The Blue Mountains Bushcare Network proudly to presented their third Bushcare Network Conference on Saturday July 29. This year theme is Citizen Science so a Bioblitz seemed appropriate! The day focused on our beautiful and unique lower mountains vegetation communities. We were fortunate to be able to spend the day with experts to learn how to be “ears and eyes” on the ground. The data we collected will go into data bases for a wider audience.
Concurrent sessions occupied the morning. They included field-based citizen science activities at various locations around Springwood and two presentations at the Hub:
- Hollows as Homes – Adrian Davis University of Sydney
- Bushcare website update/setup – Hugh Todd
- Aquatic Wildlife – Jenny Hill & Fitzgeralds Creek Streamwatch Group Rosenthal Lane, Sun Valley
- Birds of the Deanei – Carol Probets & Graham Turner, Deanei Forest Reserve, Springwood
- Monitoring the Fauna of Fitzgeralds Creek Catchment – Peter & Judy Smith, Valley Heights Creek, Sun Valley
- Plants of Fairy Dell Reserve, Springwood Susan Jalaluddin & Helen Yoxall
We all reconvened at the Blue Mountains Theatre and Community Hub in Springwood for lunch, informative and inspiring presentations from Margaret Baker and Jenny Hill, and hands on workshops including what to do with the data we collect.
The Hub presentations included:
Birds of Endangered Forests of the Lower Blue Mountains – Margaret Baker
Margaret’s talk introduced the endangered eucalypt forests (Threatened Ecological Communities) that are found on clay soils of the Lower Blue Mountains from Springwood to Hawkesbury Heights and to Lapstone. She described each of the communities, identified the main trees and talked about some of the rare plants, but the focus was the diversity of birds to be found in each of the forest types, especially birds that are listed under NSW legislation as Threatened.
“Citizen Science in Action – what to do with your data” – Jenny Hill
Citizen science has emerged as a distinct field over the last 20 years and is now enjoying a boom. What are some successes? What are the factors critical to its success and what role does Bushcare, Landcare and Swampcare play in this success? How could citizen science grow to be part of the bigger story about restoration and protection in the Blue Mountains? This is brief overview of citizen science is an introduction to group presentations.
In her community volunteer role Jenny Hill is Coordinator with the Leura Falls Creek catchment working group, Bushcarer and Streamwatcher. Jenny has been involved in environmental education and learning for over 35 years and is currently Environmental Educator for Blue Mountains City Council. In this role she conducts citizen science and connects with nature programs across the mountains with schools and community groups. Jenny’s on-ground experience enriched her presentation and provided the bigger picture of citizen science in many different contexts.
Introduction to Biodiversity Atlases on the Internet – Margaret Baker
This talk provided an introduction to the biodiversity atlases that are available on the Internet. It focused on the Atlas of Living Australia – where to find it, how to use it to determine biodiversity in a selected area and how to record data as an individual or as a Citizen Science group. It showed how the kind of data collected in the field sessions of today’s conference can be readily entered into the global exchange of biodiversity information. The world-wide and unrestricted access to such information can however be problematic and so some issues related to atlas and database use was also be discussed.