Fox Scat Collection

The collection of a fox scats is an important aspect of assessing fox prey preferences across the urban to natural gradient of the Greater Sydney Region. Below is a straightforward protocol to collect fox scats. Fox Scat Collection Protocol & Kit I encourage volunteers to participate. This is a common sense activity, much like members of the community picking-up their dogs scats.

If you require kits please let me know and I’ll post them to you. Of course, you can improvise if you encounter a scat and don’t have a kit.

I have spoken with Australia Post and they have advised that as long as the package doesn’t smell or leak then it will be delivered. This is where drying and double-bagging is important. If storing collected scats, prior to sending them to me, it is important to store them in a refrigerator after they have been dried and when they are double-bagged (once in the bags they will go moldy if they aren’t refrigerated/frozen).

Please contact John directly if you have any questions (details below)

Dr John Martin
Wildlife Ecologist
Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands
T +61 2 9231 8058
E [email protected]
Mrs Macquaries Road, NSW 2000, Australia


Major Day Out 2015

On Saturday 31 October the rain held off long enough for 19 residents of Springwood and Warrimoo to get stuck into removing the weed African Love Grass. We met at the banner at Warrimoo Oval to tool up and introduce everyone, then we went down to site.

Major Day Out

I am very impressed so many people care for this bushland. A new volunteer

The day was very productive, removing African Love Grass, reporting a dumper, and being visited by some Yellow Tailed Cockatoos.

Removing African Love Grass

Removing African Love Grass

Lily, a volunteer from WIRES, came and presented information about what we should do if we find injured wildlife on our sites and what to consider when removing weeds.

Lily from Wires presenting talk

Lily from Wires presenting talk

News from the Bushcare Team

Well, another season has passed and the Waratahs have worked their magic all over the mountains yet again! Most Bushcare Groups are full steam ahead with the burst of weeds that Spring usually brings along with the warmer temperatures or busy with revegetation works.

Waratahs in full bloom, Long Angle Creek 2015

Waratahs in full bloom, Long Angle Creek 2015

The big news from the Bushcare Office is that from November 2nd, as part of an internal restructure, Council’s Bushland Operations Team will sit within the ‘Environment and Culture’ Branch in the City and Community Outcomes Directorate, headed by Luke Nicholls. A Bushland Operations Co-ordinator will be appointed shortly. ‘Bushland Ops’ comprises the Bushcare, Bush Regeneration, Walking Tracks and Urban Weeds Teams. We are expecting the change to lead to a more streamlined integration between environmental strategy, planning and service delivery.

Otherwise, its business as usual and that means Bushcare! Do you know someone who hasn’t yet tried it out? Get them along to the Bushcare Major Day Out in Warrimoo on Saturday 31st October, then!

Happy reading, happy bushcaring,

— Monica, for the Bushcare Team.

Bushcare Network Conference 2015

Aunty Sharyn Hall welcomed us on behalf of the Gundungurra nation, with great warmth and positive messages. Our Mayor, Councillor Mark Greenhill opened the conference, taking the opportunity to remind us of the importance of maintaining the environmental protections offered by the draft 2015 Blue Mountains Local Environment Plan (LEP), and bringing us up to date with the efforts being made by the current Council to fight any watering down of the LEP.

Paul Vale MC

Paul Vale kicks off proceedings

Paul Vale, Blue Mountains Bushcare Network Convenor did a wonderful job as MC (pictured right). In typical style, Margaret Baker awed the 95 people in attendance with her keynote address titled ‘The Role of Fire in Blue Mountains Plant Communities’. Updates from the catchment groups currently operating and from Bill Dixon from Greater Sydney Local Land Services followed a sumptuous morning tea laid on by the Network volunteers.

Margaret Baker at lectern

Margaret Baker generously donated her time and expertise once again

Den Barber and smoking leaves, with onlookers

Den Barber commences the smoking ceremony

A highlight was undoubtedly a fabulous Smoking Ceremony which Den Barber of Blue Mountains Firesticks very generously conducted at very short notice. Due to the built nature of the surrounding environs, Den conducted the ceremony from a kettle barbecue!

After lunch,  during which the newly formed “Trad” band performed several weed-related numbers, delegates had a difficult choice to make: Den Barber’s presentation on Blue Mountains Firesticks, about Indigenous Cultural Burning, or Mark Graham’s about the Nature Conservation Council’s Hotspots project. Both delivered important and interesting information which was well received by participants and inspired much discussion.

The final session brought everyone back together in the Mavis Woods Hall for a panel discussion. Peter Belshaw (BMCC); Hugh Patterson (Bush regenerator; Blue Mountains Conservation Society Bushfire Representative; RFS volunteer) and Cameron Chaffey (NPWS) spoke briefly about their respective roles and fielded questions from the audience.

And to cap off, the raffle was drawn, with several lucky participants winning some fabulous donated prizes, including a two night stay in a Katoomba B&B, a carton of wine, books and tools!

Presentations will be available on the Bushcare Network webpage and we will alert you when they are posted.

Green Army All Wrapped Up

Green Army Graduation

The Green Army team  working with Blue Mountains City Council has wrapped up after six months of work, having planted over 650 plants, helping regenerate more than 2 hectares of bushland and moving nearly 20 tonnes of crushed sandstone.

The Blue Mountains Green Army team (pictured above with (Council staff)was tasked with improving walking tracks in the upper mountains from Wentworth Falls to Katoomba, including work on the popular Charles Darwin Walk, Leura Cascades, Prince Henry Cliff Walk and Wentworth Falls Lake.

Leura Cascades Track after  Leura Cascades track before

Working with a range of different Council teams they also completed  target-weeding, revegetation works, mulching and brush matting, as well as significant walking track resurfacing and drainage works across a number of Council bushland reserves. The team gained skills in general nursery duties, native plant identification, seed cleaning and propagation techniques with guidance from Katoomba Native Plant Nursery (Blue Mountains Wildplant Rescue Service).

Deputy Mayor, Cr Chris Van der Kley said, “The Green Army is a great way for young people to learn new skills and to help our environment and our tourism economy which depends on it. The participants acquired skills, training and experience that will improve their employment prospects, while having improved their local region for their communities.”

Delivered through a partnership between Blue Mountains City Council, with support from Council’s Environment Levy and MTC Australia/Job Futures, the Green Army is Australia’s largest-ever team of young people supporting environmental action.

— Trish Kidd (BMCC Natural Areas Manager)

Fitzgeralds Creek Catchment Care Day

Long angle Gully Catchment Care Day 2015 volunteers

Long angle Gully Catchment Care Day 2015 volunteers

Despite a drizzly start to the morning, the Bushcare groups of the Fitzgeralds Creek Catchment gathered at Rickard Road Warrimoo for a stunning drive via 4WD convoy along Long Angle Creek to spend a fabulous day weeding Crofton Weed, Mistflower and Wild Tobacco. Cross St and Deanei Bushcare Groups and Long Angle Creek Landcare Group were all represented at this second “Catchment Care” day. The first was held last year when the groups worked on a more urban location near Hawkesbury Rd and focussed on Privet.

Commersonia fraseri

Commersonia fraseri

We were all delighted with the distance we covered along the creek, following up the primary work done since the 2013 bushfire burnt the area.  It was a joy to work in the very special Melalueca Swamp, surrounded by Blue Gum River Flat Forest (one of the 5 Endangered Ecological Communities found in the Fitzgeralds Creek Catchment).

By getting together like this, groups reinforce each other’s work and energy is stimulated. It’s always a delight to share your site with new people and to connect with the other people working towards the same aim. Knowledge of the local ecology, particular plants (both weeds and natives), problems and solutions is shared in a convivial atmosphere while doing some constructive work and usually a scrumptious morning tea and lunch.

It seemed everbody came away with a better understanding of the issues in the catchment and the work being done by various means, including the grant funded bush regeneration work that was facilitated by the formation of the Fitzgeralds Creek Catchment Group.

At the end of the day I asked what the highlights were. Responses included:

Waratah flowers

Waratahs in full bloom, Long Angle Creek 2015

Native Seed Provenance Workshop: “Provenance issues in a Changing World”

During June and July the Australian Network for Plant Conservation partnered with NSW Local Land Services to present a workshop series by key plant geneticists and  practitioners. The workshops covered the current best understanding of native seed provenance issues for planning and implementing ecological restoration, particularly in the face of climate change and vegetation clearing.

Provenances should not be used to define hard boundaries but to develop decision making frameworks that are evolutionarily relevant. Maurizio Rozetto (2015)

Here is a summary of the Orange workshop, which started off by revisiting  the crucial question, “what is the definition of local provenance?”

Provenance refers to the place of origin or source of something — eg, a collection; a species, an area containing a population of a species that is assumed genetically distinct from other  populations; usually thought to represent genetic adaptation to local environmental conditions. (Driver 2015)

The provenance and local adaptation theory is based on the application of a long-standing precautionary principle which argues that local plants do better than non-local since they are adapted to the local environment. The theory predicts that the further apart populations are geographically, the less likely it is  that plants grown from non-local seed will survive.

The concept of plant provenance is not new. It developed in 19th Century forestry science and was adapted for common garden experiments. Provenance is linked to:

  • Environment;
  • Life history (longevity, breeding system, pollinator and soil interactions);
  • Geographic distribution;
  • Genetics.

And is about knowledge of:

  • where plant seed came from,
  • the site, soil and situation it grew in,
  • the type and form of the plants,
  • the number of plants together with other local information.

This knowledge of where seed comes from is all important to its usefulness and value.

Provenance is important to ecological restoration because it influences two major seed sourcing concerns:

  1. Capturing adaptive evolutionary potential (ie genetic diversity) in changing environments.
  2. The geographic scale over which seed can be moved, as it affects survival and resilience of plantings and local plant populations, such as:
  • Maladaptation
  • Outbreeding depression (poor offspring)
  • Superior fitness – weediness potential
  • Inappropriate timing – flowering, seed (pollinator time lag) – something not well understood in Australia.

Linda Broadhurst (2015) suggests that Natural Resource Management has commonly looked to protect local vegetation from being “contaminated”  by non-local provenance. However, “local” has often been  defined and applied without scientific evidence.

For example, it has been common to apply distance based rules such as a 5km radius from the site, but there is no scientific evidence to support such a rule.

Broadhurst (2015) says Australian studies such as Hancock et al (2013, 2014) have found little or no evidence of local superiority germination and initial growth and Pickup (2012) found local  populations did better in terms of seedling survival but not biomass and that foreign populations showed improved reproduction.

This suggests that continually collecting from the same small site defined by distance could risk losing genetic diversity through inbreeding. In other words, there is more to provenance than how far away from each other plants are. Soil types, altitude, cliff lines, riparian systems and wind direction, together with the means of pollination (eg insects, birds, wind) are the factors that define plants’ relationships and adaptation.

So, the advice for us is to determine provenance according to the geographical and geological features of the area   rather than the proximity of the revegetation site to the collection site. We should collect from populations that are big (400 plants minimum) and healthy, take seed from at least 30 plants within that big, healthy population;  and define “local” according to pollinators and geographical features.

This is just some of the key points I gleaned. The full presentations are at:


Broadhurst L, (2015) “Provenance issues in a Changing World” National Research Collections Australia/Canberra.

Driver M, (2015) “Provenance Issues in a Changing World”. Presentation to ANPC provenance Workshop, Orange, 2015.

Rozetto, M (2015) “The ‘Provenance Issue’: Challenges and Opportunities for Ecological Restoration”. Power Point presentation to Provenance Workshops; CSIRO & The Royal Botanical Gardens & Domain Trust.

The Bush Backyards Scheme: supporting residents to protect biodiversity in their backyards

What is Bush Backyards?Bush backyards logo

The Bush Backyards Scheme was started by Blue Mountains City Council in 2004 to support those people who are committed to conservation outcomes on their land, but are not part of a Landcare group. Bush Backyards represents a Council and community partnership which supports  private landowner contributions to bushland management and implementation of sustainable land management. The scheme contributes to habitat protection goals and decreases the weed burden across the local government area, reducing impacts on bushland reserves. With 7,750 ha of bushland on private properties and 744 blocks adjoining the National Park, supporting landowners to manage their properties for conservation is fundamental to protecting native fauna and flora habitats across the region.

What’s new?

In 2012-2014, all Community Conservation Programs, including Bush Backyards, were reviewed by Council in consultation with the community. As a result of the review, some changes to the Bush Backyards Scheme were made. The changes include: agreement by participants to implement an agreed property management plan; and different levels of support, depending on habitat values on the property. The new scheme now differentiates between Level 1 and Level 2 properties. A Level 1 property represents limited habitat values. A Level 2 property contains significant habitat values such as larger tracts of bushland, extends and connects high quality habitats across the urban – bushland interface, or includes scheduled vegetation communities or threatened species habitat. Each level in the scheme qualifies the landowner for increasing degrees of material and technical support.

“Do you have bushland on your property?  Do you need help tackling weeds?”

Are you interested in learning more about the bushland where you live and how you can help protect it? Would you like to connect with   other  conservation-minded landowners? If you’re a Blue Mountains resident with bushland on your property, you are invited to join the Bush Backyards Scheme. You will be joining 17 other landowners who have committed to managing their own properties.  17 landowners in the scheme represents 91 hectares of bushland!!! We know there are others of you out there who would also love to do their bit to  protect, enhance and improve native plant and animal  habitat, and control weeds on their properties.

Support from Council: The most important criteria for inclusion in is your commitment to manage your property. Once you join Bush Backyards Council offers on site property planning advice, helps you to write a property management plan, provides small amounts of material support, and workshops to improve skills and knowledge, as well as help with grant management.

Take action today: To book a visit from Council or to find out more about

Bush Backyards contact Linda Thomas, Community Conservation Officer

on 4780 5612  or [email protected]


Landholders sing praises of the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project

Landholders have been urged to get involved in the ‘Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project’ to restore and enhance the natural habitat of this region’s unique and beautiful local landscape.

Hans and Tillie Coster have just completed a large scale revegetation planting on their property at Little Hartley with assistance from the Biodiversity Project coordinated by Central Tablelands Local Land Service (LLS).

“We had planted trees before but not on a scale that would make a real and significant impact on the bushland environment of our property in one single planting,” said Tillie. “The help we have received before, during and after completion of this project has resulted in a dramatic improvement in the biodiversity of native vegetation on our land.”

“We couldn’t have undertaken this on our own without the support and guidance we received from Local Land Services.”

The Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project offers financial support and advice to land managers to improve the extent, condition and connectivity of native vegetation across an area that stretches along the western edge of the Blue Mountains from the Capertee Valley in the north, across to the Tuglow River in the south.

“The project is improving native bush across the western edge of the Blue Mountains escarpment,” explained Senior Land Services Officer, Huw Evans.  “This area is home to many important native animals whose survival is under threat such as quolls, gliders and native birds. These and other native animals and plants are benefiting from the work of passionate people like Hans and Tillie Coster,” said Huw.

Hans and Tillie have extended the area of native vegetation on their country, creating a buffer and a connecting bush corridor to the Cox’s River. They also tackled weed infestations along their river frontage to improve vegetation in the riparian zone.

“Central Tablelands LLS put us in touch with people who had a lot of skill and knowledge, which resulted in a very high survival rate for the seedlings we have planted,” said Tillie.

“They also made us more aware of local resources like the Lithgow Community Nursery, where the staff not only provide strong, healthy seedlings but are also willing to discuss problems and give helpful advice.”

“The funding we received through the Biodiversity Project enabled us to purchase a diverse variety of locally grown plants suitable to our site, and meant we were able to purchase protective canopies for the young plants.”

“We also made a substantial financial contribution to the project from our own funds to set up a watering system to ensure plant. Again, the advice we received from project coordinators was invaluable.”

“We wholeheartedly recommend participating in this project to other landholders,”

said Tillie. “Our experience with this project was really rewarding both for the knowledge and expertise gained, as well as for the large area we now have planted with trees and shrubs which will enhance our property for many years to come.”

Huw Evans says the Costers’ passion for the environment and their desire to leave a legacy for future generations has been inspiring.

“It’s been a pleasure to help Hans and Tillie improve the bush on their beautiful property,” said Huw.

The Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project is supported by the Australian Government and can provide funding and advice to landowners for activities including:

  • control of invasive environmental weeds in native bushland
  • fencing to control stock access to streams, existing vegetation and revegetation sites
  • installation of alternative stock watering points
  • planting or direct seeding of native trees and shrubs
  • site preparation and maintenance of plantings
  • activities that improve the habitat value of the site (e.g. installation of nesting boxes)

To find out more about the Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, log on to the LLS website at: or contact Huw Evans at the Central Tablelands LLS office in Lithgow on phone: 02 6350 3117, email: [email protected]


Launching the first-ever Australian ‘Pollinator Week’         

Medow Argus butterfly_Junonia villida calybe

Medow Argus butterfly_Junonia villida calybe

Lasioglossum lanarium & L sulthicum

Lasioglossum lanarium & L sulthicum

Snail parasitic blowfly - Amenia sp

Snail parasitic blowfly – Amenia sp

Every June, since 2007, the northern hemisphere has been celebrating ‘National Pollinator Week’, but the middle of winter is no time for Australians to appreciate the importance of our pollinators. So, as part of the Bee Aware of Your Native Bees project, we invite you to join us in celebrating Australian Pollinator Week, 15–21 November, 2015.

Why are pollinators important?

Because plants are not mobile, they require animal vectors to aid in the processes of reproduction. Through pollination, ovules are fertilised and seeds develop. Almost 90% of flowering plants rely on animals for pollination. Pollinators drive biodiversity which promotes ecological stability.

Who are our pollinators?

The most effective and well known pollinators are bees because, as they actively collect pollen to feed their off-spring they transfer thousands of pollen grains between flowers. There are, however, thousands of other animals that ‘incidentally’ transfer pollen as they drink nectar from flowers. The most common groups include beetles, flies, butterflies, wasps and moths.

Why celebrate and support pollinators?

Agricultural practices and urbanisation remove the natural habitat and food resources of pollinators. Without pollinators we reduce biodiversity and even threaten our own food security. By raising awareness and reintroducing some habitat and food resources, we can support an increase in natural pollinator populations within our local areas.

‘Join us for Australian Pollinator Week – social media at its best!’

The Central Event will be hosted by Eskbank House, Lithgow, on Sunday the 15th of November. Activities include; Green Guerrillas — make your own Seed-balls, Build a Bee Hotel, Bring-a-Bug – for ID, Planting Pollinator Habitat. We invite you to host a Virtual Event at your community garden, local school, retirement village, front yard or join a local event. The Community Events will be links through social media.

For more information go to

— Megan Halcroft