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Griffith Bush Care Team

By: Michael Fox

Reviewing the photos preparing to write this blog it was like being there all over again. The laughter, the smiles, the generosity, the sharing of stories about families and different countries … it was one of the most inspiring bushcare events I have attended.

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Bamboo Team in action

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Bamboo roots grubbed out for disposal

Working on the “Bamboo Team” I learned about the different qualities of bamboo and the preferences of Pandas for the tender new shoots. I heard the story of a person so inspired by their Chinese school principal father that they followed their undergraduate business degree with a PhD focused on education so they can give back to their community with education. I talked with a student that is studying international relations and shared his vision of how his career could go in directions directions ranging from trade negotiations to more general diplomatic work, all of which will clearly be underpinned by an intelligence and  compassion that gives me hope for future global relations.

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Walking through the Sagano bamboo forest, in Arashiyama, Japan, was a special experience. A bamboo is forest is beautiful and peaceful producing strong versatile valuable wood. However bamboo does not belong in the Australian bush. Once established in the Reserve the bamboo spread and over a huge area crowding out native plants and making monoculture so thick it was impenetrable to wildlife. Removing bamboo is a hard work as all the roots have be dug out by hand for disposal off-site.

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Fishbone Team starts at bottom of slope

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The “Fishbone Team” worked to clear a huge area of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia on the slope. Working from the bottom the team removed the weeds and placed logs to stabilise the slope and provide access.

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Weilding the sledge - 24 Aug 2013

Banging in stakes to hold logs

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Bushcare participants get to do a bit of everything at Fox Gully. Wielding a sledge hammer is change from writing assignments.

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“Thanks for helping me find a feed.”

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They even met some of the local wildlife. The male Brush-turkey Alectura lathami was working on his nest mound when the team arrived. Then one of the local Kookaburras came to visit looking for a feed in the area that has been cleared.

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Huge area cleared of Fishbone and logs in place

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Morning tea time and we have achieved an amazing amount of valuable restoration work. The Fishbone Team has cleared a huge area on the slope and installed logs to manage erosion and allow safe access.

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Composting weeds

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A large pile of Fishbone leaves have been added to the compost pile and sixteen garbage bags have been filled with the roots of Fishbone and bamboo.

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Looking for lunch

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The Kookaburra has come back to inspect the results and look for lunch …

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Catching a fat spider for lunch

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Spotting a nice fat Huntsman spider he flies down right among the team, snaps the spider and flies off again.

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Mirandha hamming it up for the camera

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At the finish shaking each person’s hand and thanking them for their contribution was a real pleasure and a singular honour. However, I must acknowledge Mirandha Escott-Burton whose vision and persistence has created the Griffith Bush Care  which is becoming a valuable source of volunteers supporting our restoration work and providing a real Australian bush experience for international students.

Mirandha is building a partnership between Griffith University Student Linx and Mt Gravatt Environment Group.

CVA team - 22 May 2013

CVA volunteers with Kookaburra supervisor

By: Michael Fox

Conservation Volunteer Australia (CVA) teams worked at our Fox Gully Bushcare site the last two Wednesdays, restoring the silt filters along the track, removing a huge area of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia.

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Silt filters - 22 May 2013

Mulch silt filters clean run-off water

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Reducing erosion and keeping silt our of our waterways is an important part of our bushcare work. Silt filters created with logs and mulch at run-off points along the dirt maintenance track slow the water and allow silt to settle out. The filters have done an excellent job managing the extreme conditions over the last few years however they needed to be made more permanent with logs and fresh mulch.

Removing Fishbone - 29 May 2013

Chris, CVA supervisor (orange vest), explaining best-practice weed removal

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The CVA supervisors are very professional, delivering their team, ensuring they have all the necessary safety equipment then providing practical support and guidance. Chris is reinventing his career as a recent mature age graduate from Queensland University, so he combines strong environmental knowledge with practical work experience. Here he is explaining our best-practice procedure for clearing Fishbone – tear off and bin the roots then the leaves are composted on-site.

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Gen Y meet Australian bush

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I often hear people comment that young people today a don’t have the same commitment we Baby Boomers demonstrate. So it is a real pleasure to have the opportunity to work with individuals like the young Korean girl not only on a working holiday in Australia bur also volunteering to restore our Conservation Reserve.

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Camphor Laurel and Chinese Elm removed

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The CVA teams made a major contribution progressing our restoration of Zone 13. Clearing the Fishbone Fern so the native grasses and ferns return to the gully.

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Bags of Fishbone roots ready for removal

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By: Michael Fox

Jonny and James (top) clearing weeds and installing habitat

Restoration of Zone 13 is now expanding to include Zone 8 with the Fishbone Fern being cleared from the slope and our Griffith University team install old railway sleepers to stabilise the slope, improve access and provide habitat.

The pile in the foreground is composting weeds. Our best-practice approach means that we recycle 80% of the weeds on-site, reducing workload and fuel used in removing weeds from site while retaining valuable nutrients.

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FWR Group starts restoration – Sept 2010

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Zone 13 restoration started in September 2010 with the FWR Group corporate team.

We considered using poison to clear the massive Fishbone infestation. However an on-ground survey found four local fern species surviving among the weeds. Rather than risk losing the surviving specimens we started the

Restoration progress – Sept 2012

slower but, long term, more effective manual removal of the weeds.

Two years and we are past half way. There is still a lot of weed removal to be done but nature is working with us with natural regeneration restoring the native grasses, lomandras, Scrambling Lily and Soapy Ash.

We have achieved a dramatic

No CCA poison – just lots of holes for hiding

reduction in resources required with no new plants or mulch required to achieve this result.

I am particularly proud of our latest initiative, reusing old hardwood railway sleepers – remains of steel spikes can still be seen. Roger, one of our gully neighbours recently replaced a retaining wall built about thirty years ago with second hand railway sleepers. Our fit young Griffith students pitched in loading the sleepers into Roger’s ute and then carrying them down to our work site. Rather than going to landfill we are reusing these sleepers to stabilise slopes and improve access for restoration work.

The sleepers are a particularly valuable resource because they have NOT been treated with copper-arsenate which would kill the wildlife we are working to restore. The solid hardwood has survived insect attack well with softer timber eaten away leaving hollows and cracks providing invaluable habitat for the many species of insects and lizards vital to the health of our bushland. A key finding of last-year’s BAAM report was the lack of fallen timber so these sleepers are addressing that issue.

By: Susan Jones

MacGregor Lions Bushcare Team

“Sue! I need you to bring 20 pair of gardening gloves”.  Newly appointed MacGregor Lions Vice President, Shan Ju Lin, had tapped into her many contacts within the Australian/Taiwanese community, organising volunteers from all over Brisbane to assist Lions with their Roly Chapman Reserve Gardens

Another tub of weeds removed

Project July working bee.   Amongst them were young Taiwanese tourists whom we hope will take home happy memories of their Australian bush experience.

Juvenile Grey Butchebird

Garden bed #3 was cleared of many garden escapes and weeds that had been dispersed as seed by birds and animals.  One large pile of mulch was then spread in the bed to improve soil quality and minimise weed regrowth.   A family of Grey Butcherbirds Cracticus torquatus sat close by and swooped each time an insect, spider or frog was uncovered: it was a gourmet smorgasbord that the birds relished!

Garden bed #4 was a tangled

Native trees being released from strangling grip of Devil’s Ivy

undergrowth of Cobblers Pegs Bidens pilosa, Mother-in-law Tongue Sanseveria trifasciata, Mickey Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata, Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia, Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis, as well as, Devil’s Ivy Epipremnum aureumthat was slowly smothering native gums.  With so many willing volunteers the garden quickly re-emerged and the weed heap grew to enormous proportions.  A Ringtail Possum Pseudocheirus peregrinus was disturbed from its sleep in a gum above and immediately a family of Noisy Miners Manorina melanophrys circled the unfortunate creature, announcing its presence with their shrill shrieks.

Thank you to our great volunteer team!  We enjoyed your company and appreciated the hard work you put in to move this MacGregor Lions’ project forward.  We would love to see you back next month!

At our next working bee on 4th August we will finish mulching Garden bed # 3, remove the last of the Devil’s Ivy and weed roots in garden bed #4 and then lay down mulch.     These two beds will then be ready for replanting with bird, butterfly and bee-attracting natives!

Join the MacGregor Lions team restoring birds, butterflies, bees and frogs to this special environment:

Next working bee – Saturday 4th August – 8am to 10am

Meet at garden #4 (from Hoad Street end of pathway).

For details email – Macgregor.Lions.Secretary@gmail.com