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Teeing-off Carbon Connections

Teeing-off Carbon Connections programSydney’s golf courses and open spaces as biodiverse carbon stores

Greater Sydney Local Land Services, in partnership with Golf NSW, has undertaken a three-year project to link “corridors of green” through some of Australia’s most urbanised suburbs.

With the assistance of $1.8 million in funding from the Australian Government, the Teeing-off Carbon Connections project has provided an exceptional opportunity to protect native vegetation, reduce the impact of weeds and invasive pests like rabbits and foxes, and to link important vegetation corridors across the Sydney region.

There are more than 100 golf courses in Greater Sydney, which occupy over 4,000 hectares of the local green space. But it’s not just golfers that rely on golf courses. They provide a very important refuge for local flora and fauna, and approximately 40% of golf courses in the region contain endangered ecological communities or threatened species.

As part of the Teeing-off Carbon project a series of 16 workshops was delivered to more than 150 golf club staff and volunteers, representing over 30 golf clubs from across the Sydney region. These workshops addressed a range of topics with the purpose of developing the skills and knowledge of those responsible for managing the region’s golf courses, enabling them to confidently protect and restore biodiversity and waterways on their land.

Workshops included:

  • Bushcare boosters training
  • Grant writing skills
  • Managing urban dams for golf course settings
  • Golf course volunteer training
  • Managing the edge
  • What scum is that?
  • Vertebrate Pest management

Above: Images from the sixteen workshops delivered information to more than 150 golf club staff and volunteers representing over 30 golf clubs from across the Sydney region.

Funding was also provided for on-ground works as outlined below:

  • Weed control measures were carried out across more than 64 ha
  • Fox and rabbit control was implemented across more than 190 ha
  • Around 100,000 plants were established across more than 12 ha throughout the project area
  • Indigenous Cultural Heritage (AHIMS) desktop searches were carried out with site visits conducted when required
  • Themeda grasslands were protected by fencing
  • 15 agreements for on-ground works across golf courses and connected landscapes
  • More than 50 training and awareness raising events with more than 300 participants

Above: On-ground works including weed control, revegetation, erosion control, signage, soil carbon monitoring.

As part of the project, a research partnership was established with Western Sydney University to find out more about the role of golf courses as carbon sinks in biodiverse corridors. The Accounting for Biodiversity and Carbon on Golf Courses research and Toolbox has provided golf course staff with an alternate method of viewing the course landscape. The impact of this research will be ongoing as the data and methodology can be applied to other grant projects in multi use landscapes, for use by Community Groups and Local Councils.

An Understorey Plants for Sydney’s Golf Courses booklet was also developed by Greater Sydney Local Land Services and disseminated to all 100 golf courses in the region.

Project extension resources

The project extension resources are designed to provide all golf clubs with access to material that will assist them to better manage weeds, native vegetation, fauna and water quality. It also includes the findings from the Accounting for Biodiversity and Carbon on Golf Courses research project undertaken by the Western Sydney University and information on where and how to apply for grant funding. The materials have been collated from a variety of agencies, organisations and individuals and draw upon their expertise and specialities. Greater Sydney Local Land Services acknowledges the many contributors to this resource and hopes that the knowledge and experience will help to inform best practice environmental management on golf courses, for the benefit of biodiversity across Greater Sydney and beyond.

A subset of these resources are available below. Please contact us for further information.

Case Studies

Booklets and Fact Sheets


Research and evaluation

  • Teeing-off Carbon Connections: An Evaluation of Capacity Building Activities on Sydney’s Golf Courses, May 2015 - Summary
  • ABC-Golf: Accounting for Biodiversity and Carbon in Sydney’s Golf Courses, May 2015 - Summary - Biodiversity Findings