Showing posts with label Bushland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bushland. Show all posts

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Beautiful Sydney has such an ugly secret.

  In scenic Sydney we’re lucky to have quite a few patches of “urban bushland”  dotted  around the traps that have been mercifully spared from the bulldozers.

Unblemished  Sydney bushland
 The sad truth though, is that most of these remnants are being smothered by introduced invasive weeds, used as convenient dumpsites and are fast losing their (once) amazing biodiversity.


This ancient Banksia has been smothered to death by introduced weeds
 Just look along the fence lines of properties backing onto bushland and you’ll discover, almost universally, the same story, a total disconnection from and lack of respect for the natural vegetation. Sydney homeowners invariably seem to grow plant species that “escape” from their gardens into the bush (such as Agapanthus) and “out compete” the fragile natives. They also turn a blind eye to (and neglect to tackle) destructive weeds such as Morning Glory, Lantana, Ginger Lily and Privet that thrive on the fertilizers washed out of their flower beds.
Ginger Lily, Fishbone Fern and Morning Glory will totally replace fragile native plants.
 To compound this problem they tend to think that it’s their god given right to hurl garden clippings, unwanted bricks and scrap metal into the bush, providing species of unwanted weeds from around the globe, a perfect springboard to assault our fragile native flora.


Almost everyone grows this same boring weed species called Agapanthus

 The upshot is that Sydney bushland, far from being the richly diverse “larder” that sustained indigenous peoples for millennia, or the wondrous spectacle that would have greeted Captain Cook and his crew, is fast disappearing before our very eyes.


A typical Sydney fenceline..the yellow (Senna) and blue (Morning Glory) are strangling the bushland.
  Worryingly, virtually no one living next to bushland appears to have any knowledge of what’s happening,  very few are inclined to retain or grow endemic native plants on their land, are bothered to remove weed species or express concern at the disturbing rate of land degradation (apart from isolated “Bushcare” groups).

 Indeed, almost the only interaction between residents and bushland is the increasingly popular practice of poisoning surviving Eucalyptus trees to enhance views. Some people also have a habit of moving into bushland suburbs for the natural beauty values only to then complain about the fire risks and lobby for greater “hazard reduction” zones.

 There is an incredible amount of ignorance in the community about native flora and fauna, so most residents would fail to distinguish between native plants and the introduced species that are fast replacing them. If the trend continues, our natural areas will just become one big weedy desert. As a consequence the birds, animals and insects that relay on native plants for their food source, will vanish too.


When native plants disappear, so does most biodiversity
 So what’s the solution?  Residents whose houses back onto bushland, should be encouraged to learn more about their “duty of care”, prompted to remove invasive plants species from their gardens and fined for doing the “wrong thing”. Councils and government should be much more proactive in regards to community education (as should our schools). According to the Australian Conservation Foundation,  people today recognise less than 10 plant species but more than a thousand corporate logos.

Australia these days is populated by people from around the world. Not surprisingly, most have little understanding or awareness of this nation’s natural heritage and many have an unnatural fear of this continent’s nature. I believe new citizens should have to learn not just about the nation’s history but about its natural history.

 It doesn’t help that TV “gardening”  shows totally ignore the plants that grow naturally in this country and concentrate on promoting only exotic hybrids and cultivars. Who is going to protest the loss of something that the community doesn’t even realise is going? The reality is that it would take a massive capital expenditure to substantially and professionally restore areas of degraded bushland plus a political will that just doesn’t exist ( most current rehabilitation programs are small scale and cosmetic).


Gardening "experts" will never tell you about native Beronias!

 The trouble is, once you possess the knowledge that urban bushland is in deep crisis, a walk in your local reserve will never be quite the joyful experience that it once was.


 In a society that puts such a high premium on beauty and good looks...where did it all go so horribly wrong?

Fancy a walk amongst the weeds??

 Check out this other blog post if you are interested in  "Re-wilding" your backyard


A few community members have seen the light and are caring for
remnant bushland.





Sunday, 14 June 2015

A "vision splendid" for Manly Creek

 Manly Creek is a small waterway on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. It was traversed  and explored by Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788 but was obviously significant to the indigenous community for many thousands of years prior.

At one end of Manly Creek you’ll find the beautiful bush-lined Manly Reservoir (the very last body of freshwater in Sydney where the water is still clean enough to swim). 


Manly Reservoir 

At the other end, adjacent to the glorious surfing beach at Queenscliff, is Manly Lagoon, renowned for being the most polluted lagoon on the eastern seaboard of Australia. 

Manly Lagoon  Mass Fish Kill from Herbicide Spill 2001

 So let’s take a quick journey along this 3 kilometer stretch of creek and do it with a mission...to save the pockets of important remnant bushland, connect them into a wildlife corridor and try to ensure that the waterway itself is conserved as an important sanctuary for native fish and waterbirds.

 The creek itself was rudely interrupted in 1892 when a concrete dam was built across it to ensure that the settlement of Manly had a reliable source of water. These days the waterway relies on leaks in the structure (or scheduled releases from the dam) for its sporadic flow. 

Manly Dam


Immediately abutting the heritage listed dam is a small section of land owned by Sydney Water . The creek then flows through the facilities of Manly Hydraulics Lab and the UNSW Water Research Lab. 

 Because this area is fenced off and fairly secluded, the areas of native vegetation are of good quality (swamp wallabies, bandicoots and goannas have been spotted here!).  Some work has also been conducted to tackle the problem of invasive weeds which are the scourge of remnant bushland.




Fenced off section of good bushland on Sydney Water Land


Image of Lace Monitor (Goanna) eating a rabbit 
(courtesy UNSW Water research Lab)

There is a small pool of water on the creekline within the university grounds

Mini Mermaid Pool

... and the larger “Mermaid Pool” and waterfall is just downstream from here.


The larger (and more famous) of the "Mermaid Pools" 


Mermaid Pool sadly became a dumpsite in the years since the area became part of Sydney’s suburbia but more happily in recent years it has been lovingly restored thanks to the “Return of the Mermaids” project.  Read the full story here:-Everything you need to know about restoring Mermaid Pool

Mermaid Pool falls within the far western boundary of Warringah's District Park which is currently being assessed for a new Plan Of Management. District Park encompasses a number of playing fields and a golf course as well as this section of creek line.  Submissions to a discussion paper were canvassed and received but unfortunately the "vision" to include unreserved areas of crown land in the District Park precinct have so far not registered. Submissions are now being received for a "Draft Plan of Management District Park Draft Plan of Management. (comments close 14th July 2015).

Unfortunately the District park boundaries tend to hug the creek-line fairly closely in this section (especially on the northern side) leaving much of the remnant bushland outside the boundaries.

Some of the fragile bushland surrounding Mermaid Pool

This leaves various parcels of crown land very vulnerable. It would be great if these parcels could be transferred  to District Park classification.

The specific parcels in question, near Mermaid Pool that are zoned R2 -(residential) include portions of Lots 7369 & 7370 DP 1165551 and 7371 DP 116557 ). This anomaly apparently happened during the "translation process from LEP 2000 to LEP 2011". 


One of the volunteers working to restore this special place.

 This area of bushland has the highest biodiversity value of all the creeks leading into Manly Lagoon.  The Department of Lands has already indicated in the past that they would be happy to transfer this land to Council jurisdiction without charge. This would help secure this unique riparian zone and protect a wonderful (but often unheralded) feature of District Park. Conserving the upper catchment, of course, is also the best way of ensuring  the environmental health of Manly Lagoon (so long under scrutiny).

 The Manly Warringah War Memorial Park (Plan of Management), states (page 61) that:- “Bushland linkages need to be protected and enhanced to enable movement of flora and fauna between reserves in Warringah. Other areas adjoining the Park could be considered as linkages including District Park

 As the creek leaves Mermaid Pool on its journey towards the ocean it passes a magnificent stand of ancient rainforest before invasive weeds close in.


Surviving patch of glorious Rainforest...


...followed by a wall of invasive weeds..morning glory, lantana, privet etc


 One particular nemesis is the noxious Ludwigia Peruviana (yes it was introduced from Peru) which has the capacity to block the flow of the water. 

 Anecdotal evidence suggests that you could once paddle in a canoe from Mermaid Pool to the beach...although a section of piped creek in Warringah Golf Course would now make this impossible.  ideally as part of the new Plan of Management the piped area will be rehabilitated to assist the migration of native fish up the creekline.  For more information on the fish population of Manly Creek read here

Volunteers, Wol and Andrew retrieving discarded graffiti paint spray cans 
from under Condamine St bridge.


 Warringah Council has already produced an excellent blueprint for the future of Manly Creek, in a report titled:-

“Warringah Council Local Habitat Plan, Habitat Restoration Plan, Manly Creek Corridor”. This document details plans to preserve, restore and expand the pockets of bushland that still survive along Manly Creek as well as other ways to improve and protect this important community amenity. All we need now is for them to implement it !

Other important related documents are:-

 Warringah Natural Area Survey, Vegetation History & Wildlife Corridors, August 2005

Warringah Natural Area Survey, Vegetation Communities & Plant Species, August 2005

Warringah  Local Habitat Strategy November  2007

Further down the creek, volunteer, Tom Hazell and his team have done an amazing job in planting indigenous vegetation along the waterway between Nolans and Passmore Reserve. This is Manly's hidden Venice but in a glorious native plant and parkland setting.


 Heading towards Manly Lagoon and the beach !

Read about the benefits of wildlife corridors:-here

 Please support community efforts to conserve, protect and improve this important part of our natural heritage. 

NEWS UPDATE 

The NSW Government is currently seeking ways to transfer parcels of crown land to council jurisdiction SMH article (28.3.14)


Read A fact sheet detailing the concern for the future of Crown Lands here:-Crown Lands fact Sheet