COOL SEASON APRIL TO JUNE 2023
COMING FIELD DAY 1st JULY 2023
TREAT members are invited to Rainforest Bounty's property at 66 Lindsay Road off Glen Allyn Road, Malanda on Saturday 1st JULY for a field day starting at 2pm.
Rainforest Bounty regeneratively farms native Australian rainforest trees in mixed species plantings. Their mission is to restore degraded landscapes with native species which progressively restore soil health, provide habitat to native fauna and yield edible fruits. The founders, Dr Geraldine McGuire and her husband Athy Nye, embarked on this journey over 25 years ago to develop native orchards which would rewild their home farm at Boonjie. They then purchased a second property on Lindsay Road, closer to Malanda and were joined by Eddy Nye, his wife Georgia and their growing daughters. Over the past six years the Rainforest Bounty team has been growing selected species with advanced genetics and progressively replanting the Lindsay Road property which was cleared in the early 1900s for timber and then dairying.
After a look at some of the plantings, TREAT will provide an afternoon tea at the River Pavilion. Parking is close to the pavilion area.
ENHANCING CONNECTION BETWEEN THE LOWLANDS AND UPLANDS
MASSEY CREEK – TULLY GORGE NATIONAL PARK - Peter Snodgrass
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) Restoration Services – Lake Eacham Nursery started working with C4 (Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation) from the mid 1990s to enhance habitat in and around the Mission Beach area. Focus at the time was also on enhancing connectivity across the landscape.
In 1997 the Walter Hill Ranges Project commenced with the support of the Natural Heritage Trust. The key objective was to strengthen the existing wildlife corridors across rural land between Tully and El Arish. These wildlife corridors generally follow the routes of watercourses in the area—Big Maria Creek, South Maria Creek and their tributaries. Natural Heritage Trust support continued through to September 2001, when the project became known as the Wet Tropics Wildlife Corridors Project and was supported by Powerlink Queensland for a further five years. QPWS Restoration Services successfully pursued its strategy to further strengthen wildlife corridors along these watercourses between isolated natural areas in North Queensland. A specific part of this project was designed to link the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area forests of the uplands and lowlands of the Walter Hill Ranges by concentrating on key sites where connectivity had been destroyed.
The coastal lowland areas of the Wet Tropics bio-region have been extensively cleared over the past 100 years and at the start of this project only 20% of the original vegetation still existed. The remaining forests were highly fragmented, and the remnants of original vegetation were generally isolated from each other in a sea of development. Many species had declined significantly as a result of this clearing. Of these, the cassowary is perhaps the most significant, given its importance in the maintenance of plant diversity through its seed dispersal role. The Mission Beach area is home to a higher number of the species, though this concentration is susceptible to continued habitat loss and mortality through vehicle strikes and dog attacks. It was anticipated that the project would provide a safer and more attractive path for the cassowaries to travel as they seasonally migrate between the low and high lands of the Wet Tropics. Other benefits of these objectives were improving biodiversity value of land in the corridor which would encourage more wildlife such as fruit pigeons and flying foxes to use the corridor.
QPWS Restoration Services has been instrumental in helping to achieve key objectives of the Wet Tropics Wildlife Corridors Project. This included building relationships with key stakeholders and increasing community pride by involving local property owners, community and environmental groups as well as all levels of government. TREAT volunteers provided a great deal of support to deliver these outcomes travelling to the coastal lowlands to assist with tree planting on several sites.
In 1996 the Wet Tropics Management Authority obtained a parcel of land, now known as the Massey Creek section of Tully Gorge National Park, which lies in the uplands between the Tully Falls National Park and Mt Fisher in the Maalan National Park. This was recognised as an area that would significantly enhance the corridor from the Walter Hill Ranges toward the central and southern tablelands. Landscape restoration at Massey Creek began in 1998 on the southern side of the Old Palmerston Highway, now known as The Beatrice Way. In the first 20 years since this parcel became part of the Tully Gorge National Park, QPWS, TREAT and volunteers from the local and wider community have been continuously revegetating the area at a rate of approximately 1 hectare per year.
The initial 1998 planting after 12 months
The 2009 site in April 2023
In 2001 we trialled a rip line style planting which was quickly abandoned. Due to the high clay content, when ripped the soil simply separated creating open channels instead of breaking up the soil. This would just channel water instead of assisting absorption. These lines were then rolled closed with a 4WD and holes dug along those lines for planting. Traditional style planting, now considered the preferred method, was reinstated through to the completion of restoration works of the southern section of the parcel in 2009. The 2009 site achieved the fastest canopy closure to this point and was looking exceptional. Although cyclone Larry had minimal impact on the areas previously planted, cyclone Yasi caused extensive damage to mainly the 2009 site but with some tactical pruning and propping, the site recovered extremely well.
Moving forward, restoration on the northern section of the parcel began in 2010. The 2012 site was marred with setbacks. Soon after a late in the season planting, the rain stopped, severe frosts hit and hot dry conditions set in. Approximately 60% of the trees were lost that season and infilling the site became the focus for 2013. Further disaster struck this site post infilling when cattle entered the site on multiple occasions to again set the site back. Fortunately, the infilling efforts on the site and the newly extended area in 2014 were unhampered, and successfully progressed. Restoration of the main area on the northern section of the parcel neared completion in 2018. We utilised this area to establish experimental plots of 2,000 and 5,000 square metres with all rows running south to north.
The exposed external eastern edge of the smaller plot has 2 rows of trees 2 m x 2 m to buffer against the light and wind and similarly for the western edge to control light. Heading in an easterly direction, the spacings between and along the rows increase and decrease gradually.
See the table.
Spacing along row
Spacing to next row
The 2 000 sq.m plot would typically require 600 trees; this site used 235 = 39%. centTypically 15 - 20% would be pioneer species and we have used 35% (85 trees) at this site. There were only 36 species planted, but 55% of these bear fleshy fruits that are highly attractive to the many endemic frugivores that inhabit the area.
The maintenance method used was to maintain 1 m wide strips along the rows, slash and mow in between the rows. Positive outcomes were that the maintenance time was reduced. Negative outcomes were that it took 4 years to achieve an 85% canopy cover.
The 5 000 sq.m plot was planted at 2 m spacings along the rows with a 3 m spacing in between the rows. The same maintenance regime was applied to this area as the 2 000 sq.m plot, with the same positive outcome of reduced maintenance time on the site. On the negative side, it still took 3 years to achieve a canopy cover of approximately 85%t, but 12 months less to reach the same level.
Plot 1 at 5 years old, with no weed control for the past 2 years.
Ground weed cover presence of approximately 10% in April 2023.
Plot 2 at 5 years old
With these experimental sites reaching 5 years of age, we can see that although we have approximately 90% site capture or canopy closure, there is still a small percentage of weed presence.
These 2 sites demonstrate that while we have achieved this level of canopy closure with less than 50% of stems typically planted per hectare and perhaps a little less effort, we have not achieved the same level of closed canopy density or leaf litter as that achieved using the preferred method, as used throughout the wet tropics. Experienced practitioners from across the tablelands came together in 2017 to discuss revegetation techniques that are known to achieve good results and those that don’t. The discussions are summarised in the co-authored report “Rainforest replanting practice in the uplands of the wet tropics”. There was strong agreement among practitioners and researchers that a stem density 2 500 – 4 500 seedlings per hectare achieved 90 - 100% canopy cover within 4 years. With careful site preparation and regular maintenance, of course. QPWS generally work on 3 000 stems per hectare.
This year was the last big tree planting on the western side of Massey Creek with 1 500 trees planted in February in extremely wet conditions. These conditions are common in the Tully Gorge National Park area. Some plantings over the past 25 years have taken place during torrential rain events with 2 to 3 inches (50 to 75 mm) of water flowing down over slopes while TREAT members and volunteers from far and wide continued with unwavering dedication to ensure trees were planted. Over the next couple of years QPWS will be working toward consolidating revegetation efforts in the current restoration areas before moving to the eastern side of the parcel on the opposite side of Massey Creek. The eastern section will need some access issues resolved during this time so that restoration plantings can be carried out to complete the enhancement of this connection toward the central Atherton Tablelands.
Since The Wet Tropics Management Authority purchased this parcel of land in 1996, there has been over 20 hectares revegetated. Special thanks to TREAT for their dedicated support at this site over the last 25 years, and also to SFS (School for Field Studies), SIT (School For International Training) with the World Learning students and the wider community who have given their time to enhance this significant linkage. With every year that goes by, the presence of wildlife increases, and natural regeneration accelerates. The increased presence of cassowaries throughout the area has been very noticeable with seed deposits throughout all areas that have been revegetated. If we can all promote more community awareness about the role these connections / corridors play in the conservation of biodiversity, continue to enhance ecosystems and habitat while following the linkage strategy that provides safe passage for our native fauna, then we can provide some hope for the future of our endangered and crucial species.
WET TROPICS RESTORATION ALLIANCE - Kylie Freebody (Restoration Alliance Coordinator)
In September last year, a group of passionate restoration practitioners, Traditional Custodians, land managers and researchers met in Cairns to discuss how they could protect, connect and restore Wet Tropics landscapes. Together, they agreed to form a collaborative network called the Wet Tropics Restoration Alliance.
To develop an effective and sustainable Alliance, it was agreed that an interim governing body needed to be established - the Wet Tropics Restoration Alliance Interim Steering Group. This Group has been selected by an independent panel. It is skills based, reflecting interest groups in restoration and stewardship, who are active in our region. Its function is to oversee the establishment phase of the Alliance.
The Alliance is grateful to the Wet Tropics Management Authority, Terrain NRM and James Cook University, who have agreed to resource and support the Alliance as it grows.
The Alliance’s aim is to tackle the global biodiversity challenge in our own backyard, by upscaling restoration work across the bioregion and reversing degradation of our ecosystems.
Stronger relationships must be forged with Rainforest Aboriginal Peoples, who remain enduring custodians of Wet Tropics landscapes. Globally, there is increasing evidence to show Indigenous Peoples play an integral role in the preservation of natural landscapes.
Understanding emerging environmental markets and how they affect us must be considered, as governments show an increased willingness to transition towards a sustainable nature-based economy.
It is no secret that limited short-term funding has at times slowed progress. There’s also been a lack of recognition of the work the restoration community has done to improve the region’s environment and economy.
With the support of its founding partners, the Alliance aims to achieve the scale of restoration required to save Wet Tropics forests and overcome the challenges that have hampered previous efforts. Meaningful partnerships can be forged and by working as a team, we can address these challenges
Updates on progress of the Alliance and restoration activities in the region, can be followed in the quarterly enewsletter ‘New Leaf’. To subscribe or for more information please contact email@example.com..
CAMERA TRAIL IMAGES AT DIRRANS END NATURE RESERVE - Tim Hughes
Five years on from our last major plantings at Dirrans End we thought it time to have a good look at what wildlife the replanted rainforest was harbouring as compared to the remnant rainforest on the site.
While some small plantings were carried out at Dirrans End between 2011 and 2013, the major revegetation area of 8 hectares was planted between 2016 and 2018 as part of a 20 Million Trees project. These plantings were part of finishing the first stage of the Rock Road Wildlife Corridor which joins around 800ha of remnant rainforest back to the World Heritage Area. Together with the plantings on Lemuroid Leap, this first stage corridor has a minimum width of 200m.
We have recently started on the second stage of the corridor which involves planting a further 200,000 trees over 64ha
From other work we have done in the corridor, we know that Green Ringtail, Herbert River Ringtail, Coppery Brushtail, Striped and Pygmy possums are using the replanted rainforest. But so far we have not recorded a Lemuroid Ringtail in the plantings.
Our latest survey was using a number of camera traps in both the replanted forest and the neighbouring remnant rainforest for an extended period.
The results surprised us. Cameras in both forest types recorded Cassowaries, Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroos, lots of Long-nosed Bandicoots and Pademelons, Rakali, Melomys and other rodents, and, of course, huge numbers of records of brush turkeys and orange footed scrubfowl. To the extent that there were any differences it was in the smaller birds, where it appeared that there was both a greater diversity and a greater abundance in the replanted forest as compared to the remnant rainforest. However, this might just have been a matter of chance.
Overall, the survey suggested that there was no discernible difference in wildlife between the old and new forest.
This has not been our experience at, say, Freemans Forest, where there are still big differences in wildlife between the plantings and remnant forest.
While we can only speculate as to why the Dirrans End plantings have so much more wildlife than those at Freemans, it may have something to do with Dirrans End being a corridor with remnant forest at both ends of the plantings. Or there may be a broader range of explanations at play. It would be great to find out.
But what we do know after this survey is that the replanted forest is now being heavily used by nearly all of the species in the remnant forest. And that really helps make it all worthwhile!
Plant Profile – ACRONYCHIA ACIDULA (LEMON ASPEN) - Dinah Hansman
A shapely, fast growing small tree with large glossy leaves and masses of white flowers. Sounds like the puff of a nursery label! Yet A. acidula IS a good choice for revegetation because it is fast growing and fruits in only a few years, producing masses of lemon-scented balls that are fleshy but not squishy. Mature fruit hang on the tree until they are found by fruit pigeons. Cassowaries will seek out Acronychia trees, especially if there is not much other fruit around.
In this case the European common name is partially informative—although Lemon Aspen is nothing like the northern hemisphere Aspen (a type of poplar) it is, like the lemon, a member of the citrus family, family Rutaceae. The leaves have large oil dots (glands), and crushed leaves smell a bit peculiar—part way between grapefruit and mango. Note that other Rutaceae have leaves that don’t necessarily smell like citrus. For example, Curry Leaf is a weedy exotic also in this family. However, Acronychia fruit do have a spicy citrus aroma and a strong, acidic lemon flavour. The fruit is grown commercially to make sauces, chutney and relishes and to flavour mineral water. The fruit is dried and sold as a powder to boutique breweries and distilleries and restaurants. Cosmetics and health products containing Lemon Aspen oil are also marketed. You can find lots of recipes on the web.
Like other members of the family Rutaceae, A. acidula flowers are four-merous, indicating that parts of the flower are in multiples of four. In this case, there are 4 long and 4 short stamens, 4 petals and 4 sepals. If you cut the fruit through the equator, you can see 4 sections. Flowers are pollinated by small generalist insects.
On the Tablelands, trees fruit from April to August. A. acidula fruit are about 2 cm diameter, pale yellow, and the seeds are black and about 4 mm long. It is quite common for Acronychia fruit to have very few seeds, so if you are collecting fruit for propagation, check out the tree first. This could be caused by predation in young fruit. A study of Acronychia oblongifolia in southern NSW by Lopresti et al. (2023) suggests that lack of genetic diversity could be a contributing factor. This means that we should make sure that Acronychia plants in revegetation plantings come from a variety of sources, and not just from one individual.
Cut fruit around the equator to extract seed. Check the tree for seeds before you harvest - there may be no seeds! Although these fruit were small and apparently poorly developed, they were full of seeds, so check first.
This species is one of the dependables for revegetation, because in the wild it is favoured by disturbance and usually found in forest regrowth. It is pretty resilient, being found from sea level to upland (1150m) rainforest in north east Queensland down to Eungella. At the TREAT nursery, fruit has been collected from regional ecosystems 7.8.1, 7.8.2, 7.8.3 and 7.8.4. Despite being a fast grower, it is reasonably long lived.
Lopresti, L.C., Sommerville, K.D., Gilpin, A-M & Minchinton, T.E. (2023) Reproductive biology of rainforest Rutaceae: floral biology, breeding systems and pollination vectors of Acronychia oblongifolia and Sarcomelicope simplicifolia subsp. simplicifolia. Cunninghamia 23: 011–026.
You can find this paper on the Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney website.
PLANTING SEASON 2023 - Barb Lanskey
We were prepared to cancel plantings if the weather was too hot and dry for the trees, but it turned out to be a wet season with plenty of rain, mostly from storms. All plantings went ahead except for the Rail Trail planting which was cancelled due to difficulty with nearby landowners.
WONGABEL - 14 January 2000 trees + 21 January 2800 trees
These plantings were scheduled early in the season to give the trees a chance to establish prior to possible frost. They were next to the road and the hope is that an eventual barrier of trees there will afford some protection to future plantings behind them.
We had great conditions at the first planting. It was cloudy and there had been rain the day before. Unfortunately at the second planting, the previous day had been hot and sunny and had dried out some of the spoil from the augered holes. Both sites had plenty of dead slashed grass for mulch. About 55 volunteers came on the first day and about 70 on the second day, and the plantings were finished soon after 9am. On the second day, a Welcome to Country was given by Darryl Joseph on behalf of the Tableland Yidinji.
DIRRANS END NR - 4 February 3000 trees
This planting was either side of an exposed ridge and we were ferried to the site by NQLMS vehicles with 2-way radio, as the track up to the property entrance was slippery and not wide. It then went through previous plantings we'd done, all looking fantastic with great growth.
Rain overnight had dampened the soil, with no run off because of the dead fern and grass mulch. The trees were from QPWS and Peter came to the planting. Conditions were generally cloudy, but it was humid and when the sun did shine, very hot. Some School for Field Studies (SFS) students came to do their GPS research of the site boundaries, but with a Covid case at their Centre, they didn't mingle with us to plant trees and didn't come to the BBQ. We had about 40 volunteers planting, and were pleased to finally finish about 10.30am and be ferried back to our cars. The BBQ was held at the house on McKell Road, where Ergon Energy happened to be working on some lines.
McAULIFFE - 18 February 2600 trees
I didn't get to this planting. It was a wet day and apparently a long morning with fewer than 40 planters.
MASSEY CREEK - 25 February 1400 trees
This planting I also didn't attend, but I knew that the students from SIT (School for International Training) were going to be there to help. See Peter's Nursery News.
CLARKSON - 4 March 1900 trees
The sun was out for this planting and about 70 volunteers came. There had been rain and the site was quite damp, heading up the hill, near previous plantings. Bales of mulch were on hand for the trees and were also useful to prevent slipping as we planted. The BBQ was held at the house, and afterwards, John showed some people the water race used by gold prospectors in earlier times.
MacPHERSON - 25 March 2500 trees
There was a good attendance of volunteers for this planting as well. It was a long, fairly narrow planting either side of a creek. The weather was drizzly. The soil nearer the creek was rather clayey and more time was needed there to plant each tree. Mulch was the dead grass on site. The BBQ was held at the roadside, with sides on the marquee to keep the windy drizzle out.
EMMS - 1 Apr 1800 trees
Although raining in Atherton and elsewhere from passing storms, the weather was only cloudy at this planting in the cassowary enclosure at Cedarvale. The previous day had been hot and dry, and the soil from the augered holes was often dry. Nearer the bottom of the gully, some of the holes had retained water in the clayey soil. The soil became less clayey going up the slope and further on it was red soil. The trees were mostly from the Rainforest Reserves Australia nursery at Emms' Lake Barrine property. Several Alexandra palms were planted in the clay soil - we don't often plant these.
All the SFS students came to this planting, swelling the numbers to over 75. The BBQ was held at Emms' Lake Barrine property and the SFS Centre's cook contributed a large tray of chocolate mud cake for the occasion.
MISTY MOUNTAIN NR - 22 April 1000 trees
This planting was added to the schedule to enable grant money to be obtained through private enterprise, for ongoing revegetation of the significant corridor here.
It was a blustery morning with very misty conditions at the site, and light then heavier showers. It had been dry for some time and the trees were watered as we planted. Tanks had been specially set up and filled for the job. The holes were dry, but the soil on top was dampened by the misty and showery conditions. The trees needed very firm planting to stay put in the holes, and at the mercy of the wind, it was fortunate that many were small. Mulch was plentiful from the dead and slashed grass.
Somehow, the BBQ team managed to put up the marquee with sides to keep out the wind and rain. For this small planting we just had a morning tea, with sandwiches and cake etc. The mist persisted, so afterwards Mark kindly drove Wendy and myself back to our car on the lookout road.
NURSERY NEWS - Peter Snodgrass
The 2023 tree planting schedule began in mid-January. The distribution of trees from the nursery has been in full flow, and as a result, there have been some very significant areas revegetated over the first 3 months of the year, with still more to go.
Wongabel Conservation Area has had some fantastic support with 2 hectares enthusiastically planted via 4 separate funding grants; 3 of these were organised by Barron Catchment Care and 1 by Terrain with Reforest and Tourism Tropical North Queensland getting involved and getting their hands dirty. Preparation work at Wongabel was carried out by NQLMS and the Reef Assist crew. The South Endeavour Trust site at Dirrans End is still ongoing with a massive effort from NQLMS and the Reef Assist crew both there and at the Misty Mountain site.
The community planting at Massey Creek came close to being cancelled this year due to the wet conditions making access to the site extremely difficult. In the end with a few strategic approaches and a fantastic effort by the ‘World Learning’ students led by Tony Cummings and Jack Grant from SIT (School for International Training) Cairns, planting went ahead as planned. We are extremely grateful to the students as they also did most of the chipping and hole digging prior to the planting. A huge thank you to all the TREAT volunteers as well, who braved the conditions to make it all happen.
It's pleasing to see the progressive restoration work at McAuliffe’s, Clarkson’s, Emms’, and now TREAT providing support on the MacPherson’s property on Topaz Road. John and Natasha MacPherson have already planted several thousand trees on their property, but this year is the first TREAT supported planting, with much more planting planned for the coming years.
Landscape restoration in the region is reaching new levels with work being carried out over a much broader area. This requires more extensive planning, preparation and a longer planting period. With new revegetation trials continuing in the Forty Mile Scrub National Park area, the season started with planting out there in December 2022. With work all over the southern and central tablelands from January to March/April and Eubenangee swamp when the water recedes, the season is unlikely to finish until June/July 2023. It certainly makes us all feel needed.
It is fabulous to see the consistent volunteer attendance to tree plantings, particularly when there are many trees going out to TREAT members, which means that people are also very busy planting on their respective properties as well as turning up to assist at scheduled plantings. On top of all this we have a fantastic presentation of volunteers week in week out for the TREAT working bees Friday mornings in the nursery. We could not achieve the high level production of quality trees without the dedication and consistent attendance of volunteers, which is not only highly commendable but also greatly appreciated. I look forward to seeing you all in the nursery and in the field.
FRUIT COLLECTION DIARY - January to March 2023
7.12.16, 7.8.2, 7.8.4
Scrub Christmas Tree
Brown Silky Oak
Rose Silky Oak
Euroschinus falcatus var. falcatus
Turn in the Wind
7.8.2, 7.8.3, 7.8.4
Hard Pink Alder
Sloanea australis subsp. parviflora
Acid Drop Vine
Species and Common names taken from 'Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants Edition 8' online key: