Tackling woody weeds at Mount Maura Nature Reserve

The last few Fridays, myself and a few other biodiversity conservation students have been participating in the Fridays @ the fair activities at Mount Majura Nature Reserve. Each week a small group of volunteers gather to undertake activities aiming at restoring the landscape. The activities that we undertook were removing weeds, planting trees and placing small branches around the newly planted trees.

Mount Majura Nature Reserve - view from the car park

Mount Majura Nature Reserve – view from the car park

The major activity that I undertook, was removing weeds, which is a key problem particularly in the bushland parts of the reserves. Birds often carry the seeds of weeds from suburban garden to the bushland of the reserve. In addition, weeds were introduced by the food which horses consumed at the pasture paddock, which is adjacent to the reserve.

The weeds, that are found at Mount Majura are often referred to as woody weeds and include Cootamundra Wattle (Acacia baileyana), African Olive(Olea europaea subsp. africana) and Briar Rose (Rosa rubiginosa). These weeds germinate and overpower the native plants hence preventing natural regeneration. This then changes the natural balance of the ecosystem and has an effect on the resources available for birds. The weeds were removed by first cutting the stem and then the exposed stem was immediately sprayed using a prepared poison mix. Depending on the size of the vegetation either secateurs, shears, axe or chain saw were used.

Tackling a large african olive

Tackling a large african olive

Another activity that was undertaken whilst volunteering was placing small branches around the newly planted trees. This was done to ensure that kangaroos do not eat the small planted trees hence ensuring they are able to grow. One week whilst we were volunteering large heavy logs were being moved into the bushland part of the reserve. Both these measures aim to recreate the natural environment and are examples of coarse woody debris. Coarse woody debris has numerous benefits such as providing food and habitat for organisms, nutrient cycling and storage and soil formation and retention (Shorthouse et al, 2012, 117-118).

Large logs to be moved around the reserve

Large logs to be moved around the reserve

Despite these positives, the reserve is across the road from a housing development. The reserve is very easy to access and it is possible that some of the logs or any of the wood in the reserve could be taken for firewood. This occurred frequently before the area was declared a reserve. At Mulligans Flat, the large logs have numbers engraved on a small silver plate on the logs. At Mount Majura, this could be utilised to deter the logs from being taken and being able to determine the number of logs taken, should removal occur. In addition, if any research was undertaken in the area in the future, the identification numbers could come in handy.

After this experience, I have a greater appreciation for the work and passion that small scale community groups have for the long term conservation of the environment. In particular their commitment and dedication, to encouraging awareness and understanding by passing on their vast knowledge to us students. In the future, I aim to continue attending because of my positive experiences.

Emma Gillies u5180563

Shorthouse, D., Iglesias, D., Jeffress, S., Lane, S., Mills, P., Woodbridge, G., McIntyre, S. and Manning, A. (2012). The ‘making of’ the Mulligans Flat – Goorooyaroo experimental restoration project. Ecological Management and Restoration, 13(2), pp.112-125.

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About Biodiversity Conservation Blog

I am an Associate Professor at The Australian National University and convene a (very awesome) course called Biodiversity Conservation. Myself and students in the course contribute to this blog.
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One Response to Tackling woody weeds at Mount Maura Nature Reserve

  1. Thanks Emma for a nice description of the type of volunteering that goes on around Canberra. Phil

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