17th Nov 2022 |
Wynyard Landcare's Fossil Bluff Hill Revegetation Project aims to provide a suitable habitat for bandicoots and birds plus a nature reserve for people to enjoy and appreciate. Here's where they are at.
| Report by Peter Lawrence, Wynyard Landcare
Fossil Bluff is a prominent tourist attraction especially for the geology and the coastal views from the top of the hill.
The vision of the revegetation project is to provide a suitable habitat for bandicoots and birds plus a nature reserve for people to enjoy and appreciate. The vegetation communities on the hill of the Fossil Bluff Conservation Area, managed by Parks and Wildlife Service, have largely been left unmanaged except for biannual mowing of the grass areas. False Boobyalla, Acacia longifolia var sophora, is spreading about 2-3 metres per year and now covers half the hill. The False Boobyalla is largely a mono-culture of a single plant species that provides shelter for a large population of pademelons, Thylogale billardierii, that feed on the remaining grass areas on the hill, the neighbouring golf course, and suburban gardens.
Bandicoots, probably both species, Isoodon obsesulus & Perameles gunnii, and feral cats, Felis catus, also inhabit Fossil Bluff hill.
Vegetation clumps of small trees or tall shrubs interspersed with a diverse ground layer of grasses, sedges & rushes will provide shelter for bandicoots and nest-sites and shelter for small passerine birds such as fairy-wrens and thornbills. Initially, the patches/clumps of native plant species to be planted in the grass area on the hill. All seedlings would require plant guards to prevent grazing by the numerous pademelons. The False Boobyalla needs to be controlled from spreading and gradually removed over the next few years. This will also reduce the predation of seedlings by pademelons.
For the upper slope of the hill, the priority restoration plantings should be hardy plants that are more adapted to drier conditions. The most suitable hardy small trees and taller shrubs are Prickly Moses Acacia verticillata, Prickly Box Bursaria spinosa, Broadleaf Hopbush Dodonea viscosa, Coast Beardheath Leucopogon parviflorus, Common tea tree Leptospermum scoparium, and Boobialla Myoporum insulare.
Some smaller shrubs suitable for drier sites include White Correa Correa alba, Native Currant Coprosma quadrifida, Guitar Plant Lomatia tinctoria, Prickly Beauty Pultanaea juniperina and Coastal Saltbush Rhagodia candolleana. Ground-layer plants for drier sites are Spreading Flax-lily Dianella revoluta, Sagg Lomandra longifolia, Common Tussockgrass Poa labillardierei, Coast Tussockgrass Poa poiformis, Kangaroo Grass Themeda triandra and NZ Spinach Tetragonia tetragonoides.
For wetter sites such as the lower slope, trees to be considered include Scented Paperbark Melaleuca squarrosa, Cheesewood Pittosporum bicolor, Dogwood Pomaderris apetala. Groundlayer plants for wetter sites include Sedge Carex appressa, Forest Flax-lily Dianella tasmanica, Western Flag Iris Diplarrena latifolia, Isolepis nodosa, two rushes Juncus pallidus and Juncus sarophorus.
The re-vegetation project across the whole Fossil Bluff hill will probably take 10 years to complete.
Wynyard Landcare commenced the re-vegetation project in 2020. 100 Poa seedlings were transplanted in August 2020 into grass patches that were spot-sprayed with herbicide a few weeks before planting.
509 seedlings of bushes, shrubs, grasses, sedges & rushes were transplanted in July 2021. The arrangement and spacing of different plant species was managed by Jim McLeod of Oldina Nurseries who supplied all the seedlings. Spot spraying prior to planting was not undertaken due to logistic issues. Manual weeding around seedlings and providing a soil bank around seedlings to capture rainfall enabled 97% of the seedlings to survive the particularly low rainfall summer months of 2021/22.
The grass area on the hill requires annual mowing to reduce the danger of tiger snakes in the long grass and provide a safer habitat for volunteers and visitors. 810 seedlings of bushes, shrubs, grasses, sedges & rushes (see map and table for details) were transplanted in May 2022 when soil moisture was adequate. Regular on-going maintenance includes weeding around seedlings, fixing/adjusting plant guards damaged by winds, and replacing corflute guards with larger wire-mesh guards for growing plant species like Dodonea.
The red areas marked on the map are the False Boobyalla to be removed in late 2022 in preparation for 2023 plantings.
Wynyard Landcare would like to thank:
- Landcare Tasmania, Cradle Coast NRM, and un-named individuals for financial support.
- North Tasmania Australian Parents for Climate Action for enthusiastic help in planting seedlings.
- Oldina Nurseries for seedling plant tube stock and Jim McLeod’s expert advice on suitable
- Parks and Wildlife Service staff for their encouragement and support.
This project was submitted to Landcare Tasmania's Project Bank and received support from the Tasmanian Landcare Fund.