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Rangers report on Horsnell Gully

Ranger Tom | Published on 12/30/2022

 

Horsnell Gully Coach Road Site

Ranger managed Project Sites

As all rangers are passionate about conservation and bush care, we wanted to start some projects to allow us to further contribute to these passions within our parks, hence we decided to start some ranger managed project sites, these sites were chosen to compliment the amazing work our friends groups do and assist with certain weeds that may be difficult for volunteers to work on, or to inhabit sites that haven’t previously had any work on them or are too much for the friends alone to manage. Although rangers already work on weed control throughout our parks we thought it would be beneficial to identify specific sites to allow us to focus resources where needed and record the work that goes into them. These sites will also be helpful when we have other volunteers, school or Uni groups, other community groups, interns and so on that would like to come out and do their part for the park. Not to mention these serve as a great excuse for us to get out of the office ;)

The Site

One of the first sites we have decided to take on is located at the back of Horsnell Gully at the end of Coach Road (refer to map). This site is a well-established Stringy Bark woodland in a high rainfall area of the Mount Lofty Ranges, the dominant species consist of Eucalyptus baxteri and Eucalyptus obliqua forming a beautiful canopy which allows for an ecologically diverse understorey. Some of the common understorey species include Acacia myrtifolia, Pultenaea daphnoides, Olearia grandiflora, Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata and some of the largest Banksia marginata I have seen, as well as a range of other fantastic plant and fungi species. The ground is covered by Lepidosperma semiteres and Lomandra fibrata providing great habitat for many of the small fauna species in the area.

During one of our working bees fellow ranger Shirley found a plant that none of us recognised, after asking around the office with still no idea what the plant was the photos of it were sent to the State Herbarium of South Australia where they confirmed it was Olearia tubuliflora. This species hadn’t been recorded by the State Herbarium since the late 1970s. Olearia tubuliflora is only found at high elevations with large amounts of rainfall, so this discovery was a very exciting inclusion to our project site.

 

Olearia tubuliflora



Olearia tubuliflora
Olearia tubuliflora

The site has a diverse array of bird life with Scarlet Robins and White-throated Tree-creepers regularly watching us work and although there has not been any sightings we are hopeful that Bassian Thrush inhabit the area as it provides the perfect habitat and there have been confirmed sightings in nearby areas. Recent frog surveys also found that Bibron’sToadlets inhabit the gullies in this area and use them as breeding sites.

Because of the diversity of both flora and fauna in the area and it being situated at the very top of Horsnell Gully it seemed like a great spot to begin controlling weeds to protect this diversity and also stop any weeds spreading further downhill into the park.

Weeds

The main threat identified in this site was a thick English and Montpellier Broom infestation coming in from neighbouring properties, the Broom was at its worst in the South Eastern corner and gradually dwindled away the further into the park you headed. When we began, the Broom infestation appeared to only have just become established in the park and hadn’t yet been able to displace too much of the native vegetation, a perfect time to stop it in its tracks. After 3 working bees with all the rangers in the office and everyone doing a little but when they had some spare time the infestation was significantly reduced. The site has now been cleared of a majority of the Broom with only small seedlings remaining, which will be monitored and follow up work will take care of. In areas where large amounts of Broom was removed Olearia grandifloraAcacia myrtifolia and Pultenaea daphnoides can already be seen beginning to re-establish in the area. Other weeds found in the area were the usual suspects, Blackberry, Boneseed, Watsonia and South African Daisy. Luckily we have only found isolated individuals or small patches of these weeds which have now been controlled, and with regular follow up and monitoring they will not get the chance to become established.

Future Follow up

The future directions for this project site will consist of follow up on emerging seedlings, in particular Broom. As well as consistent monitoring to ensure no weeds are able to get re-established. Ranger managed project sites are something we are very excited to start in our other parks and we have already begun working on other sites in Blackhill and Morialta.



Patch of Broom before working bee
After the working bee!

Broom before work
same site after work