Sycamore Maple Pull Site 2013 and Tutsan Rust

Last Saturday we held a working bee, weeding at a site (which we do annually) where an invasion of Sycamore Maple seedlings entered the Park from a surrounding property. Initially we were pulling out hundreds of new seedling and now the ongoing effort to remove newly detected seedlings is working well. Like last year there was not a lot of Maple to remove and a lot of the time was spent moving through the site to ensure that the area was clean of weeds, (although we did not get cross to the other side of the gully where there are some more Maples growing). The main area where Maple was found was an open disturbed area that also has a very bad Tutsan infestation.

It was interesting to discover that much of the Tustsan in the area was covered by rust with some foliage looking quite heavily impacted. We didn’t notice the rust last year but when I looked back at some photos I took then, I did see that some Tutsan leaves had tell tale rust spots present. Tutsan Rust (Melampsora hypericorum) is a fungus that was found to be very successful in the Otway Ranges in the 1990’s where it had a significant impact on reducing the cover of this shade tolerant invasive weed.

Our site (or somewhere in a close vicinity) had Tutsan Rust artificially introduced a couple of years back and after some follow up inspections It was thought that it had not taken. After a bit of research I found a document that suggested that Tutsan Rust was already present at Tarra Bulga, A report from 1999 describes rust taken from Tarra Bulga (as well as some from the Morwell River area) being used as part of research project. The Tarra Bulga rust was found to impact the plants in the trial to an intermediate level (i.e. OK but not great). Whether or not the rust is from the attempted introduction a couple of years ago (of which I assume was a more virulent strain) or whether it is the same rust that has been around for longer, can probably not be known without complex Laboratory analysis. But we will continue to monitor the site with interest given the threat that Tutsan presents to the park.

As well as the Maple and Tutsan there were new Blackberry seedlings that we carefully hand pulled as well as a few new outbreaks of English Ivy which we need to remain vigilant for. There were some larger clumps of Blackberry that will need to be sprayed.

Reference: Casonato, S, Lawrie, A. and McLaren, D. Biological control of Hypercium androsaemum with Melampsora hypercorum  In ’12th Australian Weeds Conference’. Hobart, Tasmania. (Eds AC Bishop, M Boersma, CD Barnes) pp. 339-342. (CAWSS).

Sycamore Maple Revegetation Site

Made the trek out to the re-vegetation site for the first time since the planting was done which was a bit over two months ago.

Fresh New Growth on Mountain Ash Seedling
Fresh New Growth on Mountain Ash Seedling

From looking around the site there was both good and bad news. First the good, there was virtually no sign of any Wallabies managing to get to chew any of the new seedlings, despite the fact I heard one hopping away when I reached the site. There was good fresh new growth on all the seedlings that I found, hopefully when they become more conspicuous as they get taller the wallabies will still find them too difficult to reach. The bad news is that after seeing very, few new seedlings of Sycamore Maple 

Awesome Effort at Planting Day

The Friends of Tarra Bulga  planting day last Saturday was a great event, which will hopefully result in the return of some towering wet forest in years to come. It will also greatly assist efforts to prevent the re-infestation of Sycamore Maple trees into this area of the National Park.

Getting Ready to Plant
Getting Ready to Plant – The first of the volunteers arrive at the site and prepare to get down to business.

Volunteers managed to plant 600 Mountain Ash (Eucalyptus regnans) species across the site, which was no mean feat given that each plant needed to be carefully placed in a position where they will be guarded from browsing by hungry Swamp Wallabies. This involved scrambling over steep areas thick with fallen branches, while trying to avoid human hazards such as stinging nettles and leeches. While this may sound arduous there were no complaints from the willing and enthusiastic volunteers happy to be out making a difference to the park and enjoying the scenic (but muddy in spots) walk into this secluded planting site.

Richard in Action
Friends Group member Richard, putting in a big effort.
One of the 600 plants
One of the 600 Mountain Ash Seedlings that were planted on the day.

The group will now carefully monitor this site over the coming years to check that the newly planted trees are growing successfully and retreat any Sycamore Maple regrowth that sprouts from the treated stumps and pull out any new seedlings that pop up. Funding for this project has been supplied by the Victorian Government’s “Communities for Nature” Program.

Mother Maple
Friends Group President Peter Bryant, Standing next to the largest stump left behind from the forest of Sycamore Maples that had taken over the area.
A Job Well Done
Some of the Volunteers posing with their Hamilton Tree Planters after a great days effort to enhance Tarra Bulga.

 

Are you up for the challenge?

Friends of Tarra Bulga have a big new project and we are looking for some enthusiastic helpers to get things off to a great start. A couple of years back a huge infestation of Sycamore Maple trees, which can grow up to 30m tall, was discovered in the park. These trees produce winged seeds which can spread in the wind, so the plant has the potential to invade further into the surrounding Mountain Ash forests.

Contractors were used to cut down the Maples and poison the stumps, and the result so far has been a big success. The canopy has opened up and native understorey plants are taking advantage of the light and space and popping up everywhere. To be a complete success however and to help prevent re-growth of the Maple, canopy species such as Mountain Ash need to be re-established. The friends group has secured funding from the Victorian Government’s, Communities for Nature Grants to do this and are holding a planting day on Saturday August the 11th.

The friends are keen for as many helpers are possible on the day but please note the task is a bit of a challenge. Access to the site is 2.5km along a walking track from the nearest road. The planting site itself is covered in logs and branches of what remains of the dead Sycamore Maple trees. While these branches are an obstacle we also plan to use them to our advantage, by planting amongst them we hope they will act as natural tree guards, keeping the new seedlings out of reach of hungry Swamp Wallabies that are notorious for eating newly planted trees. So if you are ready willing and able please come along. The meeting spot will be at the Tarra Bulga Visitors Centre Carpark at 9am on Saturday August the 11th. Please RSVP to Friends of Tarra Bulga – Activities Co-ordinator David Akers at dakers@activ8.net.au or by phoning 5189 1330. (BYO lunch)

Rough terrain at Planting Site
Rough terrain at Planting Site
Wet Forest
This is what we hope the planting site will eventually look like.

Communities For Nature Grant

The friends of Tarra Bulga are happy to announce that they have been successful in obtaining a grant from the Victorian Government’s Communities for Nature Grants for a major restoration project in the park. The project site is one that is tucked away in a remote section of the park and was only discovered by chance when some contractors were doing some minor control of what was thought to be only a minor incursion of Sycamore Maple (Acer pseudoplatanus) on the edge of Diaper Track. 

Communities for Nature - Project Site
Communities for Nature – Project Site in Tarra Bulga National Park

Once they began it became clear that the task was much bigger than first thought and in the end it was found that this plant was dominating the canopy in a large thicket about 2ha in area. Much expense was spent destroying these invasive trees but the site has now been left with no overstorey species and the potential for the weedy Maple to return.

Thankfully securing this grant will enable the friends group in partnership with Parks Victoria to work to restore this area, by establishing a wet forest overstorey with species including Eucalyptus regnans (Mountain Ash) and also allowing the understorey to recover while destroying re-germinating weed species.

Maple Resprout
Sycamore Maple – Re-shooting from the base after the initially felling and poisoning of the stump.

The friends group are planning a tree planting working bee on Saturday August the 11th. For further details or to register your interest in attending please contact David Akers at dakers@activ8.net.au

Annual Maple Pull

Acer pseudoplatanus - Sycamore Maple - ringbarkedOn Saturday March the 31st the friends held their annual Sycamore Maple pull. It was very encouraging to see that although there were still quite a number of large seedlings (up to 2.5m tall) and a bit of re-sprouting from previous weeding efforts. There was only a handful of new seedling sprouting (despite the wet seasons we have had) compared to the hundreds that we were pulling out when we first started working on this site back in 2006.

The source of the infestation was from some large established trees planted on the other side of the Tarra Valley Road. The large trees for many years had blown their light papery seeds into the surrounding native forest. Thanks to our efforts in starting the work in the park and with co-operation with the WGCMA and Parks Victoria, work was done to remove these large established trees, The photo above shows a large tree maple that was ringbarked and poisoned. Now all that should be required to stop the maple from spreading into the the magnificent forests of Tarra Bulga is a quick bit of regular follow up to eliminate any seedlings that pop up from viable seed still stored in the soil or regrowth of plants that we have already pulled out.

Sycamore Maple Removal

Sycamore Maple Removal

Fortunately we did not find to many plants that had re-grown but it was apparent that the ones that did resprout were generally not cut off very close to the ground. So the lesson learnt “cutting the stems as close to the ground as possible is vital”.

Sycamore Maple reshooting from stump
Sycamore Maple reshooting from stump

While we have had some great success with the maples here we have some more significant tasks ahead. This includes efforts to re-habilitate the site (only recently discovered) of a huge infestation of around 2ha of established maples in the park. In this area of the park there are also large infestations of Tutsan and Blackberries that are of great concern.