The rapid expansion of urban areas worldwide is leading to native habitat loss and ecosystem fragmentation and degradation. Although the study of urbanisation’s impact on biodiversity is gaining increasing interest globally, there is still a disconnect between research recommendations and urbanisation strategies. Expansion of the Perth metropolitan area on the Swan Coastal Plain in south-western Australia, one of the world’s thirty-six biodiversity hotspots, continues to affect the Banksia Woodlands (BWs) ecosystem, a federally listed Threatened Ecological Community (TEC). Here, we utilise the framework of a 1989 review of the state of knowledge of BWs ecology and conservation to examine scientific advances made in understanding the composition, processes and functions of BWs and BWs’ species over the last 30 years. We highlight key advances in our understanding of the ecological function and role of mechanisms in BWs that are critical to the management of this ecosystem. The most encouraging change since 1989 is the integration of research between historically disparate ecological disciplines. We outline remaining ecological knowledge gaps and identify key research priorities to improve conservation efforts for this TEC. We promote a holistic consideration of BWs with our review providing a comprehensive document that researchers, planners and managers may reference. To effectively conserve ecosystems threatened by urban expansion, a range of stakeholders must be involved in the development and implementation of best practices to conserve and maintain both biodiversity and human wellbeing.