It has been a while since our last blog post. Not that we haven't been busy though. Over the past three months, the volunteers at Bangalee have worked almost exclusively on the lantana on the downstream end of the picnic ground. We had made some initial progress in this area last year but did not focus on it until the cooler weather came along.
Continuing east from last year's planting area, we have now cleared 0.8 hectares of dense lantana and revealed a severely degraded gully. We generally followed our three step process, namely poison the lantana first, pile it up and dig out all the roots, and then burn the remains. Clearing the 0.8ha actually took less time than we initially thought - the effectiveness of glyphosate and fire!
As part of National Landcare Week, we will be hosting a major tree planting event. In total, we will be planting over 500 plants ranging from eucalypts and rainforest trees to erosion-stopping lomandras. The goal is to get a diverse range of plants into the otherwise bare area in order to kickstart the natural regeneration process.
The tree planting day will be on Saturday 18 August 2018 from 8am (for a 9am start) until sometime after lunch. There will be something for everyone to do whether it be digging holes and putting in plants or setting up cages and watering. Or if none of that sounds like you, just come along for the company! Tea, coffee and a BBQ lunch will be provided for anyone who wants to come along.
On Friday 11 May 2018, Gareth Ward, the State Member for Kiama, attended Bangalee Reserve to officially launch Bangalee Bushcare's new website. Also attending the event were Shoalhaven City Council's Bushcare Coordinator, Peter Swanson, and several guests from Shoalhaven Riverwatch and Shoalhaven Landcare.
Left to right: Saskia Macey (Bangalee), John Tate (Riverwatch), Sarah White (Bangalee), Grant White (Bangalee), Gareth Ward, Len White (Bangalee), Peter Swanson (Shoalhaven City Council), Margie Jirgens (Riverwatch), Greg Thompson (Landcare), Peter Hanson (Riverwatch), Peter Jirgens (Riverwatch), Marien Stark (Landcare).
After Mr Ward had met all the volunteers and guests, he gave a speech to officially launch the website and to explain the vital importance volunteer environmental restoration organisations to the community and the health of the local ecosystems.
"I don’t see the money we invest in Landcare, Bushcare, Dunecare and Riverwatch as a cost to Government; it’s an investment in our community."
Mr Ward then planted a lilly pilly (syzygium smithii) to mark the occasion. "Lilly pillys are a very tough tree," Mr Ward said, "Like White Cedars, they are a really nice tree to plant."
After Mr Ward had ceremonially planted the lilly pilly, Len White, the volunteer coordinator of Bangalee Bushcare, took Mr Ward and the other guests on a tour of the work conducted by the group over the past few years. Starting at the downsteam end of the current work area, Len explained how the group has been working through the lantana towards the bank of Shoalhaven River. He also showed the guests how the groups has been able to create straight maintenance lines up towards Koloona Drive. "The goal," he said, "is to be able to create clear maintenance boundaries so that we can monitor the rates of regrowth in areas we have cleared of weeds."
Len also showed Mr Ward and the guests the different stages of bush regeneration at Bangalee as well as the successes or failures of different weed control methods. For example, pointing to the northern side of the existing River Walk, Len said, "Over there, we simply trampled the lantana down rather than piling it up. Lots of Kangaroo Apple has grown but the dead lantana still covers the ground making it very hard to control other weed regrowth."
Len told Mr Ward and the other guests how vitally important the followup weeding team is as Bangalee. "Without the weeders, we simply would not be able to prevent re-infestation of areas we have previously cleared of lantana. They look after the new planting areas and ensure that no previously regenerated area gets overrun with non-native species."
Mr Ward reiterated how impressed he is that the group is actively experimenting with different bush regeneration methods and has learned the importance having different people concentrate on different tasks.
"The work you’ve done here at Bangalee getting rid of lantana and other invasive species is just a real credit to you and it is a legacy that you are leaving."
The tour then moved to the upstream end of the Reserve before everyone returned to the picnic ground for hot coffee and homemade cake and biscuits provided by Elizabeth White, another regular volunteer at Bangalee Bushcare. Assisting her with catering was her (and Len's) grandmother, Cheryl White. Cheryl maintains Bangalee Bushcare's largest home nursery with close to 2,000 plants in her care.
It was a very successful day and Bangalee Bushcare are sincerely grateful to Mr Ward for making to time to come to our bush regeneration site and share a morning tea with us.
Today marks two weeks since one of Bangalee Bushcare's newest volunteers, Saskia, held a Naming Ceremony for her five-month-old daughter, River. The weather was perfect for the ceremony which was held in the picnic area under the 100+ year old Oak Tree. As part of the celebrations, 50 tube stock and saplings kindly donated by family and friends were planted in our newest Lantana-free area. This spot was specially chosen by Saskia for its vistas over the Shoalhaven River and accessibility from the picnic ground. It has now been named 'River's Arbour' in honour of the event.
"It was truly an honour to be a part of such a special day for saskia, James and River."
Bangalee Bushcare was privileged to assist in the organisation of the tree planting part of the Naming Ceremony. The volunteers sourced the trees, prepared the site for planting and brought several hundred litres of water. On the day, Bangalee Bushcare demonstrated to the guests how to plant trees for maximum resilience and survivability. The guests did an excellent job and we are certain that the trees will grow quickly and successfully revegetate River's Arbour. Well done and thankyou!
After the planting was finalised, Saskia invited the Bushcare crew to join in the family's celebratory barbeque and cake. We were thrilled to meet her lovely family and friends and share a piece of River's spectacular cake. It was a fantastic day and one that we are sure we'll remember for many years to come.
Yesterday, Bangalee Bushcare lodged an application for the NSW Environmental Trust's Restoration and Rehabilitation Program. Valued at $99,877, if approved, our application will allow us to carry out extensive regeneration works at Bangalee Reserve over the next three years. Our project, titled the 'Bangalee Riverbank Regeneration Project', includes the regeneration of 3.3 hectares of lantana infested river flats and the stabilisation of around 900 metres of eroding riverbank. The erosion control activities will be conducted in partnership with Shoalhaven Riverwatch who will provide materials and support throughout the project. As coordinator of Bangalee Bushcare, Len White will be the project manager throughout the life of the Trust grant.
Our proposal is divided into three distinct stages. In Stage 1, we will be repairing the two natural drainage gullies on the walking tracks on each side of the picnic ground. The exiting drainage pipes are severely damaged and no longer allow the free flow of rainwater. This has resulted in extensive sedimentation of the channels and also prevents adequate vehicle access to regeneration sites. Also in Stage 1, we intend to improve the initial 20 metres of access to the western end of the Reserve so that erosion control equipment and water for tree plantings can be brought in by vehicle instead of being carried by hand. This is absolutely essential to maintain efficiency as the alternative of carrying water and materials up to 350 metres will take a lot of time and effort!
Stage 2 of the project will focus on regeneration of the riverflats and riverbank on the western end of the Reserve. It will start by trialling large scale mechanical clearing of lantana using the services of Groundline Vegetation Management. This should quickly remove most of the lantana leaving only control of regrowth to be done manually. As soon as the lantana is cleared, we will start regenerating the site with native trees. Each tree will be protected from predators by a guard made from three metres of galvanised, 120cm high wire strung around three galvanised star pickets. We have proved at Bangalee that this caging method, while relatively expensive, is by far the most effective form of tree protection as well as one of the most durable.
Throughout Stages 1 and 2, we will be constructing the Shoalhaven Sand Sausage along the western riverbank in partnership with Shoalhaven Riverwatch. As each section is sandbagged, we will be revegetating the bank with Lomandras, River Oaks and other erosion control species.
Stage 3 will repeat the Stage 2 processes on the riverflats and bank on eastern end of the Reserve. It will regenerate an area from roughly where the jetty is located up to where the river walking track intercepts the Condie graves track. Once the project is finished, all that will be left to do is maintain the plantings and keep the weeds at bay until the trees get large enough to form a canopy. Between glyphosate, hand weeding, and watering with the IBC tank, the maintenance stage should be relatively easy.