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The Muraltia Project in the Adelaide Hills

Liz Milner | Published on 7/3/2023

You may recall we successfully applied for a grant last year which is providing $25,000 per year for three years through the National Parks and Wildlife Service Friends of Parks ‘Partnership Grants’ Program. We are pleased to share with you the details of how the funds will help combat the spread of Muraltia hesteria, also known as Furze Muraltia, in our beautiful Adelaide Hills.

This funding will allow us to intensify our fight against this invasive weed and protect our precious natural environment.

Understanding the Significance of Muraltia Hesteria

Muraltia hesteria had 85 identified infestations across key locations of the Central Adelaide Hills in 2021. The locations include in Morialta, Giles, and Horsnell Gully Conservation Parks, as well as on a number of private properties in between. Its ability to thrive in steep heathy ecosystems, where other woody weeds have yet to emerge, the similarity of the Adelaide Hills habitat with respect to its native habitat in South Africa and the way the species persists even after years of concerted effort by many over the past 20 years underscores the urgency of addressing this threat to protect the unique biodiversity of our region. Had nothing been done in the past this weed would be far more widespread in the region than it currently is.

A Collaborative Effort to Combat Muraltia Hesteria

The Partnerships grant brings together numerous organisations and volunteers, ensuring a collaborative and comprehensive approach to combating this invasive weed. The project is supported by Friends of Black Hill & Morialta (FOBHM), National Parks and Wildlife Service of South Australia (NPWS), Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board (HFLB), Adelaide Hills Council (AHC), Fourth Creek Catchment Group (FCCG), Morialta Biolink Landcare Group (MBL), Biology Society of South Australia (BSSA), Climbing Club of South Australia (CCSA), Trail Running SA (TRSA), private landowners, and Threatened Plant Action Group volunteers.

Project Objectives

Over the years, extensive monitoring, treatment, and mapping of Muraltia hesteria infestations has taken place involving state and local government, contractors, and community groups. Private landowners have also actively participated in weed control efforts. The project aims to continue these vital activities, including manual removal of seedlings, monitoring known infestations, mapping new incursions, and ensuring contractor works occurs in threatened species habitats within conservation parks.

The Partnerships Project aims to achieve several crucial outcomes and benefits, including:

Weed Control and Prevention: Utilise the funds to prevent the further spread of Muraltia hesteria into the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges. This will involve manual removal of seedlings before they have a chance to produce seeds, monitoring known infestations, and mapping new incursions as per the priorities designated by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Conservation Ecologist. Priority is given to small infestations on the outer edges of the known locations to reduce the spread and high quality habitat locations to safeguard essential habitat.

Protection of Threatened Species
: Reduce the threat of weed competition for the critically endangered Mount Lofty Speedwell population in Giles Conservation Park. By mitigating the invasive impact of Muraltia hesteria, we can safeguard the habitat of this precious plant species. Muraltia also threatens endangered Mount Lofty Ranges chestnut-rumped heathwren and southern brown bandicoot heath habitat.

Expansion of Healthy Land: Clear woody weeds from known threatened species habitats, expanding the area of land free from invasive species. This will help safeguard more suitable environments for our native flora and fauna to thrive.

Volunteer Engagement: Engage volunteers in activities aimed at enhancing threatened species habitats within the project area. The grant funding will also provide training opportunities and support, empowering volunteers to contribute effectively to the preservation efforts. Volunteers have been essential in the long term identification and removal of new populations of Muraltia.

Community Education and Engagement: The HFLB are to organise educational and engaging events within the parks to raise awareness among community members about the importance of  removing Muraltia thereby preserving our natural environment. These events will provide opportunities for community members to connect with nature and contribute to the ongoing conservation efforts.

Long-Term Impact: Through the dedicated work of the Friends of Black Hill and Morialta and their partners, we aim to demonstrate a decrease in the density of Muraltia hesteria populations from historical highs. We will also provide high-quality, geo-located maps of Muraltia hesteria population locations, facilitating further control measures by land managers in the future.

Muraltia on private property in 2021
Moving Forward Together

The Muraltia Partnership funding is a critical initiative aimed at preserving the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the Adelaide Hills. By actively addressing the threat of Muraltia hesteria, we can protect our native vegetation, support endangered species, engage the community, and create a more resilient ecosystem for generations to come.

We extend our sincere gratitude to all project supporters and volunteers who contribute their time, expertise, and dedication to this important cause. Together, we can make a lasting difference in preserving the Adelaide Hills' natural heritage.

Works on the ground were successfully completed last spring and summer, the results are being evaluated and a new map is being produced for the 2023 spring. We will bring you an update on the 2022 project results next quarter.