Workparties at Scrivener’s Hut, Stirling Park and Yarramundi Reach

FoG works with the National Capital Authority (NCA) and Greening Australia on conservation work in three areas in central Canberra. For details on current workparties, see the FoG calendar.

Workparty dates for 2016

The dates for FOG workparties on national lands (Stirling Park and Yarramundi Reach) in 2016 will be Sunday mornings as follows (at Stirling Park unless stated):

Objectives this year include completing the first cut over of woody weeds on Stirling Ridge and seeing evidence of natural recruitment of the re-introduced wildflower species at Yarramundi Reach. This will be helped with the NCA considering adoption of a revised management plan for the sites. Contact Jamie Pittock for more information: jamie.pittock@fog.org.au.

The National Capital Authority has had contractors undertaking welcome ecological restoration work in the Stirling Ridge area. Following up our February workparty on Attunga Point, contractors have felled and are in the process of removing exotic trees on the lake edge that were over shadowing our beloved Button Wrinklewort and harboring weeds like blackberry. Contractors have also removed the Desert Ash infestation on the Westlake site and sprayed blackberry east of Haines Creek, as well as on the western side of Stirling Ridge. Unfortunately, a rare wet day in mid-April scuppered NCA and Rural Fire Service plans for an ecological burn on the central east portion of Stirling Ridge.

Workparty sites

   woody weeds in Stirling Park                         plant survey at Yarrmundi Reach

Left: woody weeds in Stirling Park

Right: plant survey at Yarramundi Reach

History

There were 16 FoG working parties across the three sites in 2013 following the commencement of mid-weekly events in Stirling Park and increased support from residents of Yarralumla. FoG supporters contributed over 1,000 hours in volunteer work in 2013, for a total of 3,860 since 2009. Around 1,200 m3 of woody weeds were cut, for a total of over 2,900 m3 since 2009.  For more information on FoG's work see the Annual Reports.

The statistics for our volunteer efforts in 2015 showed that over 17 workparties, 192 people volunteered for 651 hours and we cut an estimated 1,053 m3 of green weeds. More importantly, we made significant progress in clearing Stirling Park of woody weeds and in replanting key areas of both Stirling Park and Yarramundi Reach.

Thanks to an ACT Government Environment Grant of $19,010 in 20013-14, FoG was able to engage contractors to spray key weeds at the three sites. Further spraying will be followed by replanting at some sites.

Stirling Park and Scrivener's Hut

Regeneration of forbs at Stirling Park FoG and Save Stirling Park Group, with strong support from the NCA, are working together to eliminate the infestations in the park of cotoneaster, pyracantha (firethorn), hawthorn, olive trees, Cootamundra wattles, photinia, privet, blackberry, fleabane, St John’s wort - the list goes on. We are also planting a substantial number of species native to this area including eucalypts, kurrajongs, bursaria, acacias, small native plants and ground covers (forbes).

In January 2014, FoG President Sarah Sharp coordinated a re-survey of weeds and also threatened plants across key parts of Stirling Park. A number of the quarter hectare survey quadrats were almost completely free of woody weeds following volunteer restoration efforts since 2009, especially at the southern end of Stirling Ridge. Many thousand individual plants of a number of threatened species were counted. Sadly, other quadrats at the northern and eastern ends are still thick with weeds. The survey will help us target our future workparties to best effect.

A huge volume of woody weeds was cleared by the May 2014 workparty. Much of it was box thorn which left its mark on a few arms and legs but it was all dragged onto the pile outside the fence opposite the rusty sculpture in Alexandrina Drive. We had twenty-two workers ranging across students, Friends of Grasslands and Save Stirling Park Group.  It is pleasing to note that the numbers of volunteers continues to grow as more people realise the importance of retaining Stirling Park and of removing exotic and non indigenous  interlopers. These are the infestations of cotoneaster, firethorn (pyracantha), box thorn, olive trees and the Cootamundra wattles which have spread prolifically and impede the growth of species indigenous to this area.  Where the Tasmanian blue gums were felled and burnt was not pretty, but Friends of Grasslands planted 200 locally indigenous trees and shrubs.  As these start to grow, and other local species and wild flowers begin to re-populate the open space, the visual effect will increasingly improve for all those who walk run, learn or otherwise benefit from Stirling Park.

Photo of people in fire fighting clothing working on edge of a smoky fire in woodland 16 May 2015The ACT Government’s natural resources management program granted FoG $6000 for 2014–15 to control key weeds and do some planting at grassland sites on national lands (thank you ACT Government). FoG’s contractor sprayed Vinca, St John’s wort, african lovegrass and Chilean needle grass at the Scrivener’s Hut site, which should put it in excellent shape.

The site at Stirling Park in Yarralumla was heavily infested with Chilean needle grass and once this was sprayed in 2012 there was little remaining groundcover alive. In 2013 FoG and the Greening Australia planted 200 forbs in a section of the sprayed area. Fifteen months on (photo at right), Leucochrysum had gone from 40 to nearly 300 plants, with the second generation flowering and throwing seed. Little haloes of seedlings were starting to appear around both of the Chrysocephalum species planted. Eryngium had survived and was starting to flower. There were still issues with the roos, rabbits, a dry summer and emerging weeds, but the site was looking much better than it had two years earlier.

Fire is an essential management tool for native grasslands. FoG worked with the National Capital Authority and Rural Fire Service volunteers to burn patches of Stirling Park on 16 May 2015.

Yarramundi Reach

In July 2014, a small team of volunteers planted about 700 seedlings of nine different forb species into grassland at Yarramundi Reach (on Lady Denman Drive, ACT). These were clustered into a few areas that had earlier been sprayed for Chilean Needle Grass and St Johns Wort under the environmental grant ‘Grassy Ecosystem Restoration on National Lands in Central Canberra’ from the ACT Government. Many places at Yarramundi Reach have good stands of grasses but very few forbs, so the addition of other common species was undertaken to improve biodiversity as well as enhancing areas of dead weeds. The work was carried out by volunteers from Greening Australia Capital Region (GA), and all the plants had been propagated in GA’s nursery facility in Aranda. Despite some dry and warm times since July, several of the species have gone on to flower and set seed in their very first season. One of the most striking has been Wahlenbergia stricta which showed up dramatically early in November with many flowers in several of the planted areas.

workparties may be cancelled in the event of extreme weather.  For details and contact information for forthcoming workparties, see the current Calendar.

Hall Cemetery

FoG also conducts occasional workparties at the Hall Cemetery.