Rare win for habitat protection in Holroyd

Holroyd Local Government Area doesn’t have much habitat left, so when Holroyd Council was alerted by resident complaints that trees were being damaged they took quick action. Council investigators found that 4 remnant Eucalyptus fibrosa trees had holes bored into them around the base using a chainsaw and filled with an unidentified liquid. A resident also provided video footage of a man chain sawing the base of one of the trees.

IMG_5306

chain saw cuts at base of tree

Council wrote to the owners (the property was a rental) seeking an explanation however the owners denied any knowledge of the works occurring.

In the following weeks the trees rapidly discoloured and later died and the owners lodged an Tree Preservation Order (TPO) application to remove them. Council determined the trees were of significant habitat value due to presence of hollows and the future potential of hollows. The TPO application was deferred and a Local Govt Order No 21 served to make safe the trees by removing all but the trunks and portions of the 1st order laterals.

The owners appealed Council’s Order to the LEC however the appeal was dismissed and the Court saw fit to strengthen our original Order.

The above photos were tendered as evidence.

https://www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au/decision/55e68d99e4b0012d84a75877

with thanks to Jason Rothery, Landscape Technical Officer for HolroydCity Council

https://www.facebook.com/urbanhabitatcreation

 

Jamison Creek Catchment Working Group

Queens Cascades Wentworth Falls

By Lachlan Garland

Great things are happening for the environment in the Blue Mountains. Three catchment working groups currently exist and I have just seen a very inspiring presentation on the work in Popes Glen in Blackheath.

The latest excitement is the creation of the Jamison Creek Catchment Working Group.

This unique catchment, unique because it exists on both sides of the Highway, is very important, but like most catchments, is under stress. Weeds, pollution, sedimentation and high water flow issues abound.

However, by utilising procedures, knowledge and actions created by other working groups, Jamison Creek can one day be returned to it’s former glory.

Anyone interested in getting involved can contact me on 0415 317 078 or email lachlan.a.garland@bigpond.com

Jamison Creek Catchment Care Day

On October 10th, 2015 the volunteers who regularly work in the Jamison Creek Catchment (Jamison St Landcare Group; Charles Darwin Walk Bushcare Group and the Valley of the Waters Bushcare Groups) held their first Catchment Care Day.

The aims of coming together like this were to:

  • increase awareness of the threatened species in the catchment, particularly Pherosphaera fitzgeraldii as well as Pultenaea glabra;
  • support the BMCC Bush Regeneration Team’s targeted Broom control program;
  • meet each other and learn about each other’s work.

We covered the length of the creek targeting Broom and also a considerable area closer to Wentworth Falls working on Montbretia, Privet, Erica and Japanese honeysuckle.

Eric Mahony (BMCC), Michael Hensen (BMCC) and Arthur Henry (NPWS) provided great information about the work in the catchment and the threatened species while we enjoyed a picnic lunch made possible by the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage Saving Our Species Program.  A big thank you to everyone involved!

Levy lego1   SoS logo   cropped-gecko.png

The Gully Get-together 2015

Thankfully the rain showers overnight cleared and a clear blue sky greeted a group of over 40 very keen volunteers at the Upper Kedumba Bushcare site in Pine St, Katoomba on Sunday November 1st 2015.

The ground was ready – we’d already dug about 120 holes and the rain prepared the ground nicely for planting, so it was all systems go! After a quick briefing and acknowledgement of Country at 9am, Jane whipped us into action and within 2 hours the combined efforts of Upper Kedumba, Friends of Katoomba Falls Ck, Garguree Swampcare and Prince Henry Cliff Walk Bushcare Groups had 400 plants in the ground, staked, guarded and watered.

before

The ground prepared

Just enough time to pack up the work gear and reconvene at The Gully Heritage Centre where David King and Elly Chatfield greeted us with a sumptuous morning tea/lunch laid on courtesy of the Saving Our Species Program and Sandy Holmes, a Garguree volunteer.

Following the glorious food it was on to some inspiring presentations. First, Les Peto spoke about the Fungi and Lichens commonly seen in the Gully and elsewhere in the mountains. Michael Hensen filled us in on the Saving Our Species program to protect the endangered Dwarf Mountain Pine in Katoomba Falls, one of the sources of funding for work in the Gully, and Eric Mahony outlined the current regeneration and restoration works currently underway and planned for the area. David King closed the day with an expression of gratitude to all those who’ve contributed to the success of the Garguree project and other work in the catchment of The Gully and reminded us of the importance of The Gully to the Gundungurra people and especially his late mother, Aunty Mary King.

The Gully Get-together is held once every year and is another great example of the benefits of Bushcare groups taking a catchment approach. It can also help break down the sense of isolation that some groups experience, leaving them feeling like their battle with the weeds is unwinnable. By pooling resources and getting together to work and plan we can learn about the issues common to other groups in the nearby area, develop a clearer picture of what’s going on in the catchment and why.

And we’re combining  our power to do something about it!

Upper Kedumba Planting Day

and the same ground later, with a junior landcarer assisting Jane with watering

The Gully Get-together was supported by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Save our  Species funding and Environmental Trust Protecting our Places grant funding, and the BM Food Co-op.

SoS logo  GTO  gecko-logo  envtrust logo

Photos by Paul Vale, text by Monica Nugent

News from the Bushcare  Team February 2016

We hope this Gecko finds you well and ready for a new year of weeding, seed collection and a bit of picnicking.

At the end of 2015 we had to bid a fond farewell to Ray Richardson, a long term member of our Bushcare community when he departed the mountains for a sun-filled retirement in Albury Wodonga. As well as bushcaring, Ray spent many hours developing and updating our display materials and the BMCC weeds website. He will be sorely missed by the Homeschoolers Bushcare Group in Lawson, the Bushcare Network and the Bushcare Office.

As many of you know, Eric Mahony has been appointed to the position of Bushland Operations Coordinator. The Bushcare Team is very pleased to have the opportunity to work more closely with Eric, who has a wealth of experience in Bushland Management both from earlier roles with the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment Management Authority, NPWS and as one of Council’s Bushland Management Officers for many years. Eric is coordinating all of the Council teams that carry out Council’s on-ground Bushland restoration works.

There is a series of workshops coming up this year, its called “Bushcare Boosters”. These half day training sessions will increase awareness of bushland management issues relevant to your Bushcare sites. Modules include: site planning; how and why to prepare; site safety; how to keep the group coming back; fauna management and really getting to know your site well. We’ll have more details very soon.

So now the festive season is over – its back to work!

– Monica & Erin, for the Bushcare Team, Feb 2016.

 

The story behind our most mystifying Atkinsonia ligustrina

Atkinsonia ligustrina close up of flowers, November 2015

Atkinsonia ligustrina close up of flowers

One of the glorious moments in the Blue Mountains bush is to find a rare plant in full bloom. So it was with Atkinsonia ligustrina that Rae Druitt and I found on the west side of the Mt Hay Road, 7.1 km from the Great Western Highway in Leura in late November. There were three plants, the middle one of which was nearest the road and easily photographed (see photos above and below). Its spectacular yellow flowering made it stand out for all to see.

At first glance it resembled Persoonia myrtilloides, another rare plant, but we soon changed our minds when we found that unlike all Persoonias in which four sepals roll back down the corolla, this plant had six strappy petals, sometimes seven or even eight, and they were spreading. Not only that but the anthers were adnate and very pale (see attached photo).

Atkinsonia ligustrina is a robust upright shrub with many red–brown stems that divide into a canopy of smooth, red–brown, brittle branchlets. The leaves are opposite, although at times appearing randomly placed because one or more leaves has fallen. Each leaf is elliptic, spreading, green (and bright green when new), (20)–25–(30) mm long, (5)–7–(10) mm wide, discolorous and slightly fleshy, the lower surface covered in felted hairs; apex obtuse; base tapering; margins entire; petiole about 2 mm long.

The inflorescences (in November) are axillary, in racemes almost the same length as the leaves, up to 8 tubular flowers on each raceme, pedicels short, petals narrow, strappy, yellow, spreading and about 7 mm long; anthers adnate, short, pale. Initially the fruit are green, ovoid–oblong (like a small olive) and about 15 mm long, but when they mature (in March) they become scarlet. They are not persistent, and all fruit will have fallen (or been eaten) before flowers set for next spring.

Atkinsonia ligustrina is a member of the family Loranthaceae, the mistletoes, which includes common genera such as Amyema and Muellerina. All are parasites on other plants, especially eucalypts. However, Atkinsonia ligustrina is unusual in that it is the only one of this group that is terrestrial, and not epiphytic. It is a hemi–parasite on the roots of neighbouring trees and shrubs: it obtains nutrients from them, but its own leaves make chlorophyll. The four families, Olacaceae, Loranthaceae, Viscaceae and Santalaceae make up the Order of Santalales, the parasitic plants.

Atkinsonia ligustrina is classified a rare plant, ROTAP 2RCa, which means that it has a maximum geographic range of less than 100 km, that it is rare, that it occurs in a National Park, and that it is adequately conserved. It occurs mostly in the upper Blue Mountains, but has been recorded as far south as Yerranderie and as far northeast as Mellong.

Atkinsonia ligustrina was named by Ferdinand von Mueller, the great nineteenth century botanist and Director of the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens and Herbarium, to honour a remarkable lady who lived and worked in the Blue Mountains at Kurrajong Heights. Caroline Louisa Waring Atkinson had been born in 1834 at her parents’ property “Oldbury”, near Sutton Forest and Berrima on the Southern Tablelands of NSW. She was the youngest of four children. Her father, an author, died when she was only 8 weeks old, leaving her widowed mother to bring up the family. Her mother was also an author, this time of Australia’s first children’s book “A mother’s Offering to her Children”. She remarried, but disastrously, for the new husband, George Barton, “became violently and irrevocably insane not long after the marriage”, resulting in the family needing to leave Oldbury.

Thus Louisa, as she preferred to be known, lived most of her life at “Fernhurst”, a house that her mother, Charlotte Barton, built at Kurrajong Heights in the Blue Mountains. Louisa was a somewhat frail child with a heart defect, but there was nothing wrong with her brain, and under her mother’s tutelage she developed many skills. She became a well–known botanist, journalist, novelist and illustrator. Along the way she acted as un–paid scribe for the unlettered people of the community, and she organised and taught in the district’s first Sunday School.

In her literary career, Louisa’s first claim to fame came with the publication, when she was 23, of a novel “Gertrude the Emigrant”, the first by an Australian–born woman to be published in Australia. She was also the first author to illustrate her own work. Her second novel, “Cowanda, the Veteran’s Grant” had a cover design by S T Gill. Numerous other novels followed, each with an educational and moralising import. Continued on page 5

In 1853, aged 19 she had her first series of illustrated natural science articles published in the Illustrated Sydney News under the title of “Nature Notes of the Month with Illustrations”. Later in 1860 for about ten years The Sydney Morning Herald published her series of natural history sketches titled “A Voice from the Country”. She also became well–known as an amateur geologist, zoologist and taxidermist. There seemed little she could not do.

Louisa is acknowledged as a leading botanist who discovered new plant species in the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands, and she championed the cause of conservation during a period of rapid land clearing. She would often visit the Grose Valley, Mt Tomah and Springwood, and collect specimens for both Rev Dr William Woolls (a well–known teacher and amateur botanist) and for Ferdinand von Mueller. As a consequence of the quality of her information and the professionalism of her approach she was commemorated in a number of names of native plants: Atkinsonia ligustrina, Erechthites atkinsoniae (now Senecio bipinnatisectus), Epacris calvertiana, Helichrysum calvertiana, Xanthosia atkinsoniana, and Doodia atkinsonii (no longer a recognised species, no modern synonym, but believed to be a form of the modern Doodia caudata).

In 1865, when Louisa was 31, she and her mother returned to Oldbury, where her mother died in 1868. Louisa married the following year, when she was 35: James Snowden Calvert was a wounded survivor of Leichhardt’s expedition of 1844–5, and had been manager of Cavan station at Wee Jasper near Yass. He too was keenly interested in botany. Louisa bore a daughter in April 1872, but unfortunately succumbed to her heart condition 18 days later.

Louisa Atkinson is remembered in the local community as a pioneer of dress reform. She discarded the long dresses of the period for trousers because they were much more suitable for bushwalking and pony riding. Needless to say, this aroused “some twitterings in the ranks of the colonial Mrs Grundys” of the area.

Atkinsonia ligustrina Mt Hay Rd Leura

Atkinsonia ligustrina Mt Hay Rd Leura

text and photos by David Coleby, Australian Plant Society (APS) Blue Mountains Group.

Sublime Point Celebrates its 20th Birthday

The Sublime Point Bushcare Group (SPBG) in Leura celebrated its 20th Birthday on 11 January 2016. Since 1996 the Group has transformed, with the aid of a number of small grants, a six hectare Reserve in south Leura that had previously been seriously degraded over a substantial fraction of the total area. That part of today’s Reserve is now a flourishing native landscape. The whole Reserve is crisscrossed with walking tracks that have been engineered to reduce erosion.

Over the 20 years the Group has eradicated an impressive list of 33 weeds, including Buddleia, Tree Lucerne, Portuguese Heath, Holly, Privet, Monterey Pine, White Poplar, Lombardy Poplar, Pussy Willow, Chinese Elm, Watsonia and Yucca. But we still have difficulty with St John’s Wort, Catsear, Blackberry and a host of imported grasses.

The Group has a vibrant core of half a dozen dedicated bushcarers, augmented from time to time with other local residents. Most of them appear in the accompanying photograph.

photo of members of the group Lyndal Sullivan, Ross Day, Jeremy Townend, Brian Marshall, Anna Marshall, Piercarlo Cuneo, Joan Gahl, Libby Gahl, Rae Druitt, Christine Cuneo.

From left to right they are: Lyndal Sullivan, Ross Day, Jeremy Townend, Brian Marshall, Anna Marshall, Piercarlo Cuneo, Joan Gahl, Libby Gahl, Rae Druitt, Christine Cuneo.

By David Coleby, Convener SPBG

Picture of the group

From left to right: Ross Day, Jeremy Townend, Brian Marshall, Anna Marshall, Piercarlo Cuneo, Joan Gahl, Libby Gahl, Rae Druitt, Christine Cuneo, David Colby.

BIRDS From LIFE exhibition

THE BLUE MOUNTAINS BOTANIC GARDEN PRESENTS

BIRDS FROM LIFE

Bird artist Fiona Lumsden has spent decades tracking down and studying Australian birds within the context of their natural environment. Her paintings bring many elements together to create small insights into the world of the bird. She has built this series of lively sketches and paintings of birds from direct experience in the field.

Free entryFiona Lumsden

The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden

Bells Line of Road, Mount Tomah

T: 4567 3000

E: tomah@rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au

 

BirdsFromLife Brochure

 

 

 

Updated Weed Website

The Bushcare office, Ray Richardson and Hugh Todd have been working quietly away on updating the new platform for the weeds website, and it is now live!

The finished website will have 64 weed profiles, and resources to help with weed control. We have changed the system so the website can intelligently resize to look good on all screens used for web browsing – from phones to desktops.

It can be found at www.weedsbluemountains.org.au, for those who would like to have a look around.

We have retained some of the fantastic features that Barbara Harley and John Penlington worked on, like the weeds brochure and some of the original articles.

Weeds website

Due to the advancements of user friendly web design we (at the office) can add articles and information quickly and easily. If anyone within the bushcare community would like to donate some time to work on the website with me, or photographs that are better than what we have, we would be very grateful.

New Landcare Group gets stuck in

On Saturday 7 November, Katoomba Christian Convention launched a Landcare Group for looking after its 26 acre site. Fourteen hearty volunteers worked hard over a full day of guided bush regeneration.

‘It was a tremendous day’s effort and we’re looking forward to continued momentum into the future,’ said Operations Manager Shelley Taylor.

Gundungurra Traditional Custodian David King provided a Welcome to Country, sharing stories of the area where his mother, the late Mary King, grew up. David also gave the volunteer group an introduction to identifying Aboriginal artefacts. The late Mary King had been looking forward to attending the day, that David King and Elly Chatfield attended in her honour.

Bushcarer Jenny Schabel, a professional in natural resource management who works with Greater Sydney Local Land Services, volunteered her time to lead the day. Jenny has been a long term supporter of Katoomba Christian Convention and having chats with Operations Manager Shelley Taylor led to the launch of the new group.

On the day, during the morning tea and lunch provided, a devotion was shared that involved discussing how Christians need to care for and look after the natural environment as God intended. The day was supported by Blue Mountains City Council with Community Weeds Officer Linda Thomas providing much needed tools on loan for the volunteers to use.

Since it started way back in 1903, Katoomba Christian Convention has benefited greatly from volunteer support. Positioned just across the road from Scenic World, right on the doorstep of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, Katoomba Christian Convention has beautiful ridgetop bushland. A big chunk of the bush regeneration day involved removing the weeds tutsan, honeysuckle, broom and blackberry along a creek line that feeds a federally significant hanging swamp on the property.

Operations Manager Shelley Taylor explained that ‘our vision is to further develop the site to be an eco-tourist destination for attracting groups and conferences to the area’. With four self contained conference centres nestled in bushland, Katoomba Christian Convention accommodates groups ranging from 5 to 540 people, and can seat over 2000 people in its large auditorium.

From left to right: Jenny Schabel, Alex Mackenzie, Helen Kryger, John Adamson, Elly Chatfield, Tony Kryger, Kim Greenwood, Ralph Grose, Robert Hegedus, David King, Jenny Adamson, Shelley Taylor. KCC Neighbour Alan Owen missed the photo, but put in a big day of work also.

From left to right: Jenny Schabel, Alex Mackenzie, Helen Kryger, John Adamson, Elly Chatfield, Tony Kryger, Kim Greenwood, Ralph Grose, Robert Hegedus, David King, Jenny Adamson, Shelley Taylor. KCC Neighbour Alan Owen missed the photo, but put in a big day of work also.

David King talking about artifacts in the area

David King talking about artifacts in the area