Category Archives: Bushcare

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

Post Fire Weeds

Article by Sandy Benson

Swamp recovery post fire Photos: Sandy Benson

Many weed species in the Blue Mountains are ‘fire-responsive’. Post-fire conditions make it easy for weeds to establish due to favourable conditions, they germinate prolifically and can spread vigorously within the first few seasons.

Weed species gradually establish long-term soil seed banks that are triggered to germinate en masse by fire. In the absence of targeted weed control, weed species rapidly spread and can form a dense ‘carpet’, outcompeting native species.

However, this can be to your advantage. It’s a great time to treat weed infestations as they are more accessible than ever before. Usually they are the first to emerge, easy to spot but also easy to access. If you control emergent weeds before they set seed, you’ll be able to get on top of these weedy patches much more quickly. Timely post-fire management action (usually within 18 months) is necessary for control.

Opportunities

Improved access post-fire provides an excellent opportunity to control weeds that are not usually easily accessible. This certainly applies to dense riparian vegetation and our
Blue Mountains Swamp communities, where the dense vegetation impedes access to established weeds, or wherever the foliage of established weeds is beyond the reach of
physical or chemical methods. Unless burnt, weeds in these locations usually escape control efforts. Post-fire, the sparse vegetation allows the foliage of resprouting taller weed species to be easily located and within range of control.

Weed Species proliferation post fire

There are several ways weed species can proliferate after fire:

  • Weed seed bank explosion in usually unaffected areas
  • Kill or reduce the number of established mature plants but post-fire conditions are ideal for the seed bank to explode
  • Resprout from base of mature plants
  • Burn or char the weed species, then plant sends up numerous suckers

Each of these reproductive pathways requires a different weed management strategy

Weed seed bank explosion in usually unaffected areas

Weed seeds can remain dormant in the soil for many years.The fruits of weeds are attractive to a wide range of animals that can spread seeds such as foxes, rabbits and bird species. Seeds can also be spread by dispersal from the parent plant or by wind or water. This may increase the number of weeds present at a site in the short term. But over time and with weed treatment it can deplete the weed soil seed bank, and be replaced by native species and a healthier natural state in the long term.

Likely pathways of weed seedlings germinating in areas previously clear of weed species are post-fire flooding, wind and bird distributed seeds from neighbouring unburnt areas. Post-fire these seedlings once mature, set seed and are likely
to spread dramatically.

An opportunity exists where, a weed seed bank explosion can lead to a weed seed bank depletion. Fire can result in one-off increases in weed densities, which after subsequent
fires rapidly decline if weed treatment is quick and consistent. If weed seedlings are not controlled, they will outcompete native seedlings, exhausting the native soil seedbank.

Consistent follow-up seedling control is necessary in areas of low fire intensity, near water sources, and where seeds have dispersed into the burnt area from unburnt sections of the population. This can happen particularly in the Blue Mountains
where seed from unburnt areas can carry down a slope and be deposited on burnt ground. The removal of these seedlings before they mature and set seed is a high priority.

Weeds commonly displaying this type of fire response in the Blue Mountains include:

• Gorse Ulex europaeus
• Cape Broom Genista monspessulana
• Scotch/English Broom Cytisus scoparius
• Perennial grass Ehrharta calycina
• African Lovegrass Eragrostis curvula
• Coolatai Grass Hyparrhenia hirta
• Patersons Curse Echium plantagineum
• Cotoneaster Cotoneaster spp. (franchetii, pannosus, lacteus, glaucophyllus, horizontalis)

Blackberry resprouting from the base of mature Blackberry post fire Photo: Sandy Benson

Kill mature plants/seed bank explosion

Depending on fire intensity and thickness of the weed species trunk or stem, fire can kill adult plants with little or no re sprouting post-fire. However, weed seeds are long lived, remain in the soil and can be triggered to germinate by fire. Many of the Blue Mountains most invasive and pervasive woody weeds fall into this group.

Trees and shrubs – some trees and shrubs are killed by fire and do not sucker or resprout post-fire, these plants rely solely on seed to regenerate. Many germinate straight after fires. The removal of seedlings and juveniles before they mature and set seed is a high priority.

Trees commonly displaying this type of fire response in the Blue Mountains include:

• Radiata Pine Pinus radiata
• Cherry Laurel Prunus laurocerasus
• Holly Ilex aquifolium
• African Olive Olea europaea ssp. cuspidata

Woody Weeds – A hot fire will kill mature wood weeds but encourage mass germination of seeds, occurring in denser, more vigorous patches. Once these become established,
they quickly produce large amounts of seed. Mass germination can reduce the weed soil seed bank over time, but only through sufficient follow-up weed treatments
over many years, otherwise a denser infestation is likely to result.

Post-fire look for:

• Cape Broom Genista monspessulana
• Scotch/English Broom Cytisus scoparius
• Gorse Ulex europaeus
• Lantana Lantana spp.
• Cotoneaster Cotoneaster spp. (franchetii, pannosus, lacteus, glaucophyllus, horizontalis)

Climber, scrambler or creeper – Usually fire kills adult climbers, scramblers and creepers, but triggers germination in the soil weed seed bank. These seeds dependent on the species can return in denser infestations, particularly with climbers that produce many seeds in their fleshy fruits. These seeds are usually favoured by birds so may be found close to the parent plant or in a new location.

In the Blue Mountains look for:

• Balloon Vine Cardiospermum grandiflorum
• Banana passionfruit Passiflora mollissima

Resprout from base of mature plants

Some weeds resprout from the base of burnt mature plants from regenerative buds protected underground or beneath layers of bark. There is a short-term decrease and
reduction in biomass and/or densities as mature plants are temporarily ‘weakened’ post fire. There is an opportunity to achieve better results if prompt weed treatment is
undertaken on fire weakened weeds.

Trees and shrubs – Weed trees may resprout post-fire, but not for all species.
• African Olive Olea europaea ssp. Cuspidate
• Lantana Lantana spp.

Woody Weeds – Gorse evolved as a fire-climax plant, readily catching fire and burning to ground level but regenerating from the base after the fire. In the Blue Mountains look for:
• Gorse Ulex europaeus

Climber, scrambler or creeper – When burnt these species may receive a boost post-fire with vigorous resprouting and/or seedling regeneration into fertile, sunny sites.
Response is strongly dependent on fire severity.

Fire generally kills Blackberry’s seasonal canes but the root crown usually survives and regrowth can be quite vigorous after fire. Post-fire environments provide a unique opportunity for control as all foliage is accessible.

Climbing, scrambling and creeper weeds commonly displaying this type of fire response in the Blue Mountains include:

• Blackberry Rubus fruticosus spp
• Balloon Vine Cardiospermum grandiflorum
• Cats Claw Creeper Dolichandra unguis-cati syn. Macfadyena unguis-cati
• Japanese Honeysuckle Lonicera japonica

Bulbs, corms, tubers or rhizomes – Weeds species with a bulb, corm, rhizome or tuber are unlikely to be burnt by fire as the corms or tubers are protected from the heat by being located underground. Many species resprout vigorously post-fire and can invade
bare ground.

The removal of corms or tubers is a high priority. Those with long strappy leaves can be treated by wiping (wiping herbicide along the strappy leaves with a herbicide wiper).

Weeds commonly displaying this type of fire response in the Blue Mountains include:

Montbretia Montbretia Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora
• Watsonia Watsonia meriana var. bulbillifera
• Turkey Rhubarb Acetosa sagittata
• Morning-glory Ipomaea purpurea
• Madeira Vine Anredera cordifolia

Suckering

Weed species can sucker post-fire, meaning its principal means of propagation is suckering from the roots vegetatively. Trees under stress post-fire can send up numerous suckers as a defensive mechanism. This can lead to dense stands forming and a monoculture of the same species, excluding all native species from that site.

Weeds commonly displaying this fire response include suckering trees, suckering woody weeds and brambles.

Trees and shrubs – Mature Camphor Laurel trees have been documented suckering profusely after being burnt.

Weed management should be undertaken by killing the parent tree and suckering plants by treating each with herbicide. Weed trees commonly displaying this type
of fire response in the Blue Mountains are:

• Tree of Heaven Ailanthus altissima
• Weeping Willow Salix babylonica
• Small and large leaf Privet Ligustrum spp.
• Sycamore Platanus orientalis
• Camphor laurel Cinnamomum camphora
• Black Locust/Robinia Robinia pseudoacacia

Wood Weeds – There are a limited number of wood weeds that sucker or resprout post-fire in the Blue Mountains. These should be treated with herbicide as a high priority. Look for:

• Spanish Heath Erica lusitanica
• Cotoneaster Cotoneaster spp. (franchetii, pannosus, lacteus, glaucophyllus, horizontalis)

Tree species suckering post fire Photo: Sandy Benson

Are weeds good after fire?

Weeds can act as a buffer to reduce erosion and as a cover crop for native seedlings and animals post fire while natural native regeneration occurs.

Erosion risk increases after a fire due to the lack of groundcover to stabilise the soil which slows down the speed of runoff. Weeds are usually the first plants to emerge
after fire. If left for 3 to 6 months they can act as a ground layer, the plant roots stabilise the soil, and stems and leaves slow the water to give it time to percolate into the soil profile.

At the early stages any vegetation cover, including weeds can protect native seedlings. Weed seedlings grow quickly and can perform several jobs; protecting native seedlings
from erosion, drying out, returning nutrients to the soil and to provide food and shelter for insects and animals.

Weeds can be helpful up until a point, then they can be the bushlands worst enemy if left too long.

Assess burnt areas for weeds and the best control methods for the species. Control and target weeds before seed set, but limiting trampling as much as possible while bushland is still fragile.

When to treat weeds?

The months following a bushfire are among the best times to control weed species. However, it is very important to remember to leave burnt areas alone for the first 3-6 months to allow the soil to recover and native seedlings to establish, as over enthusiastic weed control can cause damage.

Post fire, soil forms a crust (soil sealing) that protects and reduces the loss of soil, organic matter and seedbank from rain events and erosion. The crust is formed through a combination of elements; when rain hits the soil, it dislocates the silt and clay making way for moss, lichen, algae or fungi, and cyanobacteria to enter which then
forms a surface crust.

The combined protective cover elements such as the soil crust and seedlings can protect the soil throughout the first-year post fire. Natural regeneration is the priority.
Monitoring the site for weed growth indicators such as fresh new growth and flowering should be used as the cue for treatment. Take care to prevent any off-target damage
to native plants.

Post fire soil forming crust forming Photo: Sandy Benson

Blue Mountains Bushcare welcomes new Bushcare Officer James Bevan

Integral to Bushcare is depth of knowledge, understanding and leadership, and we are delighted to introduce you to our new Bushcare Officer, James Bevan. James will be taking over the Swampcare Program.

James Bevan
New Bushcare officer James Bevan

James has ten years’ experience in both aquatic and terrestrial Australian ecosystems applying his knowledge and skills across a variety of fields from ecological consulting, bush regeneration and training young adults. James’ studied a BSc.(Hons) at Sydney University, and his previous employers have included The Good Bush People, Conservation Volunteers Australia and The Australian Museum. James began appreciating the Blue Mountains’ bushland as a teenager, and is thrilled to be working as a Bushcare Officer.  

Please welcome James to the Bushcare family.

Bushcare Kids Resource Page – Updating the Bushcare Website

Come venture to our new BUSHCARE KIDS resource page and find a range of activities that will enable you to discover, explore and enjoy nature around your backyard.

Our BUSHCARE KID page is found under the RESOURCES tab https://www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au/resources/bushcare-kids/

Here are some exciting activities

1. Birdlife Australia – Bird in Backyards, 26 Mar 2020. Keep your kids chirpy at home with these activities

2. Bushcare Ranger Programs – downloads some great activity sheets to explore around your backyard.

3. NSW Environment, Energy and Science Conservation from Your Couch

Here is a list of ways you can safely maintain your social distance and assist our most vulnerable native animals.

  1. Be an armchair detective
  2. Inspire a new generation of ecologists
  3. Plant a native tree
  4. Birdwatch from your balcony
  5. Listen to a new soundtrack

4. NSW Environment, Energy and Science 28 Threatened Species colouring-in pages and masks.

5. NSW Environmental Education Resources Visit the NSW Government Educational Resources webpage

Also check the Blue Mountains City Council – Connecting with Nature Our goal is to inspire the next generation – by connecting them to our special Blue Mountains environment and fostering their natural love of nature. In a learning experience unique to our City within a World Heritage Area, we offer local students the opportunity to explore their local water catchment, learn why it’s special and take action to protect it.

We hope you enjoy!!

Videos Resource Page – Updating the Bushcare Website

Great news! We have added a new page – VIDEOS to our Bushcare website where we can showcase Blue Mountains Bushcare and volunteers, the environment, threatened species, how to and other interesting segments.

Our Video page is found under the RESOURCES tab https://www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au/resources/videos/

Keep an eye out as we expand the video library. For the time being have a look at videos showing Bushcare South Lawson Park, Popes Glen Wasteland to Wetland, Saving the Callistemon megalongensis, Threatened species in the Blue Mountains and the Turtle Island Habitat launch.

We hope you enjoy!!

Crosswords and Puzzles…

Hello Crossword Fans, and we know you’re out there!!  Our ‘wordsmith’ Bushcare Officer, Karen Hising, has produced some great crosswords featuring the Blue Mountains weeds, native plants, animals and birds (for a start) to entice the interest of both the young and young-at-heart. 

Besides the known benefits of solving crossword puzzles such as being good for mental health by keeping the mind active, building social bonds, helping fight disease, strengthening the mind and improving vocabulary…we get to learn more about the Blue Mountains natural (and weedy) environment around our Bushcare sites.

Our aim is to post a new crossword each week on the Bushcare Website with answers listed the following week on www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au.

If you have some great ideas for our themed crosswords…or wanting to test your own crossword (and possibly cryptic) skills then contact Karen Hising on khising@bmcc.nsw.gov.au 

New weekly crossword puzzles highlighting Blue Mountains weeds, native plants, native animals and native birds

Instructions

CLICK on the link below and follow the instructions to either fill in online or print a hard copy.

WEEK 1 – Weeds of the Blue Mountains Crossword Puzzle

You’ll find most answers in the new version of the Weeds Of Blue Mountains Bushland – A Guide To Identification and the Control booklet https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/docs/Weeds_Booklet_2020.pdf  or the Blue Mountains Weeds Website – https://weedsbluemountains.org.au/

To FILL IN ONLINE

  1. CLICK on the clue listed under Across or Down – and this will highlight the corresponding boxes (purple) to fill in on the crossword.
  2. To TYPE in the answer CLICK on the purple highlighted box in the crossword and start typing your answer (a correct answer turns the boxes green). If your answer was incorrect then use the backspace to delete then try again for this answer only!!
  3. To RESET ANSWERS (all answers) scroll down the screen  below the crossword and CLICK Reset Answer (red button)

To PRINT a Hardcopy scroll down the screen below the crossword and CLICK Print My Puzzle (purple button)

The Reuse, Recycle Fashion Show – Bushcare Picnic

To download the Reuse, Recycle Fashion Sow guidelines, garment creations and material suggestions CLICK on the link below.

Sadly, the Bushcare Picnic has been postponed to later in the year, but that doesn’t mean we need to sit at home doing nothing. Now is the perfect time to get those creative juices going and start designing an outfit for the Reuse, Recycle Fashion Show to be held at the Bushcare Picnic. Bushcare volunteers are the most creative people in Mountains and now is your chance to really let those ideas run wild.

The aim of the event is to celebrate the reuse and recycling of items in the Blue Mountains and provide volunteers with an opportunity to really showcase what you have been up to and the creative ways you recycle.

The Bushcare Picnic will host our first Reuse, Recycle Fashion Show. Volunteer designers will be walking their creations down the runway (or have someone walk them for you).

There are 5 categories:

Children (15 years and under): Children and young people, go crazy with creativity! Whether your outfit is modelled on a favourite character or something bizarre and made up.

Trash Fash: Have you got any unwanted “stuff” lying around? Anything you have big collections of that you don’t have a use for any longer and can turn into intriguing design? Perhaps even hunt through your recycling rubbish before it goes out or look around to see what is hanging about in the house, garage or garden. The possibilities are endless. Get carried away with your trash!  

Chic Boutique: This category is for the more serious designers. If you have a flair for costume design, then this category is for you! Parade your own stylish creation or find a model to adorn your masterpiece. Materials used must be transformed from a previous life form.

Best overall: This category is for the best overall outfit.

Peoples Favourite: This category is your chance to vote for your favourite fashions on the field outfit.

Criteria

reuse: to use again, after processing

recycle: to process something so it can be used for another cycle or product

Reuse, Recycle Fashion Parade Guidelines

Materials used in the construction of garments MUST be recyclable. Designers may use materials for construction such as glue, tape, dyes, marker, staples, thread, zippers, elastic, wire, string, velcro, grommets, laces, paint, etc.

  • Originality and creativity are encouraged.
  • Recycled fabric may only be used as a lining that doesn’t show. The usage of new material should not overpower your total garment. Footwear made from recyclable material is preferred; however, street shoes are acceptable.
  • Garments must be constructed well enough to fit the model and hold together for the stage show. (Models are strongly encouraged to wear comfortable clothes underneath recycled garment).
  • Designers may wear the garment or may choose a model to wear the garment and walk the runway.
  • Recycled fashions must be made of at least 75% recycled or reused materials that otherwise would be thrown away or recycled.

Garment Creation/Material Suggestions:

  • Both common and unusual items that are discarded for trash such as curtains, vinyl billboards, old electronics, garbage bags, aluminium cans, cardboard, landscape netting, old tents, sleeping bags etc.
  • Consider how items can be cut, folded, moulded, knotted, shredded, stitched, woven or reconstructed to make an outfit or specific sections within the design.
  • Old Bushcare gloves
  • Recycled tree guards, plastic or cardboard
  • Scraps of textiles
  • Recyclables: paper, plastics, aluminium, steel, cardboard, magazines, books or phone books
  • Beverage bottle caps or six-pack rings
  • Plastic bags
  • Pet/animal food bags
  • Old toys or games pieces
  • Packaging materials
  • Found outdoor objects – pine cones, sticks, rocks, flowers, etc.
  • Food containers (cleaned out/sanitized)

How to attach materials:

We encourage the use of environmentally-friendly glues, dyes, paints, resins, etc. and advise contestants to be mindful of the weight of materials being used in the finished product. Suggested items include:

  • Hot glue gun
  • Machine or hand sewing
  • Packing or duct tape
  • Safety pins or stapes
  • Weaving, braiding, lacing, crocheting or knitting materials
  • Paper clips or rubber bands
  • Natural adhesives – rice, flour with water mixture or milk/vinegar/baking soda mixture 

Photographic Competition

Although we might be more confined than usual, we would love to see any photos of the natural world that you may have or can safely take. That might be birds, insects, animals, geology/rocks, plants, fungi, landscapes, people working in natural areas, or anything interesting about nature in general.

Another great idea is to take before and after photos – whether this is showing bushfire recovery, food from the garden to the plate or just projects around your home. Write a short description to go along with it.

Orchid found at Blackheath Photo: Keith Brister

We would like to create a gallery of photos from our volunteers to showcase each week on the Bushcare Blue Mountains website (www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au).

Some criteria to follow:

  • The photos need to be of high resolution
  • We need to be careful about publishing photos of people’s identity online for privacy reasons, so any people featured need to provide their written permission or their faces are not identifiable
  • The photos will be filed for possible future use in publications, on Council/Bushcare websites, newsletters, bulletins, flyers, etc (credited to the photographer)
  • The photos need to be sent via email to bushcare@bmcc.nsw.gov.au

We hope to see your photographic talents soon! For any queries, please contact Alison Steele on asteele@bmcc.nsw.gov.au.

Planting day Harold Hodgson Park

Article by Fiona Lumsden (Upper Katoomba Bushcare Group)

Our local Bushcare Group for Upper Katoomba Creek and our neighbours, the Community Gardeners, joined forces in mid-January for a Planting Event along our shared creek.

We were using leftover plants from our Spring plantings along our previously very weedy roadside remnant bushland and a cleared easement above the creek in Twynam unformed road reserve.

We had been worried that January would be tough for new plants – with all the extremely hot and dry weather we’ve had for months. Amazingly, the rain came in bucket-loads, just in time for the planting, and we celebrated. Our little band of bushcarers, mums and kids donned gumboots and sloshed around in the wet, putting in baby ferns and Tea Trees next to the roaring creek. No one complained. We were all so happy to have rain.

Eureka….rain!!!! Upper Katoomba Creek Bushcare Group and the Community Gardens
working together planting natives along the newly-constructed stornwater project in
Harold Hodgson Park. Photos: Steve Fleischmann

The plantings will help stabilize the creekbanks and keep moisture in the creek system.

Blue Mountains City Council is doing a big creek restoration project here in the park. The creek, which has been degraded by urban development and landscape modification, has become deeply incised into its little floodplain. It now bypasses the original Carex gaudichaudiana swamp on the flats beside it. The creek bed is being “bouldered” to slow erosion and a diversion has been cut at the side to revert some flows back into the swamp.

Stormwater and creek restoration Photo: Steve Fleischmann

Swamps and creekside vegetation are really important. They absorb excess water in storm events and slowly release water back into the creek systems over time to maintain creek flows through the year. We have lost a lot of these natural sponges. Revitalizing them will help water security. We need water. We need plants. Lots of them!