Our first group activity for the year will be held at a site in the park along Tarra Valley Rd that we have been working on for nearly a decade now. Initially we started tackling a serious infestation of Sycamore Maple, which is a tree that can be very invasive, it has light papery seeds that disperse in the wind, it can grow in shade and then potentially become a large tree. Over the years we have pulled out hundreds of new seedlings that have spread into the park and cut out and killed many larger saplings.
We have now been successful at getting the Maple fairly well controlled and we have now also started on another weed (Tutsan) that is established at the site. Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum) is a perennial shrub that grows to about 1.5m tall, it is related to St John’s Wort and is noted as being a serious threat to damp and wet schlerophyll forests. We have received a Communities for Nature grant to assist our efforts that will be used to fund contractors to spray the larger infestations as well as to purchase some hand tools and chemical to support our efforts.
We will be holding a working bee at the site on Saturday March the 21st. The meeting point will be at the Tarra Valley Car Park at 9.30am. Like many of our working bees’ the terrain will be steep and lots of scrambling through undergrowth will be required. Tools will be available but if you have your own favourite gloves or loppers please bring them along. Following the work we will have a free BBQ lunch provided down at the Fernholme Caravan Park (at around 1pm). If you are able to come along please call or email David Akers (0488 035 314) or firstname.lastname@example.org preferably by March the 18th so we know how much food to buy.
Come along on Saturday September the 6th of September to Tarra-Bulga National Park and participate in the Friends of Tarra-Bulga’s biggest planting day for the year. Once again they will be enhancing the world by planting some mighty Mountain Ash. This time it will be on a site along the Grand Ridge Rd. BYO Lunch, drinks and gloves. Meet at the park visitors centre at 9am. To register or for inquiries call 0488 035 314 or email:email@example.com
With a willing crew of volunteers all set to go at 9am we loaded up the trailer, towed by the Rangers quad bike, with our diggers and sledgehammers and we were off. Car pooled down to the start of Diaper Tk and then enjoyed the downhill walk to our planting site.
Trusty crew of volunteers
Top class wallaby protection
All hands on deck
Tree guard installation
Carefully installing the mesh
Target for the day was to plant and guard 70 future forest giants. Doesn’t sound too difficult some might think for a crew of 7 volunteers (that’s just 10 plants each). Indeed actually planting the trees was not hard at all, getting the large wire mesh tree-guards into place and installed was a lot more challenging. By lunch time we figured we were more than halfway there, and with the help of Craig using his chainsaw to improve access to some sections of the site, we were able to get all the trees in the ground, well spaced and guarded by about 3pm. Note that we will need to do some improved path clearing if we go ahead as planned to put more trees into this site next year. With tired bodies, the uphill walk out seemed a lot longer than the walk in, it was highlighted however by the disturbance of a nesting Lyrebird who had chosen quite a vulnerable site to raise her egg, not far off the ground at the edge of the track. For, those that couldn’t make it and anyone keen to go again, we are having another planting at a different site on September the 6th.
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.
We had our annual “Maple Pull” at a site along the Tarra Valley Rd yesterday. The fact that we had only a small crew turnout was OK because thanks to our consistent efforts we have got to the point where the task is mainly a search mission, when we first started out we were pulling hundreds of seedlings. Yesterday after tramping around the area we managed to find and either hand pull or cut and paint forty seven young Sycamore Maple, as well as prising out some Blackberry seedlings and the odd stray bit of Ivy. The Maple is being controlled, but we still have issues with Tutsan at this site, and that will be a future war, that we may one day have the energy to take on but it will be much harder to win.
While wandering around in search of Maple it was a good chance marvel at the fresh new Fungi blooms. They are a real feature at this time of the year and thanks to consistent rain to date in Autumn, it should be a bumper season for Fungi spotters. After the work, we looked after the workers (a tradition at Friends of Tarra-Bulga) and headed down to the Fernholme Caravan Park where David provided us with toasties, hot coffee and freshly baked banana cake. We were joined at the table by a Lewin’s Honeyeater. A great way to refresh after spending the morning out in the dripping wet forest.
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.