How are you and your Bushcare groups going over the COVID-19 period? Send any interesting articles or photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
CLICK on the clue listed under Across or Down – and this will highlight the corresponding boxes (purple) to fill in on the crossword.
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!!
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)