Tag Archives: Swampcare

Swampcare at Valley View Swamp

Come for the day or just the morning. Help us get this swamp back into shape.  This swamp forms part of the extensive Braeside Upland Swamp which flows into Govetts Leap Falls.  Enjoy a delicious morning tea and lunch donated by the Hominy Bakery.  Book with Stephanie at  by Friday 22 September.

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 schew@bmcc.nsw.gov.au or call the Bushcare office on 4780 5623.

Celebrate 10 years of Swampcare! Swamp Symposium and field trip

An exciting all day Swamp Conference and fieldtrip in celebration of the 10 year anniversary of the foundation of Swampcare and the listing of Blue Mountains Swamps under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act.

 

In honour of the 10 year anniversary  of Swampcare and the listing of Blue Mountains Swamps under the Threatened Species Conservation Act, the Swamp Symposium will explore everything a swamp aficionado needs to know about swamps. The packed program will;

  •  Explore the ancient  origins of swamps and the secrets they can reveal about both the past and our future with Paleoecologist Associate Professor Scott Mooney
  • Celebrate the epic battle to save our Blue Mountains swamps and over 10 years of Swampcare and the Save our Swamps program with Lyndal Sullivan
  •  Showcase the new 10 year “Swamped by Threats “ project funded by the Save our Species NSW  Environmental Trust grant which aims to secure protect the core habitat of the Blue Mountains Water Skink and the Giant Dragonfly in the Blue Mountains and Newnes Plateau for the next 100 years.
  • Explore new research into the geomorphology of Blue mountains Swamps and the invaluable ecosystem services that swamps perform for us everyday by (soon to be) Dr Kirsten Cowley.
  • Examine the results of groundwater monitoring in Newnes Plateau Shrub Swamps with Dr Martin Krogh from the Office of Environment and Heritage.
  • Provide updates on the current state of knowledge of the Giant Dragonfly (Ian Baird) and Blue Mountains Water Skink (Sarsha Gorrissen) and what the future holds for these iconic creatures of the Blue Mountains Swamps.

These presentations will be followed by a field trip to visit the latest soft engineering innovations being developed and/or adapted to local conditions by Eric Mahony and his team from Blue Mountains City Council to protect swamps from stormwater by controlling, slowing, cleansing and infiltrating stormwater flows prior to them entering swamps as well as now tried and trusted techniques for rehydrating and repairing damaged and channelized swamps. This is an event not to be missed for all friends of Swamps! Book early to avoid disappointment

The Swamp Symposium is proudly supported by BMCC’s Save our Swamps and Bushcare programs, the ‘Save our Species’ program and funding from the NSW Environmental Trust funded Swamped by Threats project.

Swampcare volunteers put their specialist skills to work in Kitty Hawke Swamp, Wentworth Falls

 

WE’RE CELEBRATING 10 YEARS OF BLUE MOUNTAINS SWAMPCARE!

North Hazelbrook Swamp July 2009 photo Lyndal Sullivan

Swampcare is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year!  From the first on ground workday at Kittyhawke Swamp in North Wentworth Falls in March 2007 Swampcare has grown into an annual program of events in the Blue Mountains run by Council’s Bushcare. Swampcare provides opportunities for volunteers to learn about swamps and the special requirements of undertaking bush regeneration in these sensitive places as well as making hands on contributions to protecting them.

Many workshops have been held over the years to add to the knowledge of volunteers covering swamp ecology, vegetation, threatened species and  techniques to rehydrate swamps. A Swamp Symposium will be held on Wednesday 21st June  to celebrate and continue developing community knowledge, thanks to people such as Dr  Ian Baird, who has very generously given his time and shared his knowledge by regularly presenting workshops.

Over the 10 years more than 2000 volunteer hours have been contributed in on site works.  Many thanks must also go to Hominy Bakery in Katoomba who have been donating delicious lunches and morning teas for volunteers at every event since 2007. A much appreciated incentive to keep coming back!

March 2007 Kittyhawke volunteers at the first Swampcare event learning the ropes. Photo by Michael Hensen

Sites currently worked by volunteers in the Swampcare events program are:

  • Rocklea St Swamp, North Hazelbrook;
  • West Kitty Hawke Swamp, Wentworth Falls;
  • Clydebank Swamp North Leura;
  • Valley View Swamp, Blackheath.

In addition to the Swampcare events program, there are 15 other Bushcare or Landcare groups which also work in swamps and/or their buffers at some stage during each year.

There are 2253 hectares of swamp mapped in the Blue Mountains with 929 of those outside the National Park.  Swamps within the urban area are recognised as being the most vulnerable to degradation,  a concern which is being addressed by this program.

According to recent recorded history, scientific and management interest began in swamps in 1974 with the PhD by WN Holland entitled ‘Origin and Development of Hanging Valleys in the Blue Mountains, NSW’; which showed the significance of the geomorphology on formation and maintenance of hanging swamps.

In 1988, ecologists DA Keith & D H Benson described and mapped ‘Blue Mountains Sedge Swamps’ and other upland swamps, as part of a larger study. In 1991 the Blue Mountains City Council recognised swamps as an ‘environmentally sensitive vegetation community’ in  Local Environment Plan 1991 (LEP 91).

After witnessing a number of destructive developments occurring within and around swamps, in 1999 community members, under the banner of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, began working to gain legal protection for swamps.

In September 2007, after 8 years of hard work, Blue Mountains Swamps were listed as a Vulnerable Ecological Community under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act (TSC Act). In order to achieve this, 3 other significant achievements were made:

  • The listing of Temperate Highland Peat Swamps on Sandstone as an Endangered Ecological Community under the Commonwealth EPBC Act in 2005 (which included Blue Mountains Swamps), and
  • An amendment to the NSW TSC Act to make provision for Vulnerable Ecological Communities (2002),
  • An increase in community awareness and support for swamps.

For a more detailed history and swamp images see http://bluemountains.org.au/swamps.shtml

Since the listing in 2005, Blue Mountains City Council has obtained over a million dollars in grants from state and federal agencies to protect the swamps. BMCC’s ongoing Save our Swamps program is currently partnered with Central Tablelands Local Land Services to deliver a 10 year $750,000 “Swamped by Threats” grant. This aims to continue protecting the swamps of the Blue Mountains and Newnes Plateau with a focus on swamps that are known habitat for the endangered Blue Mountains Water Skink and the Giant Dragonfly.

Swampcare is a vital component of the concerted effort by BMCC and the Blue Mountains community to protect its valuable swamp systems. Our swamps continue to need all this community support  – hands on swamp restoration work, watching  and reporting illegal activity, writing submissions on potentially damaging developments, and campaigning to strengthen legal protections and ‘buy back’ swamps.

New members are always welcome to join the Swampcare program, just contact the Bushcare office on 4780 5623!

April 2007: Hard at it in Kittyhawke Swamp, Wentworth Falls. Photo by Michael Hensen

Swampcare at Kittyhawke Swamp North Wentworth Falls

Kittyhawke Swamp

Kittyhawke Swamp, North Wentworth Falls. Photo by Peter Ardill

Wednesday  29th March  9am – 3pm     

Join the long term efforts of volunteers to free this large swamp system of a huge variety of weeds and restore the habitat of the Giant Dragon Fly and the Blue Mountains Water Skink.  A joint NPWS/ BMCC activity.  Lunch and morning tea donated by the Hominy Bakery. Book with Lyndal on (02) 4780 5623 or lsullivan@bmcc.nsw.gov.au by Tuesday 21st March.

  

SWAMPCARE FIELD DAY

Swamp School photo by Paul Vale

A Blue Mountains Swamp near the airfield at Medlow Bath — in its flowering glory — attracted an  enthusiastic group of Swampcare volunteers to a field day in January 2017. The field day was part of a 10 year project to protect swamps, called “Swamped By Threats” whose partners include Central West Local Land Services, Blue Mountains City Council and National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The volunteers enjoyed a morning packed with information and good food topped off by a sighting of Blue Mountains Water Skinks – a well deserved reward for all their work during 2016! Unfortunately, the hoped for Giant Dragonfly did not make an appearance … this was not a good year for their emergence.

Two eminent swamp experts were on hand to generously share  their knowledge deepen our understanding of swamp plants and animals and their dependence on groundwater. Doug Benson is a highly respected plant ecologist and Honorary Research Associate with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney. He has studied swamps of the Blue Mountains and Newnes Plateau for more than 40 years, satisfying his curiosity about how and when they developed. Ian Baird drew on more than 13 years of research on the threatened Giant Dragonfly and swamps generally, to share his extensive knowledge of the fauna that dwell in them.

Our current swamps formed up to 15,000 years ago as the land warmed up and became wetter after the last Ice Age.   How the unique swamp plants formed and where they were during these cold and dry periods are particular questions of interest.

Flowering shrubs such as the rare Acacia ptychoclada and Grevillea acanthifolia were admired along with sedges such as Empodisma minus and Xyris ustulata. Two of the shrubs present in swamps, Banksia ericifolia and Hakea teretifolia, are killed by fire because they do not resprout from a lignotuber and do not store seed in the soil. Individual plants can take up to 8-10 years to flower and fruit and even more years are needed between fires to establish a seed bank to ensure the continuation of viable populations of this species in this location.

Plants adapted to sandstone areas only drop seeds close to the parent plant, which is in contrast with northern hemisphere plants where seed moves much greater distances due to reliance on wind dispersal. The presence of Mallee eucalypts in swamps may be understood in terms of opportunities to thrive without the competition of larger trees. Adapted to wetter conditions and fire, some of these Mallees have lignotubers at least 50-100 years old.

Using a 1.8m steel soil probe, Ian demonstrated the significant differences in the depth of soft peaty soil over the swamp and the patches of drier sandy loam. These soil differences are reflected in the plants, and determine where Giant Dragonflies can reproduce.

Ian identified patches suitable as breeding habitat and those which were not, and discussed the importance of damp or saturated peaty soil with a high water table for egg-laying and larval establishment.  It is believed that they then spend at least 6 years in their larval burrow. The deepest larval burrow Ian has found, also the deepest recorded, was 75cm.

A very young Blue Mountains Water Skink, plus two adults were sighted. One adult water skink sat still on top of the grass watching the group for some time. Genetic studies indicate that this species has been in swamps in the Blue Mountains for at least 2 million years, but where were they during the ice ages which have occurred over that time? They are currently solely dependant on peat swamps in the mid-to upper Blue Mountains for their survival.

Blue Mountains Water Skink

Ian gave some insights into the range of less appreciated fauna found in swamps which also need groundwater for survival, from the small invertebrates and skinks which may survive fire under patches of wet litter, to the Common Eastern Froglets, burrowing crayfish and swamp rats. Blue Mountains Water Skinks can sometimes use these burrows, and those of Giant Dragonflies, for protection from fire and predators. Crayfish burrows are found in areas with groundwater seepage or a high water table which they can access in their burrows. Swamp rat tunnels may also be abundant; one of which was inspected (these are more horizontal).

Both Doug and Ian explained how Blue Mountains Swamps are important for holding and filtering water. The conservation of swamps is a key concern of those present and an interesting debate on fire, sedimentation and climate change followed. The predicted hotter, drier conditions and more frequent fires will threaten the swamps’ survival.

This event was organised by Blue Mountains City Council Bushcare and assisted by the New South Wales Government Environmental Trust Fund, NSW Local Land Services and NPWS

Swampcare in Wentworth Falls

Kittyhawke Swamp

Kittyhawke Swamp, North Wentworth Falls. Photo by Peter Ardill

Wednesday  29th March  9am – 3pm     Join the long term efforts of volunteers to free this large swamp system of a huge variety of weeds and restore the habitat of the Giant Dragon Fly and the Blue Mountains Water Skink.  A joint NPWS/ BMCC activity.  Lunch and morning tea donated by the Hominy Bakery. Book with Lyndal on (02) 4780 5623 or lsullivan@bmcc.nsw.gov.au by Tuesday 21st March.

  

Swampcare at Valley View Swamp, Blackheath

Come for the day or just the morning. Help us get this swamp back into shape. It forms part of the extensive Braeside Upland Swamp located in the headwaters of Govetts Leap Brook which flows over Govetts Leap Falls just downstream.  Enjoy a delicious morning tea and lunch donated by the Hominy Bakery.

Book with Lyndal on 4780 5623 or lsullivan@bmcc.nsw.gov.au by Monday  Thursday 27th October.

Kittyhawk Swampcare

Come and join the long term efforts of volunteers to free this large swamp system of a huge variety of weeds and restore the habitat of the Giant Dragon Fly and the Blue Mountains Water Skink.  A joint NPWS/ BMCC activity.  Lunch and morning tea donated by the Hominy Bakery,  Book with Lyndal on (02) 4780 5623 or lsullivan@bmcc.nsw.gov.au by Tuesday 11th October.