In 2011, following careful planning by our BMCC Bushcare officer, the bushcare group commenced an 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. Two restoration techniques were used:
- Planting: local provenance (sourced from the mid-Mountains area) species were obtained from a Blue Mountains specialist native plant nursery for planting.
- 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.
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 had clear ecological objectives: to completely restore indigenous bushland and ecological function to a mowed strip of grass where the bushland had been totally destroyed; to provide a further layer of natural environmental protection to Lawson Creek and swamp by restoring ecological function to its riparian corridor flora and associated terrestrial fauna habitat; to restore further ecological function to Lawson Creek by enhancing its water quality and aquatic fauna habitat. It also sought to further restore 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;
- The project had a clear 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 reduced to minimum of six monthly monitoring for weeds and vandalism; objectives: two sessions x fence to delineate non-mowing area, design, obtain and erect interpretive signage, commence replanting of shrub layer on monthly basis, obtain administrative approval for project and liaise with other stakeholders.
- 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 local, specialist native nursery, and natural regeneration. The relevant administrative authorities were consulted, approvals obtained, and other landusers were informed about the project;
- the intervention level was appropriately high, as the woodland on the site had been totally destroyed; and
- The adjacent natural woodland (E. piperita – Angophora costata woodland) was utilised as a reference area.
(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.
Restoring and strengthening ecological communities is one of many ways to combat climate change: a valuable water resource is being protected, carbon storage is maintained and enhanced, genetic diversity is promoted and wildlife corridors provide native animals with opportunities to adapt to temperature and rainfall changes. Many thanks to our bushcare officer for initiating this project.