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I have to insist to my disbelieving family and others that my trip to Japan is not a holiday but really is a study tour and part of my quest to see what can be learnt in how other World Heritage sites are being managed. I am particularly interested in island World Heritage sites and I have already visited two of Japan’s natural World Heritage sites that are islands, Yakushima and Ogasawara. However, the latest World Heritage nomination of four island’s in the chain of small islands stretched out in an arc between the southern island and Taiwan that includes the Okinawa archipelago is of special interest.
This was the 15th trip since Peter started as team leader and while his team have worked on a number of weed species during that time, the main focus has been on Abrus precatorius subspecies africanus. (more…)
FIDO’s Bush Regeneration program has been operating volunteer week-long weeding operations since 2005. However, the number of weeding operations has increased progressively from one in 2005 to 10 in 2016–17. This is to keep pace with the increasing threat, and number, of weed invaders.
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. (more…)
Round Island is managed by Fraser Coast Regional Council. Because of the island’s close proximity to the mainland, it is frequently visited by both locals and tourists.
Two trips (26 July & 23 September 2016) have been made to Round Island this year, the first by two council officers, twelve Lower Mary River Landcare (LMRL) members and community volunteers and a group of twelve from Conservation Volunteers Australia. The second trip included council officers and volunteers with chemical spray certificates (AC/DC) as the trip targeted weeds that required chemical treatment.
These one-day weeding efforts, conducted over the last 4 years, have resulted in a highly significant benefit to this very small, coral sand island of dunal system environment. With the assistance of Juliet Musgrave, her skills and knowledge, the identification of some of the native plants (e.g. Octopus Bush) on Round Island demonstrates that this area is the overlap of vegetation zones on the coast between sub-tropical and tropical. To date, more than 30 native plants have been identified and registered, and the list grows each visit the group makes. (more…)
Community assistance is needed to find out where our frogs are living from Burrum Heads south to Peregian and west to Conondale Range, Kilkivan and Mt Walsh. Frogs are a vital component of ecosystems and can be good indicators of environmental health. But they are in trouble world-wide due to habitat loss, pollution and disease and we need to know more about where they are. (more…)
FIDO’s July bush regeneration working bee planted more than 100 new native plants in the Eurong Resort grounds and village. While more than 20 of these plants came from the Kingfisher nursery on the western side of the island, the project wouldn’t have been possible without the rejuvenation of the QPWS eastern Eurong nursery. The availability of a functioning nursery to meet the demands of residents and bush regenerators has challenged FINIA since its founding in 2005.
The BioBlitz has attracted interest from an unexpected quarter. The Fraser Coast RATs (Regional Artists and Tutors) are are keen to cover the BioBlitz as a community-based arts projects, A representative of the group describes their plans: “Members of this award winning contemporary artists group have multi discipline art practices and a common goal to engage the public with regionally based arts projects. We work closely with Fraser Coast community organisations on projects as diverse as ‘Art in empty shopfronts’ to community Street Art commissioned by Fraser Coast Council.”
Led by FIDO, a huge Fraser Island (K’Gari) BioBlitz from 28 November to 4 December will bring together experts from many areas of biology to carry out a stocktake of the natural resources of the World Heritage island.
Based at the Dilli Village Fraser Island Research and Learning Centre, the BioBlitz is being well supported by the University of the Sunshine Coast, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and FINIA.
The study area extends from the ocean beach to Lake Birrabeen, covering all six dune systems and encompassing most ecosystem types from heathlands, tall forests, swamps, fens and perched dune lakes except for the estuarine environments. It is hoped to achieve more by maintaining a tight and intense focus on this particular study area rather than an island wide hunt.
The study area is very accessible with a number of tracks through it that will allow scientists to easily access representative places of interest.
Peter Shooter continues to lead his teams of FIDO volunteers in their never-ending war against the very aggressive and invasive African subspecies of Abrus prectorius. The native Abrus prectorius, which does not naturally occur south of Gladstone, would never be termed aggressive in its natural range. As Peter prepares for another round of battle against this die-hard opponent in May (funded by BMRG), comparisons are being made to trying to eliminate triffids! However, Peter and his teams believe that, albeit slowly, they are beginning to gain the upper hand.
Luckily, Abrus exists only in Happy Valley and its immediate surrounds. Another factor in the favour of Peter and his team is that all of the evidence suggests that the plant’s spread is constrained by its manner of dispersion: in the foot pads of dingoes. There is no evidence to suggest that birds disperse the poisonous bright red and black seeds that give the plant its colloquial name of Crab’s Eye. The Abrus thus follows very closely the roads in and out of Happy Valley and, with the exception of an area north of Happy Valley that is a known dingo lair area, is not being carried too far from the main Happy Valley infestation.
As a result of trials, it has been found that manual removal of Abrus (even cut and paint) is almost impossible unless treatment areas are revisited at least weekly. Therefore, the most effective way to control Abrus is by chemical spraying with glyphosate. Peter’s teams have to comprise some very fit warriors, to lug 15 kg backpack sprays through heavy bush and up steep slopes; however, they do it with good grace to protect K’Gari’s natural integrity, oftentimes coming back for more.
A major problem in controlling Abrus is that it is a prodigious seeder and the germination rate of the seeds is alarming. Peter’s battle plan is:
- to maintain regular spraying to kill existing Abrus before it seeds
- to continually go over previously treated areas to kill off any seedlings from seed dropped previously, before they can seed again
- to make it a priority to eliminate all Abrus outside the dingo fence to stop the spread of Abrus beyond Happy Valley, before closing in on the last of the enemy inside the perimeter.
Knowing how long the seed remains viable is critical. For this reason, one of Peter’s fellow volunteers, Peter Dorney, a Sunshine Coast nurseryman, in March set up scientific germination trials to answer this vital question. This prompted Su Dawson to find some seeds that she had put away in 2013 to see if they would germinate. Beating the triffid-like Abrus will require strength, enthusiasm and a bit of science.
Side activities: The team did a bit more than just spray Abrus in March. Apart from their ‘work’, they would walk the beach and collect litter—lots of litter, and some was huge. Peter Shooter reported:
Every day in his spare time Geoff walked the beaches collecting man-made ‘flotsam and jetsom’ and depositing it in piles for later collection. On the last day of our trip, we took the trailer to Eurong and swept the beach from Eurong to Eli Creek. Many large items including pallets, drums, rope, poly pipe, oyster racks and more were removed. Geoff’s piles contained all the predicted items—thongs, bottles and plastic bags, to name a few. The most spectacular, and by far the largest, piece collected was a bamboo raft, half buried in sand, high on the beach. We finally got it out with the help of a tow from the 4WD. This raft is very well made with skilful bamboo joinery and lashing.
John Sinclair (AO), FIDO