Les Robinson has offered some subsidized places for volunteers to attend his training sessions.
Changeology (2 days)
The complete toolset for devising behaviour change projects + plus innovation skills, buzzmaking, and, for the first time, a systems thinking palette for sustained change. Really engage your community in change.
Greater Sydney Local Land Services has recently drafted a Landcare Strategic Plan to guide its support of, and engagement with, the Landcare community over the next five years. The plan is currently open for community consultation.
The Landcare Community is defined as:
Identified Landcare groups and other ‘care’ groups such as bushcare, coastcare, rivercare etc.
‘friends of’ groups and other community environment groups
Indigenous communities and organisations
Feedback from Landcare and Bushcare groups, Bushcare Coordinators, Landcare networks and others on the Plan is welcomed.
On a cold winter’s night, 16 people ventured out to hear Sarsha Gorissen present her PhD research on the local and iconic Blue Mountains Water Skink, Eulamprus leuraensis.
Sarsha began with historical research of Dr Dubey: that the two major populations of skinks in the Blue Mountains and Newnes Plateau are genetically distinct; and that these skinks are short-lived.
She followed with her own research, and discussed her major findings to date, which are that the skinks:
live exclusively in swamps and thrive in pristine ones;
depend on water and high soil moisture levels;
have a generalist diet, mainly of insects;
have adapted to survive fires; and,
that to conserve the species we must protect the habitat.
This data will be expanded on this year, her final year of study, and published in scientific journals. One paper already published by Sarsha — on fire frequency, urbanisation and these lizards — can be found here in Austral Ecology.
The Great Eastern Ranges Initiative — Kanangra Boyd to Wyangala Link Partnership (K2W), Upper Lachlan Landcare (ULL) and the Central Tablelands LLS are seeking expressions of interest from Indigenous community wanting to participate in a cultural fire workshop in the Awu-Laya country in Cape York Peninsula.
The Fire Workshop is an annual event designed to bring people together from different locations and communities, to share and learn about Indigenous fire practices and their application to contemporary management (details available here).
It is expected that successful participants will come back to their own local communities and share experiences and knowledge and be part of cultural activities within the K2W, CTLLS and ULL region.
At the fire workshop you walk with the fire, practically learning first hand with traditional owners and fire practitioners on country. To read country, the animals, the trees, the seasons, and the inherited cultural responsibility of looking after country for future generations.
There will also be displays of research and monitoring techniques that have been developed and grown with community Indigenous fire programs over time. These practices have also been developed and continue to address contemporary problems like weeds, climate change and the ongoing practice of rural livelihoods in sustainable ways.
13 June 2015 travel to Cairns (or 14 June, dependent on flights)
The K2W Link, CTLLS and Upper Lachlan Landcare will cover registration fees and airfares.
Food is included in the registration fees and camping.
(Cost per person estimate $500 Indigenous community; $1000 non-Indigenous community (registration); $700 (air fare to from Sydney to Cairns return)).
Please note if your expression of interest is successful and you accept you must commit to attending. If you do not attend, you will personally be required to cover the cost of cancelling the registration and air fare.
Successful applicants will need to supply your own camping gear (swag and/or tent).
Places are limited and not all EOIs will be successful. EOIs will be assessed against the responses provided for each of the criteria on page 2 and 3. If you are interested in participating, please address all of the following criteria on the form (link to EOI form)
Closing date for Expressions of Interest: 10 May 2015
Our own Nick Franklin, Blue Mountains Bushcare volunteer and professional bush regenerator, tells the story of how the ‘eccentric’ Bradley sisters started bush regeneration – a movement that radicalised the battle against one of the greatest and oldest enemies of the Australian bush – invasive weeds.
Environment Levy Report
The new look Environment Levy Report (6 months July – Dec 2014) is completed. This is a comprehensive report on Levy-funded programs and achievements and is now up on the BMCC website at:
Partnering with the NSW community for large-scale releases of a new agent
By Louise Morin, CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship
A new biological control agent for crofton weed, the rust fungus Baeodromus eupatorii, is now available for widespread release in NSW.
The CSIRO Biosecurity Flagship, with support from the NSW Weeds Action Program administered by the Department of Primary Industries, is undertaking a release program in partnership with the community in 2015 to facilitate releases of the fungus at several strategic locations across the range of crofton weed in NSW.
Crofton weed (Ageratina adenophora) produces copious quantities of windborne seeds, spreads rapidly and once established at a site reduces its agricultural or ecological value.
Crofton weed is declared as a class 4 noxious weed in several local government areas along the NSW coast. This means that its growth must be managed in a manner that continuously inhibits its ability to spread. While crofton weed can be managed by manual removal and herbicide applications, the extent of current infestations and their inaccessibility in some instances make control with traditional methods uneconomical and impractical. Biological control is the only sustainable method to control crofton weed at the landscape scale and reduce spread and infestation of new sites in NSW.
Biological control relies on highly specific natural enemies introduced from native range of the target weed to help achieve sustainable control. In the 1950s, two biological control agents were introduced for crofton weed in Australia: the fly — Procecidochares utilis, that causes galls on stems, and the leaf spot fungus — Passalora ageratinae, that causes necrotic lesions on old leaves.
While these agents cause some damage on plants, their impacts on populations of the weed have been negligible. The crofton weed rust fungus, which originates from Mexico, has recently been investigated to enhance biological control of this widespread, coastal weed in eastern Australia. It infects young leaves and stems of crofton weed and has great potential to reduce competitiveness, reproduction and spread of the weed.
The rust fungus was thoroughly tested to demonstrate that it would not pose a threat to economic and native plant species before it was approved for release in Australia in May 2014. During winter 2014, the fungus was released at five sites within national parks and conservation areas on the NSW South Coast and north of Sydney.
These initial experimental releases demonstrated that the fungus can establish readily in the field providing that the material used for release lasts for several days and that conditions are conducive for infection at some stage during that period.
Close up of crofton weed rust fungus pustules on the underside of the leaf photo by K. Turner
If you are interested in participating in the release program, please contact us. Rust-infected material suitable to make releases will be provided at no cost to community members either via the post or at field days (locations and dates TBA). Participants will be provided with simple guidelines on how to make the release and to monitor establishment and spread of the agent. In return, they will be expected to provide details on their release site and feedback on their monitoring activities.
It is not often we spare a thought for the humble snail but they play a vital role in recycling nutrients and keeping our bushland healthy. We are lucky to have over a dozen native species including the bizarre Carnivorous Snail and our very own Blue Mountains Land Snail.
We are all familiar with the introduced Garden Snail (Cantareus aspersa) so it’s heartening to know that none of the local native snails will eat your vegies. Instead they are fascinating native creatures which do us and our bushland a service.
Common Garden Snail C Peter Ridgeway
The most remarkable of our local snails is the Southern Carnivorous Snail (Austrorhytida capillacea). It is easy to identify by its curious flattened shell. As the name suggests this species feeds on other snails which it tracks down by their slime trails. Thankfully it has a particular appetite for garden snails so it can be the gardener’s friend. It is found in most parts of the Blue Mountains and will move into gardens as long as there is good shelter and no pesticides. So it’s one more reason to put native habitat back to your garden.
Austrorhytida capillacea c Peter Ridgeway
The Blue Mountains has the particular honour of being home to the Blue Mountains Land Snail (Pommerhelix monacha). This is a relative of the endangered Cumberland Plain Land Snail. We know very little about this species. It appears to be moderately common in damper areas including the edges of hanging swamps.
Pommerhelix duralensis c Peter Ridgeway
The Blue Mountains Land Snail is joined in the lower Blue Mountains by the ‘Dural Land Snail’ (Pommerhelix duralensis) which is restricted to shale-sandstone transition forest and Blue Mountains Shale Cap forest. This species is in decline and is under review for listing as an endangered species.
Pommerhelix monacha c Peter Ridgeway
Next time you come across an empty shell give a second thought. Our native snails have a tough existence but there is more to them than meets the eye!
Turtles, fish and other aquatic life is thriving at Glenbrook Lagoon, – once the most polluted waterway in the Blue Mountains, – thanks to a successful seven-year restoration program involving the local community and funded by Council’s Environment Levy.
Recent surveys of the lagoon, conducted by Council, have revealed healthy populations of Eastern long-necked turtles, Flat-headed gudgeon, Australian smelt, eels and catfish. Pollution-sensitive water insects that have not been seen in the lagoon for many years are also on the rise, – which means water quality is improving.
Above the water line, local residents have reported that the lagoon is looking more ‘alive and inviting’ as the environment recovers.
Less than a decade ago, Glenbrook Lagoon was in poor shape, acting as a sink for stormwater runoff from surrounding neighbourhoods. High levels of water pollution led to an explosion of two aquatic weeds – Cabomba and Salvinia – which were literally choking the lagoon to death.
Cabomba and Salvinia are Weeds of National Significance, – members of Australia’s ‘most wanted’ list of invasive, destructive weeds. Cabomba, – an aquarium escapee, – is particularly virulent, and posed a potentially serious threat to Sydney’s nearby water supply, as well as waterway health, fisheries, recreation and tourism downstream.
Since the mid 1990’s, Council has been working on a long-term project to bring Glenbrook Lagoon back to life; installing systems to reduce stormwater pollution, combatting noxious weeds in and around the lagoon, replanting native species, supporting local Bushcare and Clean Up Australia efforts, and raising community awareness.
In a national first for such a large natural water body, the Council has cleared 99.9% of Cabomba and Salvinia. Water quality is improving, bushland habitats around the lagoon are steadily recovering and less pollution is flowing into the lagoon. The Council is also continuing to monitor the lagoon’s status.
To fund Cabomba control, the Council secured a $280,000 Caring for Our Country grant from the Federal Government, with $200,000 in matching funds provided by Council’s Environment Levy. The Council’s Environment Levy raises around $1.5 million annually from Council rates and funds projects to restore local creeks, improve water quality, control noxious weeds, protect endangered species and improve walking tracks across the City.
Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill, said, “With its peaceful setting, open spaces and birdlife, Glenbrook Lagoon is a true local gem of the lower Blue Mountains. It’s exciting for both the local community and the environment that this little oasis is returning to life.”
“Glenbrook Lagoon is just one of 50 waterway sites regularly tested for water quality and one of 130 bushland sites currently being rehabilitated by Council; work which is made possible through Council’s Environment Levy.”