Over the past century, average land surface temperatures have risen by almost 1° C across the Australian continent. Models suggest this may have already had significant impacts on Australia’s ecosystems and biodiversity in some areas, but these impacts have not been systematically investigated.
CSIRO Land and Water and the Department of the Environment and Energy are undertaking an exciting project to collect stories and anecdotes that will help build a national picture of ecological change (or lack there-of) that has been observed in the past 10-20 years or more. We are looking for people with strong links to Australian environments (e.g. farmers, natural resource managers, ecologists, naturalists) to share their stories for an area they know well, including perceptions of the presence or absence of different types of recent ecological change.
To participate, you would need to be able to select a natural area (e.g. your local region or farm, a Nature Reserve, urban bushland) that you have been familiar with for at least the last 10 years. Note that we are interested both in areas where change has been observed and where change has not been observed.
The survey will take about 30 minutes – please click here to undertake the survey.
Around 400 people enjoyed Wentworth Falls Lake at its best recently at a Waterways Festival held by Blue Mountains City Council, together with Kindle Hill School, Blue Mountains Grammar School, Wentworth Falls Public School and the Jamison Creek Catchment Community Group. Festival goers enjoyed walks, talks, workshops and displays on all things waterways – from crayfish and turtles, to how to have a water-sensitive home.
Locals enjoying healthy waterways craft activities at Wentworth Falls Lake
The festival offered creative and interactive experiences to festival goers, including a water-song painting and a 3-D catchment model. Students and staff from the three schools worked very hard in the lead-up to the event to put together art displays, information on local iconic species, face-painting, performances, treasure hunts and more. Bushcare was well represented, with the Jamison Creek Catchment Care Group stall displaying information on catchment issues, and samples of problem weeds.
Nearly 100 community members contributed their pledge to a ‘pledge waterfall’ promising to take action to protect their local waterways. This included actions such as washing their car on the lawn, controlling invasive weeds, or keeping pollutants out of stormwater drains and gutters.
Cailin Lyddiard (left) Caitlyn Clark (middle) and Mirabai Sigel (right) make friends with a baby turtle.
Council is investing significant resources and working with the community across the catchment to restore Jamison Creek and protect it from urban runoff, including a $700,000 investment in 2017-18, jointly funded by BMCC and Water NSW, and installing new stormwater treatment systems at 15 locations.
(from Left) David Coleby, Rae Druitt, Paul Vale, Lachlan Garland, Clr Romola Hollywood and Mayor Mark Greenhill
Food A pollinator habitat garden is more than just flower beds. By providing an assortment of plants, which flower throughout the year, you are providing a consistent food supply which will encourage pollinating insects and birds to stay, feed, drink, shelter and even reproduce. It is recommended that you plant swathes or large patches of flowers, rather than scattering them randomly through the garden. By planting flowering food-crops in large patches, you encourage specialist pollinators such as bees to forage within these patches, cross pollinating the plants as they move efficiently from flower to flower.
Shelter The next thing you need to do is provide potential shelter. You can include hollow logs, pieces of thick bark and crowds of rocks which will provide shelter and nesting substrate for a variety of pollinators. Resin bees, leafcutter bees and solitary wasps will nest in large drilled holes in wood, which mimic the natural cavities produced by wood-boring insects. Hollow or pithy stems can be collected and bundled up when plants are pruned. These will attract reed bees and masked bees as well as small solitary wasps and ants. By providing small cavities in rockeries or with layers of rolled bark, you will be providing shelter for ladybeetles, resin bees and other pollinators.
In Australia, gardeners are encouraged to mulch their plants, to maintain soil moisture. However, some of our pollinators, such as solitary bees and wasps, nest in the ground and find it hard to dig through the thick layers of mulch. So leave an area of bare ground, at least a metre squared, to encourage ground-nesting bees into your garden.
Water is necessary for honey bees and birds so include a shallow bird bath, with a large rock in it to reduce the chances of insects drowning. A bowl filled with wet mud will provide minerals and water for some butterfly species and rocks provide insects with a warm place to bask.
Maintenance of your habitat garden is important if the plants and the pollinators are to thrive. Water deeply and regularly to ensure flowers produce plenty of nectar and pollen. Don’t use insecticides. If a plant is infested with many pests, it may need feeding, pruning or pulling out. A healthy garden will not only encourage pollinators, it will encourage wasps, shield bugs, spiders, dragonflies and other natural pest-predators. Keep the water and mud bowls topped up and place a seat out in the garden so you can sit, observe and enjoy your wonderful pollinator habitat garden.
A short walk to a tributary of the Centennial Glen Creek to treat/remove small and large Holly. Morning tea provided. BYO lunch. For RSVP and further information contact Karen Hising on 4780 5623 or email@example.com
The Blue Mountains Bushcare Network proudly to presented their third Bushcare Network Conference on Saturday July 29. This year theme is Citizen Science so a Bioblitz seemed appropriate! The day focused on our beautiful and unique lower mountains vegetation communities. We were fortunate to be able to spend the day with experts to learn how to be “ears and eyes” on the ground. The data we collected will go into data bases for a wider audience.
Concurrent sessions occupied the morning. They included field-based citizen science activities at various locations around Springwood and two presentations at the Hub:
Hollows as Homes – Adrian Davis University of Sydney
Bushcare website update/setup – Hugh Todd
Aquatic Wildlife – Jenny Hill & Fitzgeralds Creek Streamwatch GroupRosenthal Lane, Sun Valley
Birds of the Deanei – Carol Probets & Graham Turner, Deanei Forest Reserve, Springwood
Monitoring the Fauna of Fitzgeralds Creek Catchment – Peter & Judy Smith, Valley Heights Creek, Sun Valley
Plants of Fairy Dell Reserve, Springwood Susan Jalaluddin & Helen Yoxall
The birds group, led by Carol Probets and Graham Turner, observing Bell Miners in the Deanei Forest Reserve, Springwood.
We all reconvened at the Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub in Springwood for lunch, informative and inspiring presentations from Margaret Baker and Jenny Hill, and hands on workshops including what to do with the data we collect.
The Hub presentations included:
Birds of Endangered Forests of the Lower Blue Mountains – Margaret Baker
Margaret’s talk introduced the endangered eucalypt forests (Threatened Ecological Communities) that are found on clay soils of the Lower Blue Mountains from Springwood to Hawkesbury Heights and to Lapstone. She described each of the communities, identifiedthe main trees and talked about some of the rare plants, but the focus was the diversity of birds to be found in each of the forest types, especially birds that are listed under NSW legislation as Threatened.
“Citizen Science in Action – what to do with your data” – Jenny Hill
Citizen science has emerged as a distinct field over the last 20 years and is now enjoying a boom. What are some successes? What are the factors critical to its success and what role does Bushcare, Landcare and Swampcare play in this success? How could citizen science grow to be part of the bigger story about restoration and protection in the Blue Mountains? This is brief overview of citizen science is an introduction to group presentations.
In her community volunteer role Jenny Hill is Coordinator with the Leura Falls Creek catchment working group, Bushcarer and Streamwatcher. Jenny has been involved in environmental education and learning for over 35 years and is currently Environmental Educator for Blue Mountains City Council. In this role she conducts citizen science and connects with nature programs across the mountains with schools and community groups. Jenny’s on-ground experience enriched her presentation and provided the bigger picture of citizen science in many different contexts.
Introduction to Biodiversity Atlases on the Internet – Margaret Baker
This talk provided an introduction to the biodiversity atlases that are available on the Internet. It focused on the Atlas of Living Australia – where to find it, how to use it to determine biodiversity in a selected area and how to record data as an individual or as a Citizen Science group. It showed how the kind of data collected in the field sessions of today’s conference can be readily entered into the global exchange of biodiversity information. The world-wide and unrestricted access to such information can however be problematic and so some issues related to atlas and database use was also be discussed.
Members of the Minnehaha Bushcare group were joined by about twenty of Ruth Ley’s friends on Saturday 1st April to celebrate Ruth’s birthday at the Minnehaha picnic area. Ruth was one of the founding members of the Minnehaha Bushcare group and was an active member for 25 years. She was also a founding member of the Katoomba Creek Group and active for 20 years, as well as being an active member of 3 other groups.
One of Ruth’s missions in Bushcare was to rid Yosemite and Katoomba creeks of Montbretia. Her many friends gathered to help continue her legacy in getting revenge against the Montbretia in Yosemite Creek. They also helped to install a plaque in her honour and planted a memorial garden adjoining the Bushcare site. The group would like to thank all of Ruth’s friends who made contributions towards the memorial plaque.
Following many weeks of miserable weather, we were very grateful to be treated to a glorious sunny day to work together and enjoyed morning tea, including date muffins and other goodies. We then shared some of our favourite memories of Ruth, who was a good friend and inspiration to us all. The group plans to continue this tradition on 1st April each year.
The view of the Megalong Escarpment provided a fabulous backdrop for the annual Bushcare Picnic
As always, the Bushcare Team had a very difficult time deciding which of our very many fabulous volunteers should be recognised with a Mayoral Award this year but after much deliberation (and next year’s short list already drawn up !) the following dedicated, hard working, committed and all round wonderful people were chosen:
Helen Rose and David Churches Leura Park
John Hill accepted the Hard Yakka Award on behalf of Helen Rose David Churches
Members of both Leura Park Bushcare and Prince Henry Cliff Walk (attending twice month). Since discovering Bushcare by attending a bird walk and talk organised by Gordon Falls Bushcare several years ago, David and Helen have regularly attended and actively participated in bushcare in the Leura Falls Creek catchment. David and Helen are also strong advocates for Bushcare involvement at Springwood Bushwalking Club and frequently contribute to submission writing and often plan their holidays around Bushcare commitments !
Alan Dean (left) with Mayor Mark Greenhill and Chris Watson (right)
Chris Watson & Alan Dean, Jackson Park Faulconbridge
Chris Watson– Chris is a long-term member of Jackson Park Bushcare Group, but he undertakes a lot of additional work and monitoring in his own time. His tenacity, stoic approach and excellent strategies keep this site looking fantastic!
Alan Dean – Alan is a founding and long-term member of Jackson Park Bushcare Group (almost 20 years). He is extremely dedicated, hard-working and has been pivotal in transforming this site over time.
Both Alan and Chris undertake any work required on site, despite most weather conditions and difficulties of the terrain or weed infestation challenge. They don’t even bother with an afternoon tea break!
JUNIOR BUSHCARE LEGEND
LiamBooyens 12 years old – Garguree Swampcare
Liam Booyens with Jasmine Payget and Mayor Mark Greenhill
Liam is a young and enthusiastic Bushcare member who has been involved with Garguree Swamp care for 7 years. He has spent these years connecting to country in many ways by watching and listening, playing and working to restore country.
He has a great sense of place at Garguree and his confidence is growing as he does.Liam has also spent 3 weekends wrangling sycamores at Jenolan
He has been involved in making Bee Homes and has attended a habitat workshop in Bilpin and the night before the Bushcare Picnic he spent the night camped out enjoying the bio blitz and spotting arboreal mammals.
All of these experiences enhance his natural ability and love of the natural world around him and we hope he is involved with Bush care for many years to come.
LANDCARE LEGEND: Karleen Waldron
Growing up in the lower Blue Mountains helped develop a love which has inspired this person to both advocate , volunteer and work for protection of our bushland and all the creatures that live in it. This passion has led to volunteering over many years with Bushcare, Landcare & WIRES.
Karleen started Long Angle Landcare group & is a core member of the Fitzgeralds Creek Catchment group. She has strongly advocated for the protection of the Sun Valley / Fitzgeralds Creek catchment over the past two decades.
Karleen’s tireless advocacy has paid off over the years, with her work together with the Long Angle Group being instrumental in convincing Sydney Water not to proceed with plans to discharge sewage outfalls into Fitzgeralds Creek, and leveraging multiple grants to target weeds from their source points in Sun Valley all the way down the catchment to the confluence with the Nepean River.
Working in the bush regeneration industry for over 15 years, she has also extended herself to transfer her considerable skills to volunteer groups and to many Blue Mountains TAFE students, teaching Cert 3 Conservation & Land Management. She is well beloved and respected by many students & volunteers she has worked with over the past 10 years and through them has made a significant contribution to the local bush regeneration industry.
BUSHCARE LEGEND OF THE YEAR: Shirley Brown
Shirley Brown, Bushcare legend of the Year
Shirley first started Bushcare over 30 years ago with the National Trust at Middle Harbour (Roseville), in the early 1980s when living in Sydney. She then worked occasional days in the Blue Mountains with ACTV (Australian Conservation Trust Volunteers).
Shirley Brown is a true Bushcare legend … she is currently a consistent member of 5 Bushcare Groups as well as many swampcare events. Her commitment extends well beyond those individual sites through her contribution to catchment coordination and a myriad of other small but important tasks. Most importantly Shirley has introduced many people to bushcare, bringing them along to one of her many groups – she has been involved with 10 groups over the years (at one time it was 8 concurrently).
After moving to the mountains, Shirley joined up with the Friends of the Blue Mountains which began in 1989, to weed around Echo Point, Jamison Creek, Darks Common and the lantana in the Lapstone Tunnel area.
She became a regular member of 2 local groups from their beginnings in the mid 90s – Lindemann Rd in 1995 and Valley of the Waters in 1996.
After her family commitments reduced she became more involved from 2004, joining another 5 groups, (2 of which she was a founding member):
MINNE HA HA BUSHCARE
GOVETTS ST BUSHCARE
KATOOMBA CREEK BUSHCARE
BRAHMA KUMARIS, and
UPPER KATOOMBA CREEK BUSHCARE
Shirley is always keen to get stuck into the bush, and is always the first to head off and start work while the rest of us faff about getting ready and chatting in the morning. She keeps us Bushcare Officers in check, making sure we are aware of any significant weed or native species present in the work area, and letting us know if anyone in the group needs to get a lesson or reminder about plant id.
Whilst not keen on meetings, Shirley does recognise the importance of planning and coordinating and has contributed to the Govetts & Katoomba Creek Catchment Coordination Group since Sept 2006. Shirley has been untiring in promoting Bushcare and sustainable living. For many years she assisted with editing our newsletter and she has been an instrumental advocate for disseminating the Safe & SustaInable Gardening booklet she helped to develop.
Bushcare Legends Steve Barratt and Shirley Brown hand on the Golden Trowel
Everglades Landcare Group
Coates Park Bushcare Group
Woodford Glen Bushcare Group
Mount Irvine Landcare Group
Explorers Reserve Bushcare Group
Cross St and Rickard Rd Sports Common Bushcare Group
Bellata Court Bushcare Group
Katoomba Creek Bushcare Group
Sublime Point Bushcare Group
Centenary Reserve Bushcare Group
David Coleby and Rae Druitt with Councillor Chris van der Kley
The 10 year anniversary of Blue Mountains City Council’s Swampcare and Save our Swamps Program was celebrated at a Swamp Symposium recently that highlighted the significant and award-winning achievements of swamp restoration in the Blue Mountains.
The one-day conference, which attracted 65 attendees, highlighted dedicated Swampcare volunteers who have contributed over 10,000 hours towards protecting Blue Mountains swamps.
Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill, said the award-winning approach to swamp restoration is part of Council’s whole of catchment approach to environmental management.
“Swampcare is a vital part of Council’s highly effective volunteer program aimed at biodiversity conservation,” Cr Greenhill said. “We’re able to better protect and restore swamps across the city thanks to 75 dedicated Swampcare volunteers.
Blue Mountains Swamps are a biologically diverse plant community that occurs nowhere else in the world. The vegetation in these swamps range from low button grass clumps to large shrubs such as the Hakea and Grevillea species. The swamps provide essential habitat to several Threatened Species such as the Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) and the Giant Dragonfly (Petalura gigantea).
Council’s Upland Swamp Rehabilitation Program started in 2006 after Blue Mountains swamps were listed as part of the Temperate Highland Peat Swamps on Sandstone endangered ecological community.
In 2008 Blue Mountains and Lithgow City Councils formed a partnership to deliver the ‘Save our Swamps’ (S.O.S) project to restore the endangered ecological community across both local government areas. The project was supported by grant funding of $250,000 over 3 years from the Urban Sustainability program of the NSW Environmental Trust.
In 2009 the S.O.S. project received a $400,000 Federal Government ‘Caring for Country’ grant to expand the program to incorporate Wingecarribee Shire Council and Gosford City Council. The partnership resulted in the swamp remediation model being rolled out to over 95% of the endangered ecological community in the four local government areas.
The innovative integrated approach led to the project receiving four awards, including a special commendation in the United Nations World Environment Day Award for Excellence in Overall Environmental Management in 2011.
Speakers at the conference included Palaeoecologist, Dr Lennard Martin, who spoke on the ancient origins of swamps and Principal Scientist at the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Martin Krogh, who discussed the health of Newnes and Woronora Plateau Swamps.
Eric Mahony and Amy St Lawrence from Council’s Environment and Culture Branch also gave presentations. The day finished up with a field trip to the new soft engineering stormwater structures installed at the Leura catchment.
The Swamp Symposium was made possible by funding from the Office of Environment and Heritage ‘Save Our Species’ program, the new NSW Environmental Trust funded ‘Swamped by Threats’ project and Council.
Interested in Swampcare? Get involved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Bushcare office on 4780 5623.
Scouts help out at Leura Falls Creek photo by Jenny Hill
The 27th May 2017 provided us with perfect weather for our annual get-together in the Leura Falls Creek Catchment. This year it was at Vale St and we were joined by students from Katoomba Primary School SQID Squad and children from the 1st Blackheath Scouts and Cubs. The children planted 434 plants along the creek line and Vale St. They were helped by Ed and Adrian from the Bush Doctors, Eric Mahony, scout leaders, Katoomba Primary teacher Sally Dare and parents. All up we had 42 volunteers come to the morning. Work also included removal of woody weeds , follow-up weeding and mulching.
The morning was organised by Council’s bushcare. Big thanks go to Karen Hising, Tracy Abbas and Eric Mahony and of course to everyone who came. At morning tea we had a presentation by the SQID Squad, and updates from the Leura Falls Creek Catchment Working Group and National Parks and Wildlife Service. We also had a small presentation to Frances Dutton who started the Vale St bushcare group and Lynne Carson who has worked with the Vale St and Cumberland Walkway groups for more than 10 years. Frances and Lynne are leaving the mountains and we wish them all the best.
The morning was highly enjoyable and productive. We can’t wait for next year’s get-together.
Little end note: If you didn’t know … SQID stands for Stormwater Quality Improvement Device and the Katoomba PS SQID Squad are an environmental group who are involved in a number of projects as part of their stewardship of the catchment.