Now or Never – Protect Powerful Owl Habitat Before it’s Too Late
There are those moments in time when you can do something truly remarkable for a vulnerable species. Or you can turn away and lose yet another native species to the area.
Here we have a remarkable property which contains perfect habitat for Powerful Owls and in fact has resident owls and a development which ticks all of the boxes and is even going to preserve a part of the site, but the likely outcome will be another loss of prime Powerful Owl habitat.
A Development Application is currently being considered by Hornsby Shire Council concerning the Marymount Mercy Centre at 36 David Road Castle Hill. For more than 60 years the Sisters of Mercy Parramatta have been caretakers of a 8ha site which includes a Heritage Listed Critically Endangered Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest. The Sisters have long committed to living gently on the land. Under their care, the forest has tripled in size and is now home to many birds and native animals, including the vulnerable apex species, the Powerful Owl.
As their Congregation ages the sisters are no longer able to maintain the property. The sisters wish to influence future development of the site and ensure the protection of the forest by gifting the Turpentine-Ironbark forest to Hornsby Shire Council with funds for maintenance in perpetuity.
The development proposal is to remove 234 trees and the convent buildings and sub-divide to create 60 500sqm lots on 5ha of the site and leave most of the critically endangered Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest.
We admire the Sisters wish to preserve the forest. But the question has to be asked will all of this development mean that you save the forest but lose the Powerful Owls?
Currently you have habitat so good that there are resident Powerful Owls. It is ideal habitat due to the close proximity to Pyes Creek, with plenty of open areas attracting Powerful Owl prey species such as magpies and with low disturbance. This healthy functioning ecosystem includes trees which give us oxygen and store carbon and the landscape cleans the water as it slowly seeps through to Pyes Creek.
This development will create 60 households with potentially 60-120 cars as well as more than 200 people next to the forest. A road will be created through the middle of the forest. Not only will this fragment the Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest (STIF) but the increase in traffic and night light will have a significant impact on the Powerful Owls.
Surely the historic value of the buildings should be considered and possibly repurposed to provide sorely needed community resources such as a library, art gallery, theatre or meeting rooms.
So we call on the local MP for Epping the Hon Dom Perrottet MP find a way to save this truly remarkable site.
What we are doing?
- Making a submission to the DA. There needs to be 10 submissions to force a public meeting and ensure that the whole process is handled transparently.
- We have issued a media release to local newspapers.
- We will be asking for support from all councillors at Hornsby Shire Council.
- We will be informing other interested Conservation groups in the area.
- We will be seeking support from The Powerful Owl Project at Birdlife.
What can you do to help?
Contact your local state MP and asking them to save this remarkable site.
Powerful Owls are a top predator and help maintain the ecological balance of our bushland. If we manage the bushland and suburban landscape for the leafy, complex habitat owls need, we will preserve ancient trees full of hollows and give ourselves shade and a diversity of shrubs of all heights, colours and textures. This will enrich our lives with the sound and sight of birds by day and the rustles, squeaks, grunts and hoots of possums and owls at night.
The protection of our top nocturnal predator and its habitat will enhance biodiversity, and inform us about the health of the natural world around us. Urban bushland is already fragmented and clearing for residential development is continuing. However, if we design and expand our green spaces to support Powerful Owls their presence will in turn keep our natural world in balance. Viewing the world through the eyes of Powerful Owls will enable us to see trees and habitat as an investment for decades and centuries, as ‘green infrastructure’
NSW, Powerful Owls are managed under the Saving our Species program as landscape-managed species, species best assisted by addressing threats such as habitat loss or degradation within a landscape.