Mount Majura Nature Reserve (MMNR) (35°14’15″S 149°10’50″E) is part of the Canberra Nature Park. This natural reserve is located in the northern suburbs of Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory. There is a series of residual bush areas of mainly hills and ridges that frame suburban Canberra. The hills of MMNR are covered with native Australian trees, most of the species are eucalyptus. At the same time, there are also an amount of highly sensitive rare plant species, including up to 26 species of terrestrial orchids such as Spider Orchid (Arachnorchis actensis). Mt Majura has a colourful variety of shrubs and grasses like Redanther Wallaby Grass (Joycea pallida) and Acacia (Acacia genistifolia) (See Figure 1). Also, Mt Majura is home to one of the few remaining stands of Yellow Box Eucalyptus melliodora in Australia. There is the critically endangered Box-Gum Woodland at the lower slope. It’s also significant for endangered birds which include the Scarlet Robin (Petroica boodang) and Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor). Sometimes we can see mixed species groups of small woodland birds foraging in the winter. MMNR sustains the native biodiversity conservation and maintains the ecological environment.
Figure 1. Acacia genistifolia
There are some environmental issues in MMNR. Pest species and excessive populations of species adversely impact on the MMNR because of the proximity of MMNR to the residential area. On the other hand, native species visibly impact on the conservation. For example, managers should concern about the present overgrazing by European Rabbit, Brown Hare, Eastern Grey Kangaroo and European Red Fox. The impact of large populations of grazing and browsing animals is particularly devastating the structure of the soil. It results in irreversible loss of biodiversity and topsoil during drought season. Also, the weed invasion has greatly diminished the diversity and abundance of native plant species. Woody weeds are threatening the integrity of the nature reserves.
Mount Majura’s local volunteer park care group is known as the Friends of Mount Majura (FoMM). FoMM aims to conserve environment and host events such as informative walks, wildlife exhibitions, and displays. Moreover, FoMM provides many volunteer opportunities to people which use their free time to caring for the nature reserve. The range of activities includes weed management and raising and planting trees. They also conduct monitoring activities on plants, animals and water quality. During the mid-break, I joined in the working party to enjoy contributing to conservation within the MMNR. The main parts of my work experience are watering (Figure 2) and mulching (Figure 3). The aim of watering is to help retain moisture in order to keep growing. Most of the sunlight is absorbed by plants for photosynthesis, the evaporation of water progressively increases at the same time. The watering can prevent too much water from losing. We should care about throwing the water from plastic shells while we are watering the plants, the watering demands patience. On the other hand, the mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of the soil, the recovery of the ground cover is very limited due to the loss of topsoil and reduced water infiltration. The mulching contributes to retain the soil moisture and improve fertility and health of the soil. Especially reducing weed growth and raising the visual appeal of the area. The main material of the mulch is organic residues including grass clippings, leaves, hay, straw and shredded bark. The lack of ground cover where we need to mulch. Finally, we voluntarily help organizers to check the plastic shells whether there is any damage. If the plastic shells become loose and damaged, we should replace them. Plastic shells are installed by stick, we need to care about species which might be over compressed by plastic shells. The purpose of plastic shells is to prevent destroying the species.
Figure 2. Watering
Figure 3. Mulching
This is the valuable working experience for me that learned how to correctly water the plants and how to suppress the growth of the weed. This activity also contributes to realizing that environmental works are not easy to insist. Managers always have to spend much time to maintain and recover the environment. Therefore, volunteer works have great significance to support the environmental action. Although there are some environmental issues in MMNR, local volunteers are working hard to turn this trend around. In addition, I encourage more people to join volunteer of groups and try to efforts protect the environment.