Funding grants 2019-20

Our non-profit group, Coastal Dry Tropics Landcare Inc, relies on grant funding for our Landcare sites and upgrades to equipment and facilities. The Townsville City Council supports us with funding to cover the Project Officer position. Other funding support is listed below:

Current Projects

Community Sustainability Action Grant round 2 $33,809 June 2020

Skilling Queenslanders for Work Flood Recovery Crew $167,000 October 2019 – Oct 2020

Water Smart Package – Plant Supply $50,000 June 2020

Communities Environment Program $14,089 December 2020

Completed Projects

Community Benefits Fund $12,000 upgrade of Bush Garden Nursery

Queensland Community Foundation grant $3,800 for iPads

Gambling Community Benefit Fund $19,182.35 for new water trailer

Queensland Airports Ltd. grant $1,000 mulching mower for Mundy Ck

National Landcare Program Environmental Small Grants $12,280 for Bohle Wetlands site

Transport and Main Roads Goondaloo Creek revegetation $9,160 (some ongoing works)

The importance of local provenance native plants

· Guest post by Christine Dalliston·

Local Provenance is the term used to describe native plant populations that naturally occur in a given area.

Many native plant species can be found to occur naturally across a broad geographic area or range. For example, Hairpin banksia (Banksia spinulosa) naturally occurs across 3 states, from coastal Victoria to Cairns.

However, the plants growing in a specific area will have adapted to the local conditions over a long period of time. Although of the same species, a Hairpin banksia from southern Victoria will have a different genetic makeup to its cousin in Cairns, just as the same species of plant found on the coast will be different from that growing in the mountains. Different populations containing local genetic variations are called provenances.

For true local provenance, the individual plant is grown from seed stock from parent plants within the same population (or as close by as possible).

Bringing in plants sourced from a different region can compromise the genetic integrity of the species i.e. weaken the ability of the plant population to thrive in the specific local conditions through diluting the genes that have been selected over a long period of adaptation to local conditions. Eventually, given time and the right conditions of isolation, this variation between populations can lead to new species evolving.

Preserving local provenance populations, on the other hand, is an important way of protecting biodiversity and combating the threat to biodiversity posed by climate change.

Aquatic weeds in the Ross River

Sagittaria/Delta Arrowhead (Sagittaria platyphylla) is a recent arrival to the Ross River, first found here in 2012. It is currently under a containment program in attempt to eradicate it from the river before it spreads throughout the region. Sagittaria is a highly invasive aquatic weed that can choke shallow waterways, including irrigation channels, blocking the flow of water, fish movement and recreational activities. The economic impact of Sagittaria is imense with farmers in the Murray-Darling basin collectively spending over $2 million on control each year to protect and restore irrigation channels.

Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) Water hyacinth is a floating weed that forms a dense mat on the top of water bodies. It has light purple flowers and round, dark green leaves. Water hyacinth was originally introduced from Brazil to Australia as an ornamental pond plant. The dense floating mat restricts wildlife migration, depletes the oxygen levels of the water body and interferes with recreational use.

Cabomba/Fanwort (Cabomba caroliniana) grows completely underwater (except flowers) in slow moving or still water, forming a dense canopy below the surface of the water. The stems can grow to a massive 10m long and pose risk to swimmers who can become entangled.

Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) is a floating water weed with spongy, fan-shaped leaves. It can form dense mats of material that shades out other plant species. Reproduction is by seed or runners which produce daughter plants. Water Lettuce has a rapid growth rate and if conditions are favourable it can quickly spread to cover an entire water body once introduced. The seed is generally spread between water bodies by water movement, natural or within water vessels or equipment.

Hymenachne (Hymenachne amplexicaulis) is a grass with long, wide leaf blades found in shallow water or the banks of rivers and can grow to 2.5 m high. Hymenachne forms dense stands and can increase the possibility of flooding by restricting water flow in drainage channels. The dense stands also pose risk to animals by restricting migration and reducing available habitat.

Salvinia (Salvinia molesta) is a free-floating, spongy water weed, found in slow moving water bodies with high temperature and nutrient loads. Salvinia impacts waterways by removing available habitat, shading the water column and reducing water quality by removing dissolved oxygen. Leaves are small and folded with tiny hairs on the surface and roots float freely in the water column. Salvinia does not produce flowers and therefore the only method of spread is believed to be transportation of live material between water bodies.

Water chestnuts at Wongaloo

 • Guest post by Carolyn Osterhaus •

I had heard about the Wongaloo wetlands from the Birdlife Townsville people. I also found out, to my chagrin, you can only go there on a tour. How serendipitous that the celebration of National Landcare Week in September included a bus tour to just this spot.

The Wongaloo trip was bracketed by an informative walk through the Bush Garden in Mundingburra, showcasing nursery manager Christine Dalliston’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the plants there. People found it difficult to tear themselves away for a bus which didn’t show up, then did. The day ended at Morratt’s Pit, a site revegetated by Lower Burdekin Landcare Association.

You’d be amazed at how many people have never visited Wongaloo wetlands, even people who live nearby. The bus driver couldn’t talk enough about his first-time visit. Seeing thousands of birds on water in a region where it rarely rains was a great treat. As the bus driver said, it made the Town Common look like an airport.

The Wongaloo Regional Park sits adjacent to the Bowling Green Bay Ramsar site and is managed jointly by the non-profit Wetlands and Grasslands Foundation, a public company and registered charity, and Queensland’s Parks and Wildlife Service. The Foundation received a grant to remove weeds lantana, pink bauhinia and candle bush from the 50 hectare site. Several kilometres of fencing were erected to help manage stock and control weeds.

Wongaloo wetlands support the largest concentration of brolga recorded in Australia: around 12,000. It is a breeding site for both brolga and magpie geese. The main reason is the bulkurru, botanical name Eleocharis dulcis, common name Chinese water chestnut. Bulkurru forms dense beds during the wet season then dies back to tubers as waters recede during the dry. Birds breed during the wet then dig into the mud to harvest the tubers in the dry. Wongaloo is also an important habitat for waterbirds and seasonal fish. Freshwater fish move onto the site from streams during the wet season to spawn.

Water at the site originates from three sources. First, runoff from the Mt Elliott Range. Second, a massive sand ridge deposited over thousands of years by the Burdekin River collects and stores rainwater, releasing it gradually into the swamps. And third, occasional flooding of the Haughton River.

Weeds are kept in check by grazing cattle, carefully monitored. Lakes were fenced in such a way that cattle could not just wander up to them and damage shorelines. Feral pigs are a problem. In the past Conservation Volunteers have helped with weeding. According to Christine: “The other really important thing in managing Wongaloo to me was finding the salt intrusions and managing them to bring back the freshwater wetland.”

At Morratt’s Pit in Ayr a forest of green tree guards showed the huge amount of work being done to restore the area. Lower Burdekin Landcare Association has planted more than 2,500 trees there in the first half of 2017.

The day ended with a sausage sizzle. Vegetarian sausages always look like they might taste OK but actually taste like dirt with sage added. Next time I’ll go with the birds and try water chestnuts.

National​ ​Bird​ ​Week​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Bush​ ​Garden

We celebrated National Bird Week (23 – 29 October 2017) with a bird watching visit to the Bush Garden, led by our wonderful guide Michael McMaster from Birdlife Townsville. We had a fantastic turnout with 17 volunteers attended, including Cub Scouts and their parents from Pimlico-Mundingburra, Loam Island and Bluewater Scout troops.

The Bush Garden made for the perfect location to wander through the bush in peace and quiet, listening for any signs of the birds we sought. We had an exciting find from Sue who brought along what we identified to be a honeyeater nest, discarded after the chicks had hatched. The strength in the design and construction of the nest was incredible and it was great to show to the kids.

We discussed the recent installation of an owl box by Birdlife Townsville, which is now actually housing possums. These boxes are designed to provide habitat for large, hollow dwelling birds and have been constructed and installed because of the distinct lack of old trees with good sized hollows in our urban environment.

Jacanas provided a great talking point with kids eagerly watching through binoculars and trying to decide just how a bird could walk on lilypads, consensus seemed to be that their very long toes had something to do with it.

Our walk led us to the end of the Bush Garden at Aplin’s Weir where we came across, what some of us thought, the highlight of the day…a family of Tawny frogmouths! Two adults and two juveniles, of different ages, perched together on a branch. We also found the nest around 10 metres away in a beautiful paperbark overhanging the river.

Thank you to Michael McMaster, Birdlife Townsville and all the volunteers that turned up for a bit of birding and to celebrate our wonderful wildlife. We hope you had an enjoyable morning and that we’ll see you in the bush again sometime soon.