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The Rehabilitation and Management of Disturbed Native Plant Communities

 

Ulladulla, 25-26 October

 

 

On 25-26 October, a hundred people (including one from Adelaide and two from Victoria) participated in a native vegetation rehabilitation workshop on the NSW south coast. A talk on the ecological principles underlying successful rehabilitation set people thinking, then speakers from diverse backgrounds spoke on planning, vegetation condition assessment, the role of lichen crusts and other soil organisms in vegetation health, provenance of plant material, monitoring and adaptive management, understanding stream geomorphology in foreshore rehabilitation and the importance of supporting volunteers. Case studies included the rehabilitation of a local wetland and an uplifting outline of the extensive Shoalhaven Coastal Restoration project.

 

Most of the second day was the demonstration and trialling of field techniques. The group was guided through the Milton Ulladulla Landcare Nursery by about 10 nursery volunteers. As well as observing propagation and other techniques, the very new and comprehensive database of Shoalhaven flora was demonstrated by its developers, Mal and Carolyn Whan. At the Narrawallee Bushcare site we broke into four groups and rotated around four activities: soil organisms and soil health, site assessment, weed assessment and management priorities, and monitoring techniques. This site is maintained by the energetic Narrawallee Bushcare Group, who battle with weeds as well as local development pressures.

 

Considerable excitement was generated by David Eldridge’s elegant demonstration of how ants assist water to penetrate soil. Water poured into a metre-high glass cylinder placed over an insignificant depression in the sand (made by funnel ants) gurgled down in seconds. In an adjacent cylinder with no hint of ant activity, the water hardly moved. These tubes were barely half a metre apart - in the second the water puddled reluctantly on the surface, revealing that the sand was hydrophobic (water-repelling).

 

The final field site was Millard’s Creek, a patch of remnant bush in the heart of Ulladulla, lovingly managed by the hard-working but small Millard’s Creek Bushcare group. The site demonstrated what can be achieved by a committed group but also demonstrated the challenges they face and the need to attract more volunteers to work in these sites if the benefits are to be maintained.

 

The attendance of four community volunteers at the workshop was sponsored by the Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, while three were funded by the Shoalhaven City Council.

 

This was the first of two coastal workshops subsidised by the NSW Environmental Trust. The second workshop in this series was held in Coffs Harbour on 14-15 March 2007.

 

Feedback and sponsorship

 

"I learned a lot, confirmed a lot and made some wonderful friends and contacts. The two-way flow of information and experiences can do nothing except help our beautiful environment." (Volunteer Bushcare group coordinator and participant in the Ulladulla workshop).

 

Feedback from the workshop was very positive.44.7% of the Ulladulla registrants returned their evaluation forms.The participant quote above was just one of the enthusiastic responses we received. Some feedback also suggests other ideas and topics, though the two-day format clearly cannot encompass all desires.

 

Sponsorship to assist the attendance of community volunteers, such as we achieved at the workshop, will be sought for future ANPC workshops. While our workshops provide a very generous discount for volunteers, students and pensioners, some still cannot afford to attend. This sponsorship was designed to target volunteer workers who would benefit from the workshop, contribute to it and transfer their new skills to others in their rehabilitation project. This sponsorship increases the ANPC’s reach, particularly to local landholders.

 

Without the specialist presenters, who gave their time freely and enthusiastically, there would be no workshop. The same is true of the registrants who bring to the workshop their experience, enthusiasm and willingness to learn and to share. A huge thanks goes to all those who participated in developing the workshop and turning it into reality. 

 

 

Sally Stephens

ANPC Project Manager

 

This report is extracted from an article published in Australasian Plant Conservation 15(3)

 



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