“You are doing a fantastic job! I would like to bring other bushcare groups here to see this site. It is a great case study in bushcare best practice and natural regeneration.” Last Thursday was our annual site inspection and Kate our local BCC Habitat Brisbane bushcare officer was very impressed with the progress with restoration.

Mai clearing Fishbone Fern

We are lucky at this site to have surrounding bush to provide seed for natural regeneration. However, I believe the main reason for our success, is our almost zero use of herbicides in clearing weeds.

In planning restoration of Zone 13, I did a systematic search of the area and found a six different native fern species, Basket Fern, Rough Maindenhair Fern, Rasp Fern, Gristle Fern Mountain Bracken and Elkhorn Fern, still surviving amongst the invasive Fishbone Fern. Poisoning was therefore not an option: herbicides kill all plants not just the weeds.

Hand removal of weeds seemsĀ  slow initially however it reduces long term workload as the native grasses significantly reduce weed regrowth, saving time with follow-up weed removal and reducing the need for re-planting.

Time for a break

Restoration of heavily infected areas needs to be done in stages working from the edges to maximise natural regeneration and minimise weed re-infection. Systematic removal of the Fishbone Fern starts with clearing the bulk of ferns and immediatly bagging to minimise disturbance and spreading of spores from fertile fronds. The next stage is careful removal of fibrous roots and numerous hairy brown or white nodules underground. Fishbone is so successful reinfection can be caused by spread of spores or regrowth from roots and nodules. Therefore, the easiest most successful restoration is based on good work practices: less effort better results.

Of course good work practice includes a making time for a break, a cup of tea and a chat. Our bushcare workforce are all volunteers so ensuring they relax and enjoy the time is an important part of building motivation to return.

September 2010 the FWR Group joined our Wednesday Bushcare and started on the daunting task of clearing the huge area of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia, from the gully. SeeĀ  my post: Business Goes Bush in Mt Gravatt

Wednesday Bushcare this week will return to that site to remove any regrowth of Fishbone. When I inspected the site to assess the work required, I was so blown away by the extraordinary natural regeneration occurring, I had to do a quick review.

Cindy, Tessa, Virginia, Luke and Mike

Removing Fishbone fern can be a fiddly frustating job: digging out every nodule then carrying the loaded tubs to the top of the slope. Every part of the fern has to be removed from site to reduce risk of re-infection.

In this situation it is great to have a group who can share some fun. “What are these strange nodules we keep digging up?” Cindy is from Busan, South Korea. Tessa,Virginia, Luke and Mike are part of the FWR team.

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The team also removed Easter Cassia, Chinese Elm and Ochna.

Virgina proved quite adept with the new Treepopper provided by our sponsor BCC Habitat Brisbane.

Seeing results is a key factor in motivation for a volunteer bushcare workforce. The Treepopper delived results on the day, making easy work of these, normally hard to remove, woody weeds.

Nine is the biggest team we have had for Wednesday Bushcare and at the end of the afternoon the results showed. The thick green border of Fishbone shows how much has been removed to create this clear ground.

That same area is now covered

Ottochloa gracillima Graceful Grass

in a thick growth of Ottochloa gracillima Graceful Grass which is supressing weed growth as well as providing caterpillar food for Brown and Orange-streaked Ringlet butterflies.

Hybanthus stellarioides Spade Flower

There has been some regrowth of Fishbone fern and some infection with other weeds however the most striking change is the extraordinary natural regeneration of the native grasses, herbs and ferns. Herbs like the unusual Spade Flower Hybanthus stellarioides are now appearing in this area where they were not found before.

Drynaria rigidula Basket Fern

The Basket Fern has also benefited from the weed removal with fresh new growth appearing and outgrowing the invasive Fishbone.

Visiting this part of the site and seeing the native plants restoring the habitat is a real boost.

So I hope you can join us this week for Wednesday Bushcare in Fox Gully.