Key words: bush regeneration, community engagement, habitat restoration, urban bushland, follow up
Geary’s Way Bushcare team tends a small, but important area of recovering bushland in Kylie Avenue, Killara, NSW in the Local Government Area of Ku-ring-gai. In its “native” state the area would have been recognised as a Sydney Turpentine, Ironbark Forest (STIF) but in the century or so since the development of the suburb, the site had degraded to a point where it was highly infested by a wide range of weed species including Balloon Vine (Cardiospermum) and Small-leaved Privet (Ligustrum sinense).
Council records show that, over the last 40 years, several groups of concerned local residents have made attempts to rehabilitate the area and these well-meaning efforts have invariably ended in failure as interest waned or people moved on. However this latest attempt began in earnest in January 2008 and with the help of Ku-ring-gai Council staff, the Council’s Wildflower nursery at St Ives, several successful applications for funding to the Council’s Small Grants Scheme funded by the Environmental Levy and a small but very enthusiastic team of local residents – the project now really looks like it will succeed.
When the work began there was a deal of consternation in certain quarters because the site had been the subject of several previous attempts at rehabilitation – all of them had failed and each time it seemed that things just got worse. Madeira Vine (Anredera cordifolia), Lantana (Lantana camara) , Balloon Vine (Cardiospermum grandiflorum) and Morning Glory (Ipomoea indica) covered the site to a depth of 4 metres with Lantana and Balloon vine growing 7 – 10 metres up whatever native trees remained, although many of them had already died. Beneath all this nearly every weed known to Ku-ring-gai’s Bushcarers grew in profusion: Crofton weed (Ageratina adenophora), Fleabane (Conyza bonariensis), Onion Weed (Nothoscordum gracile), Senna (Senna x pendula), Slender Celery (Cyclospermum leptophyllum), Moth Vine (Araujia sericifera), Ehrharta (Ehrharta erecta), Tradescantia (Tradescantia fluminensis), African Ivy (Delairea odorata), Fishbone Fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia), Turkey Rhubarb (Acetosa saggitata) , Asparagus Fern (Asparagus aethiopicus.), Fumaria (Fumaria sp.) Nutgrass (Cyperus rotundus) and a wide range of other exotic grasses and forbs.
But things have changed. The small group has made good progress in the 4 years since the current project started but we are well aware that there is a lot more to do. Natural regeneration is occurring all over the site, including Basket Grasses (Oplismenus spp.), Berry Saltbush (Einadia hastata), Bracken Fern (Pteridium esculentum), Bleeding Heart (Omalanthus populifolius), Common Hopbush (Dodonaea triquetra), Gahnia (Gahnia sieberana), Lesser Joyweed (Alternanthera denticulata), Right Angle Grass (Entolasia stricta) and White Dogwood (Ozothamnus diosmofolius). Some recent discoveries include a self-seeded Running Postman (Kennedia rubicunda), a Geebung (Persoonia sp.), Breynia oblongifolia and Pastel Flower (Pseuderanthemum variabile).
Wildlife is returning. Swamp wallabies (Wallabia bicolor) have been seen on the site as well as, Eastern Whipbirds (Psophodes olivaceus) a Tawny Frogmouth (Podargus strigoides), Satin Bower Bird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) Brush Turkeys (Alectura lathami), and recently a male Lyre Bird (Menura novaehollandiae) and male and female Satin Bower Birds.
Outcomes and lessons learned. One of the lessons learned by the Geary’s Way team (comparing our success with the efforts of the past) is that groups intending to work on bushland site rehabilitation should not open up more of the site than they can reasonably follow up with limited resources and time. To do so will only end in failure with the inevitable result that the weeds return in even greater numbers than before.
We feel that, as a group, we have made real progress. We have worked hard, we have formed a team of (bush)caring locals, we have learned a huge amount (one of the things that we have learned is that there is still so much more to learn), we have gained a real sense of achievement and we want to continue to look after our small site, to nurture it, for the native animals that will benefit from our work, for the native vegetation that is now returning, of its own “free will” to the site and for the generations of Australians who will come after us.
Contact: Hugh Lander, Geary’s Way Bushcare Group Site Convenor; 0411 7547349.