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Employing Green Roofs to Support Endangered Plant Species: The Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub in Australia

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Document pages: 30 pages

Abstract: The purpose and context for the study relates to urban growth. Australian cities are experiencing particularly rapid urbanization, taking the form of land clearing to accommodate outward expansion as well as developing to higher densities in existing urban areas. Both forms of development degrade native biodiversity, resulting in loss of vegetation with the possibility that the remnant indigenous plants will become locally extinct. One endangered ecological community in Sydney, the Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (ESBS), still survives along some sections of Sydney’s heavily urbanized coastline. At the time of European settlement, the ESBS covered approximately 5300 ha, but it is now a highly fragmented 146 ha across 24 sites with some sites under imminent threat of development. Conservation legislation enacted by the state of New South Wales (NSW), Australia has declared the ESBS as critically endangered. Despite recovery plans, in 2016 the NSW Threatened Species Scientific Committee indicated that the community faces an extremely high risk of extinction in Australia in the immediate future. A practical option in the face of declining open space in our cities is to examine the potential of urban rooftops for conserving and propagating threatened or endangered flora. While there is a limited amount of international research on using green roofs for endangered plant protection, there is no information from Australia about how green roofs perform in this geographic region. The approach taken in this research has been firstly, to review the current academic and “grey” literature from a global perspective to identify options for conserving endangered flora on green roofs. We derive an evidence-based research protocol to be used to test the green roof environment in Sydney for propagating the endangered ESBS. We establish the general applicability of green roofs for protecting vanishing flora through the literature review and conclude that our research design will be a suitable framework for the task for monitoring growth and germination performance over the ESBS community’s development cycle, with the longer-term objective of establishing a viable rooftop seed orchard.

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