By Sandy Benson
Rehabilitation following prescribed fire suppression activities in Mount Riverview
After a recent prescribed burn on a Mount Riverview Bushcare site, rehabilitation of several constructed fire containment lines has been completed. These containment lines or fire breaks are used to protect surrounding bushland that are not registered to be burnt. Unfortunately, fire breaks have the potential to create erosion unless rehabilitated by stabilising the exposed soil.
The aim of this rehabilitation project is to prevent soil erosion and reduce the likelihood of the fire breaks becoming new walking or bike tracks. The fire breaks were covered with a base of jute mesh, then native on-site mulch including branches, leaf litter and rocks were spread over the top to blend in with the natural landscape. The Mount Riverview site will be monitored to ensure that the fire break is not visible or subject to erosion due to extreme weather conditions.
Post fire can offer favourable opportunities for weed control and management or can have a negative effect on a site, dependant on the intensity of the burn. In this case, as the fire was a controled burn and not a wildfire, the intensity was low or considered a cool burn. Post cool burns, most plants can re-shoot from their stems due to thick bark that protects the buds from damaging heat, so they can recover rapidly after a fire. Native plants hold their seeds in thick woody fruits or capsules, where they are protected from fire, the fire assists in opening the capsules. When the seeds fall to the ground they land in the ash bed, which is high in the nutrients needed for strong seedling growth. This aids the natural regeneration of the bushland.
Post-fire risks and opportunities
- Improved access: provides opportunities to control weeds that were difficult to access.
- Mature plants are killed or reduced in number.
- Exhausting weed seeds in situ if consistently followed up with weed removal: manual removal or spraying of seedlings before maturity and seed setting can exhaust or reduce the weed seed bank.
- Mass establishment: fire can be particularly favourable for weed species and a substantial increase of the initial infestation may occur post fire.
- Cause erosion and subsequent sedimentation of creeks and wetlands.
Post fire weed treatment can be particularly effective and presents an opportunity for a local reduction of weeds. The Mount Riverview Bushcare group has been involved in post fire weeding and monitoring of the site. Access to areas infested with weeds post fire has been greatly increased and has allowed Bushcarers to reduce the number of weeds in the burnt areas.
David Coleby has greatly contributed to the conservation of the Blue Mountains for many years. He has been a dedicated Bushcare volunteer with Wentworth Falls Lake Bushcare Group for 21 years and the Co-Ordinator and member of the Sublime Point Bushcare Group for 23 years. David managed the Blue Mountains Conservation Society Nursery as a volunteer for 11 years. He is an active member of the Glenbrook Australian Plants Society Nursery.Â David has been an ongoing volunteer of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre since its inception in 2012. He also volunteered at Lithgow Zig-Zag Railway for five years, until the fire in 2013. David’s strong botanical interest has led to several voluntary studies on Blue Mountains plants – with three papers published in the Royal Botanic Gardens journal Cunninghamia. He is currently undertaking further study on a review of the distribution of the Eucalyptus cunninghamii, with plans for future publication. Other articles have been published locally regarding Blue Mountains botany and history.
Pamela Gardiner is a founding and dedicated member of the Benoit Park Bushcare Group (Valley Heights) with 13 years of service. She has been involved with the local Valley Heights Church, including Sunday School and Parish Council. Pamela has been a member of the Blaxland Gem and Mineral Club for over 40 years and held a number of roles. Up until recently, she regularly displayed four show cases for the Annual Show. Pamela has been a member of the Valley Heights Progress Association for over 30 years and currently holds the role of Secretary, which also includes co-ordinating the annual raffle to raise funds for the Association. For over 30 years, Pamela has been committed to rescuing and caring for our local wildlife with WIRES – most recently caring for micro and macro bats.Â Pamela is often asked to speak for Probus, Rotary and other Groups regarding the work of WIRES and she often assists new members of WIRES. Pamela believes if you don’t use it, you lose it!
Chris Watson is a long-term and integral member of the Jackson Park Bushcare Group.Â For many years, Chris was involved with a number of various projects with the Parish of St Thomas Aquinas and St Thomas Aquinas/St Columbas Schools, including working in natural areas.Â Chris is a very friendly, helpful and hard-working person, who is always willing to assist anyone with advice or work.
Until recently, Bill Webster was a dedicated volunteer with the Popes Glen Bushcare Group with 24 years of service. He was a SES volunteer for 45 years, including as a trainer and assessor. Bill was an expert on search co-ordination and a trainer for observation techniques and chainsaw operation. Bill was also qualified for high-level rope rescue and swift-water rescue. He assisted with the Thredbo landslide disaster in 1997. For many years, Bill was active in Probus and held several Committee positions, including President and Bushwalk Co-Ordinator and Leader. He served on the Rhododendron Society Committee in a variety of positions, including Membership Secretary for several years. Bill was also a long-term and regular volunteer gardener at the Rhododendron Gardens, with a particular emphasis on safety. He was involved with the HUFF Programme Heads Up For Fire community awareness and readiness. Bill also participated in long-distance bicycle rides to raise money for charities. He has been a mainstay of the Blackheath community.
Integral to Bushcare is the strength of our community engagement and leadership, and we are delighted to introduce you to our new Bushcare Officer, Steve Fleischmann. Steve will be taking over Lyndal’s Bushcare groups and the Remote Program.
Steve has hit the ground running, and you may have already met him on site with our experienced Bushcare Officers.
Steve has extensive experience in bush regeneration projects. In the 90s he worked in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. After completing Certificate III in Conservation Land Management, he enjoyed working on a variety of bushland management projects across the Mountains, Western and South Western Sydney, in environmental sustainability education, and running an organic farm with refugees. He has also been raising two children.
Steve spends as much spare time as he can playing music, going canyoning or taking his kids into the local bushland areas. Blue Mountains City Council Bushcare Team Leader, Sandy Benson, said that Steve’s experience and his friendly attitude make him a brilliant addition to the Bushcare team.
Please welcome Steve to the Bushcare family.
Well its that time of year when the seed heads of Agapanthus are forming. The plants by themselves are not too bad as they hold the soil together so in some instances where the soil is unstable they are best left and deheaded.
On the other hand the seed can travel down creeks into the areas of bushland and take root on creekbanks and unusual places like gutters. The root fragments can be spread in the movement of soil and dumped plants can survive for years and take root where they are left.
Agapanthus are tough plants so they have been used extensively on edges and next to drains. All of these drains and run off lead into the bushland. So if we remove the seeds the plants can not move into the surrounding bushland.
The students at Megalong Valley Public School have produced a short film creating real change in their community shining a light on the critically endangered species Callistemon megalongensis in the Megalong Valley.
The students of Megalong Public School are keen Guulong Landcarers and want to spread the message about protecting both threatened species and caring for their local native environment. With support from local legend David King a Gundungurra man, Landcare, Bushcare and the Greater Sydney Landcare Network they have recently been presented an exceptional achievement award by Paul Vale, Blue Mountains Bushcare Network and committee member of GSLN.
The seven student school is a tribute to leadership and sustainability, and have shot, edited and developed their own film with professional assistance, to create an engaging and entertaining film highlighting conservation values of the Callistemon megalongensis in the Megalong Valley.
The Megalong Valley bottlebrush is a critically endangered species, restricted to a small range of just 10kms around the Megalong Public School, with only 200 plants identified.
According to the Office of Environment and Heritage, the small total population size makes this species highly vulnerable to the following threatening processes including:
- High frequency fire, as well as intense hot fires that burn the peat layers of the swamp habitat. Also lack of fire may result in excessive weedy scrub development.
- Road upgrades and maintenance of road verges, powerlines and water mains where this species occurs can cause direct damage to plants as well as erosion, sedimentation, weed invasion and other forms of degradation to the habitat of this species.
- Weed invasion, particularly Japanese honeysuckle and blackberry.
- Altered swamp hydrology.
- Grazing by cattle and horses.
- Horse riding and recreational vehicular use (recreational 4WDs and trail bikes) along informal tracks intersecting swamps containing this species.
- Erosion caused by pig diggings and wallows damages habitat.
The “Save the Callistemon Megalongensis” film can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pT1Z3eUaO30>
For more information on the Callistemon megalongensis click: www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspeciesapp/profile.aspx?id=10517
The Summer Bushcare Gecko Newsletter is now available on the councils website and can be found here:
Bushcare Officers will have copies available onsite.
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;
For further information on the Greater Sydney Regional Strategic Weed Management Plan 2017, and can be found on:
Department of Primary Industries website
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.