Yellow-box grassy woodlands are considered to be a critically endangered ecological community under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The distribution of the remaining yellow-box grassy woodlands across south-eastern Australia is considered to be only 5.2% of what it was before the European settlement of the 1800s. Since European settlement, vast swathes of the yellow-box grassy woodland have been cleared for agricultural purposes. Many of the remaining patches of woodland consist of mature trees with no regeneration to replace them in the future. A range of species rely on the mature trees within the yellow-box grassy woodlands to provide habitat and food for survival. Without the presence of mature trees in the yellow-box grassy woodlands many species would face an increased risk of extinction, particularly birds such as the Swift parrot which are known to use the hollows of mature yellow-box trees.
You’re probably thinking “hang on a second! He’s forgotten the Red gum in yellow-box Red gum grassy woodland”. Well I haven’t it. Scottsdale Reserve the location I volunteered at is considered a yellow-box grassy woodland no red gum.
Scottsdale Reserve is located 45 minutes south of Canberra in the Monaro region. The reserve is 1328 hectares in size, 300 hectares of which had been used extensively for agricultural purposes since 1870. In 2006, Bush Heritage Australia purchased the former farm and created Scottsdale Reserve. One of the concepts behind the purchase was to restore parts of the degraded agricultural area back to a yellow-box grassy woodland. One strategy utilized in the Reserve to restore the land involved removal of the top 10cm of soil, which are nutrient rich and favour introduced weed species, then direct seed the area with native tree and shrub species. Scottsdale Reserve relies upon volunteers to help restore and maintain the Reserve.
This is where I come in.
I volunteered with Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) on the 6th and 10th of October respectively.
On October 6th 2016 I ventured to Scottsdale Reserve with (CVA). Upon arrival at Scottsdale Reserve we were informed today we would be one for planting seedlings. The area we were to plant had been direct seeded previously in a series of belts similar to the Whole of Paddock Restoration (WOPR) method. For unknown reasons past efforts of direct seeding had failed, it was our job to rectify this problem by planting seedlings in the failed belts. The main species we were planting was yellow-box, Eucalyptus melliodora. The planting method was very basic; dig a hole, plant the tree, erect a tree guard and water the tree. The work was not too hard or overtly interesting. The thought, however, that we were helping to conserve and protect a critically endangered ecological community was satisfying and quite rewarding.
I hope one day to return to Scottsdale Reserve in the future and see it as a thriving woodland, not the paddock landscape with a few small saplings that it is today. I will be quite proud on that day knowing that I played a role (no matter how small it was), in helping to restore Scottsdale Reserve to its former glory.
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