Vital bush regeneration work is underway to protect the Milton subtropical rainforest from weed invasion. South East Local Land Services, working with bush regenerators from Proust Land Services, have identified and are now targeting areas of the rainforest that were severely impacted by the 2019/2020 southern fires.
“The fires have left large canopy openings in places that would not normally be present in a subtropical rainforest” said South East Local Land Services’ Leesa Kelly.
“The extra light penetrating these gaps, coupled with the recent weather conditions, has given weeds a chance to thrive”.
The National Bushfire Recovery Agency has estimated that 72% of the Shoalhaven local government area was burnt in last summer’s bushfires and the region is still recovering from this event. 89% of bushland and forest was affected including endangered rainforests.
Approximately 68% of Milton subtropical rainforest was fire affected. The site being worked on at the moment will protect 40 hectares across 4 farm holdings that surround the Yatte Yattah Nature Reserve.
Photo: Bush regenerators work to remove newly emerged tobacco bush under scorched canopy
“The bushland takes long time to heal, particularly after the stress from ongoing drought coupled with intense fires”‘ Leesa said.
“Now with reasonable rainfall, it’s a perfect growing season and in amongst the weeds are many native species.
“This is why the careful intervention being carried out by the skilled bush regenerator teams is so important.”
The teams are slowly removing all the exotic weeds that have emerged after the fires to reduce the competition pressure on native species. This is rewarding but painstaking work.
For Gerard Proust and his team at Proust Land Services the work is tough but very rewarding.
“It is hot and gruelling work with steep slopes to tackle and physically demanding conditions,
“But just being in these amazing locations, seeing a great variety of native fauna, being able to play an important role in restoring our diminished forests, it really recharges your spirit”.
Private land managers have a significant role to play in conservation, over two thirds of the burnt rainforest is on private land. In most places observed post fires, these forests are regenerating with a mix of both native and weed species.
“We will continue to work with land managers to support the recovery of the land,
“Where weeds are taking hold, we have an opportunity now to remove them so that native regeneration can occur,
“But we cannot do this without the help of skilled bush regenerators and the wonderful volunteers from the local Landcare and Bushcare groups who are all working so hard”.