bannerman, S.M. & Hazelton, P.A., 1990, Soil Landscapes of the Penrith 1:100 000 Sheet, Soil Conservation Service of NSW, Sydney.( selections available on Blackboard)
Benson, D., Howell, J & McDougall L. 1996, Mountain Devil to Mangrove. A guide to the Natural Vegetation on the Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment. Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, pp 15-21.
Blacktown City Council, 2011, Cattai Creek Sub Catchments, available online at:
Blacktown City Council, 2011, Vegetation Communities of Blacktown, available online at:
Hawkesbury-Nepean Catchment Management Authority, 2008, Cattai Sub Catchment, available online at:
James, T. 1997, Urban Bushland Biodiversity Survey Stage 1: Western Sydney Native Flora, NSW NPWS Sydney, pp 7-10; 25-29.
NSW Department of Environment and Conservation 2005 ‘The Cumberland Plain and its Vegetation’, Recovering Bushland on the Cumberland Plain: Best Practice guidelines for the management and restoration of bushland.
Department of Environment and Conservation, Sydney, pp 1-14. (on blackboard) 91.jpg
NSW NNPWS 1999 Plan of Management for Castlereagh, Agnes Banks and Windsor Downs Nature Reserve, The NPWS, Sydney. Available on Blackboard
NSW NNPWS 1999 Plan of Management for Scheyville National Park, The NPWS, Sydney.Available on Blackboard NSW NPWS Endangered Communities Information Sheets (on BLACKBOARD) as follows:
1. NSW NPWS, 2001, Castlereagh Ironbark Woodland, Endangered Ecological Community Information,
2. NSW NPWS, 2001, Cumberland Plain Woodland, Endangered Ecological Community Information, NSW NPWS
3. NSW NPWS, 2004, Shale-Gravel Transition Forest, Endangered Ecological Community Information, NSW
4. NSW NPWS, 2004, Coastal River Flat Forest, Endangered Ecological Community Information,

13 NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change, 2009, ‘Cumberland Plain Vegetation Mapping Project’ Sheet 14/16 available on online:


Baker, et al 1986, Native Plants of the Sydney, Region, Three Sisters, Sydney pp. 4-7, 44, 64, 86, 98,134.
Benson, D.H. 1992, Natural Vegetation of the Penrith Area 1:100000 Vegetation Series, National Herbarium of New South Wales, Sydney.
Benson, D. H. & Howell, J., 1990, Taken for Granted: The Bushland of Sydney and its Suburbs, Royal Botanic
Gardens, Sydney. 68-90; see section 5b, available at
Howell, J. & Benson, D. 2002, Sydney’s Bushland: More than meets the eye, Kangaroo Press, Sydney.
James, T. et al, 1999, Rare Bushland Plants of Western Sydney, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.
NSW NPWS 2003 Native vegetation of the Cumberland Plain 1:100,000. Accompanying Tozer, M ‘The native vegetation of the Cumberland Plain, western Sydney: systematic classification and field identification of communities’, in Cunninghamia, vol 8(1):1-75,
Rosen, S. 1995 Losing Ground, an environmental history of the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment Area Hale and Iremonger, Sydney.