Friends of Tarra-Bulga National Park have a number of project sites where they are aiming to convert several not so pristine areas of the park back to towering Mountain Ash Forest. On Saturday August the 9th they are holding a planting day along Diaper Tk where they’ve been restoring a 2ha site that was once over-run by 30m high Sycamore Maple trees.
The friends are keen for as many helpers are possible on the day but please note the task is a bit of a challenge and may not be for everyone. Access to the site is via 2.5km walk, which will probably be quite muddy at this time of year. Movement around the planting site itself is difficult, as it is covered in re-generating shrubs, ferns, logs and branches of what remains of the dead Sycamore Maple trees; there may also be the odd Leech.
In order to keep the newly planted Mountain Ash seedlings out of reach of hungry Swamp Wallabies, large wire mesh tree guards will be installed on the day.
So if all of the warnings found above hasn’t deterred you and you are keen to come along and plant a tree that may one day be an 80m tall giant please come along. The meeting spot will be at the Tarra-Bulga National Park visitors centre car park (Balook) at 9am.
Took the trek in to check on the progress of this site recently. Part of our strategy against Wallaby predation, as well as using big guards, had been to plant Mountain Ash among some of the large dead Sycamore Maple that had been fallen at the site. Initially it had seemed that this plan had worked a treat, but we had underestimated the Wallabies and last time I visited the site (6 months ago) the pesky Macropods had pretty much munched all of the carefully placed plants; all but confirming that our conventional method of using big wire mesh tree guards is the only way to beat these beasts.
Even species that were meant to be Wallabies least preferred food such as Olearia lirata (Snowy Daisy-bush) were being heavily chewed.
On this visit things were actually looking a little better and it seemed that there had been some recovery of planted tubestock; although the ones not properly guarded were not much bigger than when they were planted over 18 months ago.
The Sycamore Maple which had once completely covered the 2ha site is also not giving up without a fight. A clamber around the site revealed many seedlings emerging and we as a group will focus on removing them before they become large feral trees. On the plus side there is mass natural regeneration of native understorey occurring with an impressive diversity of species, including plenty of Wattles; that have germinated without the aid of fire. The Maple logs that we left in-situ have been a massive bonus because the micro-climate they created has been perfect for fern regeneration, which is happening all over the site. The logs are breaking down quickly now with a variety of Fungi helping the process. We will have another planting day later in the year on this site (using the big Wallaby guards) so keep a look out for it if you are keen to lend a hand.
Overall view of site, showing the mass regeneration of shrubby understorey.
Hiding among the undergrowth a planted Mountain Asf
Snowy Daisy-bush showing the impact of Wallaby grazing.
New Sycamore Maple Seedling emerging.
Rainbow Fungus – Trametes versicolor aiding the decay of the Maple logs.
Logs left on the site aiding fern regeneration
Another log microhabitat providing a great site for fern regeneration.
Prickly Coprosma full of red berries
Lots of Kangaroo Apple with ripe fruit at the site.
Naturally Regenerated Tree Lomatia
Pine Tree that should have been dead by now.
No shortage of Sycamore Maple on site to be found and exterminated.
Another series of photos, showing the recovery of burnt vegetation over time, this site is on an exposed north facing ridge, where the fire was fairly intense. Some sections of the burnt areas along the Grand Ridge Rd had trees that were mature enough to release lots of seeds and in those spots there has been thick Eucalyptus regeneration. Another large area further west was formerly fully cleared land, which had been replanted with Mountain Ash in the early 1990’s unfortunately these trees had not reached adulthood, which meant that the Mountain Ash, (which cannot re-sprout after a fire like other Eucalyptus species) were all killed; no seed to release meant that no new trees germinated after the fires only understorey. Friends of Tarra-Bulga National Park have just received a Communities For Nature grant to re-establish canopy trees at this site.
Heavy snowfalls are a relatively rare event at Tarra Bulga National Park. A large dump in August 2005 caused a lot of damage to the park’s vegetation due to the weight of the snow. Today’s snow is the biggest dump since this event and hopefully the damage will not be too severe but it certainly will have an impact.
This morning there were plenty of tree branches cracking under the weight of the snow and in more open areas shrubs were taking a battering. Tree Ferns are an ideal shape to catch snow on their fronds, but thankfully they seem very good at recovering from damage. The area where our working bee was a week and a half ago was covered in snow, which is not an ideal start for our newly planted Mountain Ash seedlings.
It was interesting to see the Fauna’s reaction to the sudden icy change to their landscape with a confused Kangaroo hopping about (outside the park boundary) and Lyrebirds and other species buzzing around and looking a bit agitated. The snow would have affected mainly the higher elevations in the park, with sites along the Grand Ridge Rd catching the heaviest falls.
The planting activity this month saw a good turnout of members of both our group as well as some great helpers from the Conservation Volunteers. The work focused on adding overstorey species (in this case Mountain Ash) to a scrubby regrowth site located along the Grand Ridge Rd.
Several years ago we had planted Blackwood’s on this site with mixed success. Blackwood seedlings are a favourite food of Wallabies. We found that the Chicken wire guards we used back then were not 100% successful in keeping Swamp Wallabies at bay and that they were able to reach the top and nibble the new growth. An application of Sentree (Wallaby Deterrent) helped to give the plants a fighting chance, but most are still quite stunted where as the ones that have got away have reached over 3m tall. Hopefully the new improved guards we used today; which were taller, wider and made of stronger mesh; will see a better success rate. They will also be able to be reused down the track for future plantings. Some of the dead Blackwoods had reached several feet high and then died. They had no roots left, so not sure whether they had been chewed off (by rats??) or maybe caused by the tubes being root bound or just rotting away, the stems were still quite green.
All up we planted 40 new Mountain Ash trees, as well as removing old guards from previously planted trees. Although this may not be a big number, it is a reflection on the careful effort we made to do the job properly and make sure they are well protected, so hopefully, they get the chance to grow into forest giants. Thanks to Pam and David for preparing a delicious barbecue lunch for the starving workers, and also to the Conservation Volunteers for their tremendous support for this event which was an enjoyable and productive day.
Task: We will be meeting at the visitors centre and then moving on to a planting site that the group has been rehabilitating. The aim is to plant some new Mountain Ash seedlings as well as to do some maintenance on previous plantings including the removal and re-use of wire mesh guards.
This is the site we are trying to turn back in to tall Wet Forest
Wear/Bring: Boots or Gumboots, Gloves.
Afterwards: Lunchtime bbq provided for the workers.
Register: David Akers on 0488 035 314 or email email@example.com by Wednesday August the 7th.
Recently trekked in to monitor progress I had been putting it off until the heat wave had passed. It was four and half months since I had last seen the site so I was anxious to see how things were progressing. First impressions where that there has been a lot of regrowth of under-storey the Snowy daisy-bush (Olearia lirata) had really taken off, and it was even harder to move around the site and to spot the Mountain Ash we had planted. With careful searching the good news was that the planted trees were still there and looking healthy and mostly untouched by Wallabies although I was expecting a bit more growth over summer.
The other concern I had was how much regeneration there had been of the Sycamore Maple trees that had dominated this site until they were cut down cleared several years ago. When I had visited in October there were hundreds of new seedlings that had popped up since our planting day in August. I was happy to see that in the more open areas there were few if any Maples (I think the hot summer may have killed them off) it was noticeable however that some of the large stumps had varying amounts of re-shooting from the base that needs to be dealt with.