TREAT Newsletter Dry Season July - September 2009
Peterson Ck Walk - 15 th August
A field day will be held on Saturday 15th August at Peterson Creek, meeting at the bottom of Burchill's property on Peeramon Road at 2pm.
We will take leisurely walk and talk westward alongside the revegetated areas as far as the remnant on the Williams' property and will see plantings done in 1998, 2004, 2007 and 2008 on the northern side of the creek. Across the creek the 2008 planting on the Mete's property can also be seen.
On return to our starting point, an afternoon tea will be available under the comfort of the TREAT marquee. Everyone is welcome.
Annual General Meeting
The 27th AGM will be held on Friday 18th September at the Yungaburra Community Hall commencing at 7:30pm.
Our Guest speaker will be John Clarkson of QPWS at Mareeba and his talk will be centred on some exotic grasses.
Annual reports from the President, Treasurer and Nursery Manager will be followed by the election of TREAT office bearers and committee members for the next year. Members are reminded that they must be financial when voting for the new committee. Subscriptions will be accepted at the AGM. A General Meeting follows the AGM. The evening concludes with a supper and plate contributions are appreciated. Everyone is welcome to attend.
Inside this issue
This newsletter is kindly sponsored by Biotropica Australia Pty Ltd.
It's Not the Snake in the Grass You Should be Wary of
John Clarkson QPWS Mareeba
The term "high biomass grass" has been coined to describe a suite of exotic species which are often considerably taller and produce significantly more dry matter per hectare than native species. These grasses are usually, but not exclusively, of pastoral origin. They spread readily from places where they are introduced into relatively undisturbed plant communities. In the process they displace native species and form dense monospecific stands which can lead to serious declines in the biodiversity of both plants and animals.
A dozen high risk species are currently identified as posing serious threats in Far North Queensland.
- Gamba grass - Andropogon gayanus
- Perennial mission grass - Pennisetum polystachion
- Annual mission grass - Pennisetum pedicellatum
- Buffel grass - Cenchrus ciliaris
- Indian couch - Bothriochloa pertusa
- Grader grass - Themeda quadrivalvis
- Thatch grass - Hyparrhenia rufa and H. hirta
- Guinea grass - Megathyrsus maximus
- Molasses grass - Melinis minutiflora
- Para grass - Urochloa mutica
- Olive hymenachne - Hymenachne amplexicaulis
- Aleman grass - Echinochloa polystachya
While the full impact of many of these species has probably still to be realised, the ecological impacts observed to date are cause for much concern.
The success of any weed control program is often linked to how soon the problem is identified and control works commenced. The problem with exotic grasses is that, in many instances, land managers find them difficult to distinguish from native species. As a result they are often well established before the initial identification is made. Hopes of eradication are then slim for the infestation can be too large for any effective mechanical control and there is little scope for the use of selective herbicides and virtually no chance of biological control. The altered fire behaviour brought about by the changed fuel conditions can in many cases promote an expansion of the exotic grass.
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service is fortunate that across its northern regions, with a few exceptions, high biomass grasses have yet to become established on land under its control. The steps being taken to deal with the threat posed by these grasses include the implementation of sound weed hygiene practices to minimise the risk of introduction, staff training in the recognition of alien species and the adoption of a firm commitment to early identification and eradication.
Often this is being done in isolation for landholders are still legally entitled to use many of these species for grazing in most areas of Queensland. A growing area for concern is the increased use of grasses as garden plants as water restrictions force the nursery industry to seek drought tolerant plants. The weed potential of these species must be assessed prior to their release if the lessons learned from years of uncontrolled release of grasses by the pastoral sector are to be of any benefit.
Thiaki Creek Reforestation for Rainforest Carbon and Biodiversity
ARC Linkage Research Project
Demand for restoration of landscapes to sequester carbon and improve biodiversity outcomes has recently taken on a new urgency with the post-Bali Climate Change initiatives and leading up to the Climate Convention in Copenhagen in December 2009. In the Wet Tropics the impacts of climate change will be particularly severe with the predicted extinction of many endemic species currently surviving in small patches of habitat, and loss of diversity and resilience in the Great Barrier Reef. While forestry practices using monoculture tree species (often exotic species) have been well developed for most of a century in the Wet Tropics, reforestation practices using mixed native species for carbon sequestration and biodiversity benefits are relatively poorly developed and understood. The results of mixed plantings over the past two decades for ecosystem services have been variable.
Very little replicated experimental research into revegetation from grassed land to forest has been undertaken anywhere in the tropical regions of the world. There has been, for instance, little research into the founding conditions of sites such as soil nutrients, soil condition, and species on site. Understanding of the best species mixes is variable and often poor and this is coupled with high establishment and maintenance costs. The results have often been much wasted effort and money, with poor returns from investment.
Penny van Oosterzee and Noel Preece, on their Thiaki property south of Malanda, have established a revegetation research project in conjunction with the University of Queensland, University of Adelaide, Charles Darwin University, Cambridge University and Lancaster University. The group was successful in winning a major Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage grant for the next 5 years. Terrain NRM Pty Ltd, Greening Australia, Stanwell Corporation and Biome5 are industry partners. The research team is led by Dr Margie Mayfield and Dr Peter Erskine (UQ), Dr Corey Bradshaw and Dr David Chittleborough (Adelaide Uni), and Dr Mike Lawes (CDU), Dr Rosa Menendez-Martinez (Lancaster Uni) and Dr Toby Gardner (Cambridge Uni). Dr Noel Preece and Penny van Oosterzee are research partners in the project.
The research project will investigate biodiversity habitat enhancement and carbon sequestration in a multi-replicated experiment.
The study is a multi-disciplinary one, addressing practical reforestation methods, and ecological, economic and carbon sequestration aspects of reforestation. Three core research questions will be investigated:
- What are the optimum methods for revegetating long-cleared rainforest areas
- Which methods are optimum for biodiversity habitat enhancement
- What are the carbon budgets and sequestration rates for relevant carbon pools at various stages of revegetation, starting with grassed farmland, to 20 years in the future.
All three questions are of vital contemporary significance, and have been poorly addressed anywhere in the world's tropical biomes.
Goals that the ARC project will focus on are:
- Maximizing biodiversity recovery, focusing on these groups: dung beetles, hymenoptera, plants, soil microbes
- Identifying the most cost effective strategy for the greatest biodiversity payoff
- Identifying the carbon benefits achievable by reaching the first two goals
This is a relatively large scale, long term research project starting with a 5-year research program, establishing experimental rainforest ARR (afforestation/ reforestation/ revegetation) practices. It will start from an introduced grassland, a common starting point, and will establish ecological research projects to investigate these and other questions.
Basic attributes of the project include:
- A landscape scale experiment in a dedicated area, held in private freehold
- 20 ha for replicated experimental treatments of best practice ARR
- Existing grassland used for cattle grazing, providing opportunity to research ARR from a common starting point
- Immediately adjacent remnant rainforest as reference and study areas
- Replicated sites in the local area
- Economic analysis of the various treatments applied
- Detailed analysis of the successful strategies for ARR, the benefits for biodiversity, and crucially, the carbon sequestration benefits to be derived from the several types of ARR
Reliable models for the sequestration of carbon from grassland to forest need to be developed. The models to date are limited in scope and number, resulting in significant uncertainties in calculating sequestration rates. Under the Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry protocols and guidebooks as developed for the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, five carbon pools have been identified:
- aboveground biomass
- belowground biomass
- dead wood
- soil organic matter
The easiest to measure and the one which has most published data is standing live timber. The other four have been less well studied, and some very poorly, such as soil carbon. The research proposed here will investigate and quantify the carbon in each of the pools, to provide a reliable measure for this region of the world.
Successful outcomes from this project will benefit landholders, industry and government by providing sound research on which to base reforestation projects for biodiversity and carbon sequestration. The research outcomes will provide clear, generally applicable guidelines on best practice for landholders planning projects, remove the uncertainties and risks which can be avoided by best practice, and provide better assessments of the costs and benefits from reforestation projects at small scales. Benefits to industry will include reduced risks associated with investment in carbon and ecosystem services offsetting projects, and increased certainty of outcomes.
Thiaki Creek property is located in the southern Atherton Tablelands of Far North Queensland, about 22 kms south of Atherton, at approximately 145° 51'E 17° 43'S, at elevations between 900 m and 1030 m above sea level. It lies about 50 km inland from the coast. The land is freehold, and covers around 181 ha, including about 130 ha of remnant rainforest and 50 ha of cleared land which is currently used for grazing beef cattle.
It is part of a 1000 ha remnant patch and is a distance of 1.3 km from the Mt Hypipamee National Park section of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. It forms part of the Upper Barron complex notophyll vine forest complex, on cloudy wet basalt uplands and highlands (RE 7.8.4).This ecosystem type is largely cleared and considered to have endangered biodiversity status. The remnants are very fragmented and lie within intensive agricultural landscapes on freehold land in isolated patches. Some of the areas were cleared over 60 years ago.
The land has very high conservation significance. It is known habitat of the endangered Southern Cassowary Casuarius casuarius, and has core breeding populations of the rare Lumholtz Tree-kangaroo Dendrolagus lumholtzi, Lemuroid Ringtail-possum Hemibelideus lemuroids, Herbert River Ringtail-possum Pseudocheirulus herbertensis and Green Ringtail-possum Pseudocheirops archeri. All 13 bird species that are endemic to North Queensland rainforests (and the Cassowary) occur on the property. The remnant vegetation has previously been logged using snigging practices, but retains a generally intact structure.
Expert advice from a wide range of revegetation practitioners and researchers from across the region and across Australia was sought on the project. Extensive literature reviews provided the scientific basis for the experiment.
The experimental plots will be set up on the grassed slopes of the property. Each plot will be 50 x 50 m square (1/4 hectare) and will be bordered by a 5 m grassed buffer. Around 56 experimental plots will be established across the property, including controls of grassed and sprayed plots.
Species selection has undergone extensive review and consultation with revegetation experts in the region and elsewhere, and the nurseries have been consulted about the best species selection. Species selection has been based on selecting from a range of families so that the species have a variety of traits, such as fast and slower growing species, fleshy fruited and dry-fruited species, wind-borne species, and species with different pollination traits. The wide family and species selection will make the results more applicable to different situations.
Below is the latest iteration of the species list. Names in bold are the preferred set of species, while the others are reserve species. All species are local-provenance endemics.
Around 30,000 plants will be planted in the plots, early in 2011. Three species mixes will be planted: a monoculture of Flindersia brayleyana or F. bourjotiana, a 6-species mix of one from each family, and a 24-species mix.
Spacings of trees have been the subject of much intense debate. Views from planters in the region vary widely, with some adamant that close spacings are essential, while others that wider spacings will result in a good forest stand. We have chosen two spacings commonly used in plantings, 1.75 x 1.75 m, and 3 x 3 m.
The arrangement of the replicated experimental plots will be:
- 1.75 m, 1 species
- 3 m, 1 species
- 1.75 m, 6 species (6 families)
- 3 m, 6 species (6 families)
- 1.75 m, 24 species (6 families)
- 3 m, 24 species (6 families)
Studies which have begun include native flies and bees and pasture plant species, and the experimental plots have been mapped on ArcGIS. Studies later this year will include ants, and detailed soil analyses (bulk density, carbon, minerals, nutrients).
Lower Peterson Creek Field Day
About 30 people gathered in the sunshine at Allumbah Pocket, Yungaburra, at the start of the Lower Peterson Creek Field Day 23 May 2009. David Leech and Peter Tuck from Yungaburra Landcare came to talk to us about the project which they started back in 1998. David began to explain how over a period of about 10 years they have taken the site from a lantana infested rubbish dump to the beautiful walk through several ecosystems that it is today. He explained the process of clearing the dense lantana and other weeds before small plantings were begun. Funding was obtained through the National Heritage Trust, fencing had to be erected with landowners permission on farms fringing the creek and the appropriate trees were sourced through TREAT with botanical guidance from Geoff Tracey of the CSIRO (and a founding member of TREAT). Geoff is commemorated at the beginning of the walk to the north of Allumbah Pocket and this section is named after him.
But before heading north we walked across the new and very impressive suspension bridge to one of the newest planted areas - rainforest trees which grow in Mabi forest around a well maintained grass area planted about six months ago and looking very healthy. Heading back over the bridge we then went through the Geoff Tracey Botanical Walk where trees have name plaques, through the dry sclerophyll trees with rainforest creek margins to Frawley's Pool. This is a large and very beautiful waterhole fringed by well kept lawn for easy access and an interpretive shelter with table, seats and information boards detailing the history and interesting features of the walk. Several of us noticed the abundant fruit of the Herbert River Cherries (Antidesma bunius) and enjoyed the perfumed flowers of the Grey Bollywood (Neolitsea dealbata) before we crossed the creek on a plank bridge to another section of rainforest trees planted three years ago. This section is on private land and David explained how, with the landholder's permission, an off-creek watering system was set up for his cattle with troughs, fencing etc. in exchange for this section of the walk. There is another seat provided here for quiet contemplation and bird watching. We were lucky enough to see a Scarlet Honeyeater furiously feeding on a weeping callistemon (Callistemon viminalis) flowering on the creek bank. From here we turned back as time was getting short, but the walk continues up to the old railway bridge and then connects with other walks, some only recently formed such as the Casuarina Walk and the Wallaby Track.
We headed back at a leisurely pace taking in the glorious sights and sounds of a very beautiful and well used walking track before getting into our cars and driving to Peter and Trixie Tuck's property at the back of the Curtain Fig National Park. Here we assembled in their very manicured and lovely garden before being led by Peter through his Mabi forest plantings back down to Peterson Creek. The trees fringing the creek were planted by Peter, Trixie and friends during the mid 90's and are now mature habitat for birds and animals. Peter showed us the old pumping station and weir over the creek which once supplied Yungaburra's water supply and led us through the 5,000 Mabi forest trees which were planted with the help of TREAT members and others in April 2008. We saw the exceptionally impressive growth rate and excellent survival rate of these trees which have been maintained regularly with Biotropica spraying directly around each tree but leaving the areas in between. Peter explained that in addition to the weed control, watering had been done during the 2008 dry season. About every six weeks each tree was watered by hand for five seconds taking a total of 12 hours over a couple of days each time. A mammoth effort for sure but the growth and survival rates show it was a worthwhile endeavour. Also, extra pioneers, Candlenuts (Aleurites rockinghamensis) were added by direct sowing of seed in between the planted trees, and these have shot up very successfully. A section next to the road and under powerlines has been planted with lower growing shrubby species, gingers and cunjevois, larger spacings being used to account for the bushy habit of these trees.
One unusual feature of the plantings is the area facing north which shows a consistently stronger growth compared with the other plantings which were all completed within a couple of weeks. One explanation Peter had was that the area had not previously been under cultivation whilst the others had. Also this area had been covered in glycine which, being a legume, puts nitrogen into the soil. The only other difference Peter could think of was that being at the bottom of a slope the ground would have retained moisture better. The exact reason remains a mystery.
After our very interesting guided walk we headed back to the lawn where Trixie and Carol had prepared afternoon tea. Heavenly scones, jam and cream, fruit cake with tea and coffee was enjoyed by all of us and made a fitting end to a fabulous afternoon. We congratulated and thanked David, Peter and Trixie for their successful projects and for their time and effort sharing it with us on a perfect Saturday afternoon.
Revegetation at Seamark Road
The field day on Saturday 27th June at Dave Hudson and Robyn Land's property was on an unusually warm and sunny winter's afternoon and 18 of us met to look at the revegetation work there. Dave and Robyn bought the land on Seamark Road, towards Tarzali, in 2004 with the desire to revegetate an area of about 15 hectares cleared some 15 years earlier on one of the slopes. The property had also been intensively logged prior to purchase so their first priority was to control erosion on the logging tracks throughout the remaining forest. Then they turned their attention to revegetation.
They were able to obtain funding assistance for 5 years through the Vegetation Incentives Program (VIP) and a plan was put in place to create two habitat linkages across the cleared area from their remaining forest to the forest on the other side of Seamark Road. An initial planting had been done recently by Malanda and Upper Johnstone Catchment and Landcare Association on the boundary of the adjacent western property so one of the linkages built on this. The other linkage was to be across the middle of the cleared area.
The first planting was scheduled for 20th March 2006 - Cyclone Larry day. This planting eventually took place in May 2006 on the western edge next to the neighbour's planting. The plantings in March 2007 were at the central linkage, where the northern and southern remnant forests were closest, working up from the bottom of the slope. The February 2008 plantings expanded the western area and the February/March 2009 plantings expanded the central linkage to the east and west, further up the slope to the top. The planned 2010 plantings will extend the existing linkages.
Dave gave us an overview of the project prior to walking through the 2009 planting down to the 2007 planting, then back up the hill and along to the 2008 planting from where we could also see the 2006 planting.
These plantings were each carried out over a week or so by the Tablelands Community Revegetation Unit (TCRU) with assistance from volunteers of Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA). The trees were sourced from TCRU. Site preparation consisted of two strategically timed sprayings of the Brachiaria and Setaria grass which over the period since 2004 when cattle were excluded had grown into a very thick mat. Because of the cattle, lantana (poisonous to stock) had been kept under control. This dead grass made a fabulous mulch cover to exclude weeds and help give the trees a good start. Apparently the CVA volunteers chipped the grass where the holes were to be dug, TCRU then dug the holes with augers (amazing work on such steep terrain) and the volunteers followed up with planting. Pelletised chook manure was used in the holes. Apart from the second half of the 2009 planting, there was good follow-up rain immediately after planting and the growth rates are exceptional, especially in the 2008 site where many trees are already 2m or more. Here, TCRU had done three maintenance runs (each equivalent to 10 work days) and there were no weeds to be seen. The trees planted just before the unseasonally dry March this year, had suffered and some had died. However, many dead-looking ones were starting to reshoot with subsequent rain and may survive until the next wet season.
The tree species planted are consistent with the ecosystem of the area which is designated RE 7.8.4 (previously 5a), simple to complex notophyll vine forest of cloudy wet highlands on basalt. Kylie, from TCRU, said that a core number of about 20 species were planted with a mix of about 8% pioneers, but in total about 60 species were planted. The area is rich in diversity of tree species. Altogether, over 10,000 trees have been planted to date. Dave and Robyn are also planting near the road to create a screen and to link with the forest there.
As part of the VIP grant, Rigel Jensen undertook a vegetation survey in the surrounding forest and nearly 200 tree and shrub species were recorded. Dave is happy to provide a copy of the results to anyone interested.
The property is protected by a Nature Refuge Conservation Agreement and forms part of a large area of intact forest between Seamark and Merragallan Roads. (See Graham Harrington's article 'How Times Change' in the Jan-Mar 2007 newsletter.)
An afternoon tea at Dave and Robyn's cottage followed the walk and Dave offered to take those who were interested down to the creek afterwards to get a closer look at the 2006 planting. Food and relaxation however in the warm afternoon conditions looking over the hills made further effort unattractive and we contented ourselves with socialising and asking more questions. It was a very pleasant and informative afternoon.
Topaz Field Day Revisited
Diane Lucas and Jeremy Russell-Smith
In September 2008, a field day was held at our property on Candow Road, Topaz, to view and discuss tree plantings conducted over the previous 10 years. Lorraine Lamothe provided an overview of the field day in the Oct-Dec 2008 TREAT newsletter and we are pleased to be able to provide some more information on our plantings and the outcomes which have been achieved.
A forestry-style planting (typically at 3X3 m spacing) was used at our property because, from our experience elsewhere (a) we wanted to revegetate extensive areas of pasture on relatively fertile basalt soils with mixed timber trees both as a future resource and as a means for controlling rampant lantana and exotic raspberry infestations, and (b) such spacing allows for relatively simple maintenance (slashing, spraying) using quads and/or small tractors.
Since planting started on the property, over 10,000 trees have been established. As mentioned by Lorraine, we have borne most of the costs of planting and maintenance ourselves. In the early years most of the maintenance was undertaken through the Eacham Shire Community Revegetation Unit (now the Tablelands Community Revegetation Unit). Today we undertake most of the maintenance, whereas the TCRU is still involved with the maintenance of some extensive creekline rehabilitation plantings funded through the Nature Assist program.
In terms of outcome, most of the plantings (at least on well-drained basalt soils) have resulted in good establishment, canopy closure and resultant control of grass competition within 5-7 years. The key is appropriate site preparation and ongoing maintenance (say, 3-4 times per year) and, even in the absence of canopy closure, tree plantings mostly have done very well and remained healthy if grass competition is controlled effectively.
Significantly, however, we have found that where plantings have proven unsuccessful, dismal even, is in poorly drained situations, typically in gully depressions and lower slope sites, and especially on finer-grained metamorphic soils. Such waterlogging has affected both densely packed 'habitat' and more widely spaced 'forestry' plantings alike. Subsequently, we have learnt to use more tolerant species (especially Flindersia and Proteaceae, e.g. Alloxylon, Athertonia, Cardwellia, Darlingia, Lomatia. .), and employ mounding. In recurring bad cases we have simply given up to let nature (but not weeds) take her course. Frosts are not a significant issue in Topaz.
Over 50 years of rainfall records for the Topaz recording station indicate that the mean annual rainfall is 4.3 m with no month receiving less than 100 mm. These rainfall data indicate that, as we have found, waterlogging is a serious issue facing revegetation projects in this area. Probably half the 60 acres we are revegetating comprises poor draining metamorphic soils. Over time we have learnt in these areas to use a different approach. Flindersia and Proteaceae species appear to naturally regenerate in these wet areas and, by spraying the grasses around the existing trees and underplanting natural regrowth species (mostly Alphitonia, some Acacia), we are able to successfully establish vegetation. These underplantings are not in rows, but still employ relatively wide spacings. We have found that little follow up maintenance is required and mortality is probably less than 5% after 4 years.
Many landowners in TREAT would not be concerned with pursuing forestry / production outcomes as part of their revegetation and rehabilitation projects. However, for those who are or may be interested in doing so, we have learned that in most typical situations the planting of canopy species at wider spacings is effective. For us, the major challenges have been to deal with maintenance issues, poor drainage and the occasional cyclone.
Bat Hospital Visitor Centre
Atherton's new Bat Hospital Visitor Centre will be officially opened on Saturday 22 August 2009 with a special event at the International Club, starting at 7.30pm. Guest speakers are Steve Parish, well-known wildlife photographer, and bat scientists Drs Les Hall and David Westcott.
Dr Westcott is involved in local bat research at CSIRO in Atherton, and Dr Hall is a world authority on bats working with Steve Parish on a range of books about bats. Together they will tell fascinating stories and show superb photographs. Entry is by gold coin donation for a light supper afterwards.
Open days will be held at the bat hospital at 134 Carrington Road, Atherton on the afternoons of 22 and 23 August 3-6 pm. Free entry to all.
A wide range of organisations have helped to fund the Visitor Centre including: Australian Geographic Society, Queensland Government Blueprint for the Bush program, Wet Tropics Management Authority, North Queensland Wildlife Trust, Wildlife Conservancy of Tropical Queensland, various philanthropic organisations in the UK and USA, Reef Casino and Gambling Community Benefit Funds, and the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland.
The Bat Hospital became an incorporated community group in 2002 and a registered charity in 2008. It works for the conservation of bats and their habitat through the rescue of sick and injured bats, support of research, and educational programs through schools and the visitor centre.
The visitor centre features iron work by local artisan Hans Pehl, artwork by Daryl Dickson, information displays by Bryony Barnett and Kristy Day, and a fabulous tile mosaic floor created as a community arts project coordinated by Christina Bahrdt. Respected local wildlife artist Daryl Dickson will exhibit and auction a new painting to commemorate the opening. Enjoy an intriguing insight into the world of bats, the real stars of the night.
Dr Len Webb and TREAT
In the Autumn edition of Wildlife Australia, the magazine of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland, there is the notice of the death of Dr Len Webb.
Dr Webb was a pioneering rainforest ecologist who worked for the CSIRO in the Long Pocket laboratories in Brisbane. He was a friend of the poet Judith Wright, who was such a powerful figure in the founding of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland. Dr Webb was also a friend of Geoff Tracey, one of the significant figures of TREAT, together with Tony Irvine, James Wright and myself.
An important event in the TREAT early days was a public meeting held in the Yungaburra hotel. Len was visiting Geoff Tracey and was chief speaker at this gathering. I remember well that the lounge of the hotel, where the meeting was to be held, was filling up with interested Tablelanders who were all keen to hear Len, when the hotelier told us that a bus load of 'paying clients' had arrived and we must move! We were asked to carry our chairs up the wide staircase to the hotel's big landing - and there we held the meeting!
It was this most important event which gave TREAT its start on the Tableland. Len spoke eloquently of the need for conservation of the tropical rainforest. The co-operative work of Geoff Tracey, Tony Irvine, Peter Stanton, James Wright and myself founded TREAT. Since then, thousands of native rainforest trees have been planted on the Atherton Tableland as a result of the co-operative work of TREAT and the QPWS.
The following excerpts are from the Courier Mail and Wildlife Australia Magazine.
Dr Len Webb, one of Australia's pioneers of rainforest science and ecology, passed away late last year, after a career of more than 70 years working with Australia's rainforests.
Much of Dr Webb's career was with the CSIRO. Early in his career, he spent time in Australia's tropical rainforests surveying plants for potential medical uses. This began his extensive study of these ecosystems, and after lobbying his cause, the CSIRO set up a Rainforest Ecology Research Unit with Dr Webb as the sole researcher. Geoff Tracey later joined Len in this Unit and together the scientists undertook important work in rainforest ecology and floristic sampling.
Credited with pioneering the science of rainforest ecology, Len was also an inspired networker. Through his work with Aboriginal communities in the northern rainforests, he developed a deep and abiding respect for Aboriginal knowledge and culture.
Dr Webb's connection with the state's conservation movement dates back to the early 1960s, when he started a long friendship with poet and Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland's inaugural president Judith Wright. Dr Webb spent over 20 years working with the WPSQ and was a long-term vice president of the group. He was also a foundation councillor of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
His pioneering work in the Wet Tropics in the 1950s, 60s and 70s formed the basis of the Australian Government's submission in 1988 to UNESCO for their listing as a natural World Heritage Area.
Dr Webb's work has been recognised by awards such as the Inaugural Gold Medal of the Ecological Society of Australia (1983), BHP pursuit of Excellence (Environment) Prize (1984), and the Order of Australia (1987). His many legacies include a much greater awareness of and appreciation for rainforests, the ongoing work of WPSQ and a historically significant collection of approximately 2000 images of native vegetation, fauna and landscapes archived by Griffith University (Len Webb archive.).
Nursery staff have been busy, post planting season (tablelands), maintaining revegetation sites at Peterson Creek, Massey Creek and Tony Irvine's memorial planting at Curtain Fig National Park. Most sites have now been cleared of weeds by applying a glyphosate based herbicide and the trees have received a follow-up feed of pelletized chook manure. The trees are all growing well with very few losses so all we need now is some winter rain to kick things along.
Tree planting work has been undertaken on the lowlands and foothills with some infill planting amongst the car park plantings at the Mamu Rainforest Canopy Walkway. The Canopy Walkway project was recently nominated for and took out a Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) 'Excellence Award' so a special thanks goes out to all those involved in the project.
Further planting has been undertaken at 'Tarditi', restoring cassowary habitat on a section of resumed grazing lease which is part of the Alcock State Forest Reserve north of Tully near Alligator's Nest. Nursery staff provided nearly 4,000 trees and assisted QPWS staff from Innisfail and Mission Beach to begin restoration works on a large area of the land. Assistance with the plantings was also provided by Conservation Volunteers Australia.
Seed collections have been fairly limited during this traditionally quiet fruiting period as borne out by the short collection list. However, recent trips, particularly to the lowlands, have seen higher numbers of species bearing fruits and it is expected that ripe fruits will be available for collection and processing in increasing numbers over the following months.
Darren has just returned to us following a short secondment with the walking track team. The track team has been working on a capital works project reforming the steep and slippery Mt Baldy walking track. Welcome back Daz!
The nursery is looking really good at the moment due to the great work volunteers have been doing out in the bays weeding, sizing and sorting plants. This is essential work at this time of the year when plants are not going out of the nursery as it has a large impact on reducing the incidence of weed infestation, disease and fungal attacks, greatly improving the health of plant stocks for the coming planting season. A really great effort.
With the start of the 2009-2010 financial year it is again time for the annual renewal of volunteer registrations. If you are a regular volunteer or intend to become one please complete a registration form as soon as possible. Registration is important and is required under current Workplace Health and Safety legislation. Forms are available from staff and the TREAT administration.
Display Centre - HELP WANTED!
TREAT's Display Centre is advertised to be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am till 1pm.
As our working bees are on Fridays this day is not a problem. On Mondays, Jim Panther usually looks after the Centre but on Wednesdays only a couple of members have been looking after the Centre. If we had a larger pool of members available it would make the job less frequent for those involved. Ideally we would like 8 to 10 members who would be prepared to be rostered for Wednesdays so that each member would only be required for one day every second month.
The time spent from 9am till 1pm can be useful time for catching up on any personal bookwork, reading or other activity if there are few visitors. Alternatively, weeding and other nursery work can be done if desired. When visitors do come to the Centre, interaction with them can be interesting and rewarding.
If you could be available for this important TREAT educational activity, please contact Barbara Lanskey on 4091 4468 or call into TREAT on a Friday morning.
Fruit Collection Diary April - June 2009
|Species||Common Name||Collection Location/
|Acmena hemilampra||Blush Satinash||7.3.10|
|Alphitonia petreii||Pink Ash||7.8.2|
|Alphitonia whiteii||Red Ash||7.8.2|
|Atractocarpus fitzalani||Brown Gardenia||7.3.10|
|Caldcluvia australiensis||Rose Alder||7.8.2, 7.8.4|
|Dysoxylum allilaceum||Buff Mahogany||7.3.10|
|Ficus copiosa||Plentiful fig||7.8.2|
|Glochidion harveyanum||Buttonwood||7.3.10, 7.8.1|
|Homalanthus novo-guineensis||Tropical Bleeding Heart||7.3.10|
|Jagera pseudorhus||Pink Tamarind||7.3.10|
|Lophostemon suaveolens||Swamp Box||7.8.3|
|Mischocarpus lachnocarpus||Woolly Fruited Mischocarp||7.8.4|
|Neolitsea dealbata||White Bollywood||7.8.4|
|Pararchidendron pruinosum||Tulip Siris||7.8.4|
|Pittosporum venulosum||Rusty Pittosporum||7.8.3|
|Pouteria myrsinodendron||Yellow Boxwood||7.8.1|
|Pullea stutzeri||Hard Alder||7.8.4|
|Rhodomyrtus pervagata||Rusty Rhodomyrtus||7.8.2, 7.8.4|