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Bushcare Recommencing COVID-19 Protocols

Hello Bushcarers,

Bushcare is back.

With NSW Government restrictions easing surrounding COVID-19 from June 1, Blue Mountains City Council’s decision to allow Bushcare to recommence is great news for many of you whom are eager to get back out and re-engage with your Bushcare sites. We are asking you to take some precautions, follow physical distancing rules and limit numbers to 9 volunteers at a time.

Our key consideration as we return is the safety of volunteers and staff, particularly our volunteers that fall within the vulnerable or high-risk categories. We hope you understand the reasons for the COVID 19 safety protocols and adhere to them strictly to keep all of us safe.

We look forward to seeing you all again, being back out in the bush, working on our sites, and hearing what you have been up to during the restrictions that have been put in place during our response to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Meet in groups of 10 (Bushcare Officer + 9 volunteers); a fair and equitable booking system will be put in place.

Your Bushcare Officer will send an email out so you can book your name for the next group’s workday and should the group numbers reach a maximum of 9 persons then you will be first on the list for next month’s group workday. For larger groups with numbers up to 18, an additional Bushcare Officer may be put on so that the group may be split into two groups.

On your Bushcare day the following safety practices and principles will apply:

  • Toolbox talks to be held with all volunteers to brief on the current BMCC COVID return plan – attendees and meeting times will be documented and signed on behalf of the Bushcare Officer to reduce contact with equipment.
  • Bushcare Officers to provide hand sanitiser/disinfectant/PPE.
  • Regularly use the alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Maintain a minimum physical distance of 1.5 m between volunteers and staff.

Equipment

Herbicide applicators and Council issued tools to be placed on a table with one person at a time coming to collect. Spray/wipe down all equipment before and after use with 70% alcohol sanitiser.

Morning Tea

To reduce the risk of transmission between staff and volunteers then morning/afternoon tea breaks will be managed as follows:

  • volunteers will bring your own morning tea (food, tea and coffee), and
  • no sharing of food between people of different households.

Maintaining site, WHS, and Volunteer attendance records

  • Bushcare Officers only are responsible to maintain all physical Bushcare Site record books and will handle the book and pen and sign on behalf of volunteers attending.
  • For those groups maintaining their own book, the Volunteer Coordinator shall be responsible to only handle the book and pen and sign on behalf of the volunteers.
  • Record ‘COVID 19 Protocol’ on the signed sheet, to ensure transparency of why volunteers are being signed for.
  • Ensure all attendees names have been recorded — it could help with contact tracing.

Volunteer self-monitoring

If you are not confident of returning to Bushcare next month we will welcome you back at any stage.

  • If you have been overseas, please do not return to Bushcare until 14 days have passed.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.
  • Stay informed and follow the advice given by your healthcare provider. If you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, do not attend and seek medical care early.
  • Follow the directions of your local health authority.
  • Should any person attend a site and present with any symptoms of cold or flu, they will not be permitted to participate in any Bushcare activities until the results of the COVID 19 test can be presented.

National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on whether COVID-19 is spreading in your area. They are best placed to advise on what people in your area should be doing to protect themselves.

Please note that this plan is subject to ongoing NSW Department of Health and Federal Government advice and directives resulting from Public Health Orders and Government Announcements that may override it.

Bushcare Picnic COVID Style Awards

Bushcare Awards Presentation 2020

This year, the Bushcare Picnic will be a little bit different! Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we will be hosting 60 small picnics at your Bushcare and Landcare groups in the month of November.

Our Award Ceremony , although smaller, the audience was a smaller variety with the Mayor presenting to the Awardees at the Council Chambers on Saturday 21 November.

Our planned virtual element had a slight audio hiccup. We’ve included the great speeches by Sandy Benson (Bushcare Team Leader) and Councillor Mark Greenhill (Mayor) with the all important Awardee nominations.

  • Acknowledgement of Country
  • Bushcare Team Leader Speech Welcome
  • Mayor’s Speech
  • Bushcare Gifts Bags
  • Bushcare Birthday Recognition Certificates
  • Bushcare Awardee Presentation
  • Thankyou

Congratulations to our Awardees (read their nominations below)

Congratulations to our Bushcare Legend and Golden Trowel recipient for 2020 – Ross Day pictured with Cr Mark Greenhill, Mayor.

Acknowledgement of Country

Today we are meeting on Ngurra the traditional lands of the Durug and Gundungurra people.

The Blue Mountains City Council acknowledges that this award ceremony is being held on Aboriginal land and recognises the strength, capacity and resilience of past and present Aboriginal people in this region.”

“I would like to pay my respect to the Elders both past and present and to those young ones who will follow and extend my respect to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who are present”

Bushcare Team Leader’s Welcome Speech

Bushcare Volunteers, friends AND family to the 2020 Bushcare Awards.

Bush regeneration can be difficult at the best of times, however, with the addition of the fire recovery and the constant changes required to adjust to the COVID-19 restrictions, volunteering has been particularly challenging.

With this in mind I would personally like to thank every volunteer for continuing to volunteer with Bushcare, often under difficult and personally frustrating circumstances. It has been your commitment and concern for the Blue Mountains bushland that has kept us on track to deliver the Bushcare Program with a little help from contractors.

The picnic awards ceremony this year via zoom was a tribute to the work even carried out in such a strange time that honoured not only the individuals that bring so much to the program but the groups Fairy Dell at Springwood and Popes Glen at Blackheath who are celebrating their 30 years of being a Bushcare group.

From the Bushcare office we hope the bags of goodies have been enjoyed by all and we thank you for another year of vital bush-caring and land-caring. 

The Bushcare awards are given in recognition of the valuable time and effort that each and every one of you have made over not just the past year but for all the years commitment you have made to the Bushcare Program and most importantly to the environment.

People who join Bushcare are passionate about protecting this amazing place in which we live. Some people who join Bushcare are natural born leaders who are extremely driven to MAKE sure change is made, others are passionate but contribute in a quieter way, or you may fall somewhere in between.

We all give our time in different ways but no matter how you contribute ALL contributions are of equal value because we ALL share the same goal. Time is the MOST precious resource in our lives and I thank you for all your time to such a worthy cause. It can be back breaking work weeding African love grass, trad and honeysuckle on your hands and knees but the when you look back at the cleared area there is nothing like that feeling, and that feeling of self-satisfaction is immeasurable.

I am personally grateful to be part of an incredibly passionate, creative, intelligent, driven, and positive team of environmental professionals who are dedicated to a better world and a better community.

Even though this year has sent us some challenges we can still celebrate the fact Bushcare has reached different parts of the community including younger age groups with a record number of young students choosing Bushcare as their Duke of Edinburgh cause, a record number of new volunteers, two new Bushcare groups and two Landcare groups have joined us and we made it to the big screen where the Gully featuring on Gardening Austraila last week for Nadoic Week. With Aunty Sharon and David King sharing their deep connection to a place where, those ties will never be broken.

Sadly, we have had to say goodbye to some amazing people they were our founders of Bushcare Thelma Murphy, our family Lachlan Garland, our future with Liz Kabanoff and our never forgotten Morag Ryder. It has been a tough year.

This year we have had may successes and it is credited to each and every one of you. We are extremely grateful that you give so much of yourselves and expect so little in return.

Mayor’s Speech

Councillor Mark Greenhill (Mayor) speech was appreciated by all the attendees.

2020: A year like no other!

  • The Blue Mountains community has experienced a year like no other –  firstly with the summer bushfires, flooding in February and then the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Council had to temporarily suspend its Bushcare program in mid-March due to COVID-19, following NSW Health guidelines. Bushcare recommenced in June – though with some adjustments to the way participants interact.
  • We would like to thank all our volunteers for helping the organisation to return to Bushcare, and for understanding the measures and following COVID protocols that were put in place for the safety of all.

About Bushcare and the Community Conservation Program:

  • The Bushcare program has reached another important milestone this year with another two Bushcare groups reaching the impressive 30-years-of-service mark….…we now have four groups in total that have reached such an impressive milestone.
  • Community enthusiasm for Bushcare and Landcare continues… and in 2020 another Bushcare – and two Landcare – groups started up in the Blue Mountains.
  • Our volunteers continue to contribute many thousands of hours of on-ground conservation work.
  • In the 2019-20 financial year Bushcare, Landcare and Swampcare volunteers contributed almost 6830 hoursan outstanding effort given the circumstances.
  • Due to the bushfires and COVID-19 our volunteer hours were reduced by one third.
  • The work by these programs includes: tackling weed infestations, replanting native vegetation, monitoring local water quality, repairing stormwater damage to creeks and waterways, repairing and building tracks, and securing funding for environmental projects.
  • Through the dedicated efforts of our very special volunteers, many local natural treasures on public lands are being repaired or protected, for the benefit of us all
  • Private landholder volunteers also play a vital role, through Council’s Landcare and Bush Backyards programs.
  • We now have 64 Bush Backyards participants protecting more than 256 hectares (an increase of 10% from 2019) of bushland from Mt Wilson to Glenbrook.
  • More than half of the bushland in the City is on private property, so protection of these areas is vital to maintaining the bushland quality and conservation values which are so central to the Blue Mountains identity.

Community Engagement and Education

  • Weed control programs cannot be successful unless the majority of landowners and managers in target areas participate to protect native habitats, reduce urban runoff and prevent re-infestation from uncontrolled weed populations.
  • Community engagement and education programs inform and train the community to build this capacity. Some examples of activities organised by Council’s Bushcare Program this year include:
    • The Turtle Habitat Island Launch – that occurred just days before the temporary suspension of Bushcare. This exciting project came about because of a grant, an enthusiastic Bushcare Officer, Council’s Healthy Waterways team, Glenbrook Lagoon volunteers and other community / corporate volunteers.
    • Launch of the digital Blue Mountain Fauna Inventory – data collected from 7 fauna surveys across the Blue Mountains contributed by many volunteers, Have Your Say and other sources and.
    • A Seed Collection Workshop that helped improve the skill of our volunteers.
  • Following the summer bushfires, a community-based “Recovering Our Backyards” mini expo was also hosted by local community groups. The information day included speakers, stalls of representatives from local groups and organisations with opportunities to volunteer. The themes were based on: what you can do in your own backyard?; are you interested in volunteering to help wildlife, and to assist with recovery of our natural environment? and how to join a local wildlife or conservation group including joining a Bushcare group.
  • 2020 is the 20th anniversary of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Through these celebrations we have noted how Bushcare plays a vital role in maintaining the outstanding values of this area.

Finally, I would like to finish this speech by acknowledging three special Bushcare volunteers who have passed away this year:

Lachlan Garland:

Lachlan was a passionate and tireless environmental advocate. He was one of the first people to campaign against the raising of the Warragamba Dam Wall.

Lachlan Garland
Photo: Lachlan Garland Credit: Emma Garland

Among his numerous achievements he was the President of Blue Mountains Conservation Society, a member or co-ordinator of nearly a dozen Bushcare and Swampcare groups and in 2019 he received Council’s Bushcare Legend Award. He was also awarded the Seniors Week Recognition Award in 2020 in honour of his environmental and community work.  Lachlan leaves an environmental legacy that will long be remembered and endure.

  • Thelma Murphy

Thelma Murphy has been described as a Bushcare Icon. Thelma was one of the driving forces to bring together the existing Bushcare Groups of Centenary Reserve, Friends of Katoomba Falls, Minne-ha-ha and Fairy Dell. In 1990, she lobbied Council to support these groups and develop a Bushcare program.  This lobby group became the foundation of the Bushcare Network.

Thelma and Nathan Summers – a long-term Bushcare Officer.

Thelma rose to the position of Councillor and was honoured for her work and devotion to her community when she was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 1978 and she was made a Freeman of the City in 1992.

People who knew Thelma noted that she had an amazing ability to draw the best out of people and to instil confidence in their abilities.  This part of her character touched a number of people, and allowed them to make a greater impact with their lives.  Her incredible impact on our community will undoubtably live on.

  • Liz Kabanoff:

Liz has been described as an easy-going and generous friend, a devoted mother and a passionate Naturalist. Liz was also well regarded as an academic scientist in her career as a Biological Microscopist and friends say that she had a great ability to observe and find beauty in the small, easily overlooked things in the bush or the garden – tiny insects, butterflies, wildflowers, orchids and especially fungi. Liz was a dedicated gardener, photographer and illustrator. She had so much more to contribute and she will be dearly missed by all who knew her.

Vale Liz Kabanoff
Liz with David on a fungi foray at Birdwood Gully Credit: Gemma Williams
  • Now, let’s mark the achievements of 2020 and present the Bushcare Awards….

Bushcare Gifts

This year we’re presenting our Bushcare Birthday Awards during the month of November during the groups’ working day.

Many Bushcare volunteers were also pleasantly surprised when their Bushcare Officer presented each volunteer with a SPECIAL GIFT BAG in recognition of the effort they put in for the past year. The gift bag contained all the necessities to hold a congratulatory morning or afternoon tea – with a Bushcare mug, choccies and biscuits.

Well done to those individual groups and congratulations on your perseverance and commitment to your Bushcare Sites.

Jane Anderson (Bushcare Officer) and the “Inkers” from North Katoomba carved the individual images into lino and printed each of these bags in more than twelve different images. These are worthy for framing and adding to your walls.

Bushcare Birthday Recognition

10 year awards went to

  • Mount Victoria Bushcare Group
  • Franki Creek Bushcare Group
  • Jamieson St Landcare
  • Banksia Park Bushcare Group
10 Year Birthday – Banksia Park Bushcare Group

15 year awards went to

  • Zora’s Creek Landcare
  • Govett Street Bushcare Group
  • Birdwood Gully Bushcare Group
  • Medlow Bath Park Bushcare Bushcare Group

20 year awards went to

  • Central Park Bushcare Group 
  • Water Nymphs Dell Bushcare Group

The 25 year awards was presented to the group by Sandy Benson (Bushcare Team Leader)

  • South Lawson Park Bushcare Group   
25 Year Anniversary – South Lawson Bushcare Group

30 year awards were presented to the group by Sandy Benson (Bushcare Team Leader). Congratulations!!!! You have now joined a select group of four Bushcare groups achieving the impressive 30-year milestone.

  • Popes Glen Bushcare Group
  • Fairy Dell Bushcare Group 

Bushcare Awards Winners

Our awards this year will now be presented by the Mayor Cr Mark Greenhill

Bushcare Legend Award

The Bushcare Legend Award is our highest level of recognition we can give individuals within the Bushcare Program.  It recognises sustained efforts over many years.  Legends are people who have provided leadership in the Bushcare program, as their contributions go beyond any particular group or site and extend to the broader Blue Mountains Bushcare community.

The recipient of this year’s Bushcare Legend Award has been a long-term member of the bushcare programme. Always regarded as hardworking and highly competent, their contribution to Bushcare extends from their very solid on-ground skills in bush regeneration – bringing a high set of skills from once being part of Council’s bush regeneration team. The diplomacy and reliability of this person, together with their good humour and supportive nature, make them a pleasure to work with. 

They have played an integral part in numerous Bushcare groups in the Upper Mountains including Franki Creek, Sublime Point, Wentworth Falls Lake, Pitt Park and Valley of the Waters (NPWS) Bushcare Groups. A group coordinator of Franki Creek, they were also a longstanding volunteer of Wentworth Falls Lake Bushcare Group and as part of their commitment to this site regularly monitors the Lake, checking on any issues, as well as collecting rubbish. They were a dedicated member of Pitt Park Bushcare Group whilst it was active, involving working extra hours. This person is a valued member of the Jamison Creek Catchment Group and has been regularly attending since inception and is very supportive of the Convenor, always being available to undertake necessary tasks.

This year we present the Bushcare Legend Award, and the Golden Trowel of Recognition to Ross Day.

Councillor Mark GreenHill, Mayor, presented the winner of this year’s Golden Trowel and Bushcare Legend Award to Ross Day. Congratulations Ross!!

Masters Award

The Masters Award recognises outstanding long term participation within the Bushcare Program.  These are elders of our Bushcare community who have made a consistent long term contribution to their sites. 

This year’s Masters Award has been a respected, highly valued member of Valley View Swampcare, Sutton Park, remote Bushcare and Braeside Bushcare, has participated in Holly Walks and more recently has joined the Woody Weed Wander Bushcare Group. He maintains high standards regarding Bushcare technique, has made valuable contributions to site strategy development and always supportive of the other volunteers, assisting with transport and sharing his ideas and local knowledge. Reliable, hardworking and a pleasure to work with, he has been a great role model for fellow bush carers for at least the past 11 years.

The recipient of this year’s Masters award is Ian Glover.

Ian Glover was the recipient of ths year’s Masters Award – Ian was unfortunatley travelling down from the north coast so Steve Fleishmann – Bushcare Officer accepted on his behalf.

Unfortunately Ian cannot be with us today and sends his apologies.

Hard Yakka Award

The Hard Yakka Award acknowledges consistent support to a Bushcare Group.  Hard Yakka recipients are hard working volunteers who have added immense value to their groups and the natural areas in which they work.

This year’s Hard Yakka Award recipient goes to someone who has been a core member of the Glenbrook Lagoon Bushcare Group, since its second inception in 2008.  Their interest in the local Glenbrook area, including its community, environment and history, extends to regular work with the Australian Plants Society at Glenbrook, both with the Nursery and the bushland grounds, volunteer for National Parks Bushcare at Glenbrook, and an active member of the Glenbrook Historical Society, including club Secretary.  They have been the group co-ordinator for the Glenbrook Lagoon Bushcare Group for some years.

They have a conscientious, reliable and accommodating nature which is always good for a Bushcare group, along with a sense of humour.  They also do their part in a social network that makes up Glenbrook Lagoon Bushcare.  Their interest in the local Glenbrook area includes research and documentation of information, both natural and historical, which is another valuable resource for the Glenbrook Lagoon.

The recipient of this year’s Hard Yakka award is Neil McGlashan.

Neil McGlashan from Glenbrook Lagoon Bushcare accepting the Hard Yakka Award from The Mayor.

Landcare Legend Award

The Landcare Award is for individuals who have made strong contributions to their Landcare Group.  Landcare is the same activity as Bushcare but on land not managed by Council – which can include private property, schools & Crown land.  A high proportion of our natural areas in the Blue Mountains are in this category, so the program is vital to our overall conservation goals.

This year’s Landcare Award unjustly describes himself as the reluctant group coordinator of Three Gullies Landcare, Glenbrook, a role bestowed on him as he happened to live across the road.  However these last 5 years has shown his commitment, support and encouragement to their Landcare group who volunteer two days per month (one of those days working independently).

He leads the groups’ creekline restoration initiative who have hosted 3 workshops. The skills they have learned has led to the cessation of many historic stormwater issues, ensuing significant re-emergence of native species along our creek – resulting in less weeding!  Always willing to try something new, encourage neighbours and promote Bushcare/Landcare practices makes this recipient a very worthy quiet achiever.

The recipient of this year’s Landcare Award is Dan Marshall.

Environmental Warrior Award

The Environmental Warrior Award established in 2019 is a new award to recognise our committed, young adult volunteers showing vibrant spirit, dedication and enthusiasm for their Bushcare group and the Bushcare Program.

The winner of the Environmental Warrior Award is recognised for their enthusiasm and dedication attending 2 groups on a day, once a month, over the last 4 years all the while raising small kids and studying. Over this time they have developed excellent plant knowledge and leadership skills in their groups. They are now fulfilling their goal by gaining valuable experience and skills to work in the natural area environment. 

The recipient for this year’s Environmental Warrior Award is Beth Winsor.

Beth Winsor accepting the Environmental Warrior Award from the Mayor

Junior Rian Strathdee Award

This award recognises rising young stars of our Bushcare program. It was initiated by the Payget and Strathdee families and the South Lawson Bushcare Group and is presented in memory of Rian Payget Strathdee. It goes to the younger members of our groups who are particularly enthusiastic about caring for the bush.

I’d like to invite Laurie Strathdee to present this year’s Junior Bushcare Memorial Shield, and to say a few words.

The recipients for this year’s Junior Rian Strathdee Award, are dedicated Bushcare kids and along with their family have been coming along to Garguree Swampcare since they were very small.

Every month Garguree Swampcare group have watched these young people (aged 10, 7 and 3) grow and develop to become strong, independent, passionate environmentalists caring for their site. Over time they have also come to respect what it means about connecting and caring for country.  They’re always engaged with activities on site and shown enthusiasm from planting, weed identification and removal, particularly pulling out Montbretia and Ivy, becoming involved in construction works by placing logs for erosion control and creating habitats.

They’ve continue to look after their family plants in The Gully’s Bushtucker garden with great gusto and joy. The youngest (3 years old) is quickly learning from his older siblings how to care for Country and is doing so with passion and determination.

The recipients for this year’s Rian Strathdee Award are Farley, Iris and Jim

Farley, Iris and Jim from Garguree receiving their Jumior Award and Rian Strathdee Shield from Laurie Strathdee and the Mayor.

Special Recognition Certificate

Sandy Benson, Bushcare Team Leader, presented this award

Bushcare sometimes like to dedicate a special award to person or a group that has contributed their time and effort over many years enhancing or supporting the Bushcare experience.

This year we would like to present this special award to a person we may not know in person however her efforts have been greatly appreciated by many Bushcare Groups, particularly around the morning tea gatherings.

This person has spent many hours, over many years, using her excellent baking skills to produce countless fruitcakes for the Bushcare volunteers. These fruit cakes were almost part of the Bushcare tradition for many Bushcare groups.

I’d like to present this Certificate of Appreciation to Granny Joy.

Granny Joy was recognised for her support over many years to Bushcare baking countless fruit cakes for Bushcare groups – pictured with Sandy Benson (Bushcare Team Leader), Mayor (Cr Mark Greenhill) and Jane Anderson (Bushcare Officer and proud daughter).

Thankyou

By Sandy Benson

A big thank you to Mayor Greenhill for your support of the Bushcare program and huge congratulations to our individual award winners, it’s always inspiring to hear about your achievements so thankyou again.

As always, a lot of time has gone into creating this amazing day so I’d especially like to thank Alison Steele the Bushland Project Officer for not only putting together today’s ceremony and each individual gift bags, but for being my wingman, your support, organisational skills and friendship make us a really strong team.

The Bushcare Officers – you are an amazing team of individuals who have supported each other over the past year through some very difficult times. I really appreciate your input on every subject and decision we make as a team and commitment to your Bushcare groups. Your care and dedication is essential to the program.

We also appreciate the help of Storm Kavanagh and Tracy Burgess to make this a COVID safe presentation.

And to every one of our volunteers who give up a precious few hours to make a real difference in the bush, a heartfelt thank you.

RSPCA LANDCARE SUPPORTS RSPCA WILDLIFE RECOVERY CENTRE

Background

RSPCA Landcare Group has been working for over 11 years to restore Woodland and EPBC Listed Swamp on the 4.4 ha RSPCA site in Mort Street North Katoomba. This bushland site contributes to a continuous bushland corridor along Katoomba Creek into the Grose Valley.

The buildings, pounds and exercise yards are at the top of the slope near Mort Street, below which is a fence separating the woodland where the Landcare group primarily works. Below the woodland a Blue Mountains Swamps runs down to Katoomba Creek.

Weed Plume being treated 2009 Credit: Lyndal Sullivan

RSPCA Landcare has removed a large weed plume of blackberry, cotoneaster, cherry laurel, broom and holly). We are now working on scattered weeds as well as pushing back an edge of holly.

Remaining Holly being treated in 2020 Credit: BMCC

We welcome more members to join us and enjoy this lovely bushland. Swamp wallabies regularly graze in the Swamp. The Landcare site contains diverse bushland showcasing the spectacular colour of native wildflowers in Spring 2020.

Wildlife Recovery Centre

We wish to explain why we support a proposal for a wildlife recovery centre here in the Blue Mountains.

Our work has successfully restored the swamp and woodland on the RSPCA site for local native wildlife, hence this site provides an excellent location for the rehabilitation of injured animals.

The RSPCA has announced that it has received provisional approval from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service for a wildlife rehabilitation license for a dual occupancy site that will allow us to care for companion animals as well as wildlife. (RSPCA Media Unit 9/10/2020)

This proposal has raised 3 issues:

  1. Is it needed?
  2. Will the domestic Animal Shelter continue?
  3. Can wildlife and domestic animals be cared for on this same site without further stress?
  1. Need

The 2019/2020 bushfires saw many injured wildlife sent to Taronga Zoo for care by specialist staff. For months, dedicated volunteers collected huge amounts of leaves locally and delivered them to the zoo for koalas.

This highlighted the need for a permanent wildlife care and rehabilitation facility closer to where our native animals live, and without the transport problems of a central Sydney location. This centre will not replace the need for WIRES carers to continue their invaluable work, but work alongside and complement that important service. 

2. Continuation of Katoomba Shelter for Companion Animals

There is considerable concern in the community that this is an attempt by the RSPCA to close the shelter, as it attempted to do in 2014.  As some of our members were involved in the successful community action to stop this closure, we believe this is a justifiable concern. We recognise that having a local shelter for cats and dogs reduces the likelihood of them being dumped in the bush and preying on native species.

RSPCA NSW appears to have given contradictory information to the Blue Mountains Branch, the Landcare group and Gazette about the continuation of the shelter for dogs.

In a report to the branch on August 1 2020, Rita Perkins (Senior Operations manager, RSPCA NSW) stated that if successful in obtaining the licence, then the site will not be able to look after dogs. Maybe there has been a change of plan?  If so, it just needs to be acknowledged. 

RSPCA NSWs Wildlife Manager Nick de Vos stated (29/9/2020) The RSPCA intends to continue to provide essential services to stray, lost, injured, neglected and at-risk animals and pet owners in the Blue Mountains community.

The RSPCA Media Unit issued the following statement on 9/10/2020 We announced earlier this year that, as part of our commitment to the people and animals of New South Wales, we are exploring establishing a facility that can manage both companion animals and wildlife at our Blue Mountains site.

We are pleased to announce that we have received provisional approval from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service for a wildlife rehabilitation license, which means we are one step closer to making the project happen! The proposal submitted is for a dual occupancy site that will allow us to care for companion animals as well as wildlife. We still have a long way to go with this journey, but this approval means that the government has granted us permission to proceed with the design and development of the facility.

We are in the process of submitting a proposal to Blue Mountains City Council to continue to provide impound animal management services for the region on behalf of the council. Next, we will be submitting a Development Application to Blue Mountains City Council for the development of the dual occupancy site. The site has the size, space and potential to successfully manage both companion animals and wildlife. The design of the proposed infrastructure and enclosures are being carefully considered with this objective in mind. Has there been a changed of plan?

3. Stress free care for both domestic and native animals?

  • How can the traditional role of the shelter continue alongside this proposed wildlife rehabilitation area?  How can each companion animal and native animal be cared for in a safe, stress-free environment?
  • The size and shape of the site could allow for separation of functions. The cats that come into RSPCA are now housed in a custom-built indoor cattery and dogs are housed in concrete kennels. We understand that the use of indoor facilities for dogs is being researched and considered. Indoor shelters for dogs are common in many cold European countries for climatic reasons.
  • The current Taronga Zoo situation has very limited space and a wide range of animals in close proximity. Whilst more details are required, the Landcare group supports the Wildlife Recovery Centre in principle as a way to enable more wildlife to be rehabilitated closer to their natural habitats.

Native wildlife populations have been and continue to be greatly impacted by natural disasters and habitat loss, we therefore believe it is important to explore opportunities like this to invest in their care and recovery.

Lyndal Sullivan on behalf of RSPCA Landcare Group 

Native Fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains – Zoom talk

Sunday 29 November, 2020 4:00 am – 5:00 pm

Sunday 29 November – Native Fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains – 4pm via zoom

Peter & Judy Smith  (Blue Mountains Gazette)

Blue Mountains Conservation Society are pleased to host local ecologists, Judy and Peter Smith, talking about the native fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains on the very day the World Heritage listing for the area was decided back in 2000.

The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is home to a remarkably diverse native terrestrial vertebrate fauna (currently 434 species) of international significance.

The World Heritage listing recognises the region’s globally significant natural values including its biodiversity.

Judy and Peter will talk about the fauna of the GBMWHA as it stood at the time of publication of their book (October 2019) and then look briefly at what has happened to the fauna since.

Join us as we mark this important anniversary!

When:  4pm Sunday 29 November (one hour)

Register here:  gos@bluemountains.org.au – You will receive a ZOOM Link before the day.

In this time of COVID the Society will hold a number of online talks.

FrogID Week: Friday 6 – Sunday 15 November, 2020

FrogID Week starts Friday 6th November! To find out more and download the app click here https://www.frogid.net.au/frog-id-week

FrogID Week is Australia’s Biggest Frog Count, held annually for Australians to help record frog calls through the free FrogID app, as a measurement of frog health and distribution around the nation. It aims to monitor frog distributions over time, helping us to understand how frogs and their ecosystems are responding to a changing planet.

FrogID Week starts next week and we need the entire FrogID community to get involved! Every recording contributes to our annual ‘audioshot’ of Australian frogs, and helps us measure the health of our frogs and environment.

This year, we have a competition for the FrogID user who submits the highest submissions of verified frogs during FrogID Week. The ‘Top Frogger’ will win a Bunnings gift card valued at $500, as well as a video conference opportunity with FrogID Lead Scientist, Dr Jodi Rowley! Please familiarise yourself with the Terms & Conditions of our Top Frogger competition here

FrogID Week 2020 banner

Image: Southern Barred Frog (Mixophyes balbus) by Jodi Rowley.

Thanks to your FrogID submissions from all across Australia, the FrogID team have produced seven scientific papers so far. This month, FrogID research revealed that Australian frogs indeed have accents, and their accents change across the country, and even over time. We also used FrogID data to take a closer look at just how much frogs restrict their calling to night-time, and found that most Australian frogs actually call during the day, some at surprisingly high rates!

All the research produced by the FrogID project is a reminder of how your records are providing information about frogs on scales never before possible. Last month, we revealed how your FrogID records are providing an early understanding of frogs persisting after the Black Summer bushfires, but this picture is not yet complete. Your continued use of FrogID is very important this year, more than ever.

Whether you’re at a nearby creek, pond, nature reserve, or your own backyard – every recording of a frog call contributes to our research. So far, FrogID has identified more than 250,000 frog calls and identified 199 of the known 242 Australian frog species. During FrogID Week last year, over 5,000 frog records from 71 species were counted! The best way to stay up to date with this year’s FrogID Week information, stats, and exciting discoveries, is by following us on social media.

If you’re planning any FrogID Week activities in your community and would like help seeking local media opportunities, let us know by emailing calls@frogid.net.au

With La Niña underway and the likelihood of above average rainfall across much of Australia, we hope more frogs will be breeding and calling this year. Head outside each day of FrogID Week and help us find calling frogs – together, we can build our understanding and better protect our frog species.

Safe frogging, everyone!

Fox Trapping Workshops – 8 and 9 November

Foxes are a known predator for both native wildlife and livestock and can cause major damage in our local area. Greater Sydney Local Land Services has engaged professional trapper Mark Lamb to demonstrate best practice methods in the identification and trapping of foxes.

Blue Mountains landholders in target areas can attend one of the following sessions:

Session 1
Date: Sunday 8 November, 2020
Time: 9.30 am – 3 pm
Location: Katoomba Christian Convention Centre, 119 Cliff Drive, Katoomba

OR

Session 2
Date: Monday 9 November, 2020
Time: 9.30 am – 3 pm
Location: Katoomba Christian Convention Centre, 119 Cliff Drive, Katoomba

Workshop topics covered will include:
– Trapping foxes using soft-jaw and cage traps
– Control tools
– Equipment preparation
– Identifying signs
– Trap site selection
– Trap setting
– Use of decoys/lures
– Inspecting/running your traps and humane disposal
– Using wildlife cameras

THIS EVENT IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN AND PEOPLE WHO ARE UNABLE TO WALK OUTDOORS ON UNEVEN SURFACES.

The workshops will be held at the Katoomba Christian Convention Centre. There is a strict limit on attendees due to the COVID-19 situation. Priority will be given to trap recipients. A waiting list will also be collected and used to fill places where registered people are unable to attend due to last minute circumstances.

Please choose a day and register using this form

Sunday 8 November, 9.30 – 3 pm

Monday 9 November, 9.30 – 3 pm

Katoomba Christian Convention Centre  

Post-Fire Koala Community Survey

“Should we save our Koalas”

Please take this 5-10 minute community survey.

Koalas were massively impacted by fire in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Help Science for Wildlife understand the issues that are important to you, in regard to conserving koalas and their habitats.

Take the Post-Fire Koala Community Survey

With the protected area network so badly impacted, the unburnt habitat that remains in and around residential and rural areas is more important than ever to our surviving wildlife, including koalas.  

However, conserving koalas in developed areas is complex. There are always competing interests when humans and wildlife occupy the same land. The first important step in protecting koalas in these developed areas is understanding any barriers to effective conservation, and working with communities to find solutions that respect the different values that people hold. That’s where your participation is critical for conservation, everyone can help by taking this brief post-fire koala community survey and sharing it with your friends.

Your time and honesty are greatly appreciated.

We are asking as many people as possible to take this survey, so please share and forward to your friends and networks. 

Yours Sincerely,  The Science for Wildlife Team www.scienceforwildlife.org


Protecting our forests for the future

Blue Mountains City Council Media Release 08 October 2020

Efforts to protect and conserve several rare and endangered forest areas in the Blue Mountains will be amplified, after Council was awarded a $350,000 grant by the NSW Environmental Trust.

Over the next four years the funds will be used for the Forests for the Future project, which seeks to restore and protect unique environments in a number of Council managed reserves between Glenbrook and Springwood. 

Working in partnership with the NSW Save our Species program and Hawkesbury River County Council, the project will help conserve the critically endangered Sun Valley Cabbage Gum Forests and endangered Blue Mountains Shale Cap Forests across their entire range. Iconic threatened species which inhabit these forests, such as the Powerful Owl, the Tiger Quoll and the Koala, are also expected to benefit from the restoration works.

Eric Mahony, Council’s Natural Area Management Program Leader, with Councillor Mick Fell and Mayor Mark Greenhill at Deanei Reserve, Springwood. Photo Credit: Council

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill said: “The Forests for the Future project is part of our ongoing commitment to best practice environmental management.

“As a City within a World Heritage Area, it’s our job to protect our local environment, especially those areas which have rare or endangered species. Some of our environment is unique to the Mountains, and that needs to be conserved,” he said. 

The works – that are able to get underway – include weed control, bush regeneration, stormwater mitigation, fencing and track rationalisation at Deanei, Else Mitchell and Patterson Reserves in Springwood, Sun Valley Reserve in Sun Valley, Blaxland War Memorial Park and Wascoe Park in Glenbrook.

Works will also include vegetation mapping, as well as education for schools, land owners and the community.

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Greater Blue Mountains region being granted World Heritage status by the United Nations. To find out more about Council’s work to conserve our local environment, visit the Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity webpage at www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/protecting-and-restoring-biodiversity

https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/media-centre/protecting-our-forests-for-future

Post-fire Koala Surveys, Blue Mountains Region 2nd Volunteer Call Out

Come and join our Post-fire Koala Surveys and help us learn where koalas have survived the fires in the Blue Mountains region.

We’ve opened up some more places for volunteers on our first round of scat surveys, so there is still an opportunity to sign up!

The data we collect will provide vital information for planning conservation action and koala population recovery. We need to know where the koalas are, so we can allocate resources to protect them.

Register HERE to volunteer for post-fire Koala surveys

Site 1: Hawkesbury/SE Wollemi National Park

Week 1: Tue 6th – Fri 9th Oct 2020 – complete
Week 2:  Wed 14th – Fri 16th Oct 2020.
Week 3:  Tue 20th – Fri 23rd Oct 2020.
Week 4:  Wed 28th – Fri 30rd Oct 2020.
Week 5:  Tue 3rd – Fri 6th Nov 2020.
Week 6:  Tue 10th – Fri 13th Nov 2020.

Some information about the surveys..

The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is 1 million hectares in size, and 80% of it was impacted by fire. Within this region we had identified 5 koala study sites where koalas were known to occur: we are heartbroken that four of those sites have had 75% or more of koala habitats impacted by fire. That’s why we need your help. Mapping where koalas still occur across the mountains after the fires is a critical first step in helping us to understand how the fire impacted their populations. One koala can use anything from 5ha to 300ha of land each year, and they also use trees that are over 45m tall in some areas so they can be extremely hard to see. That’s where scat surveys come in.

Scat surveys are a great way to discover what different species have been up to when no-one was around to observe them. They are particularly effective for finding animals that are only in low densities after the fires. This project involves carrying out koala scat surveys across a range of different burn intensities and habitats, to find out where koalas survived. You’ll also encounter scats from other species along the way and learn about scat identification techniques. You can also pick up some basic eucalypt identification skills as we will identify the tree species that we find koala scats under. Come and learn the art of scatology!

You don’t need to sign up for the whole week – when you register to volunteer it will give you the option to select the days you’re available. However, it takes a while to get your eye in for scat counts, so we’d like all participants to commit to helping for a minimum of 2 days over the whole survey period (they don’t necessarily have to be within the same week). Beyond that, you can come out as often as you’d like! Our schedule will depend on weather, fire risk ratings, and land access, but we will endeavor to go out on the dates listed below.

The data we collect will provide vital information for planning conservation action and koala population recovery. We need to know where the koalas are, so we can allocate resources to protect them. We are also undertaking ecological studies of koalas at some sites, including tracking them to work out where they move and how they use the landscape after fire. This information is then shared with land managers so that we can work together towards koala population recovery. We can’t promise that you’ll see a koala, but you’ll be making a big contribution as the scat surveys will help us to map where koalas have survived after the fires. Seeing the impact of the fires on this beautiful area can be difficult to take, especially in the badly burnt areas, so please consider this when choosing to volunteer. 

Register HERE to volunteer for post-fire Koala surveys

Location and getting there:

Scat surveys will be undertaken in South East Wollemi National Park around Bilpin, Colo Heights and north off Putty Rd, and also on public land in the developed areas around Kurrajong, Grose Vale and Upper Colo. You’ll need your own transport as there is no public transport to the survey sites. All survey sites will be accessible by 2WD vehicle, otherwise we will ferry you in our 4WD from a nearby point.

Once you have selected tickets to register below, you will receive more details on the exact area you’ll be surveying with us, and where to meet, etc. 

What is involved:

First thing in the morning you’ll be given a brief overview of the Blue Mountains Koala Project, then a safety briefing, and then you’ll have a quick practice spotting some koala scats on the ground. Depending on how long the walk to each survey site is, we plan to complete around 4 scat searches per day, possibly more. 

Each scat search will be done inside a quadrat that we will measure out when we get there, using removable flagging tape. Then we will all search the leaf-litter, and see what we can find! We’ll also check what tree species are around, to confirm that the vegetation type on the map matches what is actually on the ground (this is called ground-truthing). Then we will check to see if the burn intensity matches the satellite fire mapping. When we find a koala scat, we will first have an excited celebration, then we mark a GPS point and identify the nearest tree species. In some places koala scats might be rare, but you’ll hopefully find scats from wallabies, wombats, and other native critters. We hope to find lots of signs of life out there.

Requirements:

The survey locations can be remote so you must be competent in bushwalking off-track, i.e. through sometimes thick understorey vegetation, and up and down forested slopes. Some sites will be on ridgelines, others in valleys and along creek lines. A reasonable level of fitness is required as sometimes the slopes are steep. A team leader will take you to each site using a GPS so you don’t need bush navigation skills – unless you’d like to have a try while you’re with us.

FAQs

Are there a minimum age requirement to enter the event?

The surveys involve long days in the field, plus a lot of walking. For that reason the event is not suitable for children. You can use your judgement for older children (over 15) if they have been on long bushwalks with you and enjoy a full day in the bush, but please note that if we are surveying a remote site then it would be difficult to return to the vehicles sooner than planned except in cases of emergency.

What should I bring into the event?

There are no shops nearby so you’ll need to bring a day-pack and carry your own water (a guide is at least 2L per person per day), lunch and snacks, plus sunblock and insect repellent. A personal First Aid kit is also a good idea, your team leader will also have a First Aid kit. Wear hiking boots with ankle support, and long trousers (bring gaiters if you have them), plus a long-sleeved shirt and hat. The bush can be spikey so leggings are not advisable. Gloves are optional but can be handy (pun intended), particularly if you don’t want to directly handle the scats. The weather in the mountains is changeable so bring a waterproof jacket and appropriate layers to stay warm. Please check the weather forecast before you leave. There are no toilets nearby so be prepared to make a bush toilet stop if needed (dig a hole and bury your waste, at least 100m from any waterway).

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Send an email to info@scienceforwildlife.org and include the Post-fire Koala Surveys in the subject line. During the event and during other fieldwork over the next few months we will be out of mobile phone coverage so email is the most reliable method of contacting us. You can also send a text to Victoria, on 0421 778 845 but please note that it will not be received until the end of each day, or possibly the next day. Please note that once you’ve registered via the ticketing process we’ll be sending you some more information by email, including where and when to meet each day.

Project Partners Science for Wildlife is working in partnership with our core supporters San Diego Zoo Global, and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), who are providing support for us to understand post-fire koala distribution in the Blue Mountains region under the NSW Koala Strategy.

Other interesting videos and articles about Koalas..

Watch our Koala Rescue During the Fires https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QliwpX8crg

National Geographic Article – After the Fires https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/07/australia-marsupials-struggling-after-fires/

Streamwatch 30 Year Celebration – Live Stream

In Celebration of Streamwatch and its 30th anniversary of three decades of independent Water Quality Monitoring in Sydney.

The 30th anniversary marks a celebration of the dedication and preservation by all the amazing volunteers, which make Streamwatch possible, keeping it one of the longest running water quality citizen science programs across Sydney.

Grab a cuppa, comfy chair and your computer to join us for this online event.

https://youtu.be/vOZF3lWZpAA

Celebrating Streamwatch 30 year anniversary Courtesy: Streamwatch

Guest speakers:

  • Greg McDonald discusses Streamwatch, Stewardship and Environmental Protection.
  • Dr Ian Wright presents a case study where Streamwatch data was instrumental in putting a spotlight on water pollution.
  • Dr Michelle Ryan talks about the results of her pilot study in urban Sydney, utilizing volunteer citizen scientists with Sue Martin, the Cattai Hills Environmental Network (CHEN), and their surprise findings on the elusive platypus.
  • Christopher Noon, discusses the future direction of Streamwatch from the Convenor Streamwatch Subcommittee, and their project with Kristy Guise, Hornsby Shire Council’s environmental water scientist.

This 30th anniversary marks a celebration of the dedication and preservation by all the amazing volunteers! Which make Streamwatch possible, keeping it one of the longest running water quality citizen science programs across Sydney. Initiated by Sydney Water and the Sydney Catchment Authority. From it’s humble beginnings, Streamwatch started with a trial of 15 schools in 1990. From 1991 to 1994 Streamwatch became a project of the Special Environment Levy Trust.

The Streamwatch program originally had a focus on curriculum implementation in secondary schools, but quickly extended beyond schools into a citizen science program. Similar programs were emerging in other states, the famous Round Table conference in Cobram, Victoria, led to cooperation in developing community water quality monitoring programs. This led to Waterwatch Australia being established as the umbrella coordinating group for developing community water monitoring.

In 2000, Streamwatch was renamed as Waterwatch for all areas outside of Sydney Water’s area of operation. Since it all began, there have been over 1,100 Streamwatch groups who have monitored water quality at over 1,060 sites, and have contributed almost 31,000 data sets to the online database.

These groups have been spread across greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Illawarra and Southern Highlands regions. As of June 2019, the Streamwatch program is in transferring from the Australian Museum to Greater Sydney Landcare Network.

VALE LACHLAN GARLAND

By Karen Hising and Monica Nugent

Lachlan Garland was a passionate, committed and hardworking volunteer and a strong environmental advocate for many years. He was dedicated and determined to defend, conserve and improve natural areas locally and also more broadly.

As a very experienced and highly-skilled bush regenerator, Lachlan’s involvement in Bushcare was his great love working on natural areas on the ground with other wonderful volunteers. He was the Co-ordinator and member of Summerhayes Park and Braeside Bushcare Groups and was also a member of the Valley of the Waters, Everglades, Central Park, Charles Darwin Walk, Coates Park and Marmion Swamp Bushcare/Landcare Groups. He also attended many Bushcare weeding and planting events and some Swampcare work sessions.

Lachlan Garland
Photo: Lachlan Garland Credit: Emma Garland

Lachlan was a founding member and the Co-ordinator of the Jamison Creek Catchment Group, where he worked closely with Council to remediate and improve natural areas in the Catchment.

Lachlan was also a long-term member of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society and he held various roles on the Management Committee, including President. He represented the National Parks Association on the National Parks Blue Mountains Regional Advisory Committee for several years. Lachlan was also a member of the Blue Mountains Bird Observers and was the first ever Conservation Officer.

He was a tireless environmental campaigner locally and beyond. Opposing the raising of the Warragamba Dam Wall was one issue which he worked on from the very beginning, decades ago. He spent many hours writing submissions and contributing feedback to various proposals.

Lachlan was a member of a number of environmental groups and he would often attend workshops and presentations on a range of topics to learn and keep up-to-date. Likewise, Lachlan was an avid reader, particularly of various environmental publications and newsletters.

He was also an active firefighter with the Valley Heights RFS Brigade for ten years, where he participated in ongoing training, maintenance of equipment and fundraising. He made many friends there and he very much valued the experience and training he gained from there.

Lachlan received Council’s Bushcare Legend Award in 2019, and he was awarded the Seniors Week Recognition Award in 2020 in honour of his environmental and community work.

Lachlan was highly organised and meticulous.  He could be blunt and forthright, but you always knew where he stood.  He was reliable and he would attend environmental meetings and rallies, again and again. He was willing to stand up for nature and not just enjoy its beauty. Lachlan was a friend to many people in the community. He provided wise leadership and he was a mentor.

Lachlan leaves an environmental legacy that will long be remembered and endure. He was highly respected by many for his commitment to the environment, and for this he will be greatly missed.