There are many parks and nature reserves that you can explore, but did you know they are home to many Australian animals that rely on these reserves for food, shelter and safety? They hide away in hollows, burrows and on fallen timber, so we may not always see them.
Lets have a look at all the different places you may find at a nature reserve or park that could be holding an amazing animal!
Now Its Your Turn!
Test Your Skills By Downloading The Worksheet And Using It To Match Native Animal’s With Their Home!
After doing some bush regeneration work, my bush regeneration team noticed that a few houses that back up onto bushland had been responsible for dumping their green waste, including grass clippings over the fence. My supervisor reminded me that this is a problem for them and the health of the bushland or reserve because that is how weeds spread here in the first place.
What is a Weed?
Weeds are classified as any plant that has situated itself somewhere it is not wanted. In this blogs context, they are plants that are occur in an environment in which they are not native to.
Weeds are a big problem here in NSW as they compete with native flora for natural resources such as water, light, nutrients and space. They can also harbor diseases and pests.
This impacts Australia’s native wildlife as they depend upon native tree’s and plants for shelter, food and nesting. More concerning is that weeds often grow faster then their native competitors and so they can out-compete them to become dominant in natural areas. The natural pests that would usually control or reduce their growth are lacking as the plants have been introduced somewhere else.
65% of weeds invading reserves or bush land areas have come from urban gardens
Garden Escapees & Other Weeds of Bush land & Reserves
It is hard to control weeds once they have established themselves and end up being very economically and environmentally costly.
There are over 1,350 invasive species that have naturalized themselves here in NSW and 300 of them are having significant environmental impacts to NSW ‘s biodiversity and primary production.
Green Waste Dumping
When you dump your waste into reserves or nearby bushland, you are actually introducing those plant species into that reserve and they can spread, depending on the species, relatively fast.
Bridal creeper, Asparagus Asparagoides is an example of a weed that was introduced as a garden plant but spread significantly into bushland and has now widely established itself in Southern Australia. In fact, it has been labelled as a weed of National Significance in Australia due to its invasiveness, potential of spread and economic and environmental costs.
Bridal creeper is damaging to native plants because it grows as a thick mat of underground tubers over the bushland floor and actually slows down the root growth of other native plants and quite often prevents that species from seed establishment.
Some native plants are being so overthrown by bridal creeper that they are now threatened to near extinction, one example is the Rice Flower, Pimelea spicata.
Weedy Garden Plants
Some plant species are called ‘weedy garden plants’ because they can spread into bushland even if they remain in your garden bed. They do this by their ability to spread by vegetative means, such as through their bulbs, root parts, corms, tubers or stem fragments. They can also be transferred outside their garden bed by the wind, water and from animals such as birds that eat and defecate the fruit to another area.
What Can We Do?
We definitely have the capacity to help reduce the spread of weeds into our beautiful bushland and nature reserves by making small but meaningful actions such as:
Plant Natives – This helps create a corridor for native wildlife in urban areas, providing them with a path for shelter, food and nesting. It also replaces purchasing exotic plants which have the potential to spread to nearby bushland.
Dispose your green waste responsibly – Avoid dumping your green waste into reserves or bushland and instead use your green waste bin. Another alternative is to use a compost bin to turn your green waste into nutrient rich soil.
Regularly prune your garden plants after flowering to prevent seed set and dispersal
Cover Green Waste if you are transporting your garden clippings in a trailer – This prevents seeds and weeds blowing off and invading roadside and bushland areas
Use your General Waste bin to put your plant tubers, bulbs and seed heads into rather then your green waste bin to avoid seed dispersal
2012 ‘Garden Escapes & Other Weeds in Bushland and Reserves’, Sydney Weeds Committees, Available at: https://www.hawkesbury.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/62557/SWC_GardenBooklet_WEB_VERSION1.pdf
Most commercial dish washing liquids, laundry powders and soaps are actually very harmful to our local environment. The surfactants, phosphorus levels, dyes, bleaching agents, scourers, polishes, softners, and scents that are contained in these products get carried into our sewage system and into our local waterways, contaminating them.
There are some brands out there however, that consider the environment when creating their product and therefore contain ingredients that are environmentally friendly. Some brands include Ecologic, Koala Eco or Eco-Store.
The Most Environmentally Friendly Cleaning ‘Product’
After searching for some cheap, effective and eco-friendly products online, I came across something that blew my mind away. It was eco-friendly in every way, from its packaging material and ingredient list to its disposal process, it leaves no harmful trace to this world but only benefits it and us!
It is a thing calledSoapberries. Soap berries (also referred to as soap nuts, although not actually a nut) are the fruit of the Sapindus Mukorossi tree. This tree grows primarily in the Himalayas as well as several other regions of the world. The fruit is harvested under ethical conditions by small communities. By purchasing these berries, you are supporting the ‘Grow Nepal’ initiative which helps the Nepal people create an income and protecting these tree’s helps reduce deforestation in the Himalayas.
How do they work?
The berries contain a very high level of a particular ingredient called ‘saponin’ that acts as a cleaning agent, it has been called ‘Nature’s soap’. Soapberries work to reduce the surface tension in water to remove dirt and clean almost anything around the home.The berries contain nothing more then themselves, which means there are no chemicals, no packaging, they are grey water safe and can be composted at the end of their use. They come with a small cotton bag that is reused and nothing more!
Using Soapberries as a laundry detergent is the easiest way to use them as you simply put five soap berry shells in the small cotton bag provided, add a few drops of essential oils for desired smell (optional), throw into the washing machine with your clothes, and remove when finished. Those 5 shells can actually be used for 4-5 washes as well. They will slowly become thin and brittle, to which you can throw out, or better yet, add them to your compost bin to break down naturally.
Soap berries can also be used as a multi-purpose spray. To do this, boil the berries for 15 minutes, drain the remaining liquid with a nut milk bag, pop it into a reusable spray bottle and your done!
Eco-friendly cleaning products can be more expensive then your usual go-to cleaning product which is a shame as it is an important factor consumers consider when choosing cleaning products. That is why I love Soap berries all the more! They are very economical, costing only 10 cents per wash.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and educate yourself on being more environmentally conscious in your home. Let me know what you think of these berries in the comment section below. I would love to know if you have used them and how they went!
By Jacqueline Britton Cattai Aware Project Officer (Rural)
Australia has over 700 species of eucalypts but did you know we have our very own species of eucalypt found only in the Cattai catchment, called Eucalyptus species Cattai. The species is very rare and has been listed under New South Wales and Commonwealth environmental legislation as Critically Endangered as it is facing an extremely high risk of extinction.
It has been recorded in Glenorie, Annangrove, Kenthurst, Glenhaven and Kellyville.
It is a small, mallee-form tree that can grow up to 4.5 m with thick, furrowed and fibrous bark. Adult leaves are dark green and glossy, and paler on the underside. It can grow individually or in small clustered groups usually around sandstone ridgetops in scrub, heath or low woodland.
Some of its threats are clearing, urban development and altered fire-regimes. Fire is essential for seed germination.
I recently visited for the first time, the Eucalyptus species Cattai population in Heath Road, North Kellyville. At this location there are a number of trees growing along the ridgetop in a pocket of bushland close to urban development.
One of CHEN’s goals is to increase awareness in the local community of this rare and unique species and to aid its protection.
NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH) (2019). Eucalyptus sp. Cattai – profile. Available at: https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=10317
Teresa James (2018) Rare and threatened flora of the Hills Shire Council
Authored by Cross et al, Changeology Workshop, October 2017
Based on a true story
Two of our newly arrived residents from overseas were clearing privet on their property.This is their story.
One crisp spring morning we finally came to the bank of the creek.In wonder we gazed at the water running between the rocks and the cool dark pools.Suddenly we saw a flash of fur and a rounded beak.We had never encountered such a strange looking animal before and called our neighbour.
There is a lot of talk nowadays about how we can better manage our waste more responsibly whether that is concerning single-use plastics, recycling or composting our waste.
It is talked about more undoubtedly due to the severe impact waste ending up in landfill has on our environment, specifically the significant amount of green house gas emissions landfill sites produce.
Not only that, but the population in Sydney, Australia and the rest of the world is rapidly increasing, with a global population estimate of 9 billion by 2050. When the population increases, so does our waste.
Finding where we can individually make small but meaningful changes in our day-to-day lives can make a big difference, especially if we help and educate one another.
In the Hills District, there is concern about the amount of waste we are contributing to landfill. The Resilient Sydney Report by The Hills Shire Council using data collected from 2016/17 found that The Hills Shire were contributing more residual and green waste per capital then the NSW average. To be more specific, residents within the Hills District generate 17% more residual waste per capital and 28% more green waste.
CHEN is offering the chance to be a part of a Bush Care Group at the Fred Caterson Reserve in Castle Hill.
This group aims to provide bush regeneration services to the Cattai creek and its surrounding bush land. This may include some days focused on tree planting and weed removal, while other days may be focused on providing citizen science data to numerous organizations. One example of this is using the FrogID app to collect data on the frog species in the area and submitting it to the Australian Museum for research.