Environmental repair

Environmental repair activities

Bushcare is not just about weeding! The Bushcare Group engages in a wide range of environmental repair activities. We foster natural regeneration of the local bushland, plant locally sourced indigenous plant species, remove invasive weeds and their seeds, record plant and animal data and manage erosive stormwater flows. BMCC environmental managers, the BMCC bush regeneration team and bush regeneration contractors also make a big contribution to site works. Engagement with stakeholders is important.

Click on an image to view a selection of our bushcare activities.

Fostering natural regeneration

Encouraging and nurturing the natural regeneration of indigenous plant species and communities is very important. When protected from degrading impacts, naturally distributed indigenous plant seed will germinate and grow strongly. We also engage in assisted natural regeneration practices, by scattering the seed of local plant species in degraded areas.

Foreground: a strip of naturally regenerating indigenous trees and shrubs near Lawson Creek. December, 2016. Photo: P Ardill
Foreground: a strip of indigenous trees and shrubs naturally regenerated once protected from mowing. Lawson Creek. December, 2016 Photo: P Ardill

Site maintenance

Bushland that is recovering from the impacts of degrading processes often needs ongoing protection from weeds (for weeds see Flora Fauna). Maintenance work, and especially effective weed management, is vital. Here are before and after photographs of two different sections of our west Waratah Street ecological restoration area that illustrate the importance of maintenance work.

  • Contractor work on large stand of Privet, adjacent Waratah St., July 2017
  • Same contractor work area in Feb 2020. Further maintenance needed. Photo: P Ardill
  • Freshly recovered indigenous flora, Waratah Street ecological restoration area March 2016 Photo: P Ardill
  • Waratah Street regeneration area doing well! Feb 2020 Photo: P Ardill

Adjacent unformed Waratah Street. Native grasses regenerating in foreground and right, April 2018 (Photo: P Ardill)Same area, Waratah St regeneration area, almost maintenance free! Feb 2021 Photo: P Ardill
Maintenance work in the ecological restoration area Left: Native grasses naturally regenerating but more weed maintenance needed Waratah Street ecological restoration area April 2018 Photo: P Ardill Right: same area, almost maintenance free! Feb 2021 Photo: P Ardill

Training and equipment

  • Bushcare volunteers receive introductory and ongoing training in bushcare techniques from qualified and experienced BMCC Bushcare Officers.
  • Use of herbicide by Bushcare Group members is completely optional. Spraying of herbicides is rarely undertaken and is performed by the Bushcare Officer only; single drop applicator bottles are used for dispensing of herbicide.
  • All tools, gloves and other equipment are supplied by the Bushcare Officer.
  • BMCC and the Blue Mountains Bushcare Network regularly offer optional bushcare training courses and environmental study field days for bushcare volunteers.

Professional support

In addition to the work undertaken by the Bushcare Group since 1995, BMCC Bushland Management Officers have obtained funding for the employment of various bush regeneration contractors to tackle specific weeds and other problems on the site. BMCC’s own bush regeneration team also works in the area on a regular basis. We are most appreciative of the skills and dedication that successive BMCC Bushcare Officers and associated BMCC environmental and aquatic management staff have displayed when working with the Bushcare Group and managing the site.

Principles and history of bush regeneration, environmental repair and ecological restoration in Australia

The Bradley Method provides one foundation for BMCC volunteer bushcare work in the Blue Mountains. The method was developed by the Bradley sisters, Joan and Eileen, throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and focuses on the management of weeds in bushland. Here are the core principles of the Bradley Method.

  1. Work from the good bush towards the weeds.
  2. Try to minimise disturbance of the soil, native plants and their seedlings, as weeds thrive in disturbed areas.
  3. The rate of weed clearance is determined by the rate of native plant regeneration. In other words, do not clear a site of weeds too rapidly and create large areas of bare earth; wait for signs of natural regeneration by bush, or scatter seed. Planting may be necessary.

The Bradley Method has been subsequently refined by other bush regeneration practitioners. Visit http://bushcarebluemountains.org.au/resources/  for more detail on bush regeneration techniques and principles, and http://weedsbluemountains.org.au for specific weed treatment methods. A respected bush regeneration text of theory and practice is Restoring Natural Areas in Australia, Robin A. Buchanan, 2009, NSW Industries and Investment (Pub).

More recently, the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia (SERA) has developed holistic, environmental repair project management standards and principles for degraded ecosystems. The two environmental repair practices, ecological restoration, and rehabilitation, are very relevant to Blue Mountains bushcare practice, as much bushcare work here is done in very degraded ecosystems. See http://www.seraustralasia.com/

This interesting website, Australian Ecological Restoration History, presents the history of settler environmental repair in Australia. See https://ecologicalrestorationhistory.org/ Some prominent pioneers of environmental repair practice and thought in Australia have been Donald Macdonald in Melbourne (1910s and 1920s), Ambrose Crawford at Alstonville on the NSW north coast (1935), Albert and Margaret Morris in Broken Hill (1930s and 1940s; see http://www.aabr.org.au/morris-broken-hill/), and Roger Good in the Australian Alps bioregion (1959).

The Australian Association of Bush Regenerators is the recognised industry body. Go to http://aabr.org.au for some interesting reading and information. The Society for Ecological Restoration (SERA) promotes the practice of ecological restoration in Australia. See https://www.seraustralasia.org/

The Albert Morris Ecological Restoration Award was inaugurated in 2017. The award recognises excellence in ecological restoration, a practice which aims to restore degraded natural areas to full ecological health and functioning.

(Australian Copyright Act 1968 applies. Text, media and all other contents of this site are subject to copyright. Many thanks to the members of South Lawson Park Bushcare Group, BMCC Bushcare Officer and Second Minutes Hours Productions for their contributions to this website. The website is managed by Peter Ardill)