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.

Internet Generation meet Australian bush

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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“I remember seeing Koalas in the trees near the creek when I attended St Bernard’s primary school in the ’80s.” I talking with a volunteer at today’s BCC Community Tree Planting at Sunnybank. My informant was pleased to see the new signs on Klumpp Road and hear that Koalas are breeding on the mountain.

Cr Krista Adams organised installation of the signs after the death of a Koala hit by a car on Klumpp Road in December.

Our submission to Cr Adams was supported by our ongoing monitoring of Koalas on the mountain. We are now receiving regular reports from neighbours and people using the walking tracks. Edd and Hazel provided our latest report of a male, female and joey – read Hazel’s Brisbane Adventures for an amazing photo of mother and joey.

We use Google Maps to record sightings to help us understand their movements and argue for government support for our restoration work. We are also working with Griffith University researchers like Cathryn Dexter – see Koalas returning to Mt Gravatt in Koalas on Mt Gravatt: Who’d have thought it?

Koala Sightings Mimosa Creek Precinct - March 2012

The researchers have finshed and the report is now available to help us plan restoration of our wildlife corridors and provide scientific evidence to support funding applications to support implementation of our Mimosa Creek Precinct Landscape Plan.

The report was prepared by Biodiversity Assessment and Management Pty Ltd with funding provided by the Department of Environment. Click on link to download a copy Mimosa Creek Precinct Flora & Fauna Assessment Nov 2011

Koala sightings Fox Gully

The report assessed the potential for the development of three potential wildlife corridors linking Mt Gravatt Reserve with Mimosa Creek. Koalas are breeding on Mt Gravatt and already starting to move into the Fox Gully corridor, see map, so our initiatives like our Community Gully Day are increasing important.

This research and report was made available through the strong support provided by Bulimba Creek Catchment Coordinating Committee (B4C), Griffith University School of Environment and EcoCentre, Butterflies and Other Invertebrates Club (BOIC), and Cr Krista Adams.

Particular thanks to our local state MP Phil Reeves and past Environment Minister, Hon Kate Jones who supported our application for research funding.

What is the Koala’s favourite food tree?

How do I photograph the feeling of being in the bush?

These were some of the questions answered for participants at our first Environmental and Photography Workshops held at the Fox Gully Bushcare site. The workshops were made possible by a 2010 BCC Environmental Grant.

Visit Mt Gravatt Library during October to see our display or view online The Mountain Through Other Eyes The Mountain Through Other Eyes

Field Botanist, Ann Moran, has thirty years practical experience in biodiversity assessment, weed management and revegetation planning. Ann also has a passion for working with people: indigenous communities, teaching at university or simply sharing her knowledge on guided walks.   I first met Ann in 2007 when she was doing an environmental survey on the mountain. Since then Ann has generously shared her expertise by identifying plant species I have photographed. Ann’s commitment to community groups has allowed me to quickly nail invasive weeds like Whiskey Grass, while adding one hundred native plant species not previously identified in Mt Gravatt Reserve. Ann is currently helping us edit the first published version of Flora & Fauna of Mt Gravatt Reserve.

Ann’s presentation built up our understanding of the complexity of our local habitat starting with the basics: understanding the importance of wildlife corridors for movement,  the major threats to biodiversity (like the clearing of native vegetation and invasion by alien species through garden waste dumping), changed fire management practices and global warming. All this information was related to our local flora and fauna species with powerful insights into the relationships between the plants and their dependent animals.It was a real pleasure to watch Ann’s information being soaked up by participants who took lots of notes and asked questions as Ann led a short walk around our restored areas.

As Ann was depending crutches that day, I led the group on a tour of the less accessible restoration areas explaining the effectiveness of natural re-generation. Nature is now repairing the area where Fishbone Fern has been removed in Zone 13. In less than twelve months native grasses have already covered cleared areas and is now suppressing weed growth, all with no action other than weed removal. Ann calls this Green Mulching: using native grasses to control erosion, retain moisture and suppress weeds. We also inspected the native grass lawn established at the rear of Heather and Alan’s house: taking the bush into the backyards to reverse the edge-effect.

Local photographer, Alan Moore is a passionate amateur who has that rare ability to capture the elusive feeling of being in the bush so you can put it on your wall at home. At Christmas 2009 Alan blew me away when he presented me with a custom made professional quality 2010 calendar with these extraordinary photos that truly captured our bushland home. So when it came planning our workshop I asked Alan if he would share his knowledge and creativity with our community.

Alan’s presentation, Pixplore, introduced simple techniques like the flat plane concept to manage the very short depth of field typical of macro photography: hold the camera parallel to the subject to ensure the best focus for the whole subject. Now I understand why I often have trouble when photographing small insects with the head in focus but the body blurred.

Following the presentation Alan sent the group off on assignment to apply their new knowledge to capture the feeling of being in the bush. Alan shared his creative insights and introduced participants to new ways to see the bush, new ways to experience the flora, fauna, geology and human structures in the landscape.

On return from assignment the participants shared the most amazing range of photos that captured our bushland and showed me new insights to this special place. Alan has kindly critiqued a number of photos from each participant and provided valuable comments. Click to see “The Mountain through other eyes”.

And what is the Koala’s favorite food tree?

Qld Blue Gum or Forest Red Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis

These beautiful straight trees are also a favorite of the forestry industry because of the rich red timber colour, thus Forest Red Gum.

Campbell Newman & Ian trying Treepopper

We were honoured to host local LNP candidate Ian Walker with Campbell Newman and Jeff Seeney at our Fox Gully Bushcare site yesterday.

Late in day and the light was fading however our visitors were still keen get out into the bush and see our restoration work. Campbell was particularly impressed with the elegant design of the Treepopper we use to remove difficult weed trees like Chinese Elm Celtis sinensis and Micky Mouse Plant Ochna serrulata. Specialist tools like the Treepopper dramatically increase productivity of our bushcare team allowing us to start getting ahead of these invasive weeds.

(l-r) Michael Fox, Campbell Newman, Jeff Seeney, Ian Walker

Jeff Seeney, with his Landcare experience, was particularly interested in our focus on natural regeneration. I was happy to show how, in less than twelve months, native Graceful Grass Ottochloa gracillima has returned to act as Green Mulch in the area cleared of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia.

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Briefing on Mimosa Creek Precinct Landscape Plan

I was proud to explain that sixteen households in our community have committed to restoring the gully wildlife corridors on their properties. However, briefing these experienced professionals on the Mimosa Creek Precinct Landscape Plan was challenging, with Campbell in particular, cutting right to the core in critiquing our cost estimates for some initiatives. So we can be proud as a community group to have Campbell Newman sum up the visit with: “Having seen first hand what is being done here I am not surprised that MEG has won two Spotless Suburbs awards in the recent 2011 announcements.”

My thanks to Ian Walker for the opportunity to present our community initiative and Alan Moore, a Fox Gully Bushcare volunteer, who tackled to fading light to provide our excellent photos.

(l-r) Marshal, Michael, Dennis and Paul

Mt Gravatt Bush Blokes has grown naturally out of the regular Fox Gully Tuesday Bushcare.

Meet the Bush Blokes, an eclectic collection of blokes, who enjoy the peace of working in the bush and, of course, sharing tall stories. Conversation today ranged across fishing, the best way to cook the fish, a bit of politics, that our Scrub Turkeys are nothing to the scratching of Cassowarys that invade Dennis’ backyard in north Queensland and writing science fiction.

Dennis, who is visiting his “little” brother Marshall, comes from Mourilyan Harbour near Innisfail. We are now sourcing volunteers from over 1,600 km away: not a bad reach!

Team is proud of our afternoon's work

As well as supporting our Fox Gully Bushcare initiative, Marshal is restoring the bush on his property which forms part of the Firefly Gully wildlife corridor. Michael, our science fiction writer, and Paul, who shares his tall tales of working as a jockey in Japan, are community volunteers who just enjoy the time in the bush working with mates on a worthwhile project.

Thirteen garbage bags of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia does not seem that much until you realise that every bag had to be carried up out of the gully, after standing on logs on the slope to clear the weed then scratch out the hundreds of water nodules and wiry roots that will re-shoot if left behind.

(l-r) Steve and Michael

Our Bush Blokes are proud of our achievements and particularly proud of the Brisbane’s Spotless Suburbs Partnership Award.

Steve, another Bush Bloke, and I posed with our award last week. Steve is an ex-farmer, so learning the low impact natural regeneration bushcare approach was a bit of an adjustment. However I am constantly impressed by his amazing capacity to just quietly get the job done. Steve has cleared the major weed infestation at the corner of the maintenance track near the water reservoir and spread the thick layer of mulch to control weed regrowth and stop the water erosion.

Mt Gravatt Bush Blokes is becoming a powerful team who are experts on weed removal and importantly native plants as I identify natives like Barbed Wire Vine Smilax australis: well named so we cut off close to the ground to make it safe and easy to work – this tough native re-shoots rapidly once the restoration team has finished the area.

Fox Gully Bushcare is a finalist in the 2011 Keep Australia BeautifulSpotless Suburbs Award.

Fox Gully Bushcare, located on the southern face of Mt Gravatt, is one of four communtiy bushcare groups working with Mt Gravat Environment Group on restoration of this unique pieces of Australian bushland.

Reaching the finals of the Brisbane’s Spotless Suburbs competition is recognition of the strength of our local community, the important role of sponsoring organisations and the quality of the BCC Habitat Brisbane program.