Gully restoration on a Voluntary Conservation Agreement
  • Last updated:
  • 31 Mar 2022

Article by De-Anne Attard, Conservation Partnerships Officer, Sunshine Coast Council 

Voluntary Conservation Agreements (VCA) are a unique way of conserving our natural heritage for future generations. Through the VCA program Sunshine Coast Council aims to support landholders to permanently protect ecologically significant areas of privately owned bushland.

Garanyali Nature Refuge is a VCA property with significant ecological values within a biodiversity corridor in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast. ‘Garanyali’ translates as bird song in the local Gubbi Gubbi (Kabi Kabi) language. This makes sense as you walk along the main ridge you can often hear a cacophony of birdsong from the melodic sound of currawongs to the more complex mimicry or excited chattering of the spangled drongo.

This VCA provides remnant forest and lush rainforest gullies for a variety of rare and threatened flora and fauna including Richmond birdwing butterfly (Ornithoptera richmondia), koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus), giant barred frog (Mixophyes iteratus), tusked frog (Adelotus brevis), Connondale spiny crayfish (Euastacus hystricosus), Richmond birdwing butterfly vine (Pararistolochia praevenosa), Maroochy nut (Macadamia ternifolia), romnalda (Romnalda strobilacea) and three-leaved bosistoa (Bosistoa transversa).

On a recent property visit, Conservation Partnerships Officers spotted over 20 Richmond birdwing butterflies flying amongst a curtain of Richmond birdwing vines climbing into the canopy of a moist rainforest gully. The recovery and enhancement of habitat throughout the property will assist in improving and extending habitat for these threatened species along with other fauna and flora that inhabit this extensive biodiversity corridor.

Since 2014 the committed landholders who own this property have been undertaking gully restoration work to slowly remove large infestations of lantana and encourage natural regeneration of the surrounding remnant vegetation. The following video shows a snapshot in time of two major gully restoration projects underway in Garanyali Nature Refuge. If you look closely you can see the recovering remnant edges along the boundary of the canopy vegetation and the dense bright green areas dominated by lantana.

The footage is a good representation of how natural regeneration can be successful when using the following basic restoration principles (with variation necessary to suit differing environments and properties):

  • Work from good (least weedy) to bad areas (least natives). In this instance this involves working along the edge of intact remnant vegetation and moving into the disturbed areas dominated by lantana to create a manageable edge.
  • Minimise disturbance to soil. In this instance lantana has been spot sprayed and brush hooked (to mulch) the lantana on steep hillslopes. This principle recognises the fact that disturbed ground favours the growth of weeds and can lead to potential erosion and landslip on steep slopes.
  • Allow the rate of regeneration to dictate the rate of weed removal and hence alternate different work fronts depending on the rate of natural regeneration occurring. This technique ensures that regeneration areas remain a manageable size.
  • Small but frequent weed maintenance efforts are often more effective in the long term than infrequent big weed control efforts.
  • If working on a large area, divide it into management zones to make the work more efficient and manageable. Zones can be delineated according to terrain, access, types of weeds present and level of disturbance. In this instance the management zones have been developed to target priority areas and ensure encroaching weeds do not outcompete native regrowth.

Conservation Partnerships Officers will continue to monitor the progress of this weed management work using drones and provide an update on the success of the work underway.

If you would like to find out more about Voluntary Conservation Agreements visit our website.

References

  • Chenoweth EPLA and Bushland Restoration Services (2012) South East Queensland Ecological Restoration Framework: Guideline. Prepared on behalf of SEQ Catchments and South East Queensland Local Governments, Brisbane.
  • Land for Wildlife Queensland (2011) Note V2 Natural Regeneration Natural-Regeneration.pdf (lfwseq.org.au)