Decades of Healing “The Full Story”

By Alan Lane and Paul Vale, Popes Glen Bushcare

From a willow infested wasteland to a thriving Blue Mountains wetland
You will know about the work of Popes Glen Bushcare group to rehabilitate the extensive willow forest and silt plug at the headwaters of Popes Glen Creek, Blackheath.

Alan Lane and Paul Vale are pleased to let you know they have updated the 2015 photo history (“Decades of Healing”) to now cover the entire project from 2002 up until 2019 in a booklet entitled “The Full Story”.

This illustrated history contains over 100 photographs describing the work in full – failures as well as successes, highlighting the application of “adaptive management” in the successful outcome. Included are fifteen appendices providing scientific data of all the various monitoring and survey programs they conducted (native and weed vegetation cover; quality of surface and subsurface water; soil accumulation rate; abundance and diversity of birds, frogs, stygofauna and macroinvertebrates).

Alan noted “This book is for bushcare volunteers and professionals, restoration ecologists, local councils and environmental groups, including schools interested in Citizen Science. It is both a motivational and “how-to” guide for groups tackling a large and complex rehabilitation project that perhaps seems over-ambitious”.

View the book FREE showing the digitial photo history “Wasteland to Wetland – The Full Story”
View the video: this outlines the extensive history, commitment and success of one of the Blue Mountains first bushland groups, Popes Glen Bushcare

Community wildlife survey

The NSW Government’s Community Wildlife Survey – NSW Environment, Energy and Science for 2019 is now open and ready for you to share your sightings HERE

If you have seen platypus, koalas, quolls, echnidas or possums the want to hear from you. Visit HERE for more information.

We need your help in understanding and conserving koalas and other local wildlife.

We are running a statewide survey that incorporates citizen science to improve our understanding of the distribution of koalas and other wildlife in New South Wales and how their populations have changed over time.

The information you provide in this NSW Community Wildlife Survey for 2019 will build on the findings we have from earlier community surveys and allow us to compare wildlife populations in 2006 and 2019. This will help us decide the priority sites for action as part of the NSW Government’s Koala Strategy.

The survey questions include:

  • which of the 10 target animals in the image gallery occur in your local area
  • when you last saw the animals in your local area and if you think their numbers are increasing, decreasing or staying the same
  • the health of the koalas in your local area and do they have young (joeys)
  • what you think are the main threats to koalas in your local area
  • where in New South Wales you have seen any of the 10 target animals over the last 2 years.

Project Plant It – Youtube

Project Plant It – Youtube

A short video showcases a Council project helping young people and children reconnect with nature.

The video, Project Plant It, shows students from Winmalee Public School spending National Tree Day at Springwood’s Deanei Forest Reserve, together with local Bushcare volunteers, members of the Blue Mountains Youth Council, and Council’s Bushcare, Community Development and Environmental Education & Engagement representatives.

The Year 2 students learned about the vital role trees play in our lives, health and future. They also learned how to plant and care for native plants, with 233 planted on the day.

Mayor Mark Greenhill said the short film is another great example of the magic that happens when people of all ages connect through a shared passion for our local environment.

“I want to thank all the members of our Youth Council, as well as the staff and students of Winmalee Public School and the Council staff involved in this project and video,” Cr Greenhill said.

“The benefits of such simple projects are far reaching, as the video shows – giving young people a voice in their future and appreciation for the past, connecting older and younger children with each other and with their environment, and bringing new energy to existing Bushcare work.”

 Teacher Jessica Smith said she enjoyed seeing the smiles on her students’ faces as they engaged in learning in the outdoors. “We at Winmalee Public School really appreciate being part of your project,” she said.

The idea for Project Plant It came from the Blue Mountains Youth Council, who wanted to make a positive contribution to our local environment. Youth Council is comprised of selected high school aged young people who meet monthly to develop projects that bring positive change in their communities. Project Plant It will continue in 2020. Local primary schools are encouraged to contact Council on 4780 5680 to register their interest.

Else-Mitchell Park tree planting morning

Article by Karen Hising

More than a year ago, a friendly neighbour to the Else-Mitchell Park Bushcare site kindly offered the Bushcare Group some Eucayptus deanei seedlings to raise and plant into the Reserve.  The seedlings had appeared in a large pot from a very large and beautiful Eucalyptus deanei tree in the neighbour’s front garden – a remnant tree from the original forest of the area.  Mike Purtell, co-ordinator and founding member of the Else-Mitchell Park Bushcare Group, agreed to raise the seedlings to a larger size for future planting. 

Meeting the neighbour some time later, I suggested he join us in planting the juvenile trees back into the Reserve, which he thought was a great idea!  But then I thought, having a number of plants available, why not invite all the surrounding neighbours. 

So, the Bushcare Group and six neighbouring families had a very enjoyable morning planting trees in various parts of the site – each family planting a tree each.  We then had a special morning tea and chat. 

So the Reserve now has more trees and the local neighbours and the Bushcare Group members had a chance to catch up!  With another neighbour, Mike is now trying to organise an interview with the neighbour who provided the seedlings to record the memories of living in the local area for historic reference, with particular regard to ongoing changes at Else-Mitchell Park.

Else-Mitchell Park tree planting morning Photo credit: John Papanidis

Atlas of Living Australia & iNaturalist Australia – are now live and linked.

Common Sea Dragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus). Image by johnturnbull uploaded to iNaturalist Australia’s Australiasian Fishes project (CC-BY-NC-SA)

Dear Atlas of Living Australia community. iNaturalist Australia is now live as of October 2019. The collaboration with iNaturalist is a good fit for the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) ensuring significant improvements to data quality and user experience.  iNaturalist Australia, the Australian node of iNaturalist, is the world’s leading global social biodiversity network.

Collaborating with iNaturalist is a wonderful opportunity for us 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 and you can link your ALA and iNaturalist accounts to see all your records in one place.

Human observation data is a valuable part of the ALA. It 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 will ensure your plant, animal or fungi sightings are more valuable than ever.

We now encourage you to use iNaturalist Australia to record your individual plant, animal and fungi sightings. You can still upload sightings using our Record a Sighting function, but we will be phasing it out. Read more…..

Council Officer wins NSW Environmental Educator of the Year awards

A Blue Mountains City Council officer has won both the NSW Environmental Educator of the Year award, as well as the AAEE (NSW) Government Education Award for outstanding contribution to Environmental Education in NSW.

Jenny Hill, one of Council’s Environmental Education & Engagement Officers, was recognised by the peak professional body for environmental educators – the NSW Australian Association for Environmental Education (AAEE) – at an awards ceremony on 4 October.

Photo: Jenny Hill, pictured with Sue Martin, Chair of the Australian Association for Environmental Education (NSW), and Patron of AAEE (NSW) Costa Georgiadis.

Ms. Hill is a member of Council’s Healthy Waterways team who run Connecting with Nature; a hands-on environmental learning program, developed by Council and run in partnership with local schools and Early Years Learning Centres. She was nominated by fellow team members Emma Kennedy and Alice Blackwood.

Ms. Hill said the win was a great surprise, having only discovered she had been nominated two days prior to winning the award. In her acceptance speech she acknowledged that this work was only made possible through fantastic team work. She thanked, ” _ _ the strong connections we have made and continue to grow within our Connect with Nature team, across Council, with community and of course our schools, pre-schools, teachers, parents and most importantly the children and young people who teach us just as much, or even more, than we teach them.” 

Connecting with Nature offers young people the opportunity to explore their local water catchment, learn why it’s special and take action to protect it through the Connecting Kids, Creeks and Catchments program.

In the last five years, Connect with Nature educators have worked with Council teams, the Stronger Families Alliance, the Blue Mountains Youth Council, community groups, over 25 schools, more than 3,500 students and an increasing number of pre-schools across the mountains connecting children, young people and adults to Place.

Connect with Nature is popular with both teachers and students. One teacher noted: “The Connecting Kids to Creeks program was absolute gold for me as a teacher, as well as my class and the whole school.” A student who attended a session with Ms. Hill said, “The only thing I wanted to make it a better day was more time. More time walking, more time in the cave, more time looking at the water, more time with bugs…. …. Could we camp there?”

Feedback from parents and carers has been similarly glowing, with one sharing, “My son is going to take us on a walk down the Charles Darwin Walk. I can’t believe that we have not done it yet as a family. We have lived here for years! He won’t stop talking about how wonderful it is. And now he wants to work for the Council doing walks and talks about water creatures and weeds!”

Mayor Cr Mark Greenhill said: “On behalf of all Councillors I congratulate Jenny on her awards and her commitment to excellence in environmental education. I thank all the Healthy Waterways Team for an exceptional program that provides children with meaningful engagement with our unique waterways. Connecting with Nature fosters a love of the Blue Mountains environment within its future custodians, and that helps secure its future.”

AAEE aims to achieve a more sustainable future and positive environmental outcomes through education, engagement and capacity building. AAEE rewards its members for their significant efforts in the areas of environmental education and education for sustainability through their national environmental awards, including the annual Recognition Award for Outstanding Contribution to Environmental Education in NSW (the overall state Environmental Educator of the Year award). Ms. Hill will now go on to be nominated for the national AAEE Australian Awards.

Another achievement for Jenny Hill – one of our previous Bushcare Legends. Good luck for the national AAEE Australian Awards!!

Council endorses Water and Weed Strategic plans.

Great news!!!! At the 24 September meeting, Council adopted the Water Sensitive Blue Mountains Strategic Plan and the Weed Management Strategic Plan 2019.

The Water Sensitive Blue Mountains Strategic Plan was drafted in collaboration with WaterNSW and the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, and updated in response to community feedback. It sets out the best-practice approaches and design principles Council will follow to manage our city’s waterways and water resources, focusing on water efficiency, water harvesting and reuse, stormwater management and community education.

The Weed Management Strategic Plan 2019 replaces our 2010 plan, taking into account policy and legislative changes in relation to weed control including changes to the role of councils and landowners under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015

For more information, download the Water Sensitive Blue Mountains Strategic Plan and Weed Management Strategic Plan.