Threats to Conservation Reserve


Squirrel Glider - A Moore - 21 March 11

Squirrel Glider Petaurus norfolcensis

By: Michael Fox

Key threats to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve:

Much of our work in restoring habitat in the Reserve is cleaning up damage done by easy to avoid action, like people dumping their garden waste in the bush when they could often simply put it into their wheelie bin.

Keeping our family cats inside at night takes a bit of effort. However it is still a relatively simple action that has huge benefits for our nocturnal wildlife like gliders and possums.

Gliders are one of the cutest of our Australian native animals. Sugar Gliders Petaurus breviceps and Squirrel Gliders Petaurus norfolcensis are found in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve. Restoration work at Fox Gully Bushcare site includes installation of nest-boxes to provide habitat for hollow dwelling animals like gliders, possums and birds.

Glider cat attack - Souther Star - 20 Feb 13

Southern Star – 20 Feb 2013 – page 8

So it was heart breaking to see the remains of a glider attacked by a domestic cat.

Sharing the story with the Southern Star is one way to help people think about doing things differently.

Another simple change we can make is to use wildlife friendly netting for our fruit trees. See article in Southern Star – go to page 8 and click to enlarge for reading. Information on wildlife friendly netting from Bat Conservation & Rescue Qld. Inc.

By: Michael Fox

Key threats to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve:

Southern Star 14 November 2012

Geoff and Jeanette are proud of our community and take great pride in their part of the Fox Gully corridor. So it is understandable that they get a bit frustrated with the careless behaviour of individuals rubbishing our streets, particularly when that rubbish will be washed into peaceful Mimosa Creek.

Changing the behaviour of individuals waiting for a bus stop can be difficult. However, an important step is to ensure that there is a simple alternative for disposing of their drink bottle or chip packet.

Mimosa Creek – Roly Chapman Reserve


Cr Krista Adams
has now committed Council to ensuring that the bin is emptied regularly and possibly replaced with a larger bin. Ideally a combination rubbish recycling bin.

Mimosa Creek, Roly Chapman Reserve just behind PCYC.

By: Mike Fox

Neighbours pitch in to clear up

A 20 metre Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis creates a lot of green waste to be chipped and cleared from the gully. Neighbours Rebecca, Didier, Don and Clair pitched in to clear up the huge pile of branches.

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Miranda, Griffith Uni Environment Law student

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A big clean-up needs a big chipper. Miranda loved using our Greenfield’s 8.5hp Piecemaker that virtually sucks the branches into the blades for chipping. Thanks to Southside Sport & Recreation Club who provided the grant for purchasing the chipper.

The Piecemaker is proving its value saving over $2,000 on the cost of removing the Chinese Elm, a benefit for our whole community, in particular restoration of Mt Gravatt Environmental Reserve.

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Miranda, Annette and Marshal hard at work

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The clean up is well on the way with Marshal and Annette (property owner) in background preparing branches for chipping and Miranda operating the machine.
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Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae

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Even the local wildlife is joining in the clean up. This Laughing Kookaburra Dacelo novaeguineae is hunting for worms and spiders among the leaf litter. The Kookaburras are really enjoying the restoration work as more worms, insects and spiders are thriving among the planting, mulching and logs.

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Northern Jumping Spider Mopsus mormon

It is inspiring to find the variety of wildlife returning to the gully. This beautiful Northern (Green) Jumping Spider Mopsus mormonwas hunting for flies, moths or grasshoppers for lunch. Creating habitat for wildlife means we have natural pest control and over time we will hopefully tempt some of the beautiful insectivorous birds out the forest. Birds like the Striated Pardalots Pardalotus striatus and the beautiful Black-faced Monarch Monarcha melanopsiss not only add sound and beauty to our backyards, they also hunt insects like mosquitos on our behalf.

Striped Marsh Frog eggs

Another amazing find was these eggs of the Striped Marshfrog Limnodyynastes peroni in one of semi-permanent rock pools created by the return of the permanent spring.

Striped Marsh Frogs are a native ground dwelling frog with a distinctive “toc …. toc …. toc” call. To listen scroll to Calling on the Frogs of Australia web page and click “Hear it now.”

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Red Cedar

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With the Chinese Elm down and the chipping finished we can now plant nine advanced Red Cedars donated by Dave and Liz, Roly Chapman Bushcare. Red Cedars (common name for a number of Toona species) are an attractive fast growing native that will help restore the gully habitat and privacy for the neighbours.

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Arrowleaf Violet

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The planting done on the Community Gully Day in August is now starting to create a presence in the gully.

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Arrowleaf Violet in seed

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Particularly pleasing was finding that the Arrowleaf Violet Viola betonicifolia has set seed. This pretty violet is the only caterpillar food plant for the endangered Laced Fritillary butterfly Argyreus hyperbius inconstans. Now that this Violet has set seed it will spread quickly in the gully.

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Splendid Ochre Trapezites simmomus

The Love Flower Pseuderanthemum variabile, caterpillar food for Australian Leafwing butterfly Doleschallia bisaltide, Waxflower Vine Hoya australis and Coinspot Treeferns Cyathea cooperi are all growing. The Creek Mat-rush Lomandra hystrix are thriving even with the dry weather. These Lomandara are caterpillar food for the Splendid Ochre Trapezites simmomus and Brown Ochre Trapezites iacchus butterflies as well as providing valuable erosion control in the gully.

Clean up complete in time for storms

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Finally finished clearing the branches, raking the loose leaves and putting logs in place ready for the storms expected over the weekend.

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Hollow log habitat for lizards and frogs

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Final touches … hollow logs will create safe habitat for lizards and frogs.

By: Michael Fox

Ready to climb

Some weeds don’t come out easily so extreme measures are required.

Dale, owner of Climb n Grind, straps on his spikes to scale this 20 metre high weed, an invasive Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis.

Chinese Elm or Chinese Celtis is a Class 3 Environmental Weed:

Starting the climb

“Thousands of small, orange berries are produced and are dispersed when eaten by birds. Celtis often grows in clay soils associated
with alluvial creek flats and gullies. It is an invader of riparian habitats …”

Sales of Chinese Elms have been prohibited for some years however this fast growing invasive weed is still growing in many backyards and spreading to neighbouring backyards as well as bushland areas like Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

In 2012 Mt Gravatt Environment Group has been working closely with BCC Habitat Brisbane Officers to remove large Chinese Elms within the Conservation Reserve.

Time to relax?

Invasive weeds are one of the three key threats to the long term health of this unique Koala habitat. So it is inspiring to work with community members committed to restoration of the Fox Gully wildlife corridor and paying for removal of these weeds on their own properties.

In this case Annette has contracted professional tree climber Dale to scale the tree and to deconstruct it without damage to surrounding building or fences and with minimal damage to the restoration planting.

Walking up a vertical surface

Watching Dale operate was amazing. Having strapped on spikes and hanging an extraordinary collection of ropes, tools, even a chainsaw, from his belt Dale simply started “walking” up the side of this tree, making it look as easy as stroll in the bush.

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High above stump of Indian Rubber Tree

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Climbing with full kit dangling

Towering above surrounding houses this Chinese Elm was significantly more than the 12 metre height mentioned in the DPI document.

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The stump of the huge Indian Rubber Tree removed in 2011 can be seen in the background and way below the branch where Dale is so casually standing.

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Ok we’ve cleared the low branches so it’s time to climb again. Note the fork that was above and to the left of Dale in the last picture is now below him!

Extreme pruning

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Almost finished

That fork is now far below as Dale climbs higher to do a little light pruning.

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Hundreds or even thousands of berries

Working his way back down cutting logs almost as big as himself.s

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The tree was covered in hundreds or perhaps thousands of immature berries that would have been spread by birds or washed down the gully to infect other properties or Roly Chapman Reserve and Mimosa Creek. Prior to targeting Chinese Elms for removal we would remove two or three hundred seedlings each year in each of our bushcare sites so removal of this tree is a significant boost to our restoration efforts.

By: Michael Fox

As reported in last week’s Southern Star, positive action by Brisbane City Council teams has reduced or stopped illegal downhill mountain biking in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve.

I inspected the tracks on over the last two Sundays and I could not see any

Southern Star – Letters – 22 August 12

evidence of bike activity.  Walking from the top with the Council Ranger we noted that the track is now covered with mulch and log barriers were in place.

When I checked the tracks from the bottom the biker bridge has been removed and I could not see any signs of recent bike activity.

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Barrier sawn-off beside No Bike sign

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However, I did find further evidence of past vandalism. A barrier had been neatly sawn-off and torn away from the post to allow bikes to exit to the road right near Gertrude Petty Place. This had been done so neatly that I walked past this before without noticing. It was only when I found the sawn section thrown into the grass that I realised what had been done.

Sawn-off and torn away to allow bike access

The barrier has sawn-off some time ago and this has been a well used mountain bike track coming out right beside a Council sign showing that mounting biking is illegal.

Council officers will repair the barrier to help ongoing management of this vandalism.

Report illegal mountain biking to the BCC Call Centre – 07 3403 8888

By: Michael Fox

  • Drive with Tim Cox – 3:00pm-6:00pm

Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve is high value habitat hosting 265 native plant species, forty-five butterfly species, Echidnas and breeding Koalas, all just ten minutes from Brisbane CBD. However, there are three key threats to the health of the conservation reserve:

Tim Cox, 612 ABC Drive, interviewed me yesterday about the damage caused by illegal downhill mountain biking.

Listen to the interview.

By: Michael Fox

Our community speaks out against destructive mountain biking on Mt Gravatt:

Southern Star – 1 August 2012

Local Councilor Krista Adams has reconfirmed the Council’s long standing commitment to keeping Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve free of mountain bike riding.

Letter of support – Whites Hill-Pine Mountain Community Group Inc.

BCC Local Area Services are providing strong on ground action – closing illegal tracks, mulching damaged areas and increasing their presence in the Reserve to catch riders still ignoring our community’s laws. Riders, who apparently could not see multiple signs saying “No Motor Bikes No Mountain Bikes”, have now been told very clearly that off road riding is illegal and subject to $500 fines.

We have also received emails and letters of support by community members and groups heartened by our action and the support we have received from Council.

We are proud of our community

Track exit beside No Mountain Bikes sign

and appreciate the recognition of our work however we know from past experience that illegal mountain bikers will be back fast if we, as a community, don’t stay alert.

As recently as Wednesday last week, National Tree Day, I found fresh bike tracks on in the area just down hill of the water reservoir. I was walking those tracks to document the erosion and tree root damage caused by mountain bikes.

New mountain bike bridge

These were not just tracks cleared through the bush, I even found a what looked like a fairly new timber bridge.

Mountain bike activity in that area has caused erosion up to half a metre deep in places and extensive root damage to mature Koala food trees.

What action can you take?

Illegal mountain biking can be reported to the BCC Call Centre 24/7 on 07 3403 8888

Please be careful about approaching riders by yourself. These riders are already acting illegally and we have had a number of reports recently of community members being subjected to aggressive and violent verbal abuse.

Track erosion

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Roots damaged and under mined by erosion

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By: Michael Fox

Key threats to Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve:

  • Weeds/Garden Waste/Dumping
  • Downhill Mountain Biking, Trail Bikes & Unofficial Tracks
  • Feral and Domestic Animals

Mt gravatt run – Uploaded by on 17 Aug 2011

2011 Mt Gravatt SHS – National Tree Day Planting

“We felt gutted seeing the damage they had done.  The irony is, that if we, CVA volunteers and Griffith Uni student volunteers hadn’t cleared out the area, they wouldn’t have been able to get through there!”

Susan Jones was talking about finding that mountain bikers have established a brand new trail right through the middle of the area restored by Mt Gravatt SHS students in 2011

No Motor Bikes No Mountain Bikes

and being prepared for our July 25 National Tree Day planting. The action was quite deliberate and systematic as the sign was thrown away and sapling Brush Box, Soapy Ash and Wattles were sawn off as well as broken down.

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Biking is illegal in Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve

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Mountain biking is not allowed in the Reserve. Signs at the Summit and at Gertrude Petty Place clearly state “No Motor Bikes No Mountain Bikes”.

Rider ignores No Bike sign

The bike in the video above actually leaves the road and takes a track straight past a No Bikes sign. Click on photo to enlarge. v

The mountain biking is not only illegal it is also damaging a unique environment that our community has fought to protect for over one hundred years: Mt Gravatt Historical Society, tells us that up till July 1893 the mountain and surrounds were designated as a railway timber reserve. In response to community pressure the Queensland Government of the time protected this special habitat by declaring the Reserve.

Mountain bike riders are actively destroying mountain habitat

Susan showing cut sapling

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I inspected the latest damage this week with Susan Jones. What really stunned us was the systematic habitat destruction with saplings sawed or broken off and used to make jumps for riders. Cut and broken trees included a four metre Early Black Wattle Acacia leiocalyx just about to flower. Early Black Wattle is the caterpillar food plant for Imperial Hairstreak Jalmenus evagoras, a beautiful butterfly which is returning to the mountain with the restoration of our bushcare sites. Other trees destroyed included Soapy Ash Alphitonia excelsa, caterpillar food plant for Small Green-banded Blue butterflies Psychonotis caelius, Brush Box Lophostemon confertus, caterpillar food plant for the

Butterfly trees chopped up for bike jump

fascinating Four-Spotted Cup Moth Doratifera quadriguttata.

Many Lomandras have been destroyed by the action of bikes, including a flowering (male) Many Flowered Mat-rush Lomandra multiflora, caterpillar food plant for Brown Ochre Trapezites iacchus and Black-ringed Ochre Trapezites petalia butterflies: two of forty-five butterfly species found in the Reserve.

Young trees destroyed to make a bike track

It is hard to show the enormity of the damage. None of the trees were very large but the collage of cut stumps gives some idea of the number of trees destroyed to create track for entrainment of a small number of people.

And by the looks of it this is only the start. Following the track down from the Summit we found yellow markers tied to trees, not only along the track but also what appears to be planned as a new track taking off to the south. Trees had been cut or broken and yellow tape tied to others. It seems that this new track planning was only stopped when the tape ran out … evidenced by the empty spool discarded in the bush.

Further evidence of expansion plans is the cache of tools we found locked to a tree just near the path.

Yellow tape marking out track expansion plans

Track clearing tools locked to a tree

Our community investment

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Seeing the wanton destruction of our special habitat made me very angry, not just because of the personal impact on me, but also because this action ignores the huge ongoing contribution our community is making.

Conservatively calculated, Mt Gravatt Environment Group is responsible for over $30,000 in volunteer contribution during the 2011/12  financial year.

Over the same period our community has invested $19,905 in grants from Queensland Government, Brisbane City Council and Southside Sport & Community Club.

Donations and direct investments by community members exceeded $8,000.

Ongoing support and investment by BCC Habitat Brisbane program: plants for revegetation, equipment, training and public liability insurance.

Community partners include Mt Gravatt Men’s Shed – nest-boxes, MacGregor Lions Club – native garden restoration Roly Chapman Reserve, Mt Gravatt Girl Guides – planting Pollinator Link garden, Griffith University – student volunteer program, QUT and Australian Catholic University student volunteers.

Sheamus – Young Citizan – Jan 12

Community Recognition

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Our contribution has been acknowledged with a number of community awards.

Sheamus O’Connor

  • Young Citizen of the Year 2012
  • 2012 YoungStar Community winner

Michael Fox

  • 2012 Lord Mayor’s Green Heart Award
  • 2011 B4C Environmentalist of the Year
  • Shortlisted for selection for Pride of Australia 2012 – Environmental Medal

Mt Gravatt Environment Group

  • 2011 Brisbane’s Spotless Suburbs – Environmental Protections Award
  • B4C Bushcare Group of 2011

Fox Gully Bushcare

  • 2011 Brisbane’s Spotless Suburbs – Partnerships Award

How can you help?

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Please express your concerns to Cr Krista Adams as Brisbane City Council is trustee of Mt Gravatt Conservation Reserve:

Email: wishart.ward@ecn.net.au

Phone BCC Call Centre: 07 3403 8888

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