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President's Report

Paul Farmer | Published on 7/1/2023
Welcome to the July 2023 edition of our little newsletter. I trust you will find a few things of interest about the three Parks. As you would have seen in a recent email, we are seeking to expand our group with the addition of people to help with the specific areas of Newsletter editor, Grant/Work Order management and Fundraising.

We have recently passed the winter solstice, and the heavy rains have followed. These heavy rains bring a different feel to the Morialta Gorge, as the creeks rise and the water rushes downhill to find the sea.

This morning (on the day of drafting this piece) we had a fantastic morning out with the 4 Wheel Drivers at our Amber’s Gully Free A Tree Project in the head waters of the gully. The main activity was a sweep of the Eucalyptus/Allocasuarina grassland below the Sugarloaf, finding and removing small Olives, Boneseed, African Daisy and Butterfly bush.

The information below provides an insight into the type of planning that we undertake with all of our Projects.

If you help out at one of our working bees, it may appear that your Project Coordinator just points you at some weeds, but I can assure you there is a great deal of planning goes into each activity. Ambers Gully project map

This is the latest version of the Amber’s Gully/Free a Tree Project plan. 

The map sets the boundary of the Project and is based on identification of the better bush. In this case we have used tracks for most of the edges, and a ridge line (to avoid a blackberry and olive choked gully).

The map then allows us to break up the Project into manageable areas. This requires an assessment of the whole site, considering the condition of the bush, type, size and number of weeds and the rate at which they can be treated. In this map we have created tasks of about ‘20 hours’ of work.

The 20 hour block is chosen for three reasons, first it is a “typical working bee”, second it is a convenient amount of time to engage Contractors, and third, the current rate of weeding in this Project is about 20 hours per hectare.

The timing plan. Here we list the tasks in priority order (working in the good bush first) and start to allocate a timeframe and resource (who) to each task.

Looking at this plan, you can see that we aim to complete a full sweep of the Free a Tree site over three years (2022 to 2024). This will be completed using a mix of Contractors (funded by Donations &/or Grants) and our own restoration days with support from our membership and Rangers.

The completion of this first full sweep will not be the end of habitat restoration for this area and we will need to revisit all these areas during 2025/26.

As we remove more woody weeds from this site, the time required will also drop. In the long run, I would expect that it will need an ongoing commitment of about 25 to 50 hours a year to Patrol this area for weeds (or about 1 to 2 hours per hectare).

“Patrolling” is where woody weed numbers are low, and we spend more time looking for them than we do working on them. This is the reward for all the hard word that has gone before, and the only way to ensure the gains we have made are not lost.

Habitat restoration is a big job, but by using these tools to help break it down into smaller steps it becomes more manageable. Our Projects demonstrate that by selecting an area with some good bush, working with minimal disturbance techniques and following up over a number of years, we can create areas that can be maintained with annual (or even less frequent) Patrols.

Paul Farmer
President Friends of Black Hill and Morialta.