In 2011, following careful planning by our BMCC Bushcare officer, the bushcare group commenced a small ecological restoration project on the former Lawson golf course site, with the prime objectives of restoring a former natural woodland site that many decades ago had been converted to a mowed grass area, and also widening the riparian corridor of Lawson Creek and swamp in order to restore ecological function there. The project area extended over approximately 2000 square metres.
The Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia maintains a set of “National Standards” for the practice of ecological restoration, and the Lawson project meets these standards:
- The project aspired to restore a very high level of ecological function to the site:
a. completely restore indigenous bushland and ecological function to a mowed strip of grass where the bushland had been totally destroyed for approximately eighty years;
b. to provide a further layer of natural environmental protection to Lawson Creek and swamp by restoring ecological function to its riparian corridor and associated terrestrial fauna habitat;
c. to restore further ecological function to Lawson Creek by enhancing its water quality and aquatic fauna habitat;
The project also enhanced ecosystem services on the site: both water quality and amenity, as the creek borders popular walking tracks and is part of the Hawkesbury-Nepean catchment;
- Targets, goals and objectives were set:
Target: restoration to E. piperita – Angophora costata woodland status;
Goals: maintain and renew planting regime over three years; maintain and renew fencing and interpretive signage over three years to protect natural regeneration; ongoing monitoring for shrubby weeds reducing to minimum of six monthly monitoring for weeds and vandalism;
Objectives: obtain administrative approval for project and liaise with other stakeholders; two sessions of fencing to delineate non-mowing area; design, obtain and erect interpretive signage; commence replanting of shrub layer on monthly basis; facilitate and encourage natural regeneration; remove woody weeds as encountered.
- There was extensive and ongoing community involvement, both in the form of the local volunteer bushcare group, a visiting volunteer community group, local resident interest and incorporation of the project into the Blue Mountains City Council 2019 Masterplan for the area;
- Contemporary and validated restoration techniques were used i.e. replanting with indigenous flora sourced from a specialist native nursery, and natural regeneration. The relevant administrative authorities were consulted, approvals obtained, and other land-users were informed about the project;
- The intervention level was reasonably appropriate: the woodland on the site had been totally destroyed for eighty years or more, so protective fencing, some replanting and facilitation of natural regeneration were suitable responses. With hindsight, less planting could have been used, as natural regeneration was very strong, particularly of Eucalyptus sp.
- The adjacent natural woodland (E. piperita – Angophora costata woodland) was utilised as a reference ecosystem, or restoration model.
Two restoration techniques were used:
- Planting: indigenous flora species, grown from locally sourced seed (local provenance), were obtained from a Blue Mountains’ specialist native plant nursery.
- Natural regeneration: the area was fenced, allowing natural regeneration via dispersed seed from the adjoining healthy Eucalyptus and Angophora woodland to flourish. Tree seed for nursery propagation is hard to collect due to tree height, and natural regeneration helps to overcome this problem.
(See: Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia, National Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration in Australia 2nd edition 2018 http://seraustralasia.com/standards/National%20Restoration%20Standards%202nd%20Edition.pdf )
The project is on track to meeting its ecological objectives: little maintenance is required, the re-established vegetation is thriving, and there appears to be good diversity of indigenous flora species present, including trees. It is anticipated that existing weedy grasses may well be eradicated by natural mulching and and shading out in the future. Many thanks to our Bushcare Officer for initiating this project.