Blue Mountains Conservation Society are pleased to host local ecologists, Judy and Peter Smith, talking about the native fauna of the Greater Blue Mountains on the very day the World Heritage listing for the area was decided back in 2000.
The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area is home to a remarkably diverse native terrestrial vertebrate fauna (currently 434 species) of international significance.
The World Heritage listing recognises the region’s globally significant natural values including its biodiversity.
Judy and Peter will talk about the fauna of the GBMWHA as it stood at the time of publication of their book (October 2019) and then look briefly at what has happened to the fauna since.
Blue Mountains City Council Media Release 08 October 2020
Efforts to protect and conserve several rare and endangered forest areas in the Blue Mountains will be amplified, after Council was awarded a $350,000 grant by the NSW Environmental Trust.
Over the next four years the funds will be used for the Forests for the Future project, which seeks to restore and protect unique environments in a number of Council managed reserves between Glenbrook and Springwood.
Working in partnership with the NSW Save our Species program and Hawkesbury River County Council, the project will help conserve the critically endangered Sun Valley Cabbage Gum Forests and endangered Blue Mountains Shale Cap Forests across their entire range. Iconic threatened species which inhabit these forests, such as the Powerful Owl, the Tiger Quoll and the Koala, are also expected to benefit from the restoration works.
Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill said: “The Forests for the Future project is part of our ongoing commitment to best practice environmental management.
“As a City within a World Heritage Area, it’s our job to protect our local environment, especially those areas which have rare or endangered species. Some of our environment is unique to the Mountains, and that needs to be conserved,” he said.
The works – that are able to get underway – include weed control, bush regeneration, stormwater mitigation, fencing and track rationalisation at Deanei, Else Mitchell and Patterson Reserves in Springwood, Sun Valley Reserve in Sun Valley, Blaxland War Memorial Park and Wascoe Park in Glenbrook.
Works will also include vegetation mapping, as well as education for schools, land owners and the community.
This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the Greater Blue Mountains region being granted World Heritage status by the United Nations. To find out more about Council’s work to conserve our local environment, visit the Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity webpage at www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/protecting-and-restoring-biodiversity.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Plant species which establish after environmental disturbances events are known as “colonisers” or colonising plant species. Following 2019-20 summer bushfires and floods, colonising plants are germinating from seed into the ground layer vegetation stratum. These autotrophic organisms (which produce their own energy as carbon from photosynthesis) are currently superabundant, capturing carbon for ecological communities across the Blue Mountains. This process is known as secondary ecological succession.
The below photo shows a local example of secondary ecological succession dominated by ground layer species Sigesbeckia orientalis and Australian Basket Grass (Oplismenus aemulus).
Interestingly, many colonising plant species are related members of certain plant families, such as the Grasses (Poaceae), Daisies (Asteraceae), Nightshades (Solanaceae), Peas (Fabaceae), and Mints (Lamiaceae). Some of the colonising species which are currently abundant post-fire and rain are listed in the Table below (Table 1).
Table 1: Examples of Colonising Plant Species
Right Angle Grass, Wiry Panic (Entolasia marginata)
Weeping Grass (Microlaena stipoides)
Australian Basket Grass (Oplismenus aemulus)
*Panic Veldtgrass (Ehrharta erecta)
*Fleabane (Conyza spp.)
Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare)
*Blackberry Nightshade (Solanum nigrum)
Hickory Wattle (Acacia falcata)
Dusky Coral Pea (Kennedia rubicunda)
*Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius)
Cockspur Flower (Plectranthus parviflorus)
NB. * indicates introduced species
Practical Application – Revegetation
Planted colonising species often have high survivorship rates on revegetation sites. Succession planting describes using colonising plant species during the first stage of revegetation, similar to the process of ecological succession. As our climate continues to change, plantings can expect to be exposed to extreme heat, longer summers and long periods between rain events. Planting colonising plant species with a high survivorship and fecundity may improve the efficiency of long-term ecological restoration.
For example, widely distributed native colonising species that may be suitable for revegetation include Right Angle Grass (Entolasia spp.), Weeping Grass (Microlaena stipoides), Australian Basket Grass (Oplismenus aemulus), Sigesbeckia orientalis, Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare), Hickory Wattle (Acacia falcata), Dusky Coral Pea (Kennedia rubicunda) and Cockspur Flower (Plectranthus parviflorus). The ecological communities found on your local Bushcare site will support locally adapted colonising plant species. Your local Bushcare Officer may be a good source of further advice on this topic.