Petalura gigantea (Family Petaluridae), commonly known as the Giant Dragonfly or Southeastern Petaltail is a very large dragonfly which may have a wingspan up to 12.5 cm. It is recorded from peat swamps, bogs and seepages along the coast and ranges of NSW from near the Victorian border to around the Qld border. It is listed as Endangered in NSW under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act2016, with habitat loss and degradation identified as the main threats. In addition to the large size and widely separated dark eyes, the species (and genus) is characterised by a long pterostigma (darkened cell) towards the end of the leading edge of the wings, and large, petal-shaped, anal appendages in adult males (Figure 1). Adult females lack the conspicuous anal appendages and are somewhat bulkier than males (Figure 2). These features distinguish it from other very large dragonflies such as Austrophlebiacostalis. Various Bushcare and Swampcare sites in the Blue Mountains include peat swamp habitat of Giant Dragonflies.
The Petaluridae (“petaltails”) can be traced back to the late Jurassic and currently includes 11 known species around the world, including the endemic Australian genus Petalura with five species. The family is unique amongst dragonflies, in that larvae of nine of those species (including all Petalura species) excavate (sometimes complex) burrows which extend below the water table in peaty soils and which they occupy and maintain for their entire larval stage. The deepest burrow recorded for a petalurid worldwide was a P. gigantea burrow I investigated, which was 75 cm deep. These dragonflies have very long larval stages; extrapolation from recent studies suggests a larval stage of at least six years in P. gigantea, and possibly 10 or more in some situations. Larvae reach a length of 4.5-5 cm. Larvae feed on a range of small invertebrate prey within their burrows, including worms and nematodes, and are likely to act as ambush predators of larger prey from within their burrow entrances, feeding on above ground invertebrates, such as spiders, crickets, cockroaches, and perhaps small frogs, such as Crinia signifera. Larvae with submerged burrow openings in shallow pools can also prey upon other dragonfly or damselfly larvae within those pools. It is possible (but unknown) that they also leave their burrow openings temporarily to forage under suitable conditions, such as at night and during rain. I have recorded above ground chambers above their burrow openings, within litter layers and Sphagnum hummocks, which they may use for foraging purposes. Larvae leave their burrows and climb the nearest shrub or sedgeland vegetation to undergo emergence (ecdysis) to the adult stage, usually leaving their larval skin (exuvia) attached to their shrub or sedge emergence supports. The presence of exuviae confirms a site as a successful breeding site. Emergence may commence in early October in some years in some sites and extend into January, but normally appears to commence during November, at least in the Blue Mountains.
Adults live for a maximum of one summer flying season, which extends into February at least, with occasional late flying individuals having been observed on one occasion as late as mid-March in the Blue Mountains. Adults are predatory upon other flying insects during flight and consume a range of prey, including other dragonflies and damselflies, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, cicadas, wasps, and various types of flies, including crane flies. Adults typically return to a perch to consume prey. Adults spend much time perched in sedgeland and shrub vegetation, interspersed with generally short flights associated with foraging, mating, and in the case of males, territorial interactions. Adult females typically leave their larval swamp habitat following emergence and only return to a swamp habitat for breeding purposes. There is no courtship behaviour and mating generally occurs in swamp habitat with the pair perched in sedge or shrub vegetation. Egg-laying (ovipositing) involves insertion of the ovipositor into the wet, organic-rich soil substrate, into fissures in the substrate, or amongst or under live or decomposing plant material overlying the substrate. Females typically walk along the soil surface or perch within covering vegetation or on litter while ovipositing. They do not appear to oviposit into substrate covered by more than 1-2 mm of water. Most adults encountered in swamp breeding habitats are males, who are typically territorial in swamp habitat. Predation of adults by birds, skinks and spiders has been observed and dead individuals have been found in spider webs.
Petalura gigantea is considered to be an obligately groundwater-dependent species. Although the burrowing larval habit confers ecological benefits, including increased environmental stability, and some protection from the effects of fire, flood, drought and above ground predators, the species groundwater dependence and restriction to peat swamp habitats places it at increased risk in the event of any reduction in groundwater levels (e.g., due to groundwater abstraction, tunnel or pipeline boring, and longwall coal mining), more intense fire regimes, and the potential compounding effects of rapid climate change. Loss and degradation of habitat as a result of urban and transport infrastructure development, agriculture, forestry, and longwall coal mining continue to threaten the species through loss and degradation of habitat.
Figure 1. Male Petalura gigantea perched on razor sedge, Lepidosperma limicola, in a Blue Mountains Swamp. Note the conspicuous petal-shaped appendages at the end of the abdomen. Photo: Ian Baird
Figure 2. Female Petalura gigantea perched on Acacia ptychoclada in a Blue Mountains Swamp. Photo: Ian Baird
Outstanding citizens were celebrated at Blue Mountains City Council’s annual Australia Day Awards on 26 January, 2021.
Environmental Citizen of the Year – Lis Bastian
Congratulations to Lis Bastian – a founding member of one our new bushcare groups – Blackheath Community Farm Landcare.
For years, Lis Bastian has devoted herself to helping others live more sustainably. She does this by leading by example and by teaching people of all ages about permaculture and environmental responsibility.
Lis created The Big Fix (www.thebigfixblackheath.org) which is a social enterprise that focuses on ‘changing the story.’ The initiative has enabled a collaborative, solutions-based culture to grow and thrive in the Blue Mountains and beyond.
Other projects that have been spearheaded by Lis, include a Community Farm in Blackheath which she regularly reports on through Facebook to inspire others. Lis also set up and now runs ‘Pluriversity’, which provides a range of learning opportunities for young people who have left school engage with one another and the wider community.
Lis reaches out to others and builds partnerships with unlimited generosity and devotion to protecting the environment.
The full list Awards recipients included:
Young Citizens of the Year – Annelise Schroder and Harry Elbourne
Citizen of the Year – John Turner
Senior Citizens of the Year – Peter A. Kidd and Rosemary Hart
Environmental Citizen of the Year – Lis Bastian
Community Achievement of the Year – Blue Fringe Arts and Literature Exhibition.
The Swamped by Threats Project, a partnership between BMCC, CTLLS, NPWS and Forest NSW, has reached the halfway mark. The project aims to conserve the ecological integrity and habitat quality of priority swamps for the endangered and swamp dependant Blue Mountains Water Skink and the Giant Dragonfly of the Blue Mountains and Newnes Plateau. The innovative ten year project is funded through a $750,000 Save Our Species (SOS) Partnership Environmental Trust grant.
A key focus of the project in the Blue Mountains has been the restoration of the natural hydrology of swamp systems which have been disrupted by stormwater flows from urbanised catchments, resulting in erosion, channelisation, de-watering, sedimentation, and weed invasion. Works have included stormwater outlet stabilisation, gross pollutant traps, raingardens, stormwater infiltration and integration structures and soft engineering swamp rehydration structures, as well as weed control. The sixteen priority swamp systems being targeted include Connaught, Yosemite, Marmion Road, North Street, the Gully, McCrae’s Paddock, Leura Falls, East Leura, Jamison Creek, Central Park, Wentworth Falls Lake, Franks Creek, Kittyhawke, Duperry/Clarendon Swamp, Red Gum Park, Lawson Pool and North Lawson Swamps.
A big thank you goes out to all the Bushcare and Swampcare volunteers whose ongoing on-ground efforts are making such a valuable contribution of in-kind hours in support of the grant funded work.
This project has been supported by the Hominy Bakery in Katoomba who provide the catering for these events “You know the food is good when everyone’s silent” said Katy O’Neill at the Valley View Swampcare Event.
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
Bushcare Gifts Bags
Bushcare Birthday RecognitionCertificates
Bushcare Awardee Presentation
Congratulations to our Awardees (read their nominations below)
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.
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 hours – an 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 was a passionate and tireless environmental advocate. He was one of the first people to campaign against the raising of the Warragamba Dam Wall.
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 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 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 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.
Now, let’s mark the achievements of 2020 and present the Bushcare Awards….
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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, which is now 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:
Is it needed?
Will the domestic Animal Shelter continue?
Can wildlife and domestic animals be cared for on this same site without further stress?
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.
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 their 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 NSW’s Wildlife Manager Nick de Vos stated (29/9/2020) that 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 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 change 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.
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.
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.