A clear day and a group of 7 ventured through these recent regeneration projects by Tamborine Mountain Landcare Inc. They are close to each other on two strips of slope between Contour Road and Kinabalu Drive in Eagle Heights. This is notable for a recent survey which found an unidentified plant species which is currently being examined by the Herbarium for classification. The slope is steep but the dirt path makes it acceptable for at least a down hill movement. Going back up may be a test for some.There has been amazing growth in the last year which you can see from the Gallery comparison tabs below. It is also a great example of regeneration around small pockets of old native growth rainforest sections including a magnificent old Fig Tree in Areca Gully with an extensive exposed root structure over rocks with an emerging stream below it.
Thanks to Judy Roland for preliminary checking, clearing and making sure the access track was marked for us and then leading us through the regeneration work.
These projects provide a good example of protecting local species by supporting remaining old growth plant species and the insect, reptiles and mammal species dependent on those plants. They also provide natural Ecosystem drainage for the local suburban area that in other developed areas might have been controlled by concrete drain ditches or pipes that tend to promote unkempt displays of neglect with weeds and human litter. This regeneration work is a measure of our respect for our native biodiversity as well as for ourselves for the community we live in.
When you watch the first video I hope you are as surprised as I was with the bird song activity. I was unaware of it at the time because of my focus of recording the plants. Clearly there was a very entertaining background of bird life providing a relaxing and natural experience for our neighbourhood.
Some local residents had quietly been doing their own nurturing of the native environment here for some time with some weed clearing and planting near their boundaries. A palm and fern patch in lower Areca Gully are an example clearly seen as you walk up the slope. Landcare has brought their experience with native species knowledge and plant distribution to follow on with more extensive weed clearing and further native plant diversity at the site.
The recent Landcare work here has had an extraordinary fast result in change of the environment and native plant growth of both planted species and self-starters of new native growth. These sites have benefited from what appears to have been a very good growing season around the mountain for native flora. I have previously not seen such a fast growth in many projects around our mountain. You can see this in the 1 year difference in photos in the Gallery tabs. It has been a good season for the work of projects by Landcare in Council managed lands and some private land and also with Tamborine Bush Volunteers in the National Parks area with some recent joint projects bringing the 2 groups together such as in Main Street up from the War memorial.
We noticed some opportunistic weeds amongst some of the plantings on the walk but most of these are OK and can be ignored as they will be suppressed by the fast developing tree canopy allowing native self starter seedlings to take over. The difficult weeds are well under watch by the Landcare regeneration coordinator.
One of our walkers thought there must have been a fire here as many trees' lower bark cover looked black from burning. However our experts pointed out that is was fungus growth that blackened the lower bark to give this effect. There are many fungi that live on and below tees that provide a necessary balance of eco-system for healthy trees. This can lead to risks with hot burn bush fires that can burn as much as a metre deep into the soil around a tree killing much of this fungus. But fungus should not be confused with lichens on trees and logs which sometimes look similar such as this example of a rust like coloured coverage of a log adjacent to green moss.
There is wide diversity of species here as you can see from the recent scientific species survey lists in the Species tab of this report. Whilst a steep walking experience, this is easily forgotten when seeing the healthy wide variety of plant growth along with many examples of fruiting plants to sustain new growth and animal life. Native ginger, Walking Stick Palms, Hairy Walnut and other fruits could be seen as you walk having been chewed and stripped by someone we assume other than local human life.
Every 50 metres you strike a variation in plant growth to keep the natural interest alive. I personally was pleased not with scaring off a pademlon near the access track as I walked. but with knowing that even on such steep slopes there was clearly pademelons living here. Perhaps that is why there have been several sightings of large carpet snakes looking well fed here such as in the 2014 photo at Areca Gully.
In the lower part of Kinabulu-Prospect section there is low ground cover of ferns that glistens after rain and provides a fresh and soothing environment to walk through. A similar area appears to possibly develop in lower Areca gully if the ferns there now win out over other native ground covers seeking to take advantage of the weed clearance.
A third of the climb up Areca Gully there is a little native garden under a knobled and broad limbed small Schizomeria ovata (Crab Apple) tree that has clearly been a favourite perch of local birds. Many new native species have taken root under and near from the birds fruit collection elsewhere and nibbled droppings or the kind of droppings which are often required from birds eating fruit and passing seed to allow its required form for propagation.
There are still some areas yet to commence regeneration and a large area on the North side of Areca Gully has achieved a Commonwealth Grant for Landcare for extensive work this year. Unfortunately extensive molasses grass in this area has suppressed native seed survival and regrowth and extensive plantings will be required here. This has usually been the process in other regeneration projects on the mountain. However, the work to date at these local sites has had minimal planting due to the opportunity to take advantage of existing old native growth patches to support natural regeneration once lantana and higher growth weeds were removed. Such is not he case for dense ground cover weed growth like molasses grass growth.
Speaking of old growth, there is a great example of a huge and majestic Moreton Bay Fig tree in Areca Gully half way up the slope which spreads very extended exposed roots and buttresses over several metres deep and wide of huge boulders. Below it flows water in a small stream after recent rain. The towering canopy of the tree is dominating from a Contour Road view. A little further up you can see an extensive strangler fig growth over a very old and tall (to identify) tree. A shame to see that tree will pass away but hopefully it will leave a very strong and tall (perhaps over 60 metres high) fig tree to keep the other old fig tree company nearby.
Whilst not a good photo but it was the best of many attempts with this fast moving colourful crawler, we could see a potential for variety of insect life here. This is something I particularly noticed when I first moved to the mountain a decade ago. I had not realised until watching the local variety and colour of our Tamborine insect life around my home that I had been missing this since childhood when I grew up on the Gold Coast on the riverside near Nerang and on our farm in Numinbah Valley. Its the little things that we can easily overlook that we may greatly miss when we lose them for a long time if not forever. Imagine the bigger things that depend on them that we may also lose without protecting the life of the little things.
You may have noticed no mention or details of the unidentified species. this is because it is potentially rare and all concerned wish to keep it safe for now.
At the top of Areca Gully new growth from plantings along the fence boundary with Contour Road is alive with fruit. It is getting close to filling the fence line coverage as a native barrier here to say "non-native weeds and animals keep out as you are not wanted here".
Some previous bamboo plantings have been removed as bamboo can be very invasive and dominating and very difficult to control in our native environments.
Once the new native growth is established, the ongoing maintenance is needed to keep watch of some poorly managed nearby invasive weed growth and stop it from re-invading the site. So ongoing local neighbourhood care and support is important to preservation of the old and new native growth achieved here.