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.
Integral to Bushcare is the strength of our community engagement and leadership and we are delighted to introduce you to our new Bushcare Officer Ed Bayliss. Ed will be taking over Stephanie Chew’s Bushcare groups and the Swampcare Program.
Ed has hit the ground running and you may have already met him on site with our experienced Bushcare Officers. Having grown up in the Blue Mountains, Ed has a good understanding of the threats facing our local flora and the particular issues our local community is dealing with.
He has a keen mind for landscape restoration in particular creekline restoration and is currently working towards Environmental Management and Water Sensitive Design degree. You may well have seen or worked with Ed on creekline restoration or Bush regeneration projects throughout the Blue Mountains with the Bush Doctor.
Ed said he is very excited to work for the Blue Mountains City Council in Bushcare and with the local community.
Blue Mountains City Council Bushcare Team Leader Sandy Benson said that Ed’s enthusiasm for the conservation of the region’s natural assets and his friendly attitude was a brilliant addition to the Bushcare team.
Please welcome Ed to the Bushcare family.
Lyndal Sullivan, our dedicated, long-time, loved Bushcare Officer, has retired explore a life of rest and relaxation. Those of you who know Lyndal know that isn’t exactly true; she has lots of plans, and I am sure that whoever she shares her time with will be happy to have such a wise and knowledgeable woman on hand.
Lyndal had been with Bushcare for March 2008 in 10 years and has achieved an enormous amount. Her involvement in implementing the Swampcare, Great Grose weed walk and the remote program, as well as completion of numerous grant projects, are a few of her major achievements.
Lyndal began as a dedicated and passionate Bushcare volunteer has also represented Katoomba Creek and was awarded legendary status in 2003. Those who know Lyndal would agree she is passionate about environmental management and conservation. She has been extremely dedicated and hardworking, and will be missed by the Bushcare team. We all wish her well in the next chapter of her life.
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.
Eric Mahony Bushland Operations Coordinator, long time supporter and previous Bushcare Team Leader will be resigning from Blue Mountains City Council to take up work with Central Tablelands Local Land Services (LLS) in Lithgow, working on biodiversity conservation projects.
Eric worked for the BMCC in the 1990’s with community volunteers undertaking Bushcare and Landcare programs in conserving and restoring our Blue Mountains bushland, which has been a point of great pride and satisfaction for him. Since then the program has shown what can happen when the community and Council work together, and the significant and lasting environmental outcomes, that are able to be achieved.
Eric said he will miss the support he has received from many of you both on a personal level, as well as at a program level and wishes everyone well. Hoping that Bushcare continues to have the same level of success into the future in protecting and restoring our precious Blue Mountains bushland as it has done for many years.
“For myself, looking forward, the opportunity to work with LLS staff in what has become my home landscape, Lithgow, having lived there for the last 18 years will present a new and exciting challenge. I will be working on various conservation projects with woodland birds, swamps, Copperwing Butterfly and others in the river systems surrounding Lithgow.
The position will provide an opportunity to reconnect with some of these projects and local community members from when I last worked in Lithgow.
For me, there remains significant environmental challenges found west of the Blue Mountains in my home landscape of Lithgow and look forward to the opportunity to be involved in projects with the central west communities to address these” he said.
Bushcare staff and volunteers are sad to see Eric leave as he is a well known figure in the environmental field across the Blue Mountains. Eric will be dearly missed, not just for his environmental knowledge and abilities, but also for his friendship, generosity with his time and commitment to public service.
All the best Eric!