Category Archives: Bushcare

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 tohttps://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/media-centre/blue-mountains-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 one of many participants in 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.”

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 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 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).
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.

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.

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 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

Check out Blue Mountains Conservation SocietyWhat Blue Mountains Fauna Is That? Its primary source of information is the Blue Mountains Fauna Inventory. You’ll find it here – https://www.bluemountains.org.au/fauna.shtml

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

Else-Mitchell Park tree planting morning

Article by Karen Hising

More than a year ago, a friendly neighbour to the Else-Mitchell Park Bushcare site kindly offered the Bushcare Group some Eucayptus deanei seedlings to raise and plant into the Reserve.  The seedlings had appeared in a large pot from a very large and beautiful Eucalyptus deanei tree in the neighbour’s front garden – a remnant tree from the original forest of the area.  Mike Purtell, co-ordinator and founding member of the Else-Mitchell Park Bushcare Group, agreed to raise the seedlings to a larger size for future planting. 

Meeting the neighbour some time later, I suggested he join us in planting the juvenile trees back into the Reserve, which he thought was a great idea!  But then I thought, having a number of plants available, why not invite all the surrounding neighbours. 

So, the Bushcare Group and six neighbouring families had a very enjoyable morning planting trees in various parts of the site – each family planting a tree each.  We then had a special morning tea and chat. 

So the Reserve now has more trees and the local neighbours and the Bushcare Group members had a chance to catch up!  With another neighbour, Mike is now trying to organise an interview with the neighbour who provided the seedlings to record the memories of living in the local area for historic reference, with particular regard to ongoing changes at Else-Mitchell Park.

Else-Mitchell Park tree planting morning Photo credit: John Papanidis

Grant News

5 years funding for weed control Article by Linda Thomas

Bushcare volunteers, form an important component of Council’s overall weed management strategy. However, there are many other interesting conservation projects that you may hear about or encounter in your local area.

Two new grants

Council has received new grants from Greater Sydney Local Land Services and the NSW Environmental Trust which will help expand our capacity to deliver target weed control, bush regeneration and stormwater control outcomes over the next five years.

Each year Council’s Environment team applies for grants where grant program targets align with Council’s core program outcomes. In this way Council is able to extend its delivery of environmental programs within the Blue Mountains and increase the value of return for a rate collected dollar. As these funding sources are dependent on broader political climates, they cannot be relied upon to deliver core Council functions, but are an effective means of building capacity when an opportunity presents itself.

Most grants have a 12-18 month time frame, so these five year grants allow for the consolidation and extension of a range of programs to help target cross tenure issues across public reserves and private lands.

Himalayan Honeysuckle and Holly in Moist Basalt Cap Forest Mt Wilson Photo credit: Linda Thomas

Council will use these grants to:

  • Target Cats Claw Creeper in Springwood, Blaxland and Lapstone. This is a new priority weed which has limited distribution in the lower mountains. The aim over five years is to substantially control and eradicate all known populations of Cats Claw Creeper in our Local Government Area.
  • Extend ongoing programs to control Pussy Willow, Boneseed and African Olive in the mid to lower mountains.
  • Target bird spread weeds such as Himalayan Honeysuckle and English Holly on private properties in Mt Wilson, to protect Moist Basalt Cap Forest.
  • Extend bush regeneration programs in Blue Mountains Shale Cap Forest and Sun Valley Cabbage Gum Forest across Council reserves and adjoining private lands.
  • Monitor and trial controls for Bell Miner populations, which are linked to tree dieback in several lower mountains reserves.
  • Install stormwater control structures and extend weed control programs in several swamp systems in the upper mountains.
  • Support the Katoomba / Govetts Creek, Gordon Creek / Leura Falls Creek, and Jamison Creek catchment groups by undertaking extended weed control and rehabilitation projects on sites these groups have nominated as outstanding problems in their catchments.


Creek Restoration

Creek Restoration the natural way, with a little help from Bushcare By South Lawson Park Bushcare Group and Lawson StreamWatch

In 2010 Lawson Creek was overwhelmed by massive amounts of silt that had been transported by heavy rains from a collapsed track and building site along the Great Western Highway. A 200 metre section of healthy bushland creek was reduced to a shallow trickle of water (Image 1) and these conditions made it impossible for water insects (bugs), crayfish and tadpoles to exist.

Bushcare members alerted Council and sediment controls across sections of the creek, to try and disperse the sand were installed. Fortunately, lots of professional bush regeneration and volunteer bushcare work had been done in the area, and the surrounding natural bushland was very healthy, with a good mix of trees, shrubs and groundcovers.

This bushland served as an important restoration function. Natural debris from the trees and shrubs, such as large branches, bark, sticks and leaf litter, was constantly being deposited in the creek. It further dispersed the sand and created riffles and pools, steadily replacing the aquatic fauna habitat that had been smothered in the sand.

Amy St Lawrence, Council’s Aquatic Systems Officer, explained: “Bug recolonisation relies on having intact bug populations/communities nearby…different types of water-bugs will recolonise in different ways, providing their water quality and habitat requirements recover.”

In 2015 the StreamWatch Group recommenced water quality testing on the site, with good results. But one question remained – would the bugs come back?

Over the years more of the deposited sand was transported downstream, and by 2018 the creek was starting to resemble its former healthy condition, displaying a few deep pools, some good natural habitat of logs and other fallen timber, and a layer of decayed leaf litter along the banks and channel (Image 2).

In May, 2019, the StreamWatch volunteers tested for bug life in the water. And we got them! Mayfly nymphs, which are very sensitive to pollution, so that was pleasing, and also damselfly nymphs, dragonfly nymphs, boatmen and water treaders, and crayfish and tadpoles.

Amy explained the re-colonisation process: “Insects probably hatched at the site from eggs laid by adults that decided your pools were suitable; adults that possibly came from further downstream on Lawson Creek. Your large crayfish may have been there all along despite the sedimentation, or may have moved overland from a pool downstream or a nearby creek.”

What if there had been a wall of weeds, such as privet or blackberry, and not natural bushland, along the creek? It is quite likely that the damage may not even have been noticed, and that the weeds would have colonised most or even all of the silted creek. Bushcare makes a difference, in lots of different ways.

Further information and illustrations: https://southlawsonpark.bushcarebluemountains.org.au/lawson-creek/

Bushcare Update – Making a Difference!!

By Sandy Benson (Bushcare Team Leader)

Sometimes it seems as though the world’s environmental problems are so large it’s overwhelming, we feel like “am I doing enough?” or “what is the point?” It seems that no matter how many reusable shopping bags we use it pales by comparison to the impact of global issues like climate change.

However, the world has come together before to solve global environmental problems, like the hole in the ozone layer. We tackled that issue globally, by coming together to develop a set of rules that eliminated the source of the problem.

You may not feel like it, but the choices you make day in and day out do add up and make a difference. You live in the Blue Mountains because you want to live near nature, go for bushwalks, be with likeminded people and enjoy a sense of community. You probably already go to the op shop instead of buying new, buy only what you need and reduce reliance on packaging. Use resuable bags or boomerang bags, you compost and you join in environmental causes and volunteer your time.

Volunteering with Bushcare brings all of those elements together. We make huge changes on the ground, over time eliminating weeds that would one day overtake our native bush reducing biodiversity and resilience. We discuss world problems (sometimes solving them), get our hands dirty and go home with a real sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

We are not alone in our individual efforts, thinking we are only making a small indent – we are a community of over 400 people turning up each month, equating to 1,200 hours of environmental benefit to our future. We are also part of a much larger community with over 6000 Bushcare/Landcare groups Australia wide. All of us turning up to make a difference!

Bushcares Threatened Species Event

On Threatened Species Day (Saturday 7th September) we had a series of talks about fauna in the Blue Mountains. The day started with Anne Carey from the Blue Mountains Fauna Project presenting the findings of the year long study.

From left to right: Michael Hensen (BMCC Environmental Scientist), Anne Carey (Blue Mountains Fauna Project), Erin Hall (Bushcare Project Officer) and Tanya Mein (Community Engagement Coordinator)

Throughout the day there was a stall with weed and threatened species information. The eco cinema was playing a series of short films about threatened species and where they occur.

The community came along to enjoy the numerous stalls – Council’s Bushcare and Community Education, NPWS, Blue Mountains Conservation Society and Wildplant Rescue.

Next was the amazing Akos Lumitzer from amatterofflight.com.au who talked passionately about the powerful owl and how he came to spend so much time capturing the images.

Akos Lumitzer presenting his Powerful Owl talk to an enthralled audience.

Last but not least was Dr Beth Mott from Birdlife Australia. She presented the Powerful Owl project that is a citizen science project.

Award Winning Powerful Owl’s Nest – Waste to Art

Another great reason to come along to the Threatened Species Day at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, in Katoomba (Saturday 7th, September).

View the awarding winning Powerful Owl’s nest made during a series of Waste To Art community workshops held across the Blue Mountains. The sculpture is made from waste fabrics, to highlight that Australians are buying 27kg of new clothes annually and over 20kg ends up in Blue Mountains residents’ garbage bins each year.

At the Regional Waste to Art Community Exhibition held in Oberon recently the Blue Mountains entry was awarded first prize in the Community 3D category. A fantastic result as the exhibition featured about 120 artworks, from 14 NetWaste councils, that were all made from everyday rubbish.

Waste to Art aims to encourage the whole community to rethink their own waste and promote a low waste lifestyle. By taking action to Reduce, Reuse and Repair over buying new, it saves resources like water and energy that go into manufacturing new items.

Our collective efforts do make a difference and also help threatened species like the Powerful-Owl which is found across the Blue Mountains in old growth forests.

Sassafras Gully Remote Bushcare

Article by Steve Fleischmann

Another wonderful remote bushcare day in the lower mountains. Work in Sassafras Gully has been ongoing for several years in a relationship between Blue Mountains City Council and National Parks and Wildlife Services carried out on the border of Council and Parks land near where Wiggins Track meets Victory Track at Sassafras Creek.

A cool temperate rainforest in a gully bounded by drier woodland uphill, the area has Ginger Lily, Small and Large leaf Privet as well as large and mature Japanese Honeysuckle that have climbed up into the canopy. Invading from properties uphill and coming down the creek they threaten the understorey diversity of the mature Sassafras and Coachwood forest. Some of the honeysuckle were so tall they were only identifiable by their distinctive peeling bark and mottled skin because the leaves were too high in the canopy.

On the morning of 25 May three volunteers – Ian, John and Roland and myself braved fine weather (and traffic delaying truck accidents) to tool up and walk the 45 minutes into the work area. On remote days we carry a lot more gear in the form of emergency management communications gear, all the tools we will need, a larger than normal first aid kit, plenty of water, food for the day, warm clothing and, of course, morning tea in a protective container because, let’s face it, no one wants squashed cake.

Once at the work site we dropped our heavy packs, put on our tool belts then had a look around to determine who was going to work where to get maximum effect from our small team. Despite many years of high quality work, there are still patches of Ginger Lily, canopy height Privet and Japanese Honeysuckle as well lots of Privet seedlings that the team decided to focus on.

The larger Ginger Lilies were poisoned and the smaller seedlings removed to be composted while the honeysuckles and privets were also treated with herbicide. Over the course of the day we worked on an area approximately 500m2.

On the walk out we noticed several interesting things. A local spring outlet known as the leaf spring, where a groove had been carved underneath a spring seep point to allow a leaf to be placed into it so a water bottle could be filled.

The remote area bushcare days are fantastic events where we get to enjoy undertaking bushcare activities much deeper in the bush. Future events will be held in Popes Glen and Katoomba Creek in spring.