Tuesday, 20 June 2017

5 down 1 to go

The Year 5 report on the Threatened Species Last Stand project has be lodged, reviewed and given an Excellent overall rating. The Environmental Trust reviewer congratulated the group “on another solid year of achievement. The project has maintained high standards in terms of delivery of on-ground works, monitoring results, volunteering and community engagement outcomes and it appears to be in an excellent position to delivering its overarching objectives”

A summary of Year 5

The progress to date continues to be exciting and rewarding with 2,539 landcare hours contributed in Year 5 continuing to move on ground outcomes in a positive recovery trajectory on all of the reserves. The expanding local landcare team continues to meet each Thursday morning for 5hr with several individuals putting in additional hours, especially at the Carey Bay Wetlands.

The hazard reduction burn at Stansfield Reserve has added an extra dimension to the project that manual weeding could not provide. The regeneration of the reserve after the burn has been inspiring to explore and monitor and has provided a unique insight into the floristic composition, the resilience of the seedbank and the weed responses. It is proving to be a great educational asset for the impacts of garden escapes.

The monitoring of fauna and flora continues to reap new information. Several new species of birds have been spotted, the presence of Sugar Gliders along with the Squirrel Gliders confirmed on the West Ridge, another Powerful Owl fledged and the annual flora survey has added 22 new species to the list, with the Stansfield list having 59 new species identified in the three quadrats.

Year 5 saw 3 powerpoint presentations delivered, 3 site tours of Stansfield Reserve, 2 TAFE field days and 2 workshops sessions provided to local and regional groups on the project activities.

Regular communication with the community saw 9 editions of the Chronicle produced and letterboxed. An increased use of social media, facebook and mailchimp, saw the facebook following double. The production of the verge and bank-planting guide to encourage and simplify selection and use of local native plants is available on the website.

July Events

Winter Bird Survey

The Winter Bird Survey is planned for Monday 10th July 7am-11am. Wandering through the local reserves with Tom Clarke’s avian expertise available adds another level of appreciation to our local bushland. Every visit turns up a birding treat. If you’d like to come along meet at the Scout Hall by 7am, wear suitable clothing for walking and the weather, BYO water, snack, binoculars and camera.

Native Trees are Tremendous

The Lake Macquarie Landcare Volunteers Network will be hosting a Super Saturday Session on Native Trees at Progress Hall on Saturday 15th July 9:30am-12:30, including lunch. A variety of speakers will share information on Native Trees endemic to our area, how to protect and enhance Native Trees, backyard Native Trees and the effects of fire on Native Trees. Bookings can be made with the Landcare Resource Centre 4921 0392.

Progress Patter

Sale of Progress bushland to commence.

LMCC has made an offer to buy the bushland behind the hall to expand the reserve. At the 2015 AGM this process was endorsed if the price was right…and it is.

Hall HooHa

Your community hall is in need of a maintenance working bee which has been set for Saturday 8th July 9:30am-12:30. The aim is to ensure everything is in tip top shape for the upcoming Science Week Extravaganza. All welcome, contact Tony for details of jobs.

Meaningful mounds emerging

Local Landcarers have been rounding up weed menaces, making mounds of Mothers of Millions (MoM) and turning fields of Fishbone Fern into hummocks of would be humus.

Gurranba Reserve has the mother of a patch of MoM (Bryophyllum delagoense).This pesky persistent succulent is coming into bright red flower now and is an easy to pull out plant. If you visit Gurranba Reserve with your canine companion (it’s leash free) you could easily fill a bag of MoMs whilst Fido frolics. It’s a great kids pull-out-plant too because it has camouflage capability. Just when you think you’ve got them all, there’s always another one lurking in the shrubbery, a great holiday Treasure Hunt activity. If you want to add some MoMs to the pile at the park the landcare group will happily keep an eye on them.

The West Ridge Reserve, just up the hill from the School, is another spot Landcarers have been making efforts removing Fishbone Fern. This garden escape has a tendency to run rampant and the amount of fishbone fern plant material is formidable. It is being kept contained on site and will be watched.

Fishbone Fern is a native of Queensland and does well in its state of origin, we have some local supporters that could well give it the heave-ho if given the chance such as Rasp Fern (Doodia aspera) and Maidenhair fern (Adiantum hispidulum.

Would you like to know what local plants are in the area? The updated flora list from the 2017 Flora surveys is now available


Seeking Science Week Sponsorship from Booming Businesses

Did you know that sponsoring the August Science Week extravaganza counts as a tax deduction? As the End of Financial Year rapidly approaches it is not too late to support this local educational endeavor.

So far our amazing community has chipped in $2900 and the CPPA has been active seeking additional funding. We are committed to hosting the event. It costs $6372 to loan and transport Questacon’s Travelling exhibition, $200 for extra insurance and there are other expenses. More details about the event are on the website.


Reconciliation Reads

In the past 6 years two “eye opening” books have been published in Australia about the nature of the Australian landscape at the time of European settlement. Both authors have carefully searched archives, diaries, reports, letters, drawings and paintings from the early days of settlement as well as extensive archaeological evidence about management of the environment by Aboriginal people. The first of the book reviews by Robyn Gill is below.

Bill Gammage in 2011 published The BIGGEST ESTATE on EARTH HOW ABORIGINES MADE AUSTRALIA. He found that “early Europeans commented again and again that the land looked like a park. With extensive grassy patches and pathways, open woodlands and abundant wildlife it evoked a country estate in England.” He attributed this to “an extraordinarily complex system of land management” by Aboriginal people “using fire and the lifecycles of native plants to ensure plentiful wildlife and plant foods throughout the year” (“firestick farming” – virtually a form of mowing).

Many details of this management process and the sources of the information are the focus of Gammage’s book. He concludes that, “once Aboriginal people were unable to tend their country it became overgrown and vulnerable to the hugely damaging bushfires we now experience.”

Interestingly, low intensity “cool burning” is being widely used again as a way of stopping the hot fire outbreaks. The low to medium intensity hazard reduction burn promoted by Landcare, facilitated by LMCC and carried out by Fire and Rescue on the Coal Point Ridge recently has had great results in reducing flammable material and also in regenerating the local vegetation so it competes better with weeds. Many rural Landcare groups are holding field days with titles such as COOL BURN INDIGINOUS FIRE MANAGEMENT FOR PRODUCTIVE PASTURES.

This book has been well recognised as making an interesting and compelling case for a different way of looking at our land and its history.It is available at Lake Macquarie Council libraries.

The second book review will follow in the July Chronicle.

The Fern & the Burn...The Movie

On April 6th 2016 a patch of bushland off Stansfield Close went up in smoke. The Hazard Reduction Burn was conducted to protect property and generate environmental outcomes, particularly trying to reduce the Asparagus Fern, Privets and Olives that had escaped from gardens and been running rampant over the local natives for some time.

A six minute movie has been made to share the transformation of the reserve since The Burn. If you haven’t been for a walk through Stansfield Reserve in the past year the movie shows what you’ve missed out on. 

The video was made possible with funding from Hunter Local Land Services from the Australian Government's National Landcare program