The March 2017 FINIA meeting, which was on held on Fraser Island, provided an excellent opportunity for the members of FINIA to see first-hand the work being undertaken on the island by teams of FIDO volunteers (supported by BMRG through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme), the Fraser Island Association [FIA], and the Fraser Coast Regional Council with the support of Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service.
Thursday the 2nd March saw the group arrive at Happy Valley in the mid-afternoon where the efforts that FIDO is undertaking to contain and control the weed Abrus precatorius subspecies africanus (Abrus) were viewed. The aim of the Happy Valley FIDO project is to kill as many existing Abrus plants as possible and to prevent further seeding, germination and regeneration, with the ultimate aim of eradicating Abrus entirely from this location on Fraser Island. This will help in the restoration of the natural integrity of Happy Valley and its immediate environs.
The teams of volunteers, led by Peter Shooter, have worked hard to survey and control the infestations of the Abrus. Peter was unable to attend the FINIA meeting, so our group was guided at Happy Valley by regular FIDO volunteer team member, Chris Breitenbach. Chris has also been mapping all infestations found in Happy Valley and has been able to demonstrate through this mapping that the density of some of the infestations has been reducing due to the consistent control and follow-up undertaken by the FIDO weeding teams.
Unfortunately, however, the teams continue to find new infestations of Abrus, which radiate from the epicentre of Happy Valley Village. Patterns emerging from the surveys indicate it is spread along the road corridors and it is also thought that maybe the seeds are spread by dingos, through the seeds being stuck/caught in their coats. FINIA saw first-hand the invasive nature of this plant and viewed several of the sites where control has been undertaken. The FINIA party looked at one site (the Education block) where a February 2017 working bee, only one month earlier, had taken place to control the weeds, and found that Abrus seedlings had germinated and grown to at least 0.5m in length/height in that time.
The next day (Friday 3 March), the group travelled to the National Parks depot to look at the nursery. This nursery was originally run by National Parks but the management of the nursery has now been handed over to FIDO. To ensure the natural integrity of Fraser Island, no propagation material is to leave the island or to be brought to the island, so all revegetation plants are raised on the island, from propagation material sourced there.
The nursery, managed by FIDO volunteer Suzanne Wilson, grows a range of plants from Fraser Island in a 50:50 sand vermiculite potting mix. Plants spotted growing in the nursery included foxtails, Banksia integrifolia (coastal banksia), Ipomoea pes-caprae (goats foot), Casuarina equisetifolia (coastal she-oak), Elaeocarpus reticulatus (blueberry ash), and many others.
After travelling back down the beach to Eurong Village, the group viewed some of the work that has been completed through a project that FIDO has been working on for a number of years. The aim of the project is to restore the natural integrity of Fraser Island to Eurong Village. This has included transforming the landscaping plants in the village by removing the weeds and replacing them with native species from the area. This reduces the threat of environmental weeds escaping to the surrounding World Heritage Area and helps to protect its Outstanding Universal Values.
In collaboration with the Eurong Resort there has been a significant transformation of the area at the western entrance to the village. The project continues to collaborate with the management as well as with residents and QPWS to achieve this aim. The FINIA group viewed the demonstration gardens that FIDO has built at Eurong Village. Since the FINIA trip another garden has been commenced by FIDO at the resort.
The impressive results of the work undertaken by FIDO in the area along the dingo fence at Eurong Village were also inspected. Eurong Beach Resort discharges their grey water along the dingo fence surrounding the resort. The lush conditions created have been ideal for a variety of weeds to flourish. These have included Barleria repens (coral creeper), a garden escapee, Macroptilium atropurpureum (siratro), Passiflora suberosa (corky passionfruit), Solanum seaforthianum (brazilian nightshade), Solanum americanum (glossy night shade) and Panicum maximum var. trichoglume (green panic). FIDO teams visit Eurong three times a year to undertake working bees, and John Sinclair and Su Dawson make trips in between the team working bees, to maintain the work completed by the teams. Consistent work inside the fence, including in the ‘green zone’, an area in which no chemical control has been undertaken, has seen a great result, including the natural regeneration of Geodorum densiflorum (shepherds crook orchid).
After leaving the resort, the last stop before the ‘formal’ FINIA meeting (generously hosted by David and Marion Anderson of FIA) was the area in Residential Valley, or Second Valley, behind Eurong Resort, where the residents live. The group went for a walk with David Anderson, who showed us the areas where weed control of escaped garden plants had been undertaken over a number of years, and with great results. This work has been done in collaboration with FIDO, Fraser Coast Regional Council and National Parks. Here, coral creeper has been a problem, with many hours invested to control it, along with many other garden escapees. David was recently able to map the location of the infestations of weeds with GPS (loaned from BMRG), which will prove valuable for follow-up weed control work and maintaining a record of the locations of the infestations.
The large number of volunteer hours spent weeding and regenerating these areas of Fraser Island have made a significant difference, with a noticeable decrease of new weed incursions and a reduction of the density of existing infestations. Thanks, and full credit, is extended to all those who have freely given their time to this work.
Article submitted by Lynda Wills, Burnett Mary Regional Group