Mt Gravatt Environment Group


Koala Mum and Joey Fox Gully Buschare

By: Michael Fox

Brisbane’s natural areas are a precious resource for both nature and people.

Please provide Council with feedback on the draft Brisbane Off-Road Cycling Strategy. The current strategy is putting large areas of our limited urban bushland at risk.

Email feedback to: parks@brisbane.qld.gov.au

Sign e-petition: Protect our Key Natural Areas – Off-Road Cycling Strategy on the Wrong Track

Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve supports a healthy breeding populations of Koalas Phascolarctos cinereus and Squirrel Gliders Petaurus norfolcensis. The 66ha Reserve has 282 native plants which equals 20% of native plant species in the 22.6 million hectares of the United Kingdom. The Reserve also supports 62 bird, 49 butterfly, 12 native bee species and numerous beetles and bugs.

The Council’s Brisbane Off-Road Cycling Strategy which focuses on opening up bushland for mountain biking, may be a threat to special places like Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

In the past a small number of illegal mountain bikers ignoring Council signs have caused huge damage to the sensitive bushland our community members have spent thousands of hours restoring: 176 volunteers contributed 606 hours in the 2019/20 financial year.

Erosion caused by illegal mountain biking – Jan 2021

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While less of problem in 2021, illegal mountain bikers are still making new tracks destroying plants and causing erosion. Even riders on the fire roads can’t resist the temptation to go “off-road”. Riders using the Acacia Way maintenance track have caused erosion that is undermining a mature eucalypt tree.

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Branches and mulch used to close tracks

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Illegal tracks dramatically increase erosion on steep slopes as water is channelled down hill. Closing down and repairing illegal tracks is a labour intensive and costly exercise: closing one track has required several metres of mulch, hundreds of branches recovered from the bush and laid on the track to stop bikes and start restoring the ground by collecting silt before it is washed downhill.

Even with these efforts by Council staff are not enough. I received a report this morning of orange barrier fences being removed and a father and son riding though the bush from the Summit to Gertrude Petty Place. Repair work like this uses scarce Council funds that could be used for improving facilities for all visitors.

National Tree Day 2018

As a BCC ratepayer and volunteer Habitat Brisbane Bushcare leader I am very concerned that a small percentage of our community are lobbying for a “free-ride” with access our bushland reserves without accepting the cost of that access. (A free-rider problem is a type of market failure that occurs when those who benefit from resources, public goods (such as public roads or hospitals), or services of a communal nature do not pay for them.)

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National Tree Day 2015

Habitat Brisbane Bushcare volunteer contribution is typically $4 for every $1 invested by Council: provision of plants, tools and training. Bushcare is a very low risk activity which contributes to the health of our urban bushland while reducing maintenance costs for Council. On the other hand, off-road cycling is a relatively high risk recreational activity that damages bushland, increases maintenance costs and dramatically increases the potential for legal action against Council.

This article focuses on Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve because I have deep knowledge of this area with fourteen years actively restoring the Reserve, researching the flora and fauna and engaging an increasing number of community members in restoration or observing the dramatic increase community members walking in the bush. While I do not have the same knowledge of other Brisbane bushland reserves they will have same sensitive habitat and I can make general observations about the potential impact of off-road cycling on other reserves.

Signage: The current track no bikes signage is very small, very limited and ineffective for the target audience: typically young males riding fast and totally focused on riding not signs. Tourists are one group that definitely better signage: one rider I stopped going down the walking track from the Summit was a visitor from South America. Others simply claim they have not seen signs. Signs need to be larger and spread along the tracks so everyone is well aware of the rules: no excuses.

Vandalised no-bike sign

Fines with no Enforcement = no behaviour change: While off-ride cycling is illegal in the Reserve and subject to $500 fines enforcement appears to be non-existent. As I understand the situation the very Council Officers, Rangers / Habitat Brisbane Officers, who spend time on the ground in the Reserves are not allowed to even issue fines, let alone that stronger action.

The draft Brisbane Off-Road Cycling Strategy (BORCS) “seeks to reduce unauthorised [illegal] track construction” (page 6). It is hard to understand the logic of a strategy that manages illegal behaviour by rewarding the bad behaviour.

Most visitors to the Reserve are responsible however there are a small number that ignore the rules putting walkers at risk, damaging sensitive wildlife habitat, increasing maintenance costs, even vandalising the limited signage that exists.

The Off-Road Cycling Strategy suggests that “Increasing the authorised recreational use of natural areas will also increase casual surveillance which helps to deter illegal activity.” (BORCS page 11) While Cialdini’s Social proof is a valuable tool for influencing and changing behaviour, our experience using this to manage behaviour Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve has had mixed success. The very demographic we are dealing with: young males, means that our Bushcarers: typically retired and female, have to be very careful because violent verbal abuse is common. If this is an ongoing problem in a popular and busy Reserve like Mt Gravatt what control will there be in other reserves that do not have active Bushcare groups.

User Pays: Any football club or other community group that wants to uses Council land like parks and reserves are responsible for their own costs: lease fees, public liability insurance and property maintenance. While many and possibly most off-road cyclists are not part of a formal group that could provide public liability insurance and pay lease fees, they are still increasing costs and litigation risk. If the Council accepts this as a cost of providing valuable recreational activities this must not come out of limited environment budgets that are critical to habitat protection and restoration: “Council is continuing to invest in the protection and restoration of our city’s biodiversity, and we are on track to achieve the target of having 40% of Brisbane as natural habitat by 2031.” (BORCS page 8)

As a ratepayer I have contributed to Bushland Acquisition Program. I am concerned that land purchased to protect our urban bushland may now be “given” to a very small percentage of community members for their personal use. “More than 4300 hectares of land have been purchased and protected through Council’s Bushland Acquisition Program since 1990. The preservation and management of biodiversity within Brisbane’s natural areas is of vital importance.” (BORCS page 8)

Please provide Council with feedback on the draft Brisbane Off-Road Cycling Strategy.

Email feedback to: parks@brisbane.qld.gov.au

Sign e-petition: Protect our Key Natural Areas – Off-Road Cycling Strategy on the Wrong Track

Koala Mum and Joey – Fox Gully Bushcare

By: Michael Fox

Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve has no permanent water and no safe access to water or breeding opportunities in surrounding bushland.

The Koala Drinker research is providing vital baseline information on the potential of providing water for wildlife to maintain and strengthen populations of  vulnerable Koala Phascolarctos cinereus and other species in isolated urban bushland habitats. The Koala Drinker Research Project is supported by Communities Environment Program and sponsored by Ross Vasta MP.

Combined with the excellent Koala fencing built by Department of Transport and Main Roads (Queensland) keeping Koalas from being killed on the Motorway water for wildlife drinkers will strengthen the Koala population in the Reserve.

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Concept Koala bridge – Cr Steven Huang

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We are also working with Cr Steve Huang on his concept for a wildlife bridge across Klumpp Road from the bottom of Fox Gully to the Hibiscus Sports Complex then Mimosa Creek.

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One very clear result of our research is how water for wildlife is valued by a wide range of species, particularly with over 6,000 visits by birds in a 6 month period. Special visitors are three bird species not previously identified in the Reserve: Brown Goshawk Accipiter fasciatus, White-throated Honeyeater Melithreptus albogularis and Yellow-faced Honeyeater Lichenostomus chrysops.

Some of birds using the Koala Drinkers:

Other regular visitors to the water include Lace Monitors Varanus varius, Sugar Gliders Petaurus breviceps, Brush-tail Possums Trichosurus vulpecula, Koalas Phascolarctos cinereus, Long-tailed Rat (Research required to identify). The wildlife cameras also captured Wallabies and a European Red Fox Vulpes vulpes.

White Throated Honeyeater is one of the species added to Flora and Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve:

By: Michael Fox

I love Bushcare because I am always finding new species to add to Flora and Fauna of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

Finding Tree-running Mantid Ciulfina sp. nymph makes three mantids found in the Reserve.

The Three-eyed Leaf-rolling Cricket Xiphogryllacris orthoxipha is the first cricket we have found.

Meet all our fascinating insects at Insects, beetles, bugs and slugs of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

By: Michael Fox

Making a new home for the family.

Sitting in the sun having breakfast I look up to see two Laughing Kookaburras preparing a new home in a termite nest high in a tree. We currently have twenty one nest boxes within Fox Gully Bushcare already providing breeding habitat for Squirrel Gliders Petaurus norfolcensis, Rainbow Lorrikets Trichoglossus haematodus, Pale-headed Rosellas Platycercus eximius and Brushtail Possums Trichosurus vulpecula.

Kookaburra chicks in Boobook Owl box

The artificial nest boxes are intended to support wildlife while natural nest hollows develop in the forest. Our Kookaburras have been using an owl nest box for breeding, so it is exciting to see the termite nest is now large enough for our Kookas to create make their own home.

Male Variegated Fairy Wren

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Look for a family of Variegated Fairy Wrens Malurus lamberti playing in the scrubby habitat alongside Acacia Way. Small forest birds like the safety of tangled habitat like this where they can nest and escape from Kookaburras and other large predator birds like Pied Currawongs Strepera graculina and Kookaburras.

You can provide habitat for these special birds in your backyard by building a Habitat Tripod.

Headache Vine

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Perhaps you can grow the beautiful Headache Vine Clematis glycinoides that is currently flowering along Acacia Way.

“It is a useful climber that could be used to cover the framework of a fernery. The growth is very dense and provides safe nesting sites for small native birds.” Australian Plants Society NSW

A useful vine, as it is happy growing in shaded areas and the crushed leaves help manage headaches.

Lipotriches sp. – Solitary Bee on Dianella flower

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We also found a different solitary native bee species visiting flowers of Blueberry Lily Dianella longifolia. Lipotriches sp. do not form colonies, the individual females make nests in the ground. Native plant species like Dianella require Buzz Polination (sonicating) which shakes the pollen out of the flowers.

Native Indigo flower

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Native Indigo Indigofera australis is also starting to flower along Acacia Way. Native Indigo is caterpillar food plant for Long-tailed Pea-blue Lampides boeticus and Common Grass-blue Zizina labradus butterflies.

Native Indigo can also be used for natural dying of cloth.

By: Sheamus O’Connor

Expanded garden space - 25 July 2020

Rainy not cold … perfect for Bushcare

We had a lot of fun yesterday in the puddles, luckily it was not too cold as we got soaked!

Thanks to our hard … wet … workers, we got heaps done in such a short period of time.
Logs and branches adjacent to the path will reduce damage to our new Lomandra planting by stopping people walking off the track. At the same time logs make safe habitat for lizards and provide valuable food for beetles and other insects.

Logs Gertrute Petty Place - 25 July 2020

Logs protect planting

Garden beds have been extended to cover areas where fast spreading invasive weed has been Dyschoriste depressa poisoned. Our energiser rain loving team planted and mulched the expanded garden area.

A pedestrian goat track and a mountain bike track between road and Federation Track were closed to allow regeneration and re-mulched earlier plantings.

 

Our next monthly working bee is Saturday 29th August 8am – 11am. Hope to see you there.

CoverShare visual stories of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve with family and friends and support our ongoing restoration work and wildlife research.

The theme of this year’s annual Photographic Workshop was Aspects and Viewpoints: look for a viewpoint that emphasises the story and the aspect frames the subject. Participants learned to tell a story using lighting and depth of field to capture their experience of being in the bush.

Order early for posting overseas. 

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Calendar:    $15ea plus $4.00 post & packing.

Purchase calendars:

Use email order form

Visit B4C Sustainability Centre

 

 

 

By: Michael Fox

 

Members of the Australian Chinese Youth Association (ACYA) joined me yesterday to restore Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. A diverse group with students from China, Japan and Australia, all passionate about working with China.

The team were also all interested in everything I showed them, like the Basket Fern Drynaria rigidula growing, not in cool shady gullies but on dry rocky Mt Gravatt.

Proud Bushcare team - 23 March 2019

Weed Busters at work removing Fishbone Fern

 

Casey asked what we do in the forest so I showed the National Tree Day plantings and explained our work educating and engaging community members with grant funding for interpretive signs and maps of walking tracks.

I put the team to work removing invasive Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia. A native species indigenous to north Queensland it is an environmental weed in Brisbane spreading from garden waste dumped in bushland and smothering local natives.

Bark Cockroach - Laxta sp. - 23 March 2019

Bark Cockroach

 

 

Remember I said the team were interested in everything?

We have never found so many different species at one time. Casey found one of our bush cockroaches: Bark Cockroaches Laxta sp. live in the leaf litter preforming valuable recycling work.

 

Black Woodland Cockroach - Platyzosteria melanaria - 23 March 2019

Black Woodland Cockroach

 

 

A Black Woodland Cockroach Platyzosteria melanaria is a new addition to our Flora and Fauna species list.

 

 

 

Brisbane brush-footed trapdoor - Seqocrypta jakara - 23 March 2019

Brisbane Brush-footed Trapdoor Spider

 

Brisbane Brush-footed Trapdoor Spider  Seqocrypta jakara is another new species identified.

 

 

 

Net-casting Spider - Deinopis sp. - young - 23 March 2019

Net-casting Spider

 

 

 

 

 

A newly hatched Net-casting Spider Deinopis sp.

Brown Huntsman - Heteropoda sp. - 23 March 2019

Brown Huntsman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think Wentao (right) set a new record for finding wildlife including a Brown Huntsman Heteropoda sp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weeding disturbed a  Sugar Ant Camponotus sp. The ants immediately got busy relocating their larvae and when I checked today the site was completely clear.

 

 

 

Fungi - 23 March 2019

 

 

 

 

Cute fungi were also found.

 

 

Tiny mushroom fungi - 23 March 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiny mushroom fungi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eight plus bags of weeds - 23 March 2019

Proud Weed Busters

 

 

Eight and quarter bags of weeds removed and ready to go to Green Waste at the dump. We compost most weeds onsite however the roots and nodules of Fishbone need to be removed from site or they regrow.

Thank you to the ACYA team. Looking forward to welcoming you back in two weeks.

Lord Mayor's 2016 Australia Day Awards

Laurie receiving Green Heart Award

By: Michael Fox

Mt Gravatt Environment Group was honoured on Australia Day with presentation of the Lord Mayor’s Green Heart Award – Organisation 2016.

 

 

 

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The award citation:

“Mount Gravatt Environment Group is dedicated to their local environment. Their mantra ‘bringing birds and butterflies back to suburbia’, is achieved by the careful planning and implementation of many projects within the local community including mountain and gully restoration and various flora and fauna projects. The group has been responsible for the rehabilitation of Fox Gully into a vibrant wildlife corridor.

The group works closely with other community organisations to ensure maximum outcome and benefits for Mount Gravatt.”

Laurie Deacon Family and Cr Adams

Cr Krista Adams, myself, Laurie and Sigrid with Green Heart Award

Our President, Laurie Deacon, Sigrid – representing the next generation, and I all attended the award ceremony. An impressive event held in City Hall and hosting an amazing group of individuals members who are giving their time generously to our community.

As with many community groups, the achievements acknowledged with this award are the combined efforts of many individual Mt Gravatt Environment Group members, as well as, some extraordinary community partners who provide support with training, equipment, plants, grant funding, research and boots on the ground. Thank you to:

 

 

 

Koala & Joey - Fox Gully 3 - 4 Jan 2014 close

Please slow down at night … Koala Mum and Joey – Fox Gully Bushcare

By: Michael Fox

15 September 2015 Breaking news:

Koala Superman to the rescue.

Local resident David Kloske is now being called the Koala Superman by family and friends after his dramatic rescue of a young Koala trying to cross busy Klumpp Road on last night.

“Poor little guy was wandering across the road and seemed very lost and confused and kept stopping and turning back etc. So I blocked the traffic for a bit with hazard while I scared it off the road onto the pool side [footpath]. Then I parked my car and ushered the little fellow down the bike path and back into the trees.” David Kloske

Koala breeding season runs from spring to mid-summer. So please be careful on our local roads at night.

Found a sick or injured Koala?

Call RSPCA Rescue Hotline Phone: 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)

By: Michael Fox

Griffith Mates Bushcare Team

Griffith Mates Bushcare Team

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Tags tell a story about participants

It’s 9am on a sunny Sunday morning and the site is buzzing with activity. Seventy-nine students and community members, representing countries as diverse as Canada and the Philippines, are working  together to build a new home for our small forest birds. The 2015 National Tree Day is our largest event on the mountain so far. A great learning experience for us and a credit to the support of our partners BCC Habitat Brisbane, B4C, Griffith Mates and the National Tree Day team.

Introducing Griffith students to Australian bush

Introducing Griffith students to Australian bush

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Laurie, Kate and I met the Griffith Mates team at Mt Gravatt Campus for a guided walk to the planting site explaining the difference between the male and female She-oaks Allocasuarina, male – flowers are russet tips on leaves, and female – flowers are red small red balls on branches. And, of course, the winter flowering Brisbane Fringed Wattle Acacia fimbriata is always popular. Laurie showed the distinctive scratches left by Koalas before Len signed the team in talked about our 1,500 species of native bees and Kate demonstrated correct planting technique.

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Ahmadiyya Muslim Association team

This planting is new initiative to create the specialised habitat our small forest birds like Variegated Fair Wrens Malurus lamberti. These small insect eating birds are valuable partners in controlling pests in our backyards but they do need habitat that provides protection from larger birds and cats. So it was a particular pleasure to meet and talk to another community group that is making valuable contributions to the environment and strengthening our community more generally. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association Australia (Ahmadiyya Jamaat) was formally established in 1980, however the relationship goes back as far as 1903 with Hassan Moosa Khan being the first Ahmadi in Australia. The local association has a strong relationship with the Logan community and we hope to build a long term bushcare partnership in our community.

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Kids love getting their hands into the dirt.

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Kids and dirt, a magic formula.

There are many different stories told in the pictures taken by Alan, Sienna and Jude, however, these really spoke to my heart. Families working together creating something for the future.

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Mark

Not just kids and dirt

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Adults also like to get their hands into the dirt. Mark is a passionate supporter of B4C restoration work and community education.

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Ross Vasta

Ross Vasta planting the future

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Our local politicians dug in as well. Ross Vasta our local Federal Member loaded mulch and planted trees with the team.

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Ian Walker MP with Alpha Phi Omega team

Alpha Phi Omega team with Ian Walker and Kate Flink

Particularly welcome was Ian Walker, Member for Mansfield, and sponsor of our initiative to publish track maps and develop interpretative signs to engage visitors to the Reserve.

Ian is pictured with the Alpha Phi Omega team and new small bird sign in the foreground.

The Alpha Phi Omega team is another interesting service group with a fifty year history of college campus-based volunteerism in the Philippines. The event really was a multinational effort to restore a unique piece of inner city bushland.

Event team (l-r) Michael Fox, Len Kann, Heather Barns, Kate Flink

Event team (l-r) Michael Fox, Len Kann, Heather Barns, Kate Flink

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Thank you all from the event organising team. Laurie Deacon not in photograph.

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