DRY SEASON JULY TO SEPTEMBER 2022
Field day at McLean Ridge - Angela McCaffrey
Much attention had been put on strengthening the vegetation links between Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham to help animals traverse the multitude of small residential blocks between the two lakes.
Keith Smith undertook quiet negotiations with the landholder of Lot 35 who does not live in the area but owns this large grazing block which has not been used for several years. The landholder agreed to a widening of the Lakes Corridor on his side of Maroobi Creek by 80m both across the width of the block and down the Maroobi Creek edge.
This amounted to 4ha of planting between 2019 and 2021 with some infill in 2022. The first 1.3ha across the width of the block was kindly funded by Don Crawford, the neighbour upstream on Maroobi Creek and a long time TREAT member. Work started in mid 2018 getting the site prepared for two 2019 wet season plantings of 2200 trees each. Further funding was obtained from the State Government's Community Sustainability Action (Threatened Species) Grant program to finish the remaining 2.7ha over a period of three years including maintenance. This allowed for two plantings each in 2020 and 2021 and further infill in 2022 plus continued weed control.
The results are impressive with strong growth rates across the whole project. Further work has also been done in 2021 and 2022 using the Di-Bak method to kill most of the large Camphor Laurels and Southern Silky Oaks which are weeds in this area.
On the field day we will walk through the plantings, take in the transformation, see some of the many rainforest birds using the site and finish with afternoon tea on site, winding up our visit around 4pm.
Annual General Meeting
TREAT's 40th Annual General Meeting will be held on Friday 2nd September at the Yungaburra Community Hall commencing at 7pm. Annual reports by the President and Treasurer, and the Nursery Manager, will be followed by the election of TREAT office bearers 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. Following the AGM, a General Meeting is held at which members can raise various issues.
TREAT has been revamping its website and the opportunity will be taken before the guest speaker's presentation to give a short viewing of the new look website.
Our guest speaker for the evening will be Geoff Onus, director of NQ Land Management Services. Geoff and others have long been advocating for a landscape rehabilitation industry. His talk 'The Future of Revegetation in the Wet Tropics' will explore how changing climate factors together with philanthropic and public investment, can affect the scale of revegetation efforts in the Wet Tropics.
The evening concludes with a supper, and plate contributions are appreciated. Everyone is welcome to attend the evening.
TREAT Open Day - Dinah Hansman
Members, friends and supporters celebrated TREAT’s 40th birthday in style on 4th June. TREAT is a Tablelands institution and this was evident from the huge turnout of 170 on the glorious Saturday morning. A smoking ceremony welcomed us to Country and we acknowledged the Traditional Owners.
TREAT works with QPWS and Andrew Millerd (QPWS former Acting Regional Director, Northern Region) said that this collaboration between volunteers and government was ground-breaking in its early days, and its continuance is a testament to the commitment of TREAT members and of local QPWS staff. Peter Snodgrass, current QPWS Nursery Manager received a big cheer—Peter has been a part of TREAT since the mid 1990s.
Nigel Tucker, QPWS Nursery Manager from TREAT’s early days, spoke passionately about TREAT’s role in the community. Nature-lovers, farmers, families, school children and a spectrum of Tablelanders have worked together to make a positive change. Sharing nursery work and smoko at the regular Friday morning session is a great way for people to stay connected. There was a feast of food for the day’s celebratory morning smoko.
Nigel said that TREAT has planted nearly a million trees in the last 40 years. The lessons learnt in this time have contributed globally to knowledge about forest restoration, and the techniques developed by TREAT are now used for rainforests around the world.
John and Marion Clarkson, and current President Angela McCaffrey together with Mark McCaffrey, shared stories and experiences about revegetation on their properties. Peter Tuck talked about creating beautiful public spaces such as the current rail-trail project between Atherton and Tolga.
Planting trees in the landscape of the Tablelands is a way that people can show their belief in the future.
The Germination of TREAT - Helen Irvine
Prior to 1970 non-indigenous knowledge of North Queensland trees was largely limited to which species to log, and the rest of the 'scrub' should be cleared for farmland. The State Forestry Department recommended southern Caribbean Pine and Tallowwoods for plantation timber, and, apart from a few ferns and orchids, local plant nurseries promoted southern grevilleas and WA heath plants for a native garden.
From 1970 the thinking began to change, and I wish to acknowledge some of the people who prepared the soil for TREAT to germinate and flourish.
In 1971 The Commonwealth Forest Research Institute (which later morphed into CSIRO) opened in Atherton. From there, Bernie Hyland produced his Key to Rainforest Plants. There were several upgrades and until Bill and Wendy Cooper's Fruits of the Rainforest book was published in 1994, Bernie's key was an essential tool for anyone trying to identify NQ plants.
Tony Irvine moved to Atherton in 1971 to work at the Forest Research Institute. He fell in love with the local flora and could not understand why local trees were not planted in streets and gardens. He purchased a cleared acreage at Mountain View in 1973 and began to plant rainforest trees to see how they would behave in the open when they didn’t have to compete for light. "After all", Tony argued, "Poincianas, Cassias and Jacarandas are just rainforest trees from a different country." Tony developed a phenomenal knowledge of native trees and became evangelical about passing on his knowledge in talks, and articles, and field days.
Don Gilmour, working for State Forestry, recommended replanting the cleared slopes of the downgraded dairy farms en route to Mt Hypipamee Crater with native species for timber harvest. Don Gilmour and Tony Irvine organised a native tree planting at the foot of Halloran's Hill where the Environmental Park is today but, without much on-going maintenance, only a few trees survived.
Meanwhile David Leech, a landscape gardener on the Atherton Tablelands, was quietly demonstrating his philosophy that gardens should use local plants and look natural. He was a forward thinker, and years later he was responsible for organising working bees to clear and beautify the Peterson Creek walk in Yungaburra.
Peter and Anne Radke moved to Atherton in the late 1970s with a great knowledge of southern grevilleas, but they quickly became converted. They started a branch of the Society for Growing Australian Plants in 1980 and promoted local plants for local gardens. In 1985 they opened Yuruga, a native plant nursery, when the popularity of NQ native gardens was catching on.
Geoff and Reinhild Tracey shifted to the Tablelands in the early 1980s for Geoff to work at CSIRO. Geoff and Len Webb had classified all the rainforest types, and Geoff mentioned to Joan Wright, who had recently retired to Yungaburra with her husband James, his concern that Tableland landholders were not able to access local trees for windbreaks and other plantings – so in 1982 the seeds for TREAT were sown.
The Leeches built a shade house on their property and sold herbs and exotic irises to raise the money for potting mix while Reinhild adapted Malanda milk cartons and bags into pots so the first TREAT trees could be grown. With her husband James as treasurer, Joan was an enthusiastic and motivational president for the first 10 years. Tony Irvine did a 10-year stint of being president, followed by Barbara Lanskey and now Angela McCaffrey. Today, 40 years from its inception, TREAT is still thriving.
Reflections on TREAT - Nigel Tucker
You never know if history is being made whilst you’re living in it. Looking back, it probably seemed unlikely to the founders of TREAT that, 40 years on, their tree planting vision would have led to the planting of almost a million trees across probably thousands of sites, and the establishment of a vibrant group still committed to the right tree in the right place at the right time (and for the right reasons). When I first started my association with TREAT in 1983 the group had 30 members and planted 5,000 plants yearly from a patched-together nursery next to the QPWS regional workshop. Like Joan Wright, Geoff Tracey and others at that time, I had no idea that in a decade over 600 members would be using a modern hygienic facility, planting more than 60,000 trees annually.
TREAT’s relationship with Qld Parks and Wildlife’s Lake Eacham Nursery is unique, a symbiosis of great benefit to both organisations. Then Regional Director of QPWS Peter Stanton, and his close friend CSIRO ecologist Geoff Tracey, started this remarkable partnership with an agreement to provide TREAT with a small nursery base at Lake Eacham, and QPWS with a source of plants to undertake restoration work on National Parks. Stanton gave the nursery operation much support and this was critical; it allowed us to work on and better understand restoration across the wide range of ecosystems in north Queensland and Cape York. But, being unique had its problems. Some senior bureaucrats and private enterprise found the community partnership an irritation, and during its first decade TREAT fought off at least four attempts to close the nursery. Playing politics was a skillset TREAT committees found essential during those early years.
TREAT’s growth during its first decade mirrored the increasing appreciation of the newly emerging science of replenishment - ecological restoration – and the techniques needed to restore rainforest. Previously unknown propagation methods for rainforest plants were developed, along with the site preparation and maintenance techniques which are now used throughout north Qld. (Nobody with any sense would plant trees in Guinea grass and leave them to it - but that's where we started..) Actual planting though was based around the ecological knowledge of rainforest community structure and distribution developed by TREAT co-founder Geoff Tracey, and the affable ecologist Professor Len Webb AO. Plantings established by TREAT and QPWS in the earliest years began to provide insights into the way wildlife interacted with planted areas and the relationships between birds and their favoured food plants. Species combinations and plant propagation techniques were refined and by the mid-1990s, TREAT and QPWS began prioritising plantings based around increasing scientific understanding of forest fragmentation and the way natural regeneration, fostered by the active restoration of endangered ecosystems and ecological connectivity, could combat this problem. This work continues today.
The TREAT / QPWS relationship has been really effective in two main ways, both equally important and inextricably linked. Firstly, restoration involves people, and people taking responsibility. The community/government model has provided an ideal vehicle for people to collectively take responsibility for solving problems that affect the local community. In this way the model has had a major social role. Friday mornings and community tree-plantings promote social networks and interactions, building community cohesion. Over many years countless volunteers, landholders, traditional owners, students, long-term unemployed and people with a disability have visited the nursery or taken part in TREAT activities, and benefitted from the opportunity to contribute, learn and interact in a way that is positive to both human and natural communities. TREAT’S role in raising awareness of landscape restoration has therefore been a significant achievement.
Secondly, the relationship has contributed significantly to our understanding of the theory and practice of restoring ecosystems, especially rainforest. Our knowledge of what to plant where and when, species growth rates, which birds eat which fruits, what controls this weed and how to propagate this plant is due to the use of science as the template to ask and answer these questions. Every tree planting is an experiment - in the sense that it teaches us something. In truth, a lot of what we know comes from our use of science to frame the on-ground effect of what most of us just see as ‘the right thing to do’. What many TREAT members may not know however is how much the knowledge created by their efforts has rippled out to a wider audience. Restoration techniques developed through that co-operative relationship are now in use across tropical countries from Panama to Thailand to Tanzania. Mistakes made and lessons learnt here in north Qld have spared many others the unnecessary delays caused by a lack of that basic scientific knowledge.
The TREAT / QPWS relationship is now on a firm base through a regularly updated Memorandum of Understanding and the community / government model continues to provide an example to others. But north Queensland’s natural heritage remains at the mercy of a changing climate with wildlife potentially stranded in places that challenge movement to escape climate change, or find a new place to call home. Solving these issues will continue to require skilled human communities acting for natural communities; TREAT’s continuing role and responsibility in meeting those challenges will hopefully still be celebrated in another 40 years.
David Leech (1938 – 2022)
Wally Coutts (Wally spoke at the wake for David in April and this is extracted from what he said)
When Jenny and I built our cottage on Bunya Street in 1990, we needed the services of a landscape designer and like many other Tablelanders we were fortunate to have David Leech fill the bill.
David became my best mate. We were both born in 1938, but there the similarities ended. Our backgrounds were totally different but we formed a lasting bond of friendship. David didn’t have an angry bone in his body and his quiet diplomacy was able to get on side with his toughest opponents. In 1997 he came to me with a plan to revegetate the weed-infested creek which bordered both our properties. As a foundation member of TREAT he was aware of that group’s efforts in the upper reaches of Peterson Creek and felt that something should be done downstream from the Gillies Highway. I was able to organise a meeting in our Bunya Street carport and the Lower Peterson Creek Revegetation Project was born. Federal Government funding was sought and received and that was the start of something big.
When we got going, David was the driving force. His organisational skills and resourcefulness are illustrated by the thousands of trees planted and the many rock walls, picnic tables and stone steps littered throughout the project. Some of the timber work is getting a bit tired and needs some attention, but his stone work improves with age and the trees now form a thickening forest. He was slow to adopt the new technology of battery powered tools and regularly resorted to using the vast array of antiquated hand tools he had collected over the years. His trusty brace and bits, chisels and well-oiled hand saw got many workouts ... building bridges, seats and shelters, while pick, crowbar and shovel dug out the weeds and planted the trees.
David was a great recycler. Old fence posts, used corrugated iron, second-hand bridge timbers all found a home along the creek in some form or another and he would draw up his list of jobs to do on the back of an old envelope. A source of amazement to fellow Creekies was the amount of equipment he was able to fit into the boot of his little blue hatchback. When that was full and overflowing, he hooked up a trailer to said little vehicle and loaded up some more.
But I think David’s most precious contribution to our friendship was the tradition of smoko. In the early days, when it was just David and I, his smoko box, with flask, tea leaves and cups, went everywhere with us. And there was always Carole’s contribution: something tasty, usually wrapped in grease-proof paper and tied with string, sometimes with serving instructions written on it. A 10-minute break often stretched into half an hour as David chatted about his many experiences, vastly different from my own.
A memory I'll cherish to my grave was the day we pushed through the lantana thickets, climbed through a barbed-wire fence and rediscovered Frawley's Pool. This picturesque water hole, where school children were taught to swim decades earlier, had been forgotten and neglected. Finding it again and learning its history spurred us on, knowing we were going to achieve something special.
Away from the creek, David and I had many happy adventures, including a wonderful 10-day fishing trip to Ninnian Bay on Cape York with Robby and his mate Darcy. Robby nick-named we old guys Wallis and Grommet, but we pulled our weight in the food preparation and fish filleting departments. David demonstrated unexpected cooking skills one night with delicious beer-battered black-lipped oysters which we had collected from the rocks earlier that day. Wallis and Grommet also had a close encounter with a massive crocodile during a visit to a secluded beach north of the bay, while Robby and Darcy were out filling the freezer with Spanish Mackerel fillets.
David’s tradition of smoko lives on today: 10am on the dot every Friday, the Creekies gather in the shelter David built at The Other Side to talk over the day’s achievements and plan future actions. Maybe the group’s methods have been somewhat modernised since David's cruel illness took him from us, but his goal of rehabilitating the creek is still and always will be front and foremost behind Yungaburra Landcare's endeavours.
Rest in peace, old mate. Your passing has left a massive void in the lives of so many people .. mine especially. And thank you, thank you, thank you for allowing me to be part of your dream.
Main channel of Peterson creek
FIELD DAY AT BURCHILL'S - Barb Lanskey
This 16th July field day was well attended with over 30 people turning up for the afternoon. It was sunny and warm when we started the walk, but later we did have one shower from which we sheltered as best we could among the planted trees next to Peterson Creek. The second shower thankfully held off until we were preparing to head home.
Doug and a few others were ferried around in two 4WDs, but most of us preferred to walk in the sunshine which had come out after a cold morning of drizzle. Simon led the walkers along slashed tracks to where the vehicles stopped, at appropriate viewing points. The first of these points was Doug's 'Kickstart' area at the swampy western boundary. The neighbouring property had trees of Blue Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) and Swamp Mahogany (Lophostemon suaveolens) and Doug is encouraging seedlings to grow on his side by keeping the grass around them under control. He's also replanted some of the small recruit seedlings from along the fencelines into areas where none have germinated.
From there we had a look at the plantings along the main channel of Peterson Creek. Near the western boundary, Doug said these 2004 plantings had to survive flooding followed by several frosts. The creek level was now much lower than when the trees were planted, partly due to dams upstream and earthworks downstream. The water flowed freely and was quite clear despite recent rain and erosion from the orchard on the other side. Further on the corridor was wider and we could easily see the lack of weeds under the closed canopy. An understorey of small trees had developed with many Black Beans (Castanospermum australe) among them from seeds Simon had cast around. We came to the small planting done this year where the unused power lines were taken away, and gathered again near the roadside planting. Many had walked through the plantings, but others went along the track outside. Simon kept looking for tree-kangaroos but the weather had sent them into hiding.
From this south eastern boundary we walked back beside plantings (some fairly recent) to a causeway across the middle arm of Peterson Creek, where Simon had initially pointed out the now very large 2 Bunya Pines (Araucaria bidwillii) and single Kauri (Agathis microstachya), existing when they bought the property.
Back at the shed, the water had boiled in the urn, so we enjoyed afternoon tea with lots of chat, after an informative afternoon.
Along the track outside
Nursery News - Peter Snodgrass
With winter upon us, the trees in the nursery have slowed their growth a little, but not surprisingly, there is still always plenty to do. The attendance and efforts of volunteers in the nursery for the TREAT working bees have been outstanding as usual. As a result, production is flowing nicely and the vast majority of stock looking very tidy.
We expect to have a new staff member appointed before the end of July, to fulfil the 004 role within the nursery to support nursery operations on a permanent basis. This will provide us with much needed stability and set us back onto a smoother path. It is also that time of year when we see our staff 003 position rotate between the nursery and the Lake Eacham Management Unit. So as we welcome Stuart Russell back into the nursery team I would like to pass on a huge thank you to Themi Graham for his tireless and dedicated effort to operations over the last 12 months. I would also like to extend my thanks and appreciation to Tayla Croxford who has been backfilling staff vacancy since January this year, and unfortunately her temporary term with us finished July 15. She has been a pillar of support to operations in the nursery through a difficult period and has had to autonomously coordinate works while I have been on leave and tied to other duties. I’m sure all who have worked with Tayla during this period would join me in applauding her efforts and wishing her the very best for the future.
We also have another changing of the guard in the landscape restoration world, with Kylie Freebody retiring from the Tablelands Regional Council nursery at Winfield Park. Kylie has dedicated the last 17 years to studying in depth all possible methods to encourage or implement vegetation; also to looking at cost effectiveness of these approaches to provide the public with the best advice to suit the needs of so many individuals and their challenging restoration sites across the tablelands. I would like to thank Kylie for the amazing difference she has made to biodiversity in the region, and for the support and the knowledge she has shared with us all. We all wish Kylie the very best for life and the future. Kylie and Larry are very familiar faces supporting all the tree plantings across the tablelands and I’m sure we can look forward to catching up with them at future tree plantings.
We do however have a very joyous event occurring at this time, with TREAT celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, giving us so much to reflect upon. When we read through Joan Wright’s book ‘The Initial Years’, Helen Irvine’s story ‘The Germination of TREAT’ and look through the old photographs from the early 1980s, we can see where the needs of the local landscape were identified by a handful of extremely determined people with a vision. The likes of Tony Irvine, Geoff Tracey and Joan Wright instigated the change at a time when the Queensland Forestry Department was selling trees to landholders intended for windbreaks and farm forestry plots. They realised that the reliance on the typically monoculture style plantings of Pinus caribaea, Caribbean Pine, and later Eucalyptusmicrocorys, or Tallowwood, could be replaced by growing endemic rainforest trees, and so it began.
1982 was designated by the Australian Government as the Australian ‘Year of the Tree’. Suitably TREAT began this same year. TREAT planted 2,755 trees in that first year with all of these trees grown by members at their homes. The very same year Peter Stanton, who was the Cairns Regional Director for QPWS, set aside an area adjacent to QPWS Management Unit to provide a nursery where these enthusiastic conservationists could expand their production. TREAT went on to produce over 6,000 trees in the first year. Momentum grew quickly for the production and planting of endemic trees across the tablelands, and so too did TREAT membership.
In 1987 the momentum of TREAT was supported and the needs were met by the opening of a new nursery in the current location. Production ability increased dramatically as did community involvement. 1995 saw the nursery being upgraded again to now operate under the NIASA (Nursery Industry Accreditation Standards, Australia) scheme. This upgrade meant trees were no longer at ground level, and not having to crouch down to weed and prune was somewhat of a relief. There were many great benefits as a result of this upgrade; environmentally friendly reusable plant tubes, a more ergonomic workplace and healthier plant stock. Because of the level of plant hygiene now in place under the NIASA scheme, trees and plants produced in the nursery could also be utilised within the Wet Tropics World Heritage Areas (WTWHA) as well as on private land. Over the last decade TREAT has obtained funding to improve nursery facilities even further. This funding enabled TREAT to have rack stands fabricated in three different levels throughout the nursery which now enables volunteers of varying heights to work safely at ergonomically compatible levels. By replacing the old brick stands with the new slender steel style, nursery hygiene was also dramatically improved.
The relationship between QPWS and TREAT has become stronger with every year and every decade that passes. Between us we have created a world-class facility producing trees and plants of a very high standard. The average production has levelled out at around 45,000 trees per year including repotting. TREAT has helped produce plants for a great number of ecosystems across the far reaches of the WTWHA; from Ingham, Tully, Mission Beach and El Arish to the Forty Mile Scrub, to Lizard Island, Snapper Island, Mossman, and of course the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands. There has been an extraordinary effort in recent years revegetating extremely significant areas to enhance connectivity in the central and southern tablelands, such as Rock Road near Mt Hypipamee, and Misty Mountains. TREAT has been supporting tree plantings via the Southern Atherton Tablelands Revegetation Alliance for many years, lending their powerful labour force to South Endeavour Trust, Barron Catchment Care, NQ Land Management Services, Terrain NRM and not forgetting the support to fellow members with their individual projects. This year all stakeholders banded together to plant 3,000 trees as part of what is to be an ongoing project, on the critically endangered Mabi forest country in the Wongabel Conservation Area.
Along the way TREAT has shared their knowledge with many school children through their ‘TREAT On Tap’ program, to open their minds to the wonderful environment that surrounds them; testing the quality of water in our streams, looking at how they have been affected and what we can do to improve those conditions and better care for them into the future. Some of those children have grown up and later presented themselves proudly to volunteer both in the nursery as well as at tree plantings.
Every year the identification and propagation workshop is closely followed by the tree planting workshop where TREAT freely share their accumulated knowledge, of now 40 years, with other members of the public so they may positively enhance their surroundings with the knowledge they have gained.
My personal introduction to TREAT was in 1994. Since then, to my extremely good fortune, I have worked with all TREAT presidents and founding members, as well as under 3 of the 4 managers (Rangers In Charge) of the Lake Eacham Nursery. More recently I was privileged to become the 5th manager/RIC of this facility. During this time I have had the pleasure of working with so many TREAT members, each of them openly sharing knowledge from their areas of speciality for us all to absorb. Some have passed on since, but the memory of their character is vivid to this day and they will always remain a significant part of the structure and development of TREAT and its highly regarded reputation.
I would like to congratulate TREAT on its 40th anniversary and achievements thus far. The bond between QPWS and TREAT is incredible. This bond has been resecured strongly with a ‘Memorandum Of Understanding’ signed by both parties in 2004, 2008, 2013 and 2018 with the renewal of this support agreement due in 2023. I look forward to many more years of TREAT and their powerful force behind landscape restoration.
FRUIT COLLECTION DIARY - April to June 2022
Ficus virens var. virens
Illawarra Flame Tree
Round Leaf Banana Fig
Small Leaved Fig
Red Baupel Nut
Woolly Pear Fruit
Fern Leaved Tamarind
Red Eungella Satinash
Narrow Leaved Lilly Pilly
7.8.2, 7.8.4, 7.8.3
7.3.17, 7.8.3, 7.8.2, 7.8.1
7.3.10, 7.8.2, 7.8.4
Species and Common names taken from 'Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants Edition 8' online key: