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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.

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.

COVID-19 snapshot – Popes Glen Bushcare

How are you and your Bushcare groups going over the COVID-19 period? Send any interesting articles or photos to bushcare@bmcc.nsw.gov.au.

Popes Glen Bushcare volunteer, Alan Lane acknowledges how all Bushcare Officers and Bushcare groups are working hard to stay safe and complying with the COVID-19 restrictions. However, Alan noted their Popes Glen Bushcare group “are finding the most difficult time to comply is morning tea, as I’m sure all groups are finding – it’s normally such a social and sociable time!”

Here’s a photo of the Popes Glen Bushcare Group complying with social distancing at morning tea at our July work day. (Liz and Gary in the background are allowed to stand that close together – they are married!).

Pope Glen Bushcare group enjoying morning tea COVID style. Credit: Alan Lane

AABR – Post-fire bush regeneration resources

First Aid for Burned Bushland

AABR is progressively providing online material to assist landholders undertake ecological weed management after the extensive wildfires of spring-summer 2019-20. If you are a land manager or willing volunteer, please check out our resources below and learn what you can do to help recovering natives that are experiencing competition from regenerating weed!

First Aid for Burned Bushland (FABB) is the place the see the resources AABR is developing to provide guidance for assisting in the recovery of our bushland after the fires last spring and summer. Click the link below to see more…

Boost for Bushcare – Fairy Bower Bushcare

By Sandy Benson

BMCC, Sydney Trains and John Holland engineering contractors have worked with the community on a major restoration project. The project focussed on revegetation and restoration of Fairy Bower Reserve, Mount Victoria, and was funded by Sydney Trains as a Biodiversity Offset during the Mount Victoria Area Remodelling (MVAR) Project.

The primary goal was to increase biodiversity and habitat values at the site through planting of native species, improved access to the reserve and vehicle management, improvements to site drainage and tree and shrub weed control.

Central to this project was the involvement of the Fairy Bower Bushcare Group, who planted over 200 plants in the reserve to protect, restore and enhance the environment.

Fairy Bower Bushcare Group elated after a successful day of planting along side the railway reserve Photos: Sandy Benson
Bushcare volunteer Lyne Wake, planting Blechnum ferns and tea trees
Gemma Williams – every plant counts towards imporving biodiversity and habitat values.

MVAR Project Manager, David Hugo said, “The Biodiversity Offset Scheme is a great initiative and in this case, the MVAR Project is proud that we are able to leave behind a small legacy for the people and visitors to Fairy Bower, Mount Victoria to enjoy after we have gone”.

Sydney Trains’ effort was appreciated by Council’s Bushcare Team Leader, Sandy Benson. “We again would like to extend our thanks for your support and willingness to collaborate with Council and our local community to provide for such a high-quality outcome,” she said.

Purple Copper Butterfly – Saving Our Species

Saving our Species are asking land managers to report any sightings of this rare species from private property.

One of Australia’s rarest butterfly species, the Purple Copper Butterfly, is only found in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales. Its habitat is restricted to elevations above 900 metres.

The purple copper butterfly feeds only on a subspecies of blackthorn (Bursaria spinosa subspecies lasiophylla). It relies on a ‘mutualistic’ relationship with the ant Anonychomyrma itinerans, and the presence of blackthorn.

Community involvement is one of the key priorities in the purple copper butterfly conservation effort. Land managers of the butterfly’s habitat are being asked to help protect the butterfly through the upkeep of Bursaria often found in open eucalypt woodland on private property.

Saving our Species are also asking land managers to report any sightings of this species from private property. Reporting sightings will help to fill significant information gaps in the areas of population dynamics, habitat requirements, fire ecology and the nature of the relationship with the attendant ant. Learning more about this threatened species will help inform its recovery effort.

The purple copper butterfly is a small butterfly with a wingspan of about 2 centimetres. It can be identified by its collage of colours – bronze, green, blue, deep brown and of course purple undertones.

Butterflies are not only a beautiful insect but play several roles in the environment. They act as a pollinator; as a food source for other species; and are an important indicator of a healthy ecosystem.

To contact Saving our Species with any information or queries about the purple copper butterfly, please email savingourspecies@environment.nsw.gov.au.

Saving Our Species www.environment.nsw.gov.au/news/purple-copper-butterfly

To find out more visit Purple copper butterfly.

Celebrating 20th Anniversary World Heritage Blue Mountains

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Greater Blue Mountains region being granted World Heritage status by the United Nations. 

Blue Mountains City Council will mark this important milestone by celebrating the unique privilege of managing a City within a World Heritage Area.

From July to December 2020, Council will showcase how we help preserve an area of such special significance, including recognition of Traditional Ownership, protection of the environment and threatened species, water resource management and strategic planning.

Read more…..https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/WHA

AUGUST focuses on “Our Water Sensitive City”

Blue Mountains waterways are some of the most beautiful, iconic and highly valued in Australia. They sustain a unique diversity of animals and plants, hold great cultural significance to Traditional Owners, and provide huge opportunities for recreation and eco-tourism.

Our waterways also supply drinking water to over five million people, including residents of the Blue Mountains local government area.

Read more..https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/WHA/Water

SEPTEMBER will promote “Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity”

View information on Bushcare, Threatened Species and Weed Management. More information to come…..

Bushcare volunteers weeding at Carrington Park, Katoomba above the Great Blue Mountains World Heritage area Photo: Council

Revised Priority Weeds Information Booklet – 2020

PRIORITY WEEDS in the City of Blue Mountains, are plants that have the potential to pose a biosecurity risk to human health, the economy, the livability of our city and the environment. In NSW, the administration of priority weed control is a State Government responsibility under the Biosecurity Act 2015. The Act is implemented and enforced by the Local Control Authority (LCA) – Blue Mountains City Council

The new Priority Weeds Information Booklet – 2020 edition can be found on the Council’s Weed Management website https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/weeds or by clicking https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/documents/priority-weeds-information-booklet

The revised version provides some great improvements including images of all species targeted by Council on private lands for identification. This includes an easy to use colour-coded guide showing the various control measure/s for each State, Regional and Local Priority weed, which coincides with the herbicide guide at the back of the booklet. There is also an easy to read flowchart of Council’s inspection process for you to better understand how it works. A truly valuable resource for the backyard gardener treating an odd weed here or there, volunteers working on their Bushcare sites or to the professional bush regenerator contractor alike.

Major milestone: iNaturalist Australia hits 1 million

iNaturalist Australia is excited to say they hit 1 million observations in mid-April only six months after its launch. A grand effort thanks to all the keen Australian citizen scientists for uploading observations and the expert identifiers for verifying sightings.

iNaturalist Australia is proving to be a popular platform for insect and plant observations. From the recent City Nature Challenge results we can see that 28% of observations were insects and 42% plants.

The global iNaturalist network is one of the most successful citizen science platforms in the world, with instances in 10 different countries. The iNaturalist Australia community is very active with over 18,000 observers and over 8,000 identifiers

New look for iNaturalist Australia

The global iNaturalist brand has recently had a refresh and iNaturalist Australia has joined in too. The iNaturalist Australia logo now looks like this – so keep an eye out for bright green bird!

iNaturalist and the ALA

Collaborating with iNaturalist is a wonderful opportunity for the Atlas of Living Australia and our users. It provides an easy-to-use desktop and mobile platform, support for species identification, and tools for assessing data quality. All iNaturalist Australia data is regularly fed into the ALA.

Human observation data – individual sightings of species – are a valuable part of the ALA. This data helps to create a more detailed picture of our national biodiversity, and assists scientists and decision makers to deliver better outcomes for the environment and our species. iNaturalist Australia’s species identification features and data quality measures ensure individual sightings are more valuable than ever.