Bringing Mount Majura Back to Life

For my work experience, I worked on restoring/rehabilitating/conserving Mount Majura’s endangered Yellow-box-Red gum grassy woodland with Friends of Mount Majura (FOMM).  It was previously destroyed by recreational/agricultural activities.  Most recently the foot of the mountain saw urban development, also threatening the ecosystem further.  It was deemed too degraded to require an offset site however volunteers fought to get a $250,000 payment to restore the reserve.

Many hours of hard work and dedication go into rehabilitating such a heavily degraded landscape.  However it’s not stopping FOMM.

What I did and why was it important?

The best part about this experience was the practical application of skills and knowledge I have learnt, amidst the physical work.

  1. Removed woody weeds. I learnt to identify foreign/pest species and how to remove them using methods such as dabbing, ring barking and cutting into the tree; all involving spraying a poison within 10 seconds of cutting to ensure absorption by the tree with sap movement. When I go for walks now, all I can see are the weeds in the area and have an intense urge to get rid of them.

Removing the weeds gives the natives a fighting chance to flourish and help create/restore a native environment once again.  It also helps attract more native species.

This is an example of cutting and dabbing woody weeds. It was a giant Briar Rose which took about an hour to get rid off!

This is an example of cutting and dabbing woody weeds. It was a giant Briar Rose which took about an hour to get rid off!

This is an example of chopping into the trunk and spraying.  This was mostly for the larger/hardwood trees as it wasn't easy to just cut them down.

This is an example of chopping into the trunk and spraying. This was mostly for the larger/hardwood trees as it wasn’t easy to just cut them down.

  1. Replaced the vegetation. This involved planting, for which there were many different technicalities depending on species and location etc. Was all new to me! For all weed removed, there were native shrubs, groundcovers and trees planted to replace them.

Contrary to usual planting though, planting here was done very densely.  This was because the weeds that were removed grew so densely and this was the habitat requirement of the woodland birds.  So to ensure their continued survival, this had to be replaced.  There was skepticism about the natives being used to replace the birds nesting/feeding/perching habitats.  However, on my first day, I was lucky enough to see evidence of its success; a nest in the planted native Boxthorn.

Nest found in the planted native Boxthorn on Mount Majura. This was great evidence to show the rangers that the replanting is working in creating a sufficient habitat!

Nest found in the planted native Boxthorn on Mount Majura. This was great evidence to show the rangers that the replanting is working in creating a sufficient habitat!

Planting also involved covering mildly eroded areas between the saplings with woodchips/mulch and branches.  From previous patches it can be seen that this density, in combination with mulch and protection from grazing by large branches etc. regenerative capacity of these planted species was increased, with new plants coming up!

Tree planting: You can see the branch cover/protection in the distance, and in the mulch in the foreground surrounding not only the plants but the connecting areas in between them.

Tree planting: You can see the branch cover/protection in the distance, and in the mulch in the foreground surrounding not only the plants but the connecting areas in between them.

Finally…

This all ultimately helps improve the landscape, increase natives, restore a functioning ecosystem and conserve the biodiversity of this endangered habitat!  Its success can increase pressures for future threatening processes to consider the habitat and its value prior to any big changes.  It also helps create a place for people to enjoy and therefore involves them in the conservation process, not only by joining the volunteer group but by encouraging the growth of native plants in surrounding urban areas, and keeping pets inside etc. to reduce the death of the native woodland birds.

I’d love to thank Waltraud who made my experience amazing with her enthusiasm and insightfulness, and hope to continue contributing to its final outcome!

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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 Bringing Mount Majura Back to Life

  1. Chloe says:

    It’s really great to learn about the initiatives that are going on around Canberra! I’d be interested to know (based on published literature), the actual contribution that community groups make to biodiversity conservation – given the minimal funding provided by the government, one would imagine that the contribution of NGOs and community groups to conservation outcomes might be high?

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