Latest project summaries
- Post-fire assisted regeneration at Scottsdale Reserve, Bredbo NSW
- Crowdy Bay National Park, NSW – Assisted regeneration of a littoral rainforest patch post 2019-20 summer wildfire
- Post-wildfire recovery at a wet sclerophyll/rainforest ecotone close to housing at Wanganui NSW
- Regenerating and planting of rainforest buffers to protect homes and rainforest from future fires
- Second trial of watering device design to facilitate seed dispersal into revegetation sites
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Crowdy Bay National Park, NSW – Assisted regeneration of a littoral rainforest patch post 2019-20 summer wildfire
Introduction. Crowdy Bay National Park is located on the NSW Mid-north coast and comprises coastal landscapes, some of which have were sand mined prior to the area’s acquisition for conservation in the 1970s. Littoral rainforest remnant and regrowth patches occur within the Park and are listed at State level and as Endangered Ecological Community and at national level as a Threatened Ecological Community. The rainforest community type forms in the dune swales, protected by Coast Banksia (Banksia integrifolia) and is dominated over time by Tuckeroo ( Cupaniopsis anacardioides) and Beach Alectryon (Alectryon coriaceus), with other rainforest co-dominants and associated shrubs, vines and groundcovers.
For over four decades, a regeneration program has been carried out in the park by volunteers working through the National Parks Association (NPA), Mid North Coast Branch. This short summary refers to the condition of one floristically diverse littoral rainforest patch at Kylie’s Beach, half of which was burnt in a spot-wildfire in late 2019 and in which weed managment works commenced 2 years prior to the wildfire due to pre-existing weed issues (Fig 1).
The wildfire and early recovery. The wildfire burnt all the banksias on the foredune crest that were providing wind protection for the littoral rainforest, as well as 1ha of the littoral rainforest. It left the ground layer beneath both areas largely bare. In the areas burnt, all trees appeared dead. With rainfall occurring soon after the fire, post-fire coppicing of rainforest trees and Banksia commenced; with germination of native seedlings occurring with the arrival of heavy rains in December 2020 -January 2021. By mid-autumn 2020 the northern foredune section was thickly covered with colonising Blady Grass (Imperata cylindrica) that provided cover for other successional natives (Fig 2) .
Weed recovery, however, was very rapid. As early as May 2020, the site was a sea of annuals, with abundant Lantana (Lantana camara), Coastal Morning Glory (Ipomoea cairica), Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana), Crofton Weed (Ageratina adenophora) and scatterings of Cape Ivy (Senecio mikanioides) and Tobacco Bush (Solanum mauritianum). Volunteers were at a loss to see how the site could be helped to regenerate. Not having previously worked in a burnt rainforest, the first though was to take out all the weeds. Under the guidance of retired regenerator Tom Clarke from the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators (AABR) however, a different approach was taken.
Works undertaken. Commencing in May 2020 Sue Baker from NPA and Tom Clarke from AABR conducted monthly working bees to strategically remove weeds. The approach was to regard the weeds as the new canopy cover and primary colonisers, providing invaluable shade and moisture retention for the regenerating rainforest species. It was agreed that the main initial objective was to see the re-establishment of a canopy, however low, to protect the ground moisture levels and any recovering herb layer. At this point any woody weeds were considered allies in that they were resprouting along with many native pioneer species. Treatment of woody weeds was selective and dependent upon direct competition with native plants. Instead, treatment of weed vines and creepers was targeted, with removal of Morning Glory and Cape Ivy a priority, at least to the edge of the burnt zone.
Subsequently, apart from preventing the spread of Cape Ivy and removing dense infestations of fruiting Cape Gooseberry, the method was to remove weeds only where they were competing with native seedlings with as much removal of their fruits and seeds as possible, followed by thinning out later where helpful. By January 2021, native ground cover had recovered sufficiently to remove the annuals, some of which were 2m high. Over time, the selective treatment of woody weeds has continued as more and more native regen appeared. By taking this approach we have left nature largely to do its own thing with minimal detrimental impact from weeding.
In addition, we have taken the view that the wildfire was not soley a negative; it has also provided an opportunity to address some of the long-standing weed issues in the broader area of Kylie’s Beach including that of Glory Lily (Gloriosa superba) and Golden Wreath Wattle (Acacia saligna) which the fire stimulated to germinate from the soil seed bank in their thousands.
As well as the weed management work, over a kilogram of native seed was broadcast in mid-summer 2020 in the hope it might improve recovery of the ecosystem.
Volunteer visits. After a site inspection tour on 14th May 2020 there have been at least 17 visits to Crowdy Bay National Park where regeneration works has been carried out, not only in the littoral rainforest, but also in the broader Kylie’s beach area. These occurred in May (1 visit), July (3 visits), August (4 visits involving 12 volunteers), September (2 visits), October (4 visits), November (1 visit) and lately in January 2021 (2 visits).
Results to date. The site has demonstrated itself to have high levels of native resilience, having been in relatively healthy condition apart from per-existing weed infestations. High levels of rain in the 2020-21 summer has promoted extensive and vigorous growth. At February 2021, the forest floor was a carpet of native vegetation and some areas knee-high in dense native grasses. Less care in selecting woody weeds for treatment is now required.
Much of the regeneration is from germinating seeds but some has been from re-sprouting rootstocks, resprouting stems or coppicing from the bases of trees, including rainforest trees (Figs 3 and 4) although some large trees are dead (See Table 1). With the assisted regeneration work (i.e. strategic weed removal post-fire) the site is quickly shifting from a predominantly weed-dominated post-fire succession to one dominated by native plants.
There is no evidence that the sown seed has yet contributed to the regeneration at this stage. Native regeneration was occurring across the area prior to the date when germination of sown seed would be expected and it is now clear that additional seed was not required.
Plans for ongoing management. The continued wet and humid conditions in summer 2021 have provided highly favorable conditions for regeneration. During 2021 the volunteers will try to keep up with the work at Kylie’s Beach through regular bush regeneration camp outs (as organised for many years, except 2020 which was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions). Work plans for the next camp-out have been scheduled to include the Kylie’s Beach littoral rainforest site and will include follow-up treatment of vines and Crofton Weed. Full recovery is likely to take years as the recovery process moves at its own pace.
Two major issues remain – dense ground and canopy cover of coastal morning glory in the area will need meticulous treatment. Also an entire drainage line on the steep, rocky cliff face behind the dune is densely infested with Crofton Weed that must be left in place to stabilize the slope until sufficient native cover takes hold. Volunteers were able to remove flowers from the Crofton Weed for a certain distance up the slope. Contractors will be needed in 2021 to deal with the upper slope.
Acknowledgements: We thank the organisation and leadership of NPA group. The fact that this was already in place prior to the fire, was a key to the success of the work to date. This group has an outstanding history and connection with many sites in the Park over many years. The linking of AABR to the project provided additional support in project design and facilitating additional volunteer from the ABBR network for the post-fire restoration side of the program.
Contacts: Tom Clarke AABR 0418411785 and Sue Baker (NPA MNC branch)
Table 1. Kylie’s Beach Littoral Rainforest Post Fire Restoration – responses of native and exotic species (Exotics marked with an asterisk)
|Scientific name||Common name||Response of the species at this site||Notes|
|Imperata cylindrica||Blady Grass||Resprouted||Dominating burnt floor devoid of canopy|
|Oplismenus aemulus||Basket Grass||Resprouted and germinated||Near edge of existing canopy|
|Ehrharta erecta*||Panic Veldtgrass||Germinated||Hillside on open ground near crofton weed|
|Eriochloa procera||Spring Grass||Germinated||Near edge of existing canopy|
|Scramblers and Climbers|
|Marsdenia flavescens||Hairy Milk Vine||Resprouted and germinated||At edge of existing canopy|
|Senecio mikanioides*||Cape Ivy||Resprouted||Remnants creeping through grasses, has been heavily targeted.|
|Ipomoea cairica*||Mile-a-minute||Resprouted and germinated||Existing condition taking advantage, targeted for weeding|
|Desmodium sp. (varians?)||Desmodium||Germinated||Carpeting over slope to dune swale|
|Glycine sp. (tabacina?)||Love Creeper||Germinated||Carpeting over slope to dune swale|
|Sarcopetalum harveyanum||Pearl Vine||Resprouted and germinated||Near edge of existing canopy.|
|Stephania japonica||Snake Vine||Resprouted and germinated||Near edge of existing canopy or large remnant structures|
|Dioscorea transversa||Native Yam||Resprouted||Near edge of existing canopy or large remnant structures|
|Passiflora edulis*||Blue Passion Flower||Resprouted and germinated||Single isolated plant. Previously overlooked?|
|Rubus parvifolius||Native Raspberry||Resprouted and germinated||Creeping through rank grasses|
|Cayratia clematidea||Slender Grape||Resprouted and germinated||Creeping through rank grasses|
|Cissus antarctica||Kangaroo Grape||Resprouted||Mostly at edge of existing canopy.|
|Tetrastigma nitens||Three-leaved Water Vine||Resprouted||Near edge of existing canopy|
|Flagellaria indica||Whip Vine||Resprouted||Isolated individuals searching for structure|
|Geitonoplesium cymosum||Scrambling Lily||Resprouted||Creeping through rank grasses|
|Smilax australis||Austral Sarspariila||Resprouted||Moving into grass floor plus climbing burnt structures.|
|Ground Covers and Herbs|
|Hydrocotle bonariensis*||Pennywort||Resprouted||Associated with commelina in low swale|
|Commelina cyanea||Scurvy Weed||Resprouted||Feature of low swale within open floor area; also underneath grasses.|
|Melanthera biflora||Melanthera||Resprouted||Carpeting top of rise from dune swale|
|Crinum pedunculatum||Swamp Lily||Resprouted||Seaward edge to dune swale|
|Dianella congesta||Coastal Flax Lily|
|Lomandra longifolia||Mat Rush||Resprouted and germinated||Isolated individuals, seedlings and survivors|
|Ficinia nodosa||Knobby Club-sedge||Resprouted||Seaward side pushing up from dune swale below|
|Cyperus sp. (sanguinolentus?)||Sedge||Resprouted||Associated with commelina etc in swale near False Bracken|
|Alocasia brisbanensis||Cunjevoi||Resprouted||Scattered near edge of existing canopy or structures.|
|Doodia aspera||Rasp Fern||Resprouted||Mostly near edges of existing canopy|
|Pellaea falcata||Sickle Fern||Resprouted||Mostly with grass at edge of existing canopy|
|Calochlaena dubia||False Bracken Fern||Resprouted||Dense patches on floor adjacent to Blady Grass|
|Dicksonia antarctica||Treefern||Resprouted||Unaffected individuals near edges|
|Acacia longifolia (var. sophorae?)||Golden Wattle||Germinated||Seedling growth mostly seaward edge of floor.|
|Breynia oblongifolia||Coffee Bush||Germinated||Isolated individuals from seedlings|
|Banksia integrifolia||Coastal Banksia||Resprouted and germinated||Coppicing from burnt stumps plus seedlings|
|Physalis peruviana*||Cape Gooseberry||Rampant pioneer exotic targeted for weeding|
|Solanum nigrum*||Blackberry Nightshade||Germinated||Rampant pioneer exotic targeted for weeding|
|Lantana camara*||Lantana||Resprouted||Rampant pioneer exotic targeted for weeding|
|Poyscias elegans||Celerywood||Germinated||Scattered seedlings|
|Trema tomentosa var. viridis||Native Peach||Germinated||Pioneer from seedlings; competing well|
|Conyza sumatrensis*||Tall Fleabane||Germinated||Rampant pioneer exotic targeted for weeding|
|Notelea venosa?||Mock Olive||Resprouted||Coppicing from burnt stump.|
|Bidens Pilosa*||Cobbler’s Pegs||Germinated||Rampant pioneer exotic targeted for weeding|
|Phytolacca octandra*||Inkweed||Germinated||Isolated patches|
|Ageratina Adenophora*||Crofton Weed||Resprouted and germinated??||Isolated patches on floor plus large, dense infestation covering hillside soak|
|Chrysanthemoides monilifera*||Bitou Bush||Resprouted and germinated||Isolated individual plants|
|Cupaniopsis anacardioides||Tuckeroo||Resprouted and germinated||Coppicing from burnt stumps plus seedlings|
|Wilkiea huegeliana||Wilkiea||Resprouted||Coppicing from burnt stumps|
|Homalanthus populifolius||Bleeding Heart||Germinated||Pioneer from seedlings; competing well|
|Alectryon coriaceus||Beach Tamarind||Resprouted||Coppicing from burnt stumps.|
|Solanum mauritianum*||Tree Tobacco||Germinated||Pioneer exotic targeted for weeding|
|Ficus rubiginosa||Port Jackson Fig||Resprouted||Coppicing from burnt stumps|
|Laurel type||Coppicing from burnt stumps|
|Synoum glandulosum||Scentless Rosewood||Resprouted||Coppicing from burnt stumps|
Introduction. The Mt Nardi fire, on Wed 13th Nov 2019, provided an opportunity to observe the effects of a relatively low intensity burn at a wet sclerophyll/rainforest ecotone on an 18 acre rural residential property at Wanganui, NSW.
Prior to the fire the vegetation had not been burned for 50 years and was dominated by Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus), Red Bloodwood (Corymbia gummifera) and Forest Oak (Allocasuarina torulosa) – with a mesic understory of rainforest species including Red Bopple Nut (Hicksbeachia pinnatifolia ), Jackwood (Cryptocarya glaucescens), Bangalow Palm (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana) and Tree Heath (Trochocarpa laurina). The forest was on a trajectory from wet sclerophyll towards a palm-dominated forest.
Since the fire, the recovery has reset the ecosystem to a wet sclerophyll community with a diversity of heathy species in the understorey, although there is also massive germination and resprouting of rainforest species that indicates that the rainforest understorey will return over time. Table 1 at the end of this summary shows the recovery of both sclerophyll and rainforest species, and their presence or absence above ground prior to the fire.
Mortality and recovery.
Resprouting: The fire varied in intensity as it burned downslope. The highest intensity was at the edge of the National Park at the highest elevation above a rocky face. Turpentine (Syncarpa glomulifera), Lomandra (Lomandra longifolia), heath species and younger trees appeared to be killed by fire. While Turpentine has not yet resprouted, Lomandra has resprouted and heath species such as Acacia and Zieria have regrown from seedlings. Bangalow Palms (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana) are completely dead wherever the fire burned to their tops (growing points) and perhaps many more are dying, indicated by the presence of a fungus on their trunks. One tall Brushbox (Lophostemon confertus) is completely dead.
A community with old growth Forest Oak (Allocasuarina torulosa) is further downslope closer to the rainforest lined creek. The roots system of these trees, burned under the ground and the fire could only be doused by digging out the peat-like root system. Some of the Forest Oaks died but most have recovered. Taller canopy trees of rainforest and sclerophyll species died back but are resprouting. Midstorey trees, less than 8m, are largely dead, dying or resprouting from the base (coppicing). The trunks are completely dead but there are many root suckers of species such as Jackwood (Cryptocaryia glaucescens), Bolwarra (Eupomatia laurina), Grey Possumwood (Quintinia verdonii) and the rare Red Bopple Nut (Hickbeachia pinnalifolia).
Treeferns such as Cyathea australis, C. cooperi and C. leichhardtiana were the first resprounters and ground ferns such as Soft Bracken (Hypolepis muelleri) are proliferating following the rain since the fire event.
Seed germination: Rainforest species germinating included: Red Cedar (Toona ciliata) , Pencil Cedar (Polyscias murrayi), Brown Kurrajong (Commersonia bartramia), Red Ash (Alphitonia excelsa) and Corkwood (Duboisia myoporoides). Heath species recruiting included: a large amount of Tree Pea (Daviesia arborea), Zieria (Zieria smithii), Prickly Acacia (Acacia ulicifolia), and Hibbertia spp. Herbaceous species included: Forest Lobelia (Lobelia trigonocaulis), Kreysigia (Tripladenia cunninghamii), Hairy Tree Foil Desmodium rhytidophllum and other vines of the pea family are covering large areas of the ground.
Alongside the natives, diverse weeds are proliferating after fire, representing all growth forms. Some weed species may be playing a facilitation role for rainforest recovery, while others should be targeted to reduce their inhibiting effect on native regeneration. Given the level of regeneration across functional groups, this community is likely to benefit from assisted natural regeneration focusing on removal of weed that is competing with native regeneration. Where possible it is desirable to use the opportunity of the wildfire to deplete populations of weed at the site to increase the community’s resilience to future fire. No reintroductions or seed input is needed at the site.
Future directions. Consideration needs to be made as to which ecosystem will be the target for future management. Retaining a sclerophyll overstorey is desirable for habitat values and hence allowing replacement of those individuals that died will be important for future forest dominants. The use of fire as a control method to control the massive germination of rainforest seedlings and Bangalow Palm dominants is under consideration. For the healthy understorey elements to remain in the soil seed bank for future regeneration would at least require their retention until they have flowered, fruited and recharged the soil seed bank. But consideration will be given to retaining more fire-resistant rainforest vegetation on the side of the forest closer to the house to act as a fire buffer to supplement the existing 50m fuel free zone.
Contact: Joanne Green, Email firstname.lastname@example.org
|SPECIES||HABITAT TYPE||PRESENCE /ABSENCE BEFORE FIRE||RECOVERY MODE|
|Botanical Name||Subtropical Rainforest = STRF, Wet Sclerophyll = WS, Dry Sclerophyll = DS||P /A||Seed = S, Epicormic growth = EP, Coppice = COP, R = Resprout
|TREES AND SHRUBS|
|Solanum mauritanium||Non – Native||A||S|
|VINES AND CLIMBERS|
|Stephania japonica var. discolor||STRF||P||S|
|FORBES AND GROUNDCOVERS|
|Pimelea ligustrina subsp. ligustrina||STRF/WS||A||S|
Joanne Green, Rainer Hartlieb and Zia Flook
Introduction. The wildfires of November and December, 2019, burnt over 5,500 hectares of Nightcap National Park and the surrounding areas, including the rural communities of Huonbrook and Wanganui inland from Byron Bay in NSW, Australia. The fires occurred during a period of extreme fire risk after 2 years with below average rainfall. They mainly burnt the sclerophyll forest along the ridgetops, but the extreme conditions also saw fire burn the edge of the rainforest where it was eventually extinguished.
This summary reports on actions on one multiple occupancy property in Huonbrook, NSW after an ember attack from the Mt Nardi fire entered the property in the early hours of the 9th November 2019. During the fire, residents evacuated. Their homes were saved but they returned to find that the fire burnt an area of eucalypts – mainly Flooded Gum (Eucalyptus grandis) and several bamboo species that had been planted during the late 20th century to reforest an area where subtropical rainforest had been-long cleared for dairy farming. The plantings had also become infested with weed including Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphora) and Lantana (Lantana camara), the latter increasing their combustibility under dry conditions. After the fires, the landholders sought solutions that could provide a more fire-resistant barrier to reduce potential fire threat to homes and the nearby remnant rainforest. As a result they opted to restore the buffer zone with the more fire-retardant subtropical rainforest that had been the original native vegetation of the area.
Works undertaken. Starting in March 2020, with support from Madhima Gulgan’s Indigenous bush regeneration team, Huonbrook residents and landowners commenced work on the site. The first task in any zone to be treated was to clear the debris sufficiently to allow access for weeding and planting. The second task was to identify any subtropical rainforest species (germinating after the fire) that were to be retained and to note areas that were bare and would be suited to plantings. (No planting was done where there was any natural regeneration.) The third task was to remove prolific exotic weeds, while protecting the natives, with the final task involving planting, staking and tree guarding.
The main weed species on site were Lantana, Running Bamboo (Phyllostachys spp.), Kahill Ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum), Winter Senna (Senna x pendula), and Inkweed (Phytolacca octandra). A total of 12 rainforest tree species germinating included the secondary species Red Cedar (Toona ciliaris) and Celerywood (Polyscias elegana) and the pioneers Red Ash (Alphitonia excelsa), Macaranga (Maccaranga tanarius) and Bleeding Heart (Homolanthus populifolius). A total of seven native rainforest understorey species resprouted including Dianella (Dianella caerulea), Native Ginger (Alpinia caerulea.) and Cordyline (Cordyline petiolaris).
Some 300 rainforest trees (around 30 species) and another 300 understorey plants have been planted at the site to date from May-Sept 2020, with a total of 3600 plants proposed to be planted on additional fire affected sites as part of this project. Locally occurring tree species planted to date include Lillipilly (Acmena smithii), Native Tamarind (Diploglottis australis), Firewheel Tree (Stenocarpus snuatus), and Long-leaved Tuckeroo (Cupaniopsis newmanii) Understorey species planted included Dianella, Lomandra, Native Ginger and Cordyline. All required tree guards to protect them from browsing by the native Red-necked Pademelon (Thyogale thetis).
After the planting, more natural regeneration of weed and natives occurred, particularly of the ground ferns; Harsh Ground Fern (Hypolepis muelleri), Binung Fern (Christella dentata), and Soft Treefern (Cyathea cooperi). Since the rain in autumn 2020 and the above average rainfall year that has followed, the landholders are managing weed in the regeneration and plantings together and work is now extending into the unburnt buffer zone.
Results to date: Nearly 12 months after planting has seen a nearly 100% survival rate and many of the planted trees have grown to an average height 1-2m. The number of native rainforest species on site now is approximately 25 tree and 23 understorey species and vines. Ferns cover 40% of the site. The difference between the number planted and the number on site (18 species) can be attributed to natural regeneration.
Further colonisation of rainforest species is expected over time. Whilst, in hindsight, we see that much of the site could have been captured by natives as a result of weed management alone, the planting has added a broader diversity of species, and will accelerate the process of succession to a more mature rainforest stand.
Acknowledgements: The Madhima Gulgan Indigenous bush regeneration team was funded by the inGrained Foundation and the Rainforest 4 Foundation. See https://www.rainforest4.org/. Technical advice was provided by Joanne Green.
Introduction. This summary reports on methods and results of a trial to improve the design of a watering device. (See preliminary trial in EMR summary). This trial drew upon lessons learned In the “Kickstart” pasture conversion project, (see https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1bhz81L%7EGwOHhQ) where perches and water basins were installed on two private properties in the upper Barron, Queensland, with the aim of catalysing rainforest regeneration. The seeds of 31 species of bird-dispersed forest trees and shrubs were deposited in water basins, largely due to Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina) using the water to regurgitate seeds. The Kickstart Project demonstrated that there is potential for supplementary water to enhance seed dispersal into revegetation sites; however, the seeds regurgitated into basins in that study were not deposited in sites suitable for germination, limiting the basins’ usefulness as restoration tools.
Our 2016 EMR Project Summary described a watering device designed to overcome this problem of seed being deposited in water receptacles. The trial was conducted at the School for Field Studies property near Yungaburra, Queensland and this summary reports the results of our trial which aimed to identify whether frugivorous birds would use our watering device. We also assessed the amount of maintenance the watering device required to function effectively.
Watering Device Trial. In July 2016, three 3 x 3m plots were established in an approximately 120 x 30m area of disused pasture at the School for Field Studies property. The site was located 15m from the edge of primary rainforest on one side and adjacent to a mosaic of scattered trees, restoration plantings and secondary forest on the other three sides. Each plot had a perch, 3-4m high, cut to standard form from Sarsaparilla (Alphitonia petriei) trees. Each plot also had a watering device placed close to the base of the perch. These were commercially available automatic water dispensers used for poultry set on a 1.5m high base with a perch that allowed birds of different sizes to access water from several angles and for expelled seed to fall to the ground (Figs. 1-3).
Motion-activated cameras (Ranger Compact 2 MP) were installed above each watering device to monitor visits to the water. Apart from a total of 37 days when the cameras were removed for maintenance, the three watering devices were monitored from 22 July 2016 to 13 December 2018 when the trial ended. In the analysis, continuous series of images of one or two birds at a watering device were treated as one visit by that species.
The three plots with a perch and watering device were interspersed with plots that only had a perch or had no structures at all. Apart from within the plots and a narrow access track between them, grass and woody vegetation were not controlled in the surrounding disused pasture.
What we found. Eighty-six visits by three frugivorous bird species were recorded across the three watering devices over the course of the trial. Ninety percent of visits were during the late dry seasons (September-November). One watering device was visited much more often than the others, receiving 70% of all visits. The other two watering devices received 20% and 10% of visits respectively (Table 1).
One bird species, the generalist Lewin’s Honeyeater (Meliphaga lewinii), was by far the most frequent visitor to the watering devices, making up 80% of frugivore visits (Fig. 2). Victoria’s Riflebird (Ptiloris victoriae) was the next most frequent visitor (14% of visits, Fig. 3) and Little Shrikethrush (Colluricincla megarhyncha) was the least frequent visitor (6% of frugivore visits). The only other species that used the watering devices was the Olive-backed Sunbird (Nectarinia jugularis) for which five visits were recorded. All species were recorded drinking from the watering devices. Only the Olive-backed Sunbird could bathe in the small water outlets and were recorded doing so on three occasions.
The watering devices required little maintenance over the 2.5yrs they were deployed. Water was replenished when needed at roughly six-monthly intervals and the water outlets, which collected debris and algae, were cleaned monthly. The devices had no noticeable deterioration at the end of the study.
Table 1. Number of frugivorous bird visits to three watering devices in disused pasture, 22 July 2016 to 13 December 2018.
|Lewin’s Honeyeater Meliphaga lewinii||51||8||10||69|
|Victoria’s Riflebird Ptiloris victoriae||6||0||6||12|
|Little Shrikethrush Colluricincla megarhyncha||3||1||1||5|
|Frugivorous bird visits||60||9||17||86|
Conclusions. Our watering devices were only used by three frugivorous bird species, most frequently by the Lewin’s Honeyeater a dietary generalist. Generalist avian frugivores tend to move mainly in more open habitats enhancing the dispersal of pioneer or non-forest trees across the landscape rather than carrying seeds from remnant forest into pasture.
Bird use of the watering devices was highly variable and largely confined to the late dry season when rainfall is low, and temperatures are warm to hot. These are poor conditions for germination and plant growth and likely limit recruitment of dispersed seeds.
Despite these limitations, watering devices are a low-cost intervention that may augment perches and attract frugivorous birds, thereby accelerating forest regeneration. The watering devices deployed in this trial did not collect seed, preserving the potential for seed to be dispersed. They required little maintenance and proved suitable for prolonged outdoor use. Watering devices warrant further investigation.
Acknowledgements. Thanks to William (Bill) Johnson and John Hall for designing the watering device stand and camera attachment and preparing and maintaining the plots. The School for Field Studies funded the trial.
Contact. Amanda N. D. Freeman. Nature North, PO Box 1536, Atherton, Qld, 4883 Australia. The School for Field Studies, Centre for Rainforest Studies (PO Box 141, Yungaburra, Qld 4884 Australia; Tel: +61 (0) 438 966 773; Email: email@example.com).
See also EMR project summary on the preliminary trial of this project: https://site.emrprojectsummaries.org/2016/11/02/a-water-point-design-to-facilitate-seed-dispersal-into-revegetation-or-pasture-sites/
The important role of swamps in water storage and as regulators of stream flow has been well documented (10.1016/j.geomorph.2018.03.004). Previous EMR project summary reports on Popes Glen Creek, Blackheath, have described the establishment of a swamp on the former highly degraded and weed-infested silt plug at the headwaters of the creek. (See links at end of this summary.) That 18-year long project has been documented in “The Full Story”, https://dl.bookfunnel.com/ebgais2pxn and an 8-minute summary video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=610sas330EQ
The recent severe drought in New South Wales provided the opportunity to monitor the water table in this swamp in the absence of rain and compare the impact on the swamp vegetation with that on more elevated and drier slopes nearby.
How we measured the water table. Six piezometers were installed at the start of this rehabilitation project, located about 50 m apart and midway between the edges of the long, rectangular silt plug. These went down to the bedrock, at depths of between 113 and 152 cm and were used to monitor water table depth and also for sampling water quality and stygofauna.
What we found. During periods of normal or above average rainfall (e.g. September 2019), the water table at each of these bore holes was typically at the depth below soil surface shown in Table 1.
Levels fell almost to bedrock during the drought (Oct 2019 – Dec 2019), before recovering after rains in January and February 2020 (Tables 1, 2).
Table 1. Water table depths during normal and below-average rainfall periods.
|Bore hole number|
|Depth below surface (cm)||1||2||3||4||5||6|
|Normal rainfall period (Sept 2019)||31||2||7||11||23||9|
|After drought period (Dec 2019)||103||106||121||103||–||123|
|After recovering rainfall (Feb 2020)||29||0||12||21||–||13|
Table 2. Rainfall, October 2019 – February 2020.
|Month||Rainfall (mm)1||5-year average (mm)2||% of average|
- From Bureau of Meteorology, Mount Boyce, NSW
- From willyweather.com.au, Mount Boyce, NSW
During this period of extreme drought, the vegetation on the slopes above the Popes Glen swamp manifested extreme water stress in a way never before seen (Figs. 1, 2). Many of these extensive expanses of Coral Fern (Glycaenia dicarpa), stands of Fishbone Water Fern (Blechnum nudum) and individual Black Tree Fern (Cyathea australis) plants have not recovered and now appear unlikely to do so.
In marked contrast, the vegetation in the swamp area (Fen Sedge (Carex gaudichaudiana), Tassel Sedge (Carex fascicularis), Tall Spikerush (Eleocharis sphacelata) and Juncus sp.) remained lush and vigorous (Fig. 3), suggesting it was sustained by the supply of water retained in the substrate.
This supply was progressively depleted during the drought and the water table had fallen almost to bedrock before the rains in January (Tables 1, 2).
Implications. It seems inevitable that this water supply would have been completely exhausted had the 2019-2020 drought lasted longer. Temperate Highland Peat Swamps on Sandstone (THPSS), including the Popes Glen swamp, appear threatened by the even more prolonged droughts anticipated as climate disruptions due to global heating become more marked.
Acknowledgements. This work was supported by Blue Mountains City Council and funding from the Environmental Trust of NSW.
Contact. Alan Lane firstname.lastname@example.org
See also EMR Project Summaries:
- Lane A. (2015). Twelve years of healing: rehabilitation of a willow-infested silt flat – stormwater management. https://site.emrprojectsummaries.org/2015/05/09/twelve-years-of-healing-rehabilitating-a-willow-infested-silt-flat-stormwater-management/
- Lane A. (2015). Twelve years of healing: rehabilitation of a willow-infested silt flat – revegetation. https://site.emrprojectsummaries.org/2015/02/22/twelve-years-of-healing-rehabilitating-a-willow-infested-silt-flat-revegetation/
Daniel Lunney, Lisa O’Neill, Alison Matthews, Dionne Coburn and Chris Moon
[Update of EMR summary – Lunney, Daniel, Lisa O’Neill, Alison Matthews and Dionne Coburn ( 2000) “Contribution of community knowledge of vertebrate fauna to management and planning. Ecological Management & Restoration, 1:3, . 175-184. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1442-8903.2000.00036.x]
Key words: national parks, SEPP 44, adaptive management, social criteria, extinction, wildlife survey, coastal forests.
Introduction. Our EMR feature published in 2000 reported on research that commenced in 1997 when we set out to identify the species and locations of the vertebrate fauna of Iluka peninsula, at the mouth of the Clarence River NSW, Australia. Much of the peninsula had been damaged by post war sand mining and creeping urban growth. We had recognised that there was a growing interest by local communities in conserving biodiversity (Fig 1), as Iluka had residential areas not far from a magnificent Nature Reserve (Iluka NR) and a National Park (Bundjalung NP). We conducted a community-based survey, sent to every household, which used a large, coloured map of the peninsula and a questionnaire asking respondents to mark the locations of the fauna they had seen. As a result of the survey, we concluded that vertebrate fauna does live on private land, that local knowledge is valuable, and that there is both community concern over declining fauna and support for planning, management and long-term fauna research.
The rise of citizen science. We were not the first to use a community-based survey for wildlife in NSW. A team (Philip Reed and Dan Lunney) in 1986-87 greatly expanded on some skilled, but tentative, efforts to survey Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) in NSW by the small but effective Fauna Protection Panel. We produced a small questionnaire, which was distributed in 1986, and when we came to analysing the data in 1987, we joined up with CSIRO scientist Paul Walker who had a new tool, GIS, still in its infancy, but which showed great promise. By the time of the Iluka study, GIS was central to our methods.
Over the last 20 years there has been a revolution in the acquisition and application of community knowledge (Figs 2 and 3), a better appreciation of its extent, and limitations, and how to better integrate a greater diversity of disciplines for a more effective planning and management outcome. A Google Scholar search for ‘citizen science’ in July 2019 returned over 2 million results, establishing this phrase in the scientific literature to describe projects that enlist the community for collecting or analyzing scientific data. The rise and success of citizen science undoubtedly stems from the power of the internet and web-based tools that members of the public can use to record species’ locations, providing answers to such questions as: is a species increasing, decreasing or stable? – answers to which increase the capacity for managers and planners to be better targeted in their decisions. Such web-based technology also helps to overcome resource limitations where scale is an important factor. For example, for our 2006 state-wide koala and other wildlife survey we put a major effort into the distribution of the survey, a paper form with a large map. Now, the current 2019 survey is web-based, a procedure we explored in north-west NSW in 2014 where we selected the study area to be 200 by 300 km.
A further innovation comes from linking sociology to ecology and expanding the term from citizen science to ‘crowd-sourced information’. An example is a study in the four local government areas just north of Iluka, namely Lismore, Byron, Ballina and Tweed. The sociological side, led by Greg Brown, used the threatened koala as a case in point. The study demonstrated a novel, socio-ecological approach for identifying conservation opportunity that spatially connected landscapes with community preferences to prioritize koala recovery strategies at a regional scale. When multiple criteria (ecological, social, and economic) were included in the conservation assessment, we found the social acceptability criterion exerted the greatest influence on spatial conservation priorities. While this is a long way from our 1997 Iluka study, it is in the same lineage and represents two decades of development of what has become a widely accepted approach to regional planning.
Lessons learned and future directions. Looking back at the Iluka story, in one sense, it is a sorry one. When we first started our research on the Iluka peninsula in 1990, there was a visible population of koalas. It dwindled to extinction over the next decade so the locations of koalas in our EMR paper were of recent but fading memories. By defining our study area to a small location, it was possible to identify the cumulative impact of mining, housing, disease, roadkill, dog kill and fire. There have been reports of koalas being back on the peninsula as early as 2002 (Kay Jeffrey, local resident) and there have been subsequent sightings (John Turbill DPIE pers comm August 2019), we presume moving down from such locations as the northern part of Bundjalung National Park
Looking back on our EMR paper, we also see that the Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) was one of the most common species recorded by the community on the Iluka peninsula. It has now gone (John Turbill DPIE, pers. comm., August 2019). The coastal Emu population in northern New South Wales is now recognized as being under threat and a citizen science project called ‘Caring for our Coastal Emus’ has been established to collect recent emu sightings from the public using a web-based emu register to pin-point locations on a map. This register is administered by Clarence Valley Council and reflects the shift from the 1990s where the tools and expertise for collecting scientific data for management and planning were beyond the scope of local government. Today, local councils are considerably more engaged in conservation and community education projects. Indeed, the Clarence Valley Council (2015) has prepared a Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management (CKPoM) for the lower Clarence, which includes Iluka, although it was not adopted beyond council level. The plan recognizes the importance of reducing further clearing and protecting and rehabilitating those areas that remain, and identifies that further studies and monitoring are required to establish the current status of the Iluka koala population.
In the early 1990s, we had prepared a possible plan of management for the koalas of Iluka peninsula but there was no legal incentive to adopt it. Thus, in late 1994, when one of us (DL) was asked by the then NSW Department of Planning and Urban Affairs to help write a SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy) for koala habitat protection, the potential value of doing so was clear to us. SEPP 44 was written in three days, with a promise to revise it in 1995. SEPP 44 has proved to be valuable, although in recent years, the process of preparing and submitting CKoPMs from councils to the NSW state government seems to have stalled.
In conclusion, our EMR feature was written at the time of an upward inflection in the study of koalas, of fauna survey using crowd-sourced information. We are now better equipped to use the new techniques from over three decades of what might be described as adaptive management of the ideas in our original EMR paper. We also press the point that research, exploring new ideas, incorporating new techniques and publishing our findings and thoughts make a crucial contribution to conserving not only koalas, but all our wildlife and natural areas, both in and out of reserves. Such research is therefore vital to the survival of our wildlife.
Stakeholders and Funding bodies: In addition to the funding bodies in our EMR paper of 2000, support for the research supporting the above comments has been extensive, as reflected in the acknowledgements section of each report.
Contact. Daniel Lunney, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment NSW, (PO Box 1967, Hurstville NSW 2220 and the University of Sydney, NSW 2006. email@example.com).
Daniel Lunney, Alison Matthews, Chris Moon and John Turbill
[Update of EMR feature – Lunney, Daniel, Alison Matthews, Chris Moon and John Turbill (2002) Achieving fauna conservation on private land: Reflections on a 10-year project. Ecological Management & Restoration, 3:2, 90-96. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1442-8903.2002.00100.x]
Key words: SEPP 44, Coffs Harbour, logging, urban development, New South Wales, ecological history, koala plan of management.
Introduction. Our 2002 paper in EMR focused on the local government area (LGA) of Coffs Harbour and reflected on our approach to meeting the challenge of finding a means of protecting populations of Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) on private land before habitat removal brought about their local extinction. This was prompted by our 1986–1987 state-wide koala survey that found that koala populations had declined across New South Wales, largely as a result of habitat loss. The remaining koala stronghold, we identified at the time, was on the north coast, in areas such as in the rapidly expanding city of Coffs Harbour. Koalas in Coffs Harbour were found mostly on privately-owned land outside National Parks and Nature Reserves and State Forests.
It took 10 years (1990-2000) of struggle with politics, bureaucracy and vested interests to achieve a plan of management across one local government area (Coffs Harbour) to save koala habitat from the relentless clearing of private land. The reward for our efforts was a Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management (CKPoM), prepared under State Environmental Planning Policy 44 – koala habitat protection (SEPP 44), and adopted by Coffs Harbour City Council in 1999. SEPPs apply only to land over which local government has authority, not Crown Land, i.e. National Parks, Nature Reserves and State Forests. The Plan identified and ranked Koala habitat and set out criteria for minimizing local threats. It is a statutory instrument, gazetted in 2000 along with council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP), which controls land-use planning. It was the first CKPoM in NSW and a demonstrated formula for undertaking such plans. Now in 2019, 20 years after the plan was formally adopted by Coffs Harbour City Council, and in the NSW parliament in 2000 as part of the Coffs Harbour LEP, the plan is still in place. We count that as a success. While revisions to both the SEPP and the Coffs Harbour CKPoM are in the wind, the 1999 plan still stands, as of October 2019.
Further, after five years of operation, Coffs Harbour council commissioned a strategic review of its CKPoM from the consultants, EcoLogical, which found that there was a 1.1% reduction in the area of primary koala habitat. In our view, such a small change over 5 years is an indication of the CKPoM’s impact in halting habitat loss on private land.
Further studies. To add context to our work in Coffs Harbour, we undertook a range of further studies. These included an historical study, looking at the koala records from European settlement to 2000 through an ecological lens (Fig 1). The first wave of European settlers arrived in the early 1880s, and much of the initial development arose from logging. Collectively, the evidence identifies that the koala population of Coffs Harbour was widespread but never abundant, and that habitat loss has been relentless since European settlement. The transformation of a rural-forest mosaic to an urban landscape over the past four decades is the most recent stage in the incremental loss of habitat.
Also, in 2011, we undertook a repeat study of the koala population within Coffs Harbour LGA from our initial survey in 1990. Analyses showed that the koala population has endured between 1990 and 2011 and showed no evidence of a precipitous decline during this period. Rather, the population change was best characterised as stable to slowly declining.
The extensive koala datasets gathered since 1990 on the Coffs Harbour koala population are attractive for researchers and managers. They provide the basis for revisiting the LGA to look for change (Fig 2.) . Work in June 2019, for example, included the following: Department of Planning, Industry and Environment at Coffs Harbour is finalising a review of the Coffs Harbour LGA koala habitat study from funding by council; surveys completed in April 2019 revisited 68 of the original 119 sites we had selected in 1996, and 89 of those sites we had re-surveyed in 2011, and the total number of sites visited in the current survey was 176 in a report to Coffs Harbour council in September 2019.
Mixed results. Rereading our original paper is unsettling. There is an enduring sense that the entire exercise, while locally worthwhile, has not translated into wider successes with respect to policy and implementation. Although our assessment of the success of the Coffs Harbour CKPoM is upbeat, the uptake of the concept by other councils has been modest. Some have opted for a koala plan of management, but not within the SEPP 44 framework, and others have contracted the preparation of the plans, but only using field survey data for koalas, not the citizen science component.
Among our reflections on our work is that the languages of planning, conservation and ecology need to be calibrated. Confusion has occurred because SEPP 44 refers to potential and core koala habitat when a Development Application (DA) is being assessed, but in the CKPoM in 1999 we used the terms primary, secondary and tertiary koala habitat. Adoption by local government of a CKPoM replaces the requirement to assess each individual DA for core habitat, because the CKPoM has mapped and ranked this habitat. In fact, the ease of seeing koala habitat on a map, ranked so that you know what development is possible, or not, within the particular ranking, expedites the DA process for all parties. This was a major selling point for Coffs Harbour council, along with our economic study which demonstrated that the value of having a koala population in the LGA exceeded the cost of implementing such a plan (Fig 3). While habitat ranking is appropriate for a CKPoM – a land-use planning and management instrument – one interpretation, a misguided one in our view, has been that primary habitat equals core habitat, and deems primary habitat in a CKPoM to be the only level of habitat to conserve. Such a view not only disregards the value of rankings for the purpose of planning, but also ignores the multiple ways that koalas need to use the landscape. We note that more recent plans have divided secondary habitat into secondary A and secondary B, but that does not change the principle of ranking. We also note that a recent choice is to use ‘core’ habitat in a CKPoM, although with a different approach to defining ‘core’, but this has yet to be consolidated in the proposed revised SEPP 44. On reflection, ‘core’ has become a problematic word because it implies that anything other than core can be ignored.
There have been considerable recent efforts to catch up on survey methods for koalas in State Forests. However, pressure remains on State Forests concerning their koala populations, such as the campaign by the National Parks Association of NSW for ‘The Great Koala National Park’ to add 175,000 ha of State Forests to existing protected areas to form a 315,000 ha reserve in the Coffs Harbour hinterland. National Parks and Nature Reserves are a central element in our efforts to conserve our fauna, but a transfer of State Forests to National Parks does not come to grips with the issue of the loss of habitat on private lands, including in situ habitat and linkages across the landscape.
SEPP 44 was promulgated in 1995, and while we recognise that it needs to be updated, our point remains that it has demonstrated potential to conserve koala habitat on private land, with an explicit role, indeed a key role, for local government. Strategies to conserve and restore koala habitat on private land—particularly on the more fertile lands, which are also the prime lands for farms and towns—will continue to be central to conserving the koala populations in NSW.
Lessons learned and future directions. In 2019, our reflections on our 10-year study (1990-2000) allow us to conclude that identifying koala habitat on private land is possible, that plans to conserve it are acceptable, that the economic aspect is an important factor in the negotiations, and that local government has a role to play in this process. Since 2002 we have expanded our research horizon, crossing other disciplinary boundaries to encompass ecological history, using more sophisticated approaches to citizen science, stretching our geographical horizon to the north-west of NSW, incorporating the pervasive impact of climate change, and teasing out the contribution of koala care and rehabilitation and the value of detailed population studies such as by radio-tracking. We also conclude that local studies, especially repeated studies, e.g. at the LGA or Local Land Services (LLS) scale, are crucial, along with broad scale, periodic, state-wide surveys to keep track of the considerable individual differences across the geographic range of the koala.
Contact. Daniel Lunney, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment NSW (PO Box 1967, Hurstville NSW 2220 and the University of Sydney, NSW 2006. firstname.lastname@example.org
David J. Curtis
[Update of EMR feature: Curtis, David J (2009) Creating inspiration: The role of the arts in creating empathy for ecological restoration. Ecological Management & Restoration, 10:3, 174-184. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1442-8903.2003.00152.x]
Key words: creativity, ecological restoration, capacity building environmental attitudes, environmental behaviour
Introduction: In my original article for EMR in 2003, I posed the question: Are the arts a valuable partner with ecological restoration? The article was written early in my research into the role of the visual and performing arts in shaping environmental behaviours. I answered this research question through key informant interviews, analyses of several case studies and participant observations, and concluded that there was indeed substantial potential for the arts to create inspiration and empathy for ecological restoration. The research continued until 2007 with the completion of my PhD thesis but the outputs of that research continue to the present day, with numerous journal papers and book chapters (see bibliography). It has also led to the formation of the non-government organisation Ecoarts Australis and the coordination of three international conferences around these themes: 2013, 2016, and 2019, all of which demonstrate the high potential for fertile partnerships between the arts and ecological restoration.
Further works undertaken: The main case study in the 2003 article for EMR was the ecological oratorio Plague and the Moonflower that was staged in Armidale NSW in 2002 by the Armidale community. The Armidale community went on to restage the work and take 300 performers to the Woodford Folk Festival in 2003 to perform it in the main arena to about 10,000 people (Fig. 1). A further seven case studies were developed including: an examination of attitudes and practices of about 100 arts, farming and natural resource management practitioners; the Nova-anglica: the web of our endeavours event staged in Armidale in 1998 to an audience of approx 5,000 people (Tables 1 & 2); the Gunnedah Two Rivers Festival in 2002-04 and the Bungawalbin Wetlands Festival, both of which incorporated visual and performing arts (Tables 1 and 2); a play-building study with secondary aged school children in 2002 examining the greenhouse effect; participant observations of my own work from 1990-2000 in which I incorporated the arts into natural resource management extension (https://www.publish.csiro.au/book/6713/) and the Ecological Society of Australia conference in 2003 in which we incorporated an ambitious performing and visual arts program (Fig. 2).
Findings from the subsequent research. Papers listed in the bibliography referred to above show that the arts have an important role in:
- raising awareness and communicating environmental information (Table 1) through environmental education and extension;
- changing and challenging environmental beliefs (Table 1);
- communicating scientific information (Fig. 2);
- mobilising rural communities to achieve environmental sustainability and community capacity building for Landcare and environmental action (Table 1; Fig. 1);
- creating empathy for the natural environment and ecological restoration (Fig. 3);
- transforming our highly energy-intensive consumer society to one that is ecologically sustainable through community development and embedding the arts in ecologically sustainable development .
In addition, particular art events could encourage people to want to adopt pro-environmental behaviours (Table 2) as well as:
- encourage people to reflect about their impact on the environment;
- make them feel strongly towards the natural environment;
- expose them to ideas they hadn’t thought about much before;
- affirm their beliefs about people’s relationship with the environment;
- help people learn about environmental issues; or
- provide a vehicle to express feelings about the environment (Table 1).
Implications for arts : restoration relationships: It is clear that the work of individual artists can influence the behaviour of citizens through ‘internally derived’ interventions, which impinge on a person’s values, beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, self-identity and habits, and through these, on social norms (Fig. 4). However, desire by individuals to adopt pro-environmental behaviour can be hampered by situational or infrastructure constraints. The arts can also have a role in reducing some of these constraints, through ‘externalist interventions’ where the arts are embedded into ecologically sustainable development. This might be where community and public art are incorporated into urban planning as a means of making active transport modes more attractive, or where the arts provide alternative forms of consumption which are lower in embodied energy and higher in embodied labour. The degree to which a person responds to the arts will depend on personal characteristics (e.g. gender, class, etc.), situation, institutional factors, as well as the type of art. The accumulated result of individual behaviours leads to macro-level impacts on the environment. A knowledge of these impacts in turn influences individual artists, and affects their practice.
I found that the arts can foster pro-environmental behaviour through one of three ‘pathways’ (Fig. 5). The first pathway is where the visual and performing arts are used to synthesise complex ideas and to communicate them to non-specialist audiences in an engaging form. A second pathway is where the arts and particular artists connect their audience to the natural environment through thoughtful or evocative representations of the environment or by being in the natural environment itself. The third pathway is where the arts are embedded in ecologically sustainable development, through the combined effects of community development, economic development, and changes in the patterns of consumption.
The three Ecoarts Australis conferences were a culmination of the work that I did following the 2003 EMR article. These three pathways provided the structure for each conference, and enabled the innumerable Australian and international examples that were presented to be organised into a coherent conceptual framework. It was evident through these conferences that there has been a shift in projects that link the arts to environmental sustainability. In the first two conferences a majority of the papers provided examples of where the arts fell into the first or second pathways. In the most recent conference there were more examples where the arts were integrated into ecologically sustainable development in some way, for example in transport or manufacturing. Also there seemed to be a shift towards multi-artist projects.
Stakeholders and Funding bodies: Funded by Land and Water Australia and Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.
Contact information: Dr David Curtis, Honorary Senior Fellow, School of Geography and Sustainable Communities, Faculty of Social Science, University of Wollongong NSW 2522 Australia.
Table 1: Comparison of case studies as to how the event affected respondents. Respondents were scored: 1 = strongly disagree, 2 = disagree, 3 = neither agree nor disagree, 4 = agree, 5 = strongly agree.
Responses to survey
|Those who agreed (score 4-5) as a percentage of all respondents|
|Plague and the Moonflower
(n = 169)
|Nova-anglica (n = 9)||Gunnedah (Twin Rivers)
(n = 11)**
|Gunnedah (Common Ground)
(n = 46)
|The event moved me emotionally||73||44||18||45.6|
|The event made me reflect on humanity’s relationship with the natural environment||74
(n = 168)
(n = 47)
|The event made me feel strongly towards the natural environment||60
(n = 168)
|The event made me feel an appreciation and pride in community||81
|The event exposed me to ideas that I may not have thought much about before||31
(n = 167)
|The event affirmed my beliefs about humanity’s relationship with the natural environment||59
(n = 167)
|The event allowed me to express my feelings for people’s relationship with the natural environment||50
(n = 98)
|The event allowed me to strengthen my beliefs about certain issues||53
(n = 98)
(n = 45)
|The event allowed me to learn about some environmental issues||43
(n = 96)
|I enjoyed being part of a large team working together||94
(n = 98)
|It made me more appreciative of where I live and work||–||–||–||57.4
(n = 47)
** Gunnedah data are combined data from both focus groups. (–) = not asked.
Table 2: Comparison of case studies as to whether the event made people want to change their behaviour. ‘Yes’ and ‘A bit’ combined into ‘Yes’. Gunnedah data are combined data from both focus groups.
Did the production make you want to do something different for the environment?
|Percentage of all respondents|
|Plague and the Moonflower
(n = 170)
(n = 9)
|Gunnedah (Two Rivers)
(n = 11)
|Gunnedah (Common Ground)
(n = 46)
|Unsure or unanswered||12||22||18||11.6|
|People who listed things they would do differently||43||44||18||26.1|
Bruce Clarkson, Catherine Kirby and Kiri Wallace
[Update of EMR feature – Clarkson, B.D. & Kirby, C.L. (2016) Ecological restoration in urban environments in New Zealand. Ecological Management & Restoration, 17:3, 180-190. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/emr.12229]
Key words: urban ecology; restoration; indigenous biodiversity; New ZealandIntroduction. Our 2016 EMR feature reviewed the state of research and practice of ecological restoration in urban environments in New Zealand. We concluded that urban restoration can influence and support regional and national biodiversity goals. We also observed that research effort was light, lacking interdisciplinary breadth and may not be sufficiently connected to restoration practice to ensure long-term success of many projects.
While it is only three years since that review was published, urban ecological restoration continues to grow and evolve, and the policy setting and political context have changed significantly. New threats and opportunities have emerged. The spread of a dieback disease and the more recent arrival of myrtle rust, rapid uptake of Predator Free 2050, emergence of the One Billion Trees programme, a surge in housing and subdivision development, and a potentially more supportive policy framework are all major factors.
Threats and opportunities. Kauri dieback disease is severely affecting urban kauri forests and individual Kauri (Agathis australis) trees in Auckland and other northern North Island urban centres (Fig. 1). Large forest areas adjoining Auckland, including most notably the Waitākere Range and large parts of the Hunua Range, are now closed to the public, preventing access to popular recreational areas. The dieback is caused by a fungus-like pathogen Phytophtora agathicida that is spread through soil movement. The disease may have arrived from overseas although this is uncertain. There is no known cure but research efforts are underway to find a large-scale treatment option.
Myrtle rust (Austropuccinia psidii) was first found on mainland New Zealand in May of 2017, probably arriving by wind from Australia. Myrtle rust threatens many iconic New Zealand plant species in the family Myrtaceae including Pōhutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa), Mānuka (Leptospermum scoparium), Rātā (Metrosideros robusta), Kānuka (Kunzea spp.), Waiwaka (Syzygium maire) or Swamp maire, and Ramarama (Lophomyrtus bullata). These species are all used to a greater or lesser extent in restoration planting or as specimen trees or shrubs in urban centres, depending on amenity or ecological context. Mānuka is widely used as a pioneer or nurse crop for native forest restoration and is critical to the economically important mānuka honey industry. Waiwaka is a feature of many swamp forest gully restoration projects in Hamilton and this would be a significant setback if they were badly affected. The impact of myrtle rust is still not clear but experience from Australia suggests it may take several years before it reaches population levels sufficient to cause significant damage.In response to a range of housing issues characterised by many as a New Zealand housing crisis, the previous and current government has embarked on several major initiatives to increase the housing stock. A $1B Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) was established in October 2016 with provision for interest free loans to local government to enable opening up of new large areas of housing. Many urban centres including Auckland, Tauranga, Hamilton and Queenstown made early applications to the fund. Hamilton City Council was successful in obtaining $290.4 M support for a new greenfield subdivision in Peacocke on the southern edge of the city. This subdivision is intended to enable development of some 3700 houses over the next 10 years and 8100 in 30 years. Approximately 720 ha of peri-urban pastoral agricultural land would eventually be developed (See summary). Coupled with this, and already in progress, is the construction of the Southern Links state highway and local arterial road network. The first proposed subdivision Amberfield covers 105 ha and consent hearings are currently in progress. The environmental impacts of the proposal and how they might be mitigated are being contested. In brief, survival of a small population of the critically endangered Long-tailed Bat (Chalinolobos turberculatus) is the main environmental focus but other aspects including the extent of greenspace and ecological restoration required for ecological compensation are being considered (Figs. 2, 3). With strong political pressure to solve the housing crisis in Hamilton and in other urban centres, making adequate provision for greenspace, especially urban forest, and preventing environmental degradation and indigenous biodiversity decline will be a major challenge. The Predator Free 2050 (PF2050) programme which gained government (National) approval in 2015, aims to eradicate Stoat (Mustela erminea), Ship Rat (Rattus rattus), Norway Rat (Rattus norvegicus) and Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) from the whole of New Zealand by 2050 (Department of Conservation 2018). PF2050 is now gaining significant traction in urban environments (Figs. 4, 5) with many urban centres having good numbers of community-led projects underway (See PFNZ National Trust map). Crofton Downs in Wellington was New Zealand’s first predator-free community project. Led by Kelvin Hastie this project has effectively reduced predator numbers to the point that some sensitive native birds e.g. Kākā (Nestor meridionalis), have begun to nest in this suburb after an absence of more than 100 years (See RNZ report). Also in Wellington, the Miramar Peninsula (Te Motu Kairangi) has become a focus, because of its advantageous geography, with a goal to make the area predator free by 2019. Possums had already been exterminated in 2006 (www.temotukairangi.co.nz). The One Billion Trees (1BT) programme was initiated by the new coalition government (Labour, NZ First, Greens) in 2017 with $238M released in 2018 for planting of both exotic and native trees across mixed land use types. It is not clear yet whether urban forest projects have received funding support but the guidelines suggest there is no reason why restoration of native forest in urban settings would not be eligible. While the emphasis is on exotic tree plantations, native species and long-term forest protection are increasingly being considered as viable options by the newly established government forestry agency Te Uru Rākau.
The policy setting for ecological restoration in urban environments is potentially becoming more favourable with the draft National Policy Statement on Indigenous Biodiversity (NPSIB) currently in review and the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy under revision (See terms of reference). The draft NPSIB emphasises restoration of indigenous habitat in biodiversity depleted environments. Specifically, Policy 19: Restoring indigenous biodiversity depleted environments, recommends a target for indigenous land cover, which in urban areas and peri-urban areas must be at least 10 per cent. The revision of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy seems likely to give more emphasis to landscape scale restoration including urban environments.Research update. Using the same targeted Google Scholar search method as reported in the EMR feature we have found 18 new peer reviewed papers published between 2015 and July 2019 (see updated bibliography) that are strongly focused on restoration in New Zealand urban environments. The single paper noted for 2015 was missed in our previous search. Again, we have not included books, book chapters or grey literature. This compares very favourably with the total 27 papers listed in our 2016 review of which more than half dated from 2009. An increasing publication rate confirms increasing interest and research efforts in aspects of urban ecological restoration. While most of the publications remain in the ecological science realm there are now some informed by other disciplines including engineering, psychology, landscape architecture and health sciences.
Most notably since our 2016 review, a new government-funded (Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) research programme, People, Cities and Nature, began in November of 2016. This four-year $823 k per annum research programme ends in October of 2020 unless a funding rebid to be submitted in March 2020 is successful. The programme undertakes multidisciplinary research in nine NZ cities via six inter-related projects: restoration plantings; urban lizards; mammalian predators; Māori restoration values; green-space benefits and cross-sector alliances. While the emphasis was on the ecological science of urban restoration at the outset, the programme has become increasingly involved in understanding the multiple benefits of urban ecological projects including social cohesion and health and recreation benefits. The need to connect restoration research and practice has been met by undertaking multi-agency and community workshops involving researchers and practitioners in five cities to date with a further four scheduled before the programme ends.
Acknowledgements. The People Cities and Nature research programme is funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment under grant number UOW1601.
Information. Bruce D. Clarkson, Environmental Research Institute, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand email@example.com; Catherine L. Kirby, Environmental Research Institute, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand firstname.lastname@example.org; and Kiri J. Wallace, Environmental Research Institute, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand email@example.com.