What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity: the variety of all forms of life: the plants, animals and micro-organisms that surround us.

Ecosystem: the complex networks that are formed by the interaction of these animals and plants with each other and with their environment. Many different species live in the Kensington area and each one is uniquely connected in some form of relationship with another.

The pre-settlement biodiversity of Kensington

Historic sources describe the original eastern plains between Adelaide and Burnside as: “…a magnificent gum forest with an undergrowth of Kangaroo Grass so high that people travelling between Adelaide and Kensington lost their way.” River Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) dominated the creeklines, extending to mixed SA Blue Gum (Eucalyptus leucoxylon) River Red Gum open woodland, with patches of Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata) and Native Pine (Callitris gracillis) on the plains. The diverse understorey incorporated a variety of shrubs, grasses and herbs, including amongst others, Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha), Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa), Yacca (Xanthorrhoea semilpana ssp. semiplana), and Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra). Dense shrubby patches were commonly interspersed with a grass-dominated understorey. There was a multitude of wild flowers beneath and birds above, and along the creeklines, innumerable small crayfish (yabbies) darting amongst white and brown pebbles of the stream floor.

Despite the dramatic loss of native flora and fauna in the Norwood Payneham St Peters Council area, biodiversity was found to be of great importance to the local community in the survey conducted for the State of Environment (SOE) Report prepared in 2005. Out of 158 respondents, 80% indicated that biodiversity was important or extremely important to them.

Borthwick Park plantings

Plantings in Borthwick Park, Kensington, in Adelaide’s east, were proposed by the Kensington Residents’ Association in 2009 to encourage the establishment of a pre-settlement biodiversity ecology under the park’s magnificent remnant River Red Gums. They have been conducted in three phases:

  • July 2010. Eastern half of creekline (northern side only)
  • July 2011. Western half of creekline (northern side only)
  • July 2012. Sheoak Grove (Thornton St) and Heanes Lane bed
  • July 2013. New plantings along the northern fence line and establishment of new halo plantings around significant Red gums in the centre of the park and the northern section near Richmond Street
  • July 2014. General infill plantings throughout of smaller and some unusual species. Also new plantings along the Eastern BBQ fence line
  • July 2015. General infill plantings throughout and additional plantings along the Eastern BBQ fence line.

In each case, chosen plants are those which existed in the area at the time of settlement. The Kensington Residents’ Association was lucky enough to be able to obtain most species from Burnside Council’s own native plant nursery, which propagates from local seed. In this way the majority of the plants in Borthwick Park are of local provenance.

The results are plain to see. By planting local species in an environment where the plants have always belonged, visitors to the park are struck by the extraordinary growth that has taken place. Some plants are already 3m tall after only 2 years.

Other benefits are starting to be seen; reduced pollutants and run-off into the creek and an increase in insect and bird numbers.