In the early weeks of the semester, when we learned of the work experience component of this course, I was sure that I wanted to work in the field as opposed to in an office. I had heard a lot about Greening Australia from a few sources in the Fenner School, and I wanted to volunteer there as soon as they would have me. I was informed that the ACT chapter of Greening has been working with Bush Heritage Australia on rehabilitating the Scottsdale Reserve, to restore cleared woodlands. The Reserve was located 75km south of Canberra, which is about a 45 minute drive, and as such was a convenient conservation opportunity.
My experience at Scottsdale Reserve was at a one-day planting event, on the 28th of April. It was an early start, leaving the ANU at 8am and beginning work just after 9am at the site. I remember being nervous at the site, having little experience in fieldwork. I soon realised that there is nothing daunting about the work, beyond some level of physical exercise. The Project Officer with us, Ben, was very knowledgeable and provided us a quick tutorial on the planting method we were going to use.
We spent the day planting tube stock amongst some prepared direct seeding lines that had been scalped to reduce nutrient loads. This involved the process listed below:
1. Dig a hole at least twice the size of the tube stock roots at the allocated intervals at the site
2. Turn the tube on its side, place a hand on the tube and tap the top of the tube vigorously to remove the plant from the container
3. Plant with care, ensuring the plant is upstanding, and backfill the hole with soft soil rather than rocks
4. Set up a guard to protect the plant, by using two stakes in the ground (one medium length, one long length) to hold the guard in place
5. Water heavily, in order to moisten the topsoil and subsoil
An illustration at the conclusion of the method:
I observed that there were already several areas in the Scottsdale that had a heavy coverage of planted and guarded trees. This is a result of relatively recent work from Greening Australia alongside Bush Heritage, and is clear evidence of the benefits of community-based conservation.
In the past, I have engaged in few community or volunteer-based conservation projects. However, my experience at Scottsdale was relaxed and friendly, despite some requisite manual labour. There are frequent volunteering opportunities, including a regular Green Team that works at the site. It was rewarding to be working towards restoring the Reserve and to anyone passionate about habitat rehabilitation and conservation, I would really recommend volunteering with Greening at the Scottsdale Reserve.