(l-r) Katie, Nicole, Edd and Marshal

The Tuesday Bushcare Team removed eighteen bags of Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia in three hours this week.

Nature Works 24/7

The Team is only on site three hours a week however when we finish our partner, nature, takes over the restoration work delivering natural regeneration 24 hours a day 7 days a week. We do 10% of the work removing the weeds preparing the area for natural regeneration then nature does the other 90% of the work.

Edd removing weed regrowth

In Zone 13 we are only using natural regeneration:  no replanting or mulching with imported mulch. This reduces the amount of work required (no shoveling mulch or digging hole for plants) and the cost of the restoration (mulch costs about $40/cu metre and plants cost $2 each).

Green Mulching by natural regeneration of local native grasses is reducing weed regrowth, managing erosion and providing food for butterflies. The FWR Group started clearing the Fishbone in November 2010. Just sixteen months later the picture on the right shows the thick covering of Graceful Grass Ottochloa gracillima minimising weed regrowth in the area cleared by FWR.

Edd Cross joined our team for the first time last Tuesday. However his experience with Conservation Volunteers Australia meant that I knew I could put the detailed work of clearing weed regrowth.

Two butterfly and four plant species restored to Fox Gully

Zornia dyctiocarpa

Natural regeneration has now restored Imperial Hairstreak Jalmenus evagoras and Australian Leafwing Doleschallia bisaltide butterflies as well as, four plant species including Zornia Zornia dyctiocarpa and Shepherd’s Crook Orchid Geodorum densiflorum, an endangered species in NSW.

Partnering with nature, Fox Gully Bushcare is having a huge impact in restoration of our unique Mountain habitat.

Shepherd's Crook Orchid Geodorum densiflorum

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Ian with Michael and Paul in background

Ian Walker, LNP candidate for Mansfield, joined the team for Tuesday Bushcare today: removing Fishbone Fern in Zone 13.

I showed Ian the power of natural regeneration and explained the concept of Green Mulching: controlling weeds, erosion and water loss with native grasses.

(l-r) Marshal Paul Michael

Ian was particularly interested in the use of native grasses for bushfire control. Introduced weeds like Guinea Grass Panicum maximum are a major bushfire risk because of the volume of loose dead grass that accumulates. Native Graceful Grass Ottochloa gracillimawhich is regenerating and controlling weeds in the cleared area, is also ideal for bushfire control as it is low growing and does not build up large volumes of dead grass as it quickly recycled by Australian insects adapted to the local grasses.

Time for a cuppa and jam donuts. Eleven garbage bags of Fishbone removed today!

Now it is time for nature to take over restoring native grasses, Basket Fern Drynaria rigidula, Rasp Fern Doodia media, Scrambling Lilly Geitonoplesium cymosum  and Soapy or Red Ash Alphitonia excelsa which is a food tree for caterpillars of Small Green-banded Blue butterflies.

One of the powerful things I have learned about bushcare is that if we put in 10% clearing the weeds nature then contributes 90%, working 24/7 doing natural regeneration with local plants and weed control with Green Mulching.

Fox Gully Wednesday Bushcare in Zone 13 will be a little easier this week with new steps providing safer and faster access.

With university exams over I was able to tempt Jian out into the bush for some physical rather than mental exercise. When he left home in Shanghai, Jian was not expecting to find himself swinging a sledge hammer in the bush. He did a pretty good job for a first time, hit the stake every time and didn’t hit his foot at all.

Good progress. By the time we finished today the steps reached about two thirds of the way to our restoration site. The steps will make a big difference for both safety and productivity as we carry tubs of weeds up out of the gully to the fire trail for disposal off-site.

The major weed in Zone 13 is Fishbone Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia, a fast spreading with shallow fibrous roots and numerous hairy brown or white nodules underground. Unlike most weed species in the Fox Gully site Fishbone Fern cannot be composted on-site because of the combination of fine spores establishing new plants and the long term viability of the underground nodules. Therefore productivity is critically related to the ease and speed of moving large quantaties of weed up the steep slope – work process design.

Another reason for building these steps is to allow access for our Envirionmental Workshop on Sunday August 7th. Botanist Ann Moran, Jager-Moran Environmental will be leading a walk through the Fox Gully site, sharing her amazing knowledge of our native plants, the wildlife that depends on them and the bush tucker value. Information and registration details for the workshop will be available soon: email megoutlook@gmail.com if you would like information sent out.

Natural regeneration is becoming an increasingly important part of our buchcare activities: Nature works 24/7 to build on our work, so the more we learn to work with nature the higher our productivity. Zone 13 is becoming an excellent case study of the power of natural regeneration, therefore we are improving access to allow active site inspection and discussion.

On Sunday I had the honour of presenting again at the annual BCC Habitat Brisbane Induction Day for new bushcare volunteers at Downfall Creek Bushland Centre.

My presentation was focused on maintaining the energy and motivation of bushcare volunteers.

Employee/volunteer productivity is based on:

• Individual motivation
• Individual fitness, skill and experience
• Work unit organisational structure

Plus when we are doing bush restoration work:

  How well we engage nature.

  Nature works 24/7 to build on our work.

It was only when I was preparing my presentation that I realised the full significance of natural regeneration and partnering with nature. As I explained on Sunday a group may only be able to meet once a month however nature was building on their work 24 hours a day 7 days a week for the next month. So a few hours work once a month becomes something much greater with the help of nature.

View my presentation BCC Induction – Group Motivation

Best Practice Sheet for 2 Prong Hoe – Best Practice Sheet – Removing Asparagus Fern – 2 Prong Hoe

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. See  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.