Category Archives: Flora

Seed collection workshop

By Tracy Abbas

In early December 2019, Blue Mountains Bushcare delivered the second and eagerly-anticipated Seed Collection Workshop held in Blaxland Library and Community Centre. Tracy Abbas, Council’s Bushcare Officer, organised this exciting event with seed expert Richard Johnstone. Richard was a former seed collector at Mount Annan Botanic Gardens but now plays another important role; as a volunteer with Wildplant Rescue Nursery.

Richard generously shared his immense experience and knowledge, providing attendees with a solid foundation in the principles, procedures and protocols for collection and storage of local native seed.

This Workshop was set at intermediate level, designed to strengthen the knowledge and existing skills base. It was attended by volunteers from Bush Backyards and Bushcare Groups, as well as volunteers from the Blue Mountains Conservation Society and Wildplant Rescue Nurseries.

The Workshop format was designed around both theoretical and practical sessions. The day began in the classroom viewing a powerpoint presentation showing the overview of the day’s events, and covered regulations and legislation when collecting seeds on Council Land. For the second session, the group wandered around the field looking for examples of seeds, flowers and fruits. Richard then showed everyone how to assess seed ripening stages and when was the most appropriate time to collect seeds.

Finally, it was back to the classroom for a discussion, participating in some cleaning of previously collected seeds and reviewing various methods of propagation of a number of different species.

The Workshop was a great success and we plan to conduct another session early in 2020 with the theme of propagation.

Recovering Our Backyard: Mini-Expo February 29

An event organised by Blue Mountains Recovery Wellbeing Committee, Blue ARC, and Resilience & Preparedness Group.

Many residents of the Blue Mountains region are concerned about the impacts of the bushfires on our natural environment and National Park and people need to feel that they can be involved in recovery efforts in a meaningful way.

On Saturday 29 February, Blackheath – a mini-expo is being run in the afternoon to help guide residents on how they can assist the regeneration of our natural environment.

The afternoon will include talks from wildlife experts and a Council representative, there will be tables set up with representatives from local groups and organisations providing information, and opportunities to volunteer.

Date and Time: Saturday, February 29, 2020, 1:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Location: Phillips Hall, Blackheath Community Centre – Gardiner Crescent, Blackheath, NSW

To register click on this link below

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/recovering-our-backyard-tickets-94508644901?utm-medium=discovery&utm-campaign=social&utm-content=attendeeshare&aff=esfb&utm-source=fb&utm-term=listing&fbclid=IwAR035-kBGPiWw2BNtWXjJOSEP3XuO34GbMOA96yYraI2pDeMaaGunY3buU8

Watching for weeds after bush fires

Taking care of your bushland after a fire

Bush fires create conditions that favour the establishment of weeds, which can prevent native plants and desirable garden plants from re-establishing and thriving.

After a bush fire, it’s important to manage weed growth in bushland on your property. Council can provide technical advice and support to help you manage weeds on your property, during the clean-up and rebuilding process. Contact our Community Conservation Officer, Linda Thomas on 4780 5612 or at lthomas@bmcc.nsw.gov.au for more information.

More information about weeds in your area is available online: weedsbluemountains.org.au

Why is controlling weeds important?

Weeds spread easily and have a negative impact on native plants and wildlife. It’s important to control them as soon as possible, to prevent them from spreading to neighbouring properties and native bushland.

While many native plant species and desirable garden plants survive bush fires, their ability to re-establish, thrive, and reseed is reduced by the presence of weeds that aggressively compete for water, light, and soil nutrients.

The cleared post-bush fire landscape is also an opportunity to control weeds while they are visible and before they start to spread.

It is very important to remember to leave burnt areas alone for the first 3-6 months to allow the soil  to recover and seedlings to establish. At the early stages any vegetation cover, including weeds , is protecting soil from erosion and protecting native seedlings. After that we need to assess areas for weed control and timing to target ecosystem transformers before seed set, but limiting trampling as much as possible while bushland is still fragile. Over enthusiastic weed control can also cause damage post fire.

Scotch broom invading recently burnt bushland
Weeds such as Scotch Broom will quickly spread into burnt areas if not controlled. Photo: Council

Native Plants

Native vegetation may take several years to recover after bush fire and will change in composition over time.

Australian native plants are adapted to recover after bush fire but it can take some time before your local bushland looks like the healthy vegetation community it was before the fire.

Within weeks of a fire some trees and grasses will start to resprout. Over the next few years most of the original shrubs and trees will regrow from existing rootstock or from seeds stored in the soil.

For at least the first few months post-fire it is best to just observe the recovery process and allow the bushland to regenerate itself.

In some situations, where natural regeneration is not progressing well, the planting of native vegetation or direct seeding may be required to stabilise soils and assist with the natural process of regeneration. If you are planting in recovering bushland, you should only use native plants grown locally, and use locally collected seeds to maintain the integrity of the bushland.

Find this Fact Sheet on Council’s website https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/documents/watching-for-weeds-and-taking-care-of-your-bushland-after-a-fire

Other Interesting Articles https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2020/01/to-help-the-bushfire-recovery-pull-out-weeds/

Is this a weed?….

Is this a Weed – Elderberry Panax (Polyscias sambucifolia)? By Karen Hising

One of the most common questions I am asked as a Bushcare Officer: “Is this a weed?” And quite often the person asking the question is referring to the native Elderberry Panax (Polyscias sambucifolia).

Polyscias sambucifolia is a variable small to large shrub or sometimes even a compact tree. The leaves are compound, with clusters of succulent bluish-grey fruit in Summer.

An important colonising species in regenerating areas, it can appear as a single plant or in small dense forests before other species have the opportunity to regenerate. At Blackheath Centenary Reserve, where all large shrubs and trees have been removed for powerline safety, swathes of Polyscias have appeared over time and have shaded out groundlayer and grassy weeds. Fortunately, it has not grown too tall to warrant removal under the powerlines – yet!

Polyscias sambucifolia covered in swathes of webbing Photo credit: Mariko Ward

This plant also provides feeding opportunities for local wildlife. Birds enjoy feasting on the fruit, which is how it is widely propagated. The Elderberry Panax Leaf Roller (Cryptoptila australiana) can infest the whole plant in swathes of webbing. The larvae live in a communal shelter made of leaves joined with silk and feed on the foliage. They are dark-brownish green, with orange spots and white hairs. Pupation occurs within the larval shelter. The plant can look quite bedraggled from the impacts of these insects, but they generally bounce back once the caterpillars finalise their lifecycle to moths and move on. Birds may also enjoy feeding on these larvae.

Whilst it may not be considered a particularly attractive plant (particularly when covered in webbing), it can be an important part of some ecosystems.

Polyscias – from the Greek word, poly, meaning many, and skias, meaning shade, possibly referring to the shade from many leaves; and sambucifolia – referring to leaves which resemble Sambucus, the Elderberry.

There is some debate pronouncing the genus name – poly-sy-as or pol-is-kias

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.

Gully combined day 2018

Upper Kedumba Bushcare group hosted 35 Volunteers from Garguree swampcare and Friends Of Katoomba falls groups and the broader BC community in our annual Kedumba Catchment Gully get-together.

David King welcoming the group onto country

It was a great success, with a wonderful community feel and a great boost to The Upper Kedumba Bushcare site, with so many enthusiastic and committed helping hands we also had 5 new volunteers join in.

After a full work morning we indulged in a wonderful shared feast and heard from Eric Mahony about works in the catchment and how our workdays positively impact on it and Jane about our Bushcare native bee metropolis and who we would likely see using the bee hotels.

We were working on 4 different site components, giving a variety of work options to the volunteers so they could join in with tasks to challenge them and also tasks where they would feel familiar and relaxed.

Our work day consisted of

1 – Continuing to create a wetland soak in the low lying section of Upper Kedumba, to change the environmental conditions currently present, trying to create a wetter area hoping to diminish annual grasses and create more habitat for aquatic critters, whilst slowing the flow of the water in big rain events capturing it on site , and stripping nutrients from it.

In Feb/March we hope to plant this area out with Juncus and other sedges

Installation of water detention devices

Installation of water detention devices

2 – Continuing on with a creation of a mulch path through the site – The long-term vision is to create a site where local community will feel inclined to walk through it and stop and find out about local native bees, fauna and habitat creation and why these things are needed and how important they are in our local environment.

3- Removal of small and large privets in bands across the slope – this work will be supported by a day of contracting works in the next 3 months and continued planting of endemic species.

4- Removal of Montbretia from a drainage line.

Thank you to all who came along and helped with our ongoing Bushcare works
By Jane Anderson

Changes to the Noxious Weeds Act 1993

WHAT HAS CHANGED?

From the 1st of July 2017 the NSW Government has replaced the Noxious Weeds Act 1993 with the Biosecurity Act 2015. Under the Biosecurity Act 2015, the Blue Mountains City Council, as the Local Control Authority, has a legal obligation to manage the biosecurity risk posed or likely to be posed by reducing the impacts of Priority Weeds.

WHAT IS BIOSECURITY?

Biosecurity refers to the protection of native plant communities; reducing the risk to human health: and the risk to agricultural production, from invasive weeds.

WHAT DOES THE NEW BIOSECURITY ACT MEAN FOR ME?

Under the Biosecurity Act, landowners have a responsibility to control the risk that Priority Weeds on their property pose to neighbouring bushland and properties.

Residents will see a change in the terminology used, for example, the term Noxious Weed will be replaced with Priority Weeds or Biosecurity Matter, and weed notices/orders will be issued as Biosecurity Directions under the Biosecurity Act. There are also some changes target invasive plants identified as Priority Weeds compared to previous Noxious Weeds lists.

Therefore the Noxious Weeds Classification of individual weeds is no longer correct.

Will the Biosecurity Act change the way Council manages weeds on private property?

No. Council’s Urban Weeds Program and the process for inspecting private properties for invasive weeds will continue unchanged. Council will also maintain its current approach to education and enforcement relating to invasive weeds. Council will maintain the current process for issuing Weed Control Notices. The main differences will be the terminology used and that Orders will be issued under the Biosecurity Act. They will be known as Biosecurity Directions.

For further information on Priority Weeds in the Blue Mountains please download the Priority Weeds Information Booklet here;

https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/document/files/PriorityWeedsInformationBooklet.pdf

Blue Mountains Priority Weeds Information

For further information on the Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan 2017, and can be found on:

Department of Primary Industries website

https://greatersydney.lls.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/722368/Greater-Sydney-Regional-Weed-Mgmt-Plan-29-June-2017_FINAL-web-res.pdf

or download the FREE NSW Department of Primary Industries weed app

NSW Weedwise app

Where you will find the weeds listed for the Blue Mountains including a profile of the weed and your Biosecurity duty under the Biosecurity Act 2015.

Swampcare at North Hazelbrook

Do you have a swamp in your backyard or interested in swamp restoration?

Then come join us for this very special event in Hazelbrook, where you will learn the basic principles about swamp restoration whilst giving this swamp a helping hand.

The swamp is located off Rocklea Street, which is the very north end of the urban area and is still in its early stages of being restored, so there is plenty of primary work to be done on a variety of weeds – Erica, buddleia, privet, crofton weed.

A FREE delicious lunch and morning tea has been kindly donated by Hominy Bakery.

Bookings are essential so please RSVP via the link on this page or contact Stephanie at schew@bmcc.nsw.gov.au. by Thursday 20 September.

https://www.bushcarebluemountains.org.au/event/swampcare-at-north-hazelbrook/

Where: Rocklea Street, North Hazelbrook
When: Friday, 28 September @ 9:00 am3:00 pm

Calling all “Buzzinators”   

In celebration of Pollinator week (12th – 19th November)

Can you use your November work day as a day to check your Bushcare Site Bee Hotels?

See who is using them and then email your results to phillipnelson100@gmail.com the convener of the Pollinator website and we will start to compile a list of who’s who – and where…

You can get an idea of which bees you have on site by checking how they are closing up the nest hollows in your Bee Home. Check out Megan Halcroft’s www.beesbusiness.com.au – a very valuable resource!

And this spring remember Pollinators need Food – flowers, shelter and water.

And if your Bushcare site does not have a Bee Hotel do not despair! In early 2018 we will be running another bee hotel making workshop in the lower Mountains. Watch This Space … details coming soon!

The BMCC Bush Regeneration Team

Back row from left: Matthew Steele, Jane Anderson, Matthew Rudge, Aaron McKellar, Sue Cunningham. Front row John Parkinson, Helen Munro, Justine Vella. (Team Leader). Absent: Lynn Godfree, Stephanie Chew, Robert Hajjar.

Did you know that Council has its very own team of bush regenerators quietly beavering away behind the scenes? As there have been some changes to the team we thought it  a good time to shine the spotlight on them!

We are very lucky to have a very capable and experienced crew led by the newly appointed Justine Vella as Team Leader and Matthew Rudge as Bush Regeneration Project Officer.

The team is currently working on a number of high conservation projects restoring the rare forests of the lower Blue Mountains and Blue Mountains Swamps in the upper mountains.

They are often called upon to support our Bushcare program and Council’s new organisational structure is providing more and more opportunity for them to work more closely with the Bushcare Team. We hope you’ll get to meet them in person on site one day soon!