Environmental Education Walks and Talks

The Great Southern Bioblitz

Friends of Berowra Valley ran a fun event as part of the Great Southern Bioblitz on Sunday 30th October. Around 25 citizen scientists recorded the amazing diversity of Stringybark Ridge, Pennant Hills using the iNaturalist app.

A combination of power users and people new to the app ensured that the beautiful surrounding area was recorded. Each of these observations is fed into the Australian Atlas of Living Australia. This massive database is an invaluable tool for scientists and researchers.

Check out some of the amazing biodiversity in our project for the Berowra Valley Catchment.

For more info on iNaturalist.

Advocacy Campaigns Westleigh Park

Westleigh Park Consultation Outcome

The Hornsby Shire Council has released the report on the outcome of the latest round of workshops to co-design mountain bike tracks through the Critically Endangered Ecological Community (Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest) and the Endangered Ecological Community (Duffys Forest.)


The report reflects the position of both groups however as predicted it is very difficult to reach a consensus when you have two diametrically opposing views.


The council hopes to develop Westleigh Park into a range of sporting and other recreation uses to address the predicted sportsground shortfalls in the Shire. Westleigh Park will be a multi-purpose facility with three sports platforms. The latest round of consultations was to co-design mountain bike tracks in the special bushland in the area.

The Issue

We can no longer afford to ignore the damage being done to our bushland at a local level.

The Hornsby Council’s End of Term report outlines the failure of council to protect our threatened plants, animals and waterways.  Business as usual is no longer good enough.

What Can We Do?

Friends of Berowra Valley have highlighted our concerns at a local and state level. The next stage of our campaign for common sense is for community groups to join forces and work out a strategy moving forward – this is now happening.

If you want to be really depressed watch this video from the Environment Defenders Office on the NSW environmental legislation.

There is also a state election coming up next year and we need a fresh perspective with a government prepared to look after our environment. Not one that just documents the decline and watches on the sidelines as we lose our unique flora and fauna.




Environmental Education

Can You Spot a Platypus?

Australian Conservation Foundation are running a project to try and spot Platypus.

Sign up to take part

Platypus are very elusive and Hornsby Shire Council, Friends of Berowra Valley, Still Creek Landcare and Streamwatch are applying for grant funding to do eDNA testing in creeks in the Hornsby Shire.

Bush Regeneration

National Tree Day Planting at Stringybark Ridge

To celebrate National Tree Day we held a tree planting session at Stringybark Ridge in Pennant Hills, Berowra Valley National Park. This is a very special ecological community and home to many threatened species such as the Powerful Owl and the Grey-headed Flying Fox.

A huge amount of thanks goes to NPWS for including us in this exciting project and organising the fencing. Also a big thank you to the Warada Ngurang Community Nursery for supplying most of the plants.

NPWS now have a fence in place to protect plantings from the wallabies and the canopy layer, shrubs and ground cover have been planted out.

We are so fortunate to have a great team of people working together to restore and preserve our beautiful National Park. For more information on the project go to

Bush Regeneration

Tree Planting at Stringybark Ridge

A group of ‘friends’ got together on 11 July 2022 to make a start on restoring the small oval at Stringybark Ridge. Amazingly the sun shone and the rain stayed away until the next day. NPWS have installed a fence to protect the plantings from wallabies while they grow. A big thanks to Robin, Thomas, Ken, Madeleine, Mary and Karen.

Before shot


When They Stopped the Bulldozers

We recently nominated our Treasurer, Ken Fox, for the 2022 Treasurer Awards. Ken has always been the quiet achiever and has been an asset to all of the following community groups:

  • United Residents Action group 1990 – 2016 (26 years)
  • Berowra and District Community Assoc 2005–current (17 years)
  • Hornsby Conservation Society 2008 – current (14 years)
  • Association for Berowra Creek 2012 – current (10 years)
  • Friends of Berowra Valley 2018 – current (5 years)
  • Probus Club of Berowra 2020-current (2 years)

Ken has been an advocate for the environment for many years. His most outstanding achievement is his involvement with the United Residents Action Group  where in May 1997 members of URAG blockaded the bulldozer at Chakola Av to prevent the start of the Landcom development. To further show residents commitment, URAG held a protest march and street rally in Hornsby in June 1997 which included guest speakers Jeff Angel from Total Environment Centre and Ian Cohen from the Greens Party and a MLC.

As a result of this and supported by John Muirhead (Mayor HSC) Stephen O’Doherty (State Member), Landcom agreed to enter mediation June 97. The mediation group consisted of Landcom, URAG and Council. As part of the mediation Total Environment Centre was selected to oversee the project of determining what portion of the land should be developed based on Environmentally Sustainable Development.

Four studies were commissioned:

  • Study 1 State of the Environment
  • Study 2 Ecological Sustainable Development planning framework
  • Study 3 Application of the ESD framework
  • Study 4 Management of the Land

In December 1999 Total Environment Centre tabled its recommendations and of the of approximate 580 building sites only 45 odd sites were deemed suitable for development. Landcom agreed to the recommendations and agreed to transfer the land deemed unsuitable for development be transferred to the NPWS for inclusion into the Berowra Valley Regional Park. However to date, due to Aboriginal Land Claims being placed on most of this land apart from one parcel at Chakola Ave Hornsby Heights have not been included into the park.

A sincere vote of thanks Ken, for the work that you have done for the environment and community and for the work that you continue to do.


Advocacy Campaigns Westleigh Park

Open Letter to Matt Kean

Dear Matt,

I would have like to have spoken to you personally but somehow my emails for meeting requests go unanswered.  I get it, you are a busy man but during this workshop your influence loomed large.

As a participant in the recent Westleigh Park Co-design Mountain Bike Trails Workshop I would like to share my experience. 15 people were involved with approximately half representing the mountain biking community and the other half representing the environmental side including groups such as the Westleigh Progress Association, Friends of Berowra Valley, STEP, ANPS (Australian Native Plant Society) and others.

Each side have their own ideology and it is this ideology that feeds their position.

Mountain Bikers

  • Love the bush
  • Love riding
  • Find it therapeutic
  • It is a great exercise
  • Introduces their kids to the bush
  • Elements of the track that are important include, shade, trees and shrubs, topography, locality.
  • Need tracks that have a direction and a track head to avoid collisions.

Environment Participants

  • Want to protect EEC(Endangered Ecological Communities) and CEEC(Critically Endangered Ecological Communities)
  • Want to protect the whole ecosystem, trees, shrubs and groundcovers and all of the animals that rely in these as habitat
  • What to see the bushland handed down to future generations intact
  • Want to be able to walk through the area at a slow and gentle pace. (While walking the tracks it became clear that once the area is designated as a track, this will not be possible. You will be in the way.)

I have no problem with the mountain biker’s ideology, in fact I applaud each and every element.  I am almost certain that the mountain bikers would have no problem with the elements of our ideology.

So why are we being pitted against each other?

During the workshop it became clear through the many presentations of the professional track designer that he can create tracks that meet the needs of mountain bikers anywhere. Give him a blank canvas and he can create a masterpiece.

It is an easy fix to the demand of more mountain bike tracks to destroy more of our bushland.  But Matt, you said that you cared for our environment and you want to protect our wildlife and their habitat. Stop wasting public money on pointless consultations and find a genuine sustainable solution that we can all be proud of.

Yours sincerely

Karen Benhar

President Friends of Berowra Valley

Advocacy Campaigns Westleigh Park

Westleigh Park Bushland Furore

We need to protect our remaining bushland in Sydney before it is lost to future generations. The area surrounding Westleigh Park has been home to 694 plant species, 14 mammal species, 134 bird species, 14 reptile species and 8 amphibian species according to the Atlas of Living Australia.

Hornsby Shire Council has created a draft master plan to develop Westleigh Park. Overall the area to be developed includes 36ha of land with 10ha already cleared. Most of the cleared area will be redeveloped into 2 sporting fields (1 likely to be synthetic) and 1 athletics field.


Water Management in Greater Sydney  – We Can Do Better

Water management has traditionally been about supplying clean drinking water however there is a growing expectation in the community that water management is more than that, it is about having healthy waterways without pollution and thriving with life.  So how do we adapt to this new expectation?

Advocacy Environmental Education

Do you know the threatened species in your electorate?

A collaboration between conservation scientists and interaction designers has resulted in a great website to help know about the threatened species in your electorate.

Check out this web app called Threatened Australians that identifies all of the threatened species in an electorate.

Berowra has 26 threatened animals and 36 threatened plants within its boundaries. Put pressure on your state MP Matt Kean and Federal MP Julian Leeser to ensure that there is a Recovery Plan in place.