At the beginning of May, I had the pleasure of visiting the extensive revegetation works being carried out at Scottsdale Reserve in New South Wales. Here I was able to witness in action the progress to turn Scottsdale Reserve from a grazed landscape, to an important conservation site.
Scottsdale Reserve has a history of extensive cultivation and grazing; yet the site still supports remnant patches of Box-Gum Grassy Woodlands, and areas of productive native grassland. 1
Within the reserve system it is clear the rich biodiversity that this reserve supports. Within an hour of fieldwork we noticed we had an appreciative audience of four Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii) who whilst were noisy acquaintances, kindly alerted us to a passing Wedge-Tailed Eagle (Aquila audax) .
Peter Saunders, (the land manager at Scottsdale) also spoke of the species richness at this site, describing a later year student who was trapping lizards. When sampling select sites in Canberra, he would catch on average ten lizards a day – but when he came to Scottsdale he caught over eighty lizards in one day!
My volunteer work involved assisting Dr. David Freudenberger in collecting ground cover data to support his long term project in Scottsdale Reserve. Our work involved assessing ground cover species and abundance surrounding the large scale plantings at Scottsdale. We placed quadrats adjacent to the plantings (which included a mix of Acacia, Eucalyptus and native shrub species) and determined relative cover of a range of ground cover species. This included Sheep’s Sorrel (Rumex acetosella) and Flatweed (Hypochaeris radicata), however most of the ground cover was dominated by African Love Grass (Eragrostis curvula).
Thanks to David I have learnt plenty of new concepts to consider in terms of biodiversity. This is in terms of the dominance of E. curvula in this landscape; whilst this is an invasive weed and has caused competition for native grassland, it has a role for biodiversity in this reserve.
E. curvula is a habitat surrogate for many species residing within the reserve. Whilst this weed has fundamentally altered this landscape, its dense cover provides protection for various reptiles and a population of the Spotted-Tailed Quoll.
Whilst Scottsdale Reserve supports many different species, this reserve is a system stuck in a stable degraded state. Assisted revegetation is the only option for this site with very low levels of regeneration. (Freudenberger, D 2014, pers. comm.,) However it is great to know that the regeneration work being undertaken has been successful especially in terms of economics, the plantings at Scottsdale Reserve have had a 92% survival rate!
This has been a fantastic experience and it is great to witness the improvements at Scottsdale due to the time, effort, and research that so many people have put into this landscape.
Thanks for reading folks. As for me I’m still dreaming of African Love Grass.
Melissa Wales u5182908
- Department of the Environment 2014, Commonwealth of Australia, viewed 14th May 2014 <http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/land/nrs/case-studies/nsw/scottsdale>