As you may imagine, bushcare groups and workers have built up a huge array of techniques, tools and tips to help make the work more efficient, with least damage done, and greatest durability.
But the seminal principles of bushcare were developed by two women in the 1960s. What they wrote in their book Bringing Back the Bush has been the framework for the rehabilitation of degraded bushland to this day.
Joan Bradley described the practices she, with her sister Eileen, developed as they worked on restoring weed-infested bushland in a reserve in Mosman.
Their principles are known as the Bradley Method.
The Bradley Method
Here are the principles of bush regeneration.
Always work from areas with good native plants towards weed-infested areas.
Where weeds are minimal, weed seeds are minimal.
Where the number of native plants is the maximum, so is the soil seed bank of native plants.
As you work towards more degraded areas, the native plant seeds follow you into the areas you have weeded.
Create minimal disturbance.
Remove weeds by hand.
Mulch the ground to suppress regrowth.
Carefully replace soil in its original layers.
Weeds are encouraged by disturbance of the ground layer.
Let the rate of regeneration of native plants determine the rate of weed removal.
Too rapid clearing will lead to masssive germination of weeds, and much of your time has to be spent in re-weeding the site to give regenerating natives a chance.
Modern bush regenerators have added some techniques to the Bradley Method, including:
- the judicious and minimal use of herbicides, which results in less soil disturbance than hand removal of roots;
- less dependence on mulching, which may discourage native plant regeneration; many natives need bare soil and light to germinate; and
- the planting of local native species where the bush no longer has the resilience to regenerate naturally, or where soil erosion is likely.
Understanding these principles will underpin all of your work with bushcare.
To learn about specific weeds and how to identify them, you might like to visit the Weeds of the Blue Mountains website.
Your Bushcare officer will help you prioritise your work and to tell the difference between weeds and bushland plants. (You will often find that some of your fellow volunteers also have deep knowledge of local flora, weeds and even animals and birds.)
Items from our Bushcare’s Gecko newsletter will often feature news about specific ecologies, groups, workshops, weeds and more. You can search for topics that interest you, or simply browse the growing archives.