- Category: Weeds
- Hits: 1247
I recently returned from walking the Larapinta Track west from Alice Springs in the Tjoritja West MacDonnell National Park. One issue stood out above all others in terms of the ecological management of the park. Buffel Grass.
Buffel Grass was originally introduced into the NT inadvertently by the Afghan cameleers - it had been used to stuff the camel saddles (or at least this is what the guides on the walk told me). Subsequently, graziers in the north introduced several other Buffel Grass species. Buffel Grasses are ideally suited to spreading in the dry parts of Australia. They are deep rooted, resprout after fire, seed prolifically, germinate quickly, the seed has comb-like appendages which means in blows in the wind and can easily hitch a ride on a passing animal, and they are competitive with many of the sparser native grasses.
Unsurprisingly Buffel Grass grows better along the sandy creeklines than the driest slopes of the ranges. Indeed it grows so well in these locations that it creates an almost continuous cover, excluding native grasses, and building up a heavy fuel load of dry dead leaves around the base of each plant. This means, much more than any indigenous grass, that Buffel Grass creates more intense fires, and leads the fires along watercourses. There was plenty of evidence of this that I saw on the walk from the fires that burnt roughly half the park in January 2019. And distressingly, the creek beds are where almost all of the hollow-bearing trees are, and many of the oldest trees in the burnt areas were burnt to almost nothing but a pile of white ash.
- Category: Weeds
- Hits: 1538
I used not to think so, but I'm starting to think we do have a problem.
Most people are familiar with the edible prickly pear, which has large paddle-shaped "leaves" (they are actually flattened stems) with small prickles. Many don't realise that there are lots of prickly pear species. Some species have enormous (5cm long) needle sharp prickles, and some have lots of very fine prickles (glochids) that break off if the plant is disturbed and blow around, and if you get them on your skin they can cause nasty sores. If you breathe them in... well... Just dont. Serious injuries can occur through contact with prickly pear.
In Australia twenty-seven species of prickly pear and similar cacti (the "Opuntiod" weeds) are recognised as Weeds of National Significance, and are some of Australia's worst weeds.
I have started mapping prickly pear species on Merri Creek. This has been helped enormously by going to the Opuntioid Weeds Workshop held on 14 May, and learning to recognise the species. Along with other participants in the workshop I was given two fantastic resources - a field identification guide for opuntioid weeds, and a management guide for Opuntioid weeds.
I have to say I have been shocked by the number of species of prickly pear present along Merri Creek, and I have only surveyed from the Yarra River as far upstream as North Coburg. I know there is worse in Fawkner and Reservoir. So far I have found 6 species in 30 occurrences.
- Category: Parks Victoria
- Hits: 1384
On today's walk through Yarra Bend Park (Managed by Parks Victoria) I got hot under the collar. Once again Parks Vic is busy cutting down indigenous trees in picnic areas because they might drop a branch on unwary picnickers. Couldn't possibly direct people away from sitting under such trees... At a number of places managers do this by creating a mulched bed under such trees instead of providing inviting mowed grass. But it can also be done by fencing. And... wait a minute... why do people come to the picnic areas? Isn't it to be in nature?
They were also cutting trees in the wider park. One I saw seemed to have been a Red Gum, 11 metres from the nearest path, otherwise in the middle of nowhere. Nearby Elms, full of rot holes, above the car park servicing another picnic area were untouched. And to add to my indignation, they were dumping the cut branches and trunk segments in the nearest bit of bush. Not carefully arranging them to make habitat, just piling them on the edge. Right on top, in come cases, of planted Bursarias.
This led me to a long conversation with a Parks Vic staffer who, when I asked how much budget Parks Vic had provided for Yarra Bend Park to do ecological work told me they received zero. ZERO!
- Category: Waterways
- Hits: 1513
In my recent walks along Merri Creek and Yarra Bend Park I have seen three Swamp Wallabies. Two were in the inaccessible western bank of Merri Creek in southern Reservoir, and one was in Yarra Bend upstream of the Studley Park Boathouse.
I find it very exciting to think that the two wallabies (definitely different individuals) I saw in close proximity in Reservoir are evidence that there is a breeding population there. I am sure there is in Yarra Bend, and has been for some time.
30 years ago, when I started on Merri Creek restoration, I imagined that getting large ground mammals back along the Creek was fanciful. Surely I thought, with cars and dogs and narrow links along the Creek at major road bridges there was no chance. There you are, I was clearly wrong, as there is a reproducing population of Eastern Grey Kangaroos at Ngarri-djarrang, a grassland reserve along Merri Creek's tributary Central Creek, and now I believe there is a breeding population of Swamp Wallabies. What is their future?
- Category: Yarra Valley Water
- Hits: 569
On my walk along Merri Creek today I observed and reported another 4 drains which to me looked like they were running with water from a burst water main. The water was clear, flowing profusely, not smelling like a sewer, but perhaps with a hint of chlorine. This is in addition to the one I reported in January which as of writing hasn't been fixed.
I suspect these leaks generally go under the radar because the water is flowing underground into a drain and then into Merri Creek, and so not causing local chaos. Leaks bubbling up in a road or someone's front yard are much more likely to be reported and promptly fixed.
- Category: Uncategorised
- Hits: 718
I have long wanted to get a handle on the value of Merri Creek, as a way of arguing for more investment in the Creek and its parklands. There are many aspects to its value of course, value for habitat, value for users, value for neighbours...
One way to measure value is through property value. I believe there is a premium on real-estate near Merri Creek, and want to get an idea of what that premium is. And how far from Merri Creek is the value felt? I have often been boggled by for-sale signs that boast "Near to Merri Creek", even if the property isn't what I would call near. But what would I know? Real Estate agents must have a pretty good idea how close to Merri Creek a property has to be to make it worth putting this on a sign.
- Category: City of Darebin
- Hits: 404
Thanks to the fantastic Snap Send Solve app on my phone, within a week of reporting the really untidy (weedy and rubbishy) frontage of the Northcote Golf Course to Normanby Avenue, it was cleaned up! Well done City of Darebin for a quick response.
I sent the request on 11 April, and the work was done by the 19th. I said in the message "The Northcote Golf Course nature strip is really messy with rubbish and weeds. Anyone else would be expected to maintain their nature strip, but this doesn't look like it is ever cleaned up. Especially ironic given the lovely 'Welcome to Darebin' art".
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