Author Archives: Bushcare Office

Temporary suspension of all Bushcare monthly groups and events

Council’s priority is always the health and wellbeing of our staff, volunteers and community.

Due to Coronavirus COVID-19, Council has decided to place a temporary suspension on the Bushcare program. This will mean that no Bushcare groups, individual activity or events will take place. This is effective immediately (18 March 2020), until further notice.

Council will continue to take advice from the State and Federal health departments, which will inform our organisational position and response to this unprecedented risk.

Ongoing reviews will take place during this temporary suspension period and further advice will be provided as it comes to hand. Council thanks you for your continuing support of the Bushcare program.

Seed collection workshop

By Tracy Abbas

In early December 2019, Blue Mountains Bushcare delivered the second and eagerly-anticipated Seed Collection Workshop held in Blaxland Library and Community Centre. Tracy Abbas, Council’s Bushcare Officer, organised this exciting event with seed expert Richard Johnstone. Richard was a former seed collector at Mount Annan Botanic Gardens but now plays another important role; as a volunteer with Wildplant Rescue Nursery.

Richard generously shared his immense experience and knowledge, providing attendees with a solid foundation in the principles, procedures and protocols for collection and storage of local native seed.

This Workshop was set at intermediate level, designed to strengthen the knowledge and existing skills base. It was attended by volunteers from Bush Backyards and Bushcare Groups, as well as volunteers from the Blue Mountains Conservation Society and Wildplant Rescue Nurseries.

The Workshop format was designed around both theoretical and practical sessions. The day began in the classroom viewing a powerpoint presentation showing the overview of the day’s events, and covered regulations and legislation when collecting seeds on Council Land. For the second session, the group wandered around the field looking for examples of seeds, flowers and fruits. Richard then showed everyone how to assess seed ripening stages and when was the most appropriate time to collect seeds.

Finally, it was back to the classroom for a discussion, participating in some cleaning of previously collected seeds and reviewing various methods of propagation of a number of different species.

The Workshop was a great success and we plan to conduct another session early in 2020 with the theme of propagation.

Environmental Citizen Award

Congratulations to Margaret Baker for winning the inaugural Environmental Citizen of the Year Award by the Blue Mountains City Council. Margaret has been a tireless, committed and passionate advocate for protecting the Blue Mountains environment for over four decades. Giving her time as both a professional and a volunteer, Margaret has shown outstanding commitment to, and excellence in, education, life-long learning and the promotion of the natural environment.

Margaret has contributed to environmental education and advocacy over many years which has made an invaluable contributuion to the Blue Mountains community.

To read the full award go to https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/media-centre/bluemountains-citizens-celebrated-at-australia-day-awards

Margaret considers that her greatest contribution as an environmental citizen has been the education of many students in the TAFE system over a number of generations and courses.

When Margaret began at TAFE in late 1983, she was present at the launch of the Advanced Certificate in Outdoor Guiding and moved on to teach and manage Bush Regeneration, the Diploma in Natural Resource Management and Certificates in Conservation and Land Management. In just ten years employment in environmental areas in the Blue Mountains went from almost none to a new industry sector. Staff involved in training increased from legendary co-ordinator Jim Smith, with Margaret as a part-time staffer working out of a shoebox office, to a whole Environmental Studies Unit, with Margaret as its first Head Teacher.

Margaret said she “would want her Award to be dedicated to the many enthusiastic and visionary students who enriched her days and moved on to become paid and volunteer members of a now burgeoning environmental industry in the region and beyond.”

Bushcare Officer Monica Nugent, previous student and a participant in many of Margaret’s courses and field trips over the years reiterated these sentiments, stating “The legacy of Margaret’s meticulous, high standard of teaching and intellectual rigour is a generation of professional bush regenerators and Bushcare volunteers with the highest level plant identification skills, a deep understanding of the Blue Mountains landscape and appreciation for its value. By capably and willingly sharing her expert knowledge of the geology, botany, natural and human history of the Blue Mountains, Margaret has instilled a great joy for the flora and fauna and an enduring passion to care for it.”

Council Seniors’ Week Awards

Two long-term enthusiastic volunteers recently received Seniors’ Week Recognition Awards.

Michael Purtell

Mike is a founding and ongoing member of the Else-Mitchell Park (1993) and the Deanei Forest (1994) Bushcare Groups and in the past, the St Columba’s Catholic College Landcare Group. He is a long-term advocate for a range of environmental and conservation issues, as an individual and with the Blue Mountains Conservation Society.

Mike is a long-term and founding member (1996) and Co-Ordinator since 2011 of the Gang-Gang Bush Band, voluntarily providing music for family gatherings, local events, groups and communities. He also provided music for many years to his local church and is involved in local Blue Mountains bands and orchestras.

He is organising a bushdance to raise funds for the RFS/BMCC Mayoral BMR Fund for local people affected by the bushfires. Mike is enthusiastic, kind, caring and always willing to help.

Lachlan Garland

Lachlan is a long-term volunteer in a number of Council/NPWS Bushcare Groups; Coates Park, Charles Darwin Walk, Central Park, Everglades, Braseside and Valley of the Waters. He was the Co-Ordinator/member of the Summerhayes Park Bushcare Group. Over the years, he has also regularly attended many Swampcare work sessions and other Council/NPWS Bushcare Events.

Lachlan is the Co-Ordinator of the Jamison Creek Catchment Group. He is a committed long-term member of the Bushcare Network. Lachlan was a member of the NPWS Regional Advisory Committee for NPWS Association for several years. He was president of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, for 2.5 years, as well as Membership Secretary for a number of years and, most recently, National Parks Officer.

He is also involved with the Land-Use Sub-Committee. Lachlan is passionate about the environment and has, for many years been involved in a range of environmental initiatives and general advocacy; as an individual and with other groups within the Blue Mountains and beyond.Lachlan is a long-term volunteer in a number of Council/NPWS Bushcare Groups; Coates Park, Charles Darwin Walk, Central Park, Everglades, Braseside and Valley of the Waters. He was the Co-Ordinator/member of the Summerhayes Park Bushcare Group.

All creatures great and small recorded in the Blue Mountains Fauna Project Inventory

A research and citizen science project that catalogued fauna species within the Blue Mountains, has now been published online.

The Blue Mountains Fauna Project Inventory was celebrated on 26 February, at a launch event that included informative talks by Anne Carey of Applied Ecology and Alex Callen from the University of Newcastle.

Over 16 months data was collected from publicly available records, from special interest groups such as WIRES and the Australian Herpetological Society, as well as from Blue Mountains residents for the project.

Blue Mountains Fauna Inventory is now online (see details below).

For this inaugural version, the project collated over 300,000 fauna records from the community and fauna databases to create the first inventory of fauna in the Blue Mountains LGA.

Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill said: “This inventory demonstrates the incredible array of animals we share our home with, and reflects what a privilege it is to live in a city within a World Heritage Area. People come from all over the world to experience our wilderness, our animals and our precious biodiversity.”

Residents were asked to record animal sightings through an interactive map on Council’s Have Your Say website. There, community members were invited to drop pins on the map with details of fauna sighted. Photos and video could also be uploaded, if the resident had filmed the animal. Community members also contributed via the project’s Facebook page. If this all sounds very contemporary, Researchers compiling the inventory also researched historical records including the writings of early European explorers. 

The Inventory has revealed a spectacular menagerie of furred, feathered and scaled friends we share our Mountains home with. More than 450 different species, including 51 threatened species, were recorded within the Blue Mountains local government area. Notable resident sightings include the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater spotted in a Springwood backyard and a micro bat found in leaf litter by someone cleaning out their gutters.

One of the 453 pages in the Fauna Inventory showing the Spotted-tail Quoll – includes description on habitat, feeding, breeding; a map showing locailty in the blue Mountains, record sightings and status.

This inventory is an extremely useful resource both now and into the future, as it gives us a benchmark to measure whether we are succeeding in supporting our biodiversity or failing our wildlife.

After the prolonged drought, unprecedented bush fires and flooding natural disaster this Inventory reminds us of both how vibrant, and how fragile our local environment is, and what is at stake if we fail to protect it and these animals.

Anne Carey from Applied Ecology, who produced the Blue Mountains Fauna Project Inventory Report, presented an engaging talk on the species listed in the Inventory and where in the Blue Mountains you are likely to find them. Alex Callan, of Newcastle University, talked about a frog conservation citizen science project and encouraged all present to help fight the decline of Blue Mountains frog species.

“The word has got around”. Costa Georgiadis was filming Gardening Australia at the The Gully where he endorsed the Blue Mountains Fauna Inventory Photo: Sandy Benson

The Blue Mountains Fauna Project is a joint partnership between the Blue Mountains Bushcare Network and Blue Mountains City Council, with grant funding from the Greater Sydney Local Land Services. Thanks to the efforts from the Bushcare team for running the fauna project program, in particular Tanya Mein for setting the project up – conducting the fauna surveys over the mountains.

The fauna inventory enables us to learn more about what wildlife is in our local bushland and how you can help both as a conservation volunteer and an landholder. If you would like to know how to help our wildlife then contact Bushcare. https://www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au/join-bushcare/

You can download the Blue Mountains Fauna Project Inventory on Council’s Native Animals webpage. on https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/bushland-management/native-animals

Turtle Island launch at Glenbrook Lagoon

A floating, eco habitat designed to provide a safe nesting place for turtles at Glenbrook Lagoon was launched on 10 March.

Turtle Island – a collaboration between Council, Western Sydney University and Blue Mountains volunteers – was a pilot project funded by the NSW Premiers Office and Council.

“This pilot project has already seen much success, with turtle eggs discovered recently,” Mayor Mark Greenhill said.

“Glenbrook Lagoon is home to a number of turtle species, including Eastern Long-neck and Sydney Basin turtles. Turtles have been facing an uncertain future, as foxes destroy 95 per cent of their nests, but the island is providing a refuge.”

Leading expert in turtles Western Sydney University’s Dr Ricky Spencer, whom inspired Geoffrey Smith (Healthy Waterways Program Leader) and Nathan Summers (Bushcare Officer) to design and construct this project, attended the launch along with Council staff, Bushcare volunteers and school students from St Finbar’s Primary School and Glenbrook Primary School.

Turtle expert Dr Ricky Spencer (UWS) and Geoffrey Smith (Council’s Healthy Waterways Team) sharing interesting turtle facts with students from Glenbrook Primary School and St Finbars Primary. Photo: Council

Local primary students have been involved in environmental studies at Glenbrook Lagoon, including Council Bioblitz events, and Turtle studies.

Emma Kennedy (Council’s Environmental Education Officer) instructing primary school children how to prepare the Carex plants for transplanting onto the island.

Glenbrook Lagoon is a haven for remnant bushland, it’s an active Bushcare site and a valued recreation point for the community.

The well-being of the Lagoon has always been important to the community. The Glenbrook Lagoon Society started in 1978 and Bushcare volunteers began working here around 1993, making it one of the earliest community driven Bushcare groups in the Blue Mountains.

Nathan Summers – Bushcare Officer (second from the right) with the volunteers from Glenbrook Lagoon Bushcare Group and Kodala Lane. Photo: Council

Council has an ongoing commitment to restore the ecological condition of Glenbrook Lagoon and the lagoon is now free from major infestations of water weeds such as Salvinia and Cabomba which plagued it for many years.

Turtles play an important role in the ecosystem at the lagoon, acting like vacuum cleaners of the water body.

“The Lagoon is rich with wildlife – native fish, eels, frogs and a remarkable array of birdlife,” Mayor Greenhill said.

Turtle Warriors – Sandy Benson (Bushcare Team Leader), Mayor Cr Mark Greenhill and Nathan Summers (Bushcare Officer) doing their part to provide turtle refuges away from fox predation Photo: Council

Water quality in the lagoon is closely monitored by Council and officers have put incredible effort into addressing all sources of pollution within the catchment.

Turtle habitats, a predesigned structure that includes plastic tubing, aquatic plants, sands and geotextile, are being installed at locations throughout NSW.

Finally, the Council’s Bushcare and Natural Area Operations Teams taking the island habitat to it’s permanent location in Glenbrook Lagoon – providing the turtles a refuge away from fox predation. Photo: Council

VEIW turtle expert Dr Ricky Spencer talking about the Turtle Island Habitat on Blue Mountains City Council Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bluemountainscitycouncil/videos/vb.175066762601689/2734772646614369/?type=2&theater

Recovering Our Backyard: Mini-Expo February 29

An event organised by Blue Mountains Recovery Wellbeing Committee, Blue ARC, and Resilience & Preparedness Group.

Many residents of the Blue Mountains region are concerned about the impacts of the bushfires on our natural environment and National Park and people need to feel that they can be involved in recovery efforts in a meaningful way.

On Saturday 29 February, Blackheath – a mini-expo is being run in the afternoon to help guide residents on how they can assist the regeneration of our natural environment.

The afternoon will include talks from wildlife experts and a Council representative, there will be tables set up with representatives from local groups and organisations providing information, and opportunities to volunteer.

Date and Time: Saturday, February 29, 2020, 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Location: Phillips Hall, Blackheath Community Centre – Gardiner Crescent, Blackheath, NSW

To register click on this link below

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/recovering-our-backyard-tickets-94508644901?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=esfb&utm-source=fb&utm-term=listing&fbclid=IwAR035-kBGPiWw2BNtWXjJOSEP3XuO34GbMOA96yYraI2pDeMaaGunY3buU8

Post Fire Fungi

Article by Liz Kabanoff – Fungi… Bushcare volunteer

As a result of fire, soils become more alkaline and the heat of the fire sterilises the soil, allowing a suite of fungi to emerge. These fungi have important roles in the landscape, including erosion prevention, forming mycorrhizal relationships with plants, food for animals and invertebrates and the breakdown and recycling of nutrients from wood and other dead plant material. Below are a few of the fire-loving fungi that were found recently at Blackheath.

Pyronema omphalodes: Pyronema is one of the first genera of fungi to colonise soil after bushfires and tends to be found in areas where the fires burned hottest. Large mats of this fungus with visible mycelium form on burnt soil (and other sterilised sites such as burnt bark) and help prevent erosion. Top photo, Blackheath, Feb 2020. Bottom photo, Fairy Dell Springwood, post-2018 hazard reduction burn, showing a network of mycelium over the soil.

Nothocastoreum cretaceum is a truffle-like fungus that is found partially buried in soil and resembles small stones. When mature the fruitbodies spilt open to release their spores. Mature fungi are approximately 25mm diameter. Blackheath, Feb 2020.

Anthracobia muelleri is a tiny disc fungus. Each disc is only a few mm in diameter. The edges are adorned with small hairs. Colonies of Anthracobia appear on burnt ground after bushfires and can also be found on the site of old campfires. Blackheath, Feb 2020.

Cortinarius sublargus can grow to around 20cm in diameter across the cap. The stipe (stem) is mostly buried in the soil, sometimes to a depth of 20cm. Cortinarius is one of the largest genera of fungi worldwide. Species in this genus form mycorrhizal relationships with trees. Large clumps of this species were found at Blackheath in Feb 2020, a few weeks after the bushfire.

Watching for weeds after bush fires

Taking care of your bushland after a fire

Bush fires create conditions that favour the establishment of weeds, which can prevent native plants and desirable garden plants from re-establishing and thriving.

After a bush fire, it’s important to manage weed growth in bushland on your property. Council can provide technical advice and support to help you manage weeds on your property, during the clean-up and rebuilding process. Contact our Community Conservation Officer, Linda Thomas on 4780 5612 or at lthomas@bmcc.nsw.gov.au for more information.

More information about weeds in your area is available online: weedsbluemountains.org.au

Why is controlling weeds important?

Weeds spread easily and have a negative impact on native plants and wildlife. It’s important to control them as soon as possible, to prevent them from spreading to neighbouring properties and native bushland.

While many native plant species and desirable garden plants survive bush fires, their ability to re-establish, thrive, and reseed is reduced by the presence of weeds that aggressively compete for water, light, and soil nutrients.

The cleared post-bush fire landscape is also an opportunity to control weeds while they are visible and before they start to spread.

It is very important to remember to leave burnt areas alone for the first 3-6 months to allow the soil  to recover and seedlings to establish. At the early stages any vegetation cover, including weeds , is protecting soil from erosion and protecting native seedlings. After that we need to assess areas for weed control and timing to target ecosystem transformers before seed set, but limiting trampling as much as possible while bushland is still fragile. Over enthusiastic weed control can also cause damage post fire.

Scotch broom invading recently burnt bushland
Weeds such as Scotch Broom will quickly spread into burnt areas if not controlled. Photo: Council

Native Plants

Native vegetation may take several years to recover after bush fire and will change in composition over time.

Australian native plants are adapted to recover after bush fire but it can take some time before your local bushland looks like the healthy vegetation community it was before the fire.

Within weeks of a fire some trees and grasses will start to resprout. Over the next few years most of the original shrubs and trees will regrow from existing rootstock or from seeds stored in the soil.

For at least the first few months post-fire it is best to just observe the recovery process and allow the bushland to regenerate itself.

In some situations, where natural regeneration is not progressing well, the planting of native vegetation or direct seeding may be required to stabilise soils and assist with the natural process of regeneration. If you are planting in recovering bushland, you should only use native plants grown locally, and use locally collected seeds to maintain the integrity of the bushland.

Find this Fact Sheet on Council’s website https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/documents/watching-for-weeds-and-taking-care-of-your-bushland-after-a-fire

Other Interesting Articles https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2020/01/to-help-the-bushfire-recovery-pull-out-weeds/

Council’s Seniors Festival Program

NSW Seniors Festival (formerly Seniors Week) is the largest festival for seniors in the Southern Hemisphere. To acknowledge the remarkable contributions our local seniors make to our Blue Mountains community, a program of events for the month of February has been put together. The theme for 2020 focuses on ‘Love To Celebrate’.

The Seniors Festival Program for 2020 offers a range of activities from 3 February to 19 March.

Loads of activities are on offer among the vast program including health and exercise activites, bushwalking, art, music, puzzles and games, senior driving workshops, talks on various plants and animals or gatherings where perhaps you encourage a friend to come along.

Where to find the Seniors Festival Program