Category Archives: General

Post-fire Koala Surveys, Blue Mountains Region 2nd Volunteer Call Out

Come and join our Post-fire Koala Surveys and help us learn where koalas have survived the fires in the Blue Mountains region.

We’ve opened up some more places for volunteers on our first round of scat surveys, so there is still an opportunity to sign up!

The data we collect will provide vital information for planning conservation action and koala population recovery. We need to know where the koalas are, so we can allocate resources to protect them.

Register HERE to volunteer for post-fire Koala surveys

Site 1: Hawkesbury/SE Wollemi National Park

Week 1: Tue 6th – Fri 9th Oct 2020 – complete
Week 2:  Wed 14th – Fri 16th Oct 2020.
Week 3:  Tue 20th – Fri 23rd Oct 2020.
Week 4:  Wed 28th – Fri 30rd Oct 2020.
Week 5:  Tue 3rd – Fri 6th Nov 2020.
Week 6:  Tue 10th – Fri 13th Nov 2020.

Some information about the surveys..

The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is 1 million hectares in size, and 80% of it was impacted by fire. Within this region we had identified 5 koala study sites where koalas were known to occur: we are heartbroken that four of those sites have had 75% or more of koala habitats impacted by fire. That’s why we need your help. Mapping where koalas still occur across the mountains after the fires is a critical first step in helping us to understand how the fire impacted their populations. One koala can use anything from 5ha to 300ha of land each year, and they also use trees that are over 45m tall in some areas so they can be extremely hard to see. That’s where scat surveys come in.

Scat surveys are a great way to discover what different species have been up to when no-one was around to observe them. They are particularly effective for finding animals that are only in low densities after the fires. This project involves carrying out koala scat surveys across a range of different burn intensities and habitats, to find out where koalas survived. You’ll also encounter scats from other species along the way and learn about scat identification techniques. You can also pick up some basic eucalypt identification skills as we will identify the tree species that we find koala scats under. Come and learn the art of scatology!

You don’t need to sign up for the whole week – when you register to volunteer it will give you the option to select the days you’re available. However, it takes a while to get your eye in for scat counts, so we’d like all participants to commit to helping for a minimum of 2 days over the whole survey period (they don’t necessarily have to be within the same week). Beyond that, you can come out as often as you’d like! Our schedule will depend on weather, fire risk ratings, and land access, but we will endeavor to go out on the dates listed below.

The data we collect will provide vital information for planning conservation action and koala population recovery. We need to know where the koalas are, so we can allocate resources to protect them. We are also undertaking ecological studies of koalas at some sites, including tracking them to work out where they move and how they use the landscape after fire. This information is then shared with land managers so that we can work together towards koala population recovery. We can’t promise that you’ll see a koala, but you’ll be making a big contribution as the scat surveys will help us to map where koalas have survived after the fires. Seeing the impact of the fires on this beautiful area can be difficult to take, especially in the badly burnt areas, so please consider this when choosing to volunteer. 

Register HERE to volunteer for post-fire Koala surveys

Location and getting there:

Scat surveys will be undertaken in South East Wollemi National Park around Bilpin, Colo Heights and north off Putty Rd, and also on public land in the developed areas around Kurrajong, Grose Vale and Upper Colo. You’ll need your own transport as there is no public transport to the survey sites. All survey sites will be accessible by 2WD vehicle, otherwise we will ferry you in our 4WD from a nearby point.

Once you have selected tickets to register below, you will receive more details on the exact area you’ll be surveying with us, and where to meet, etc. 

What is involved:

First thing in the morning you’ll be given a brief overview of the Blue Mountains Koala Project, then a safety briefing, and then you’ll have a quick practice spotting some koala scats on the ground. Depending on how long the walk to each survey site is, we plan to complete around 4 scat searches per day, possibly more. 

Each scat search will be done inside a quadrat that we will measure out when we get there, using removable flagging tape. Then we will all search the leaf-litter, and see what we can find! We’ll also check what tree species are around, to confirm that the vegetation type on the map matches what is actually on the ground (this is called ground-truthing). Then we will check to see if the burn intensity matches the satellite fire mapping. When we find a koala scat, we will first have an excited celebration, then we mark a GPS point and identify the nearest tree species. In some places koala scats might be rare, but you’ll hopefully find scats from wallabies, wombats, and other native critters. We hope to find lots of signs of life out there.

Requirements:

The survey locations can be remote so you must be competent in bushwalking off-track, i.e. through sometimes thick understorey vegetation, and up and down forested slopes. Some sites will be on ridgelines, others in valleys and along creek lines. A reasonable level of fitness is required as sometimes the slopes are steep. A team leader will take you to each site using a GPS so you don’t need bush navigation skills – unless you’d like to have a try while you’re with us.

FAQs

Are there a minimum age requirement to enter the event?

The surveys involve long days in the field, plus a lot of walking. For that reason the event is not suitable for children. You can use your judgement for older children (over 15) if they have been on long bushwalks with you and enjoy a full day in the bush, but please note that if we are surveying a remote site then it would be difficult to return to the vehicles sooner than planned except in cases of emergency.

What should I bring into the event?

There are no shops nearby so you’ll need to bring a day-pack and carry your own water (a guide is at least 2L per person per day), lunch and snacks, plus sunblock and insect repellent. A personal First Aid kit is also a good idea, your team leader will also have a First Aid kit. Wear hiking boots with ankle support, and long trousers (bring gaiters if you have them), plus a long-sleeved shirt and hat. The bush can be spikey so leggings are not advisable. Gloves are optional but can be handy (pun intended), particularly if you don’t want to directly handle the scats. The weather in the mountains is changeable so bring a waterproof jacket and appropriate layers to stay warm. Please check the weather forecast before you leave. There are no toilets nearby so be prepared to make a bush toilet stop if needed (dig a hole and bury your waste, at least 100m from any waterway).

How can I contact the organiser with any questions?

Send an email to info@scienceforwildlife.org and include the Post-fire Koala Surveys in the subject line. During the event and during other fieldwork over the next few months we will be out of mobile phone coverage so email is the most reliable method of contacting us. You can also send a text to Victoria, on 0421 778 845 but please note that it will not be received until the end of each day, or possibly the next day. Please note that once you’ve registered via the ticketing process we’ll be sending you some more information by email, including where and when to meet each day.

Project Partners Science for Wildlife is working in partnership with our core supporters San Diego Zoo Global, and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), who are providing support for us to understand post-fire koala distribution in the Blue Mountains region under the NSW Koala Strategy.

Other interesting videos and articles about Koalas..

Watch our Koala Rescue During the Fires https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QliwpX8crg

National Geographic Article – After the Fires https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/07/australia-marsupials-struggling-after-fires/

Streamwatch 30 Year Celebration – Live Stream

In Celebration of Streamwatch and its 30th anniversary of three decades of independent Water Quality Monitoring in Sydney.

The 30th anniversary marks a celebration of the dedication and preservation by all the amazing volunteers, which make Streamwatch possible, keeping it one of the longest running water quality citizen science programs across Sydney.

Grab a cuppa, comfy chair and your computer to join us for this online event.

https://youtu.be/vOZF3lWZpAA

Celebrating Streamwatch 30 year anniversary Courtesy: Streamwatch

Guest speakers:

  • Greg McDonald discusses Streamwatch, Stewardship and Environmental Protection.
  • Dr Ian Wright presents a case study where Streamwatch data was instrumental in putting a spotlight on water pollution.
  • Dr Michelle Ryan talks about the results of her pilot study in urban Sydney, utilizing volunteer citizen scientists with Sue Martin, the Cattai Hills Environmental Network (CHEN), and their surprise findings on the elusive platypus.
  • Christopher Noon, discusses the future direction of Streamwatch from the Convenor Streamwatch Subcommittee, and their project with Kristy Guise, Hornsby Shire Council’s environmental water scientist.

This 30th anniversary marks a celebration of the dedication and preservation by all the amazing volunteers! Which make Streamwatch possible, keeping it one of the longest running water quality citizen science programs across Sydney. Initiated by Sydney Water and the Sydney Catchment Authority. From it’s humble beginnings, Streamwatch started with a trial of 15 schools in 1990. From 1991 to 1994 Streamwatch became a project of the Special Environment Levy Trust.

The Streamwatch program originally had a focus on curriculum implementation in secondary schools, but quickly extended beyond schools into a citizen science program. Similar programs were emerging in other states, the famous Round Table conference in Cobram, Victoria, led to cooperation in developing community water quality monitoring programs. This led to Waterwatch Australia being established as the umbrella coordinating group for developing community water monitoring.

In 2000, Streamwatch was renamed as Waterwatch for all areas outside of Sydney Water’s area of operation. Since it all began, there have been over 1,100 Streamwatch groups who have monitored water quality at over 1,060 sites, and have contributed almost 31,000 data sets to the online database.

These groups have been spread across greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Illawarra and Southern Highlands regions. As of June 2019, the Streamwatch program is in transferring from the Australian Museum to Greater Sydney Landcare Network.

COVID-19 snapshot – Popes Glen Bushcare

How are you and your Bushcare groups going over the COVID-19 period? Send any interesting articles or photos to bushcare@bmcc.nsw.gov.au.

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!).

Pope Glen Bushcare group enjoying morning tea COVID style. Credit: Alan Lane

AABR – Post-fire bush regeneration resources

First Aid for Burned Bushland

AABR is progressively providing online material to assist landholders undertake ecological weed management after the extensive wildfires of spring-summer 2019-20. If you are a land manager or willing volunteer, please check out our resources below and learn what you can do to help recovering natives that are experiencing competition from regenerating weed!

First Aid for Burned Bushland (FABB) is the place the see the resources AABR is developing to provide guidance for assisting in the recovery of our bushland after the fires last spring and summer. Click the link below to see more…

Boost for Bushcare – Fairy Bower Bushcare

By Sandy Benson

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.

Fairy Bower Bushcare Group elated after a successful day of planting along side the railway reserve Photos: Sandy Benson
Bushcare volunteer Lyne Wake, planting Blechnum ferns and tea trees
Gemma Williams – every plant counts towards imporving biodiversity and habitat values.

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.

Purple Copper Butterfly – Saving Our Species

Saving our Species are asking land managers to report any sightings of this rare species from private property.

One of Australia’s rarest butterfly species, the Purple Copper Butterfly, is only found in the Central Tablelands of New South Wales. Its habitat is restricted to elevations above 900 metres.

The purple copper butterfly feeds only on a subspecies of blackthorn (Bursaria spinosa subspecies lasiophylla). It relies on a ‘mutualistic’ relationship with the ant Anonychomyrma itinerans, and the presence of blackthorn.

Community involvement is one of the key priorities in the purple copper butterfly conservation effort. Land managers of the butterfly’s habitat are being asked to help protect the butterfly through the upkeep of Bursaria often found in open eucalypt woodland on private property.

Saving our Species are also asking land managers to report any sightings of this species from private property. Reporting sightings will help to fill significant information gaps in the areas of population dynamics, habitat requirements, fire ecology and the nature of the relationship with the attendant ant. Learning more about this threatened species will help inform its recovery effort.

The purple copper butterfly is a small butterfly with a wingspan of about 2 centimetres. It can be identified by its collage of colours – bronze, green, blue, deep brown and of course purple undertones.

Butterflies are not only a beautiful insect but play several roles in the environment. They act as a pollinator; as a food source for other species; and are an important indicator of a healthy ecosystem.

To contact Saving our Species with any information or queries about the purple copper butterfly, please email savingourspecies@environment.nsw.gov.au.

Saving Our Species www.environment.nsw.gov.au/news/purple-copper-butterfly

To find out more visit Purple copper butterfly.

Celebrating 20th Anniversary World Heritage Blue Mountains

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Greater Blue Mountains region being granted World Heritage status by the United Nations. 

Blue Mountains City Council will mark this important milestone by celebrating the unique privilege of managing a City within a World Heritage Area.

From July to December 2020, Council will showcase how we help preserve an area of such special significance, including recognition of Traditional Ownership, protection of the environment and threatened species, water resource management and strategic planning.

Read more…..https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/WHA

AUGUST focuses on “Our Water Sensitive City”

Blue Mountains waterways are some of the most beautiful, iconic and highly valued in Australia. They sustain a unique diversity of animals and plants, hold great cultural significance to Traditional Owners, and provide huge opportunities for recreation and eco-tourism.

Our waterways also supply drinking water to over five million people, including residents of the Blue Mountains local government area.

Read more..https://www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/WHA/Water

SEPTEMBER will promote “Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity”

View information on Bushcare, Threatened Species and Weed Management. More information to come…..

Bushcare volunteers weeding at Carrington Park, Katoomba above the Great Blue Mountains World Heritage area Photo: Council

Major milestone: iNaturalist Australia hits 1 million

iNaturalist Australia is excited to say they hit 1 million observations in mid-April only six months after its launch. A grand effort thanks to all the keen Australian citizen scientists for uploading observations and the expert identifiers for verifying sightings.

iNaturalist Australia is proving to be a popular platform for insect and plant observations. From the recent City Nature Challenge results we can see that 28% of observations were insects and 42% plants.

The global iNaturalist network is one of the most successful citizen science platforms in the world, with instances in 10 different countries. The iNaturalist Australia community is very active with over 18,000 observers and over 8,000 identifiers

New look for iNaturalist Australia

The global iNaturalist brand has recently had a refresh and iNaturalist Australia has joined in too. The iNaturalist Australia logo now looks like this – so keep an eye out for bright green bird!

iNaturalist and the ALA

Collaborating with iNaturalist is a wonderful opportunity for the Atlas of Living Australia and our users. It provides an easy-to-use desktop and mobile platform, support for species identification, and tools for assessing data quality. All iNaturalist Australia data is regularly fed into the ALA.

Human observation data – individual sightings of species – are a valuable part of the ALA. This data helps to create a more detailed picture of our national biodiversity, and assists scientists and decision makers to deliver better outcomes for the environment and our species. iNaturalist Australia’s species identification features and data quality measures ensure individual sightings are more valuable than ever.

Citizen Science and Bushfire Recovery – CSIRO and ALA

Bushfire affected land and plant species in the town of Bilpin, NSW are beginning to regenerate.
Bushfire affected land and plant species in the town of Bilpin, NSW are beginning to regenerate. Credit: Australian Museum

CSIRO in collaboration with the Australian Citizen Science Association, has launched the Citizen Science Bushfire Project Finder to support Australia’s bushfire recovery.

Read more….

People-powered science will play a role in Australia’s bushfire recovery, with more than 20 projects underway involving citizen scientists of all ages.

Projects on the website include:

  • Australian Museum project Wildlife Spotter enables users to identify animals in photos taken by camera traps around Australia, assisting researchers in monitoring the effects of bushfires on Australian fauna.
  • South Australia’s Department for Environment and Water are using camera traps to monitor the flora and fauna recovery on Kangaroo Island.
  • There are several projects which people can contribute their sightings of plants and wildlife returning to fire affected areas.
  • Some projects also collect information about the intensity of fire impacts, observed fire behaviour, effects on water quality running off of fire grounds, and impacts of the smoke on people’s health.

The Project Finder also features a geographic filter enabling users to identify available projects in their area. It can be accessed at www.csiro.au/bushfireprojects.

Produced by the Australian Museum and the Atlas of Living Australia, DigiVol enables the public to spot animals in wilderness photos taken by automated cameras around Australia.
Produced by the Australian Museum and the Atlas of Living Australia, DigiVol enables the public to spot animals in wilderness photos taken by automated cameras around Australia. Credit: Australian Museum

Streamwatch News

Streamwatch has found a new home at the Greater Sydney Landcare Network. https://greatersydneylandcare.org/streamwatch/

Welcome to the new Streamwatch Coordinator for GSLN, Jessica Lumbroso, taking over the role from Elisha Duxbury. Jessica’s connection to Streamwatch started in her childhood with her involvement in the early Streamwatch school programs in the mid 90s, inspiring a passion for our beautiful surrounds and a childhood playing in creeks. In 2006, she was a volunteer Streamwatcher at Horseshoe Falls in Hazelbrook – teaching children about water bugs, water quality, testing and collecting data in the field.

This September Streamwatch is turning 30

Come and join the Celebration! Streamwatch will be putting together a special edition through a ‘memory lane’ outlining milestones and the history of Streamwatch in NSW, from humble beginnings to your current stream.

Streamwatch would love to hear any stories or see photos that your groups may have to contribute. Perhaps this is a time to take a group action photo to put into our archives for the future. They would love to hear any interesting accounts that could be documented and a photo of each group to acknowledge the input you all devote to our water catchments. How has this year been for all under these trying times and how has your group adapted to the extremes of fires, floods and pandemic while testing. You are welcome to reach out to me here (streamwatch@greatersydneylandcare.org) and tag us in your Streamwatch adventures on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/StreamwatchSydney) or Instagram using the hashtag #streamwatchsyd.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Throsby LandCare Streamwatch coordinator Chris Horsey gets ready for a water bug hunt, March 21, 1995.

Streamwatch feature group this newsletter is our very own South Lawson Streamwatch.

You won’t find Lawson Creek in many of the glossy tourist guides, but to the locals of South Lawson Bushcare Group, it’s a hidden gem of the Blue Mountains. And after 20 years of quiet, dedicated work to protect the creek, the group is ready to tell the world – with a new short film.  The film showcases the area’s magic: moss covered fairy dells, shimmering waterfalls and primeval hanging swamps, all beautifully captured on camera by local film-maker Vera Hong.  The film also celebrates the work done behind the scenes by dedicated residents, year in year out, to protect local bushland areas.

For more information about South Lawson Park Streamwatch visit their website https://southlawsonpark.bushcarebluemountains.org.au/streamwatch

30 years of StreamWatch data online

The NSW Government has recently made the past 30 years of Streamwatch data publically availble on their SEED platform. SEED also hosts a suite of other environmental datasets. Head over to their website to see the results from all your hard work over the years. 

If you have expertise with data we need help to transfer 18months data to SEED.
If you can help please contact us at streamwatch@greatersydneylandcare.org

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