Is the natural history of Sydney so camouflaged that it will not survive!
Our answer, to the question: Is the natural history of Sydney so camouflaged that it will not survive? Is “yes”. Harry Recher, an active participant in the plenary session, took the view that as the ecosystems around us decline, there will be even less native fauna in the city. There exists a strong case for knowing what is native, and not just pushing on with restoration, or setting aside green spaces without knowing what is there, and what will occupy the new habitats. That case is the subject of this paper. Knowing the natural history of Sydney is one element of living in a civilised society, which includes caring about the past, knowing your local plants and animals, and managing for future generations. All the papers in this book are linked thematically around the idea that Sydney has its own rich natural history that is worthy of sustained study and conservation. We comment on the way that historians have looked at Sydney, and where native animals have fitted into the history of Australia, and Sydney in particular. In our view, that subject is only now taking hold, but it will be one that will yield many new insights, and in turn it will merge with ecological thinking and contribute to the new disciple of ecological history. Paul Adam, in his paper, shows the merit of reference back to Britain for our understanding of how and why the colony took the course it did with respect to natural history. He is dismayed that natural history no longer has any prominence, yet it is the foundation stone upon which so many of the specialist disciplines rest. More importantly, it is a guiding light for any major conservation effort. We present one glimpse of the natural history of Sydney, invite others to enjoy its diversity, to support its conservation, and then integrate those views into your city life.