Forests are the lungs of our land


Channeling Franklin Roosevelt this morning

‘Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

My heart sang this week when I had a chance to make a quick visit to my latest bush regeneration project and wow is the the bush regeneration team doing a great job.

With over 90% of the prime agricultural land in my region being  owned by lifestyle farmers who in the main don’t produce food on their farms its pivotal that they form strategic partnerships with people with the local knowledge to help them overcome the challenges they face. . One major challenge is our high rainfall ( av 2000 mm in my part of the world) encourages the rapid proliferation of nasty invasive weeds in our beautiful rain-forests and woodlands. The majority of our lifestyle farmers  are very keen to rid their farms of these weeds and get the best outcomes for their native vegetation but don’t have the knowledge,time or access to the necessary expertise

This where I come in. I source funding and connect the farmers with each other and the experts. This particular project is 30% funded by a Community Environment Grant ( sadly all this type of funding has now disappeared under the federal coalition government ) and 70% funded by the 3 lifestyle farmers who own the adjoining project sites

The three properties are independently owned and two are leased to dairy farmers for raising their young stock. I am managing the project which is a partnership between the owners,South East Local Land Services, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Landcare Illawarra and local bush regeneration contractors to restore native vegetation and link fragmented rainforest remnants

Site Map

The vegetation community at this site is Illawarra Dry Subtropical Rainforest (MU4) which is recognised as an endangered ecological community (EEC) under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. The vegetation is dominated by a canopy of Maidens Wattle (Acacia maidenii), Guoia (Guoia semiglauca) and Whalebone Tree (Streblus brunonianus) with a variety of native shrubs, vines and groundcovers in the understorey. The rainforest remnants have become degraded due to infestation of Lantana, Wild Tobacco and other weeds and this project aims to treat woody weeds to assist revegetation and regeneration.

This site has a high diversity of dry rainforest species occurring within the work boundaries.

The objectives are:

  • To protect and enhance the remnants of the vegetation community – Illawarra Dry Subtropical Rainforest
  • To reduce the area of natural areas impacted by Noxious, weeds of national significance (WoNs ) and environmental invasive weeds.
  • To improve connectivity between fragmented local remnant bushland through weed control activities and revegetation.
  • Assist regeneration by removing weeds and maintaining the site over a period of 18 months
  • Assist volunteers with planting of the primary weeded areas and maintenance

The following management issues have been identified

  • Evidence of deer rutting has been noted within zone 3
  • Lantana density at the western extent of the work site is very high and primary weed control has been slightly slower than expected due to this high density

One of the identified threatened species is Illawarra Socketwood (Daphnandra johnsonii) and five distinctly separate populations of the Socketwood occur within zones 2 and 3. Very excitingly the  Illawarra Socketwood at the time of writing is currently producing seed at these sites. Many populations of Illawarra Socketwood tend to produce seed that is not viable due to attack by galls and various other environmental factors. The population at these sites are producing viable seed which makes this population significant from a regeneration and preservation perspective. The staff from ‘Plant Bank’ at the Australian Botanic Garden have subsequently shown an interest in collecting seed from this site and storing it at plant bank. Germination tests will also be carried out to test the viability of the seed stock and no doubt plants will be ultimately grown from this seed to be planted out at the gardens.

The following table lists the weeds that have been treated at this site and the control methods used:

Common Name Botanic Name Treatment Method
Crofton Weed Ageratina adenophora Spray
Mist Flower Ageratina riparia Spray
Moth Vine Araujia sericifera Cut and Paint, Spray
Cobblers Pegs Bidens pilosa Spray
Fleabane Conyza albida Spray
Cape Ivy Delairea odorata Cut and Paint, Spray
Lantana Lantana camara Cut and Paint
White Passionfruit Passiflora subpeltata Cut and Paint, Spray
Cape Gooseberry Physalis peruviana Cut and Paint, Spray
Inkweed Phytolacca octandra Cut and Paint, Spray
Blackberry Rubus fruticosis Scrape and paint
Fireweed Senecio madagascarensis Spray
Cassia Senna septentrionalis Cut and Paint
Paddys Lucerne Sida rhombifolia Spray
Wild Tobacco Solanum mauritianum Cut and Paint

The work in progress in pictures


Many hands courtesy of Conservation Volunteers Australia make light work of clearing the lantana in Zone 4 – the front gully.


Zone 4 secondary weed control follow up. Note the regeneration of native trees.


Great to be able to see the rainforest without the weeds.


Zone 3 The boundary fence line before we started the project


The same fence line 8 months later


Even the heifers are impressed with the work in Zone 1

Primary Control

Primary Control in Zone 1


Extensive tree planting in Zone 1

Truly amazing outcomes are happening in Zone 2 in the back gully which was heavily infested with Lantana


Zone 2 looking down the slope prior to the commencement of works


The same view after primary and secondary weed controlclip_image004

Zone 2 looking up the slope prior to the commencement of works


Post primary weed control


Zone 2 planting native species

Illawarra Socket Wood  (1)

The endangered Illawarra Socket Wood which is seeding in Zone 2

Great outcomes indeed for the farmers, the natural landscape and the beautiful Illawarra region. Lets hope the short sighted choices by the current federal government don’t find us in a situation where we lose forever the gains we have made. See previous post here. Again I say

Lets appreciate what we have before it becomes what we had

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

%d bloggers like this: