Friends of Mount Majura (FoMM) Newsletter – April 2020

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, all Friends of Mount Majura events including our monthly work parties and the Mondays @ The Fair sessions are cancelled until further notice.

Keep practicing “social distancing”, take care and we hope to see you and work with you again on the mountain once it is safe to do so.
Waltraud Pix
Email

Photo credit: https://thebulletin.org/2020/03/kids-are-drawing-pictures-of-the-new-coronavirus-thats-a-good-thing/ 

FoMM Website has been upgraded to a new service provider!
The website now runs more smoothly and quickly for all sections. We encourage all FOMM Members to take a tour, in lieu of our usual field activities…. which we so sorely miss! There is a lot of information there which is interesting and good general reading for an ACT conservationist. Many thanks to Lance Williamson, Jochen Zeil and Waltraud Pix for working on this.

Citizen science and COVID-19 – Australian Citizen Science Association 21 March 2020
While we can’t work together on Mt Majura at the moment, there are heaps of citizen science projects to get involved in from your backyard, local park or nature reserve – download some of the apps or participate in the upcoming “blitzes”. The Aussies Citizen Science Association has provided this helpful list and links to a whole lot of other interesting material and projects here:

  • iNaturalist’s City Nature Challenge – April 24-27 2020 – be part of the global City Nature Challenge
  • Wild Pollinator Count  – April 12-19th 2020 –
  • Citizen Science Month – April 2020 – check out on social media #CitSciMonth for things happening to celebrate citizen science internationally and ways to participate virtually.
  • iNaturalist – record your observations of species, and share with the iNaturalist community 
  • FrogID – a national citizen science project that is helping us learn more about what is happening to Australia’s frogs by recording frog calls.
  • NatureMapr – community based citizen science platform to collect, manage and share species data. (a Canberra creation)
  • QuestaGame – a game to make the adventure of going outdoors real and contribute to research.
  • Brush turkeys – collecting information about the Australian Brush-turkey (Alectura lathami) in suburbia, including observing their behaviours  (None of these in camberra yet!)
  • Birdata – BirdLife Australia’s platform for those interested in the amazing array of birds in Australia.
  • ClimateWatch – understand how changes in temperature and rainfall are affecting the seasonal behaviour of Australia’s plants and animals.
  • Urban Wildlife App – an app with research from the environmental science program the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub looking at bell frogs, flying foxes and beneficial insects.
  • Hush City – a science mobile app, which empowers people to identify and assess quiet areas in cities to create an open access, web-based map of quiet areas, with the potential of orientating plans and policies for healthier living

Thanks to Mt Taylor Parkcare Group for providing this information.

Other news and events:

Message from Community and Visitor Programs, Parks and Conservation Service, Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate – 20 March 2020
”Good morning to all our ParkCare volunteers,
As you’re aware COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation and the ACT Government has declared a public health emergency. The situation changes daily, so for the most up to date information please keep an eye on www.health.act.gov.au or call the Coronavirus Information Line on 1800 020 080. We’ve been monitoring the progress of COVID-19 and the health and safety of volunteers, staff and community is our top priority.
In light of the Government’s response to COVID-19, The Environment Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate including the ACT Parks and Conservation Service will today halt all external community and volunteer events until 19 September 2020 (6 months). This includes all RangerAssist, WildlifeAssist, VisitorAssist and ParkCare Patch activities. As individuals you are still welcome within our parks and reserves that are open to the public, but no ParkCare volunteer activities will take place. This has been a difficult decision but has been made with the single intent of protecting the health of our volunteers, employees and the general public. We will remain in contact through this challenging time and hope to see you all safe, healthy and ready in Spring. I thank you for your understanding and if you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with myself or a member of our volunteer management team (Marty or Kaz). Alison McLeod – Volunteer Programs Manager. Phone 02 6205 7384 – Mobile 0481 914 508 – Email

Release of report into Nature in our City – ACT Legislative Assembly, 13 February 2020
Today the Chair of the Standing Committee on Environment and Transport and City Services, Ms Tara Cheyne MLA, tabled the Committee’s report on Nature in Our City. During the inquiry process, the Committee received 71 submissions, held seven public hearings and heard from 69 witnesses. Evidence was provided by a wide range of individuals, community organisations, experts and government officials. These contributors provided evidence on a wide array of topics and themes but were unified in highlighting the importance of nature for the city and the need to protect and enhance the city’s natural assets. Read more here and download the report here.

Rabbits, kangaroos and seedling survival in Endangered buloke woodlands: Project update – Threatened Species Recovery Hub

Grazing and browsing by herbivores like rabbits and kangaroos can be a serious impediment to restoring degraded ecosystems. A TSR Hub project used a field experiment to investigate survival and browsing damage to seedlings in the Endangered buloke woodlands vegetation community. The findings show that complete protection from browsers with wire guards was the only treatment that resulted in a net positive growth of seedlings over one year, while 95% of unguarded seedlings were dead or significantly damaged. Mere survival is not enough for seedlings exposed to strong browsing pressure. To survive and reach maturity they need to attain a height and bulk where they are no longer vulnerable to herbivores. In buloke woodlands this has been estimated to take around nine years or more. The knowledge gained will also benefit the conservation of other woodland communities where active or natural regeneration is impacted by browsing. Download the Research findings factsheet here.

New report highlights the concerns of the native seed sector that future demand will be difficult to meet – Australian Network for Plant Conservation (ANPC)
The Australian Native Seed Survey Report was launched last week by the Threatened Species Commissioner Dr Sally Box. The report details the full results of the national survey capturing the behaviours and views of a wide range of participants in the native seed sector – which the authors say are not all encouraging. ‘Worryingly, the report highlights the concerns of the sector that future demand for seed will be difficult to meet from the wild’ said Martin Driver from the ANPC. ‘This is due to the high costs of seed collection and the lack of seed from a broad range of the species that are critical for restoration. The recent bushfires have made this situation worse’. Seed production of native seed offers some hope, but currently lacks the capacity to meet demand. ‘Seed production areas (SPAs) are an increasingly important supplier of seed for restoration, landscaping and bush food markets’ said Dr Paul Gibson-Roy from Kalbar Resources. ‘SPAs are locations where we cultivate native species for their seeds, like agricultural crops. They can produce seed in higher quantities and quality that is much easier to collect than in the wild. Their continued development will be critical to meeting seed needs and preserving wild populations’. Read more and download the Report here.

Do you have data to shape Australia’s Threatened Species Index for 2020? Threatened Species Recovery Hub, 2 March 2020
Dear wildlife enthusiasts, Once again we are calling for new data to produce Australia’s (and the World’s) first Threatened Species Index (TSX) for 2020! Do you count threatened or near-threatened birds, plants or mammals? We are collecting monitoring data for the TSX until 31 May 2020. This year, we are particularly keen to gather enough data to develop an index for Australia’s threatened plants and fill the gaps in our data on threatened mammals! The TSX tells us how Australia’s threatened species are faring overall and which groups of species and where are most in need of our help. The first iteration of the threatened birds index was launched in November 2018 and has been updated in December 2019. The index is only possible if dedicated and passionate individuals contribute their monitoring data. Long term datasets from citizen scientist groups, individual researchers, recovery teams, state/territory- or third party-led monitoring programs are of great value and indispensable to this project. You can explore the index here. Click here for more information and to get in touch.

Entire hillsides of trees turned brown this summer. Is it the start of ecosystem collapse? The Conversation, 9 March 2020
The drought in eastern Australia was a significant driver of this season’s unprecedented bushfires. But it also caused another, less well known environmental calamity this summer: entire hillsides of trees turned from green to brown. We’ve observed extensive canopy dieback from southeast Queensland down to Canberra. Reports of more dead and dying trees from other regions across Australia are flowing in through the citizen science project, the Dead Tree Detective. A few dead trees are not an unusual sight during a drought. But in some places, it is the first time in living memory so much canopy has died off. Ecologists are now pondering the implications. There are warnings that some Australian tree species could disappear from large parts of their ranges as the climate changes. Read more

Dead Tree Detectives – Citizen Science – ABC Gardening Australia, 20 March 2020
Calling all Dead Tree Detectives! It might seem a bit grim to be searching for and recording where you find dead trees, but this valuable work helps scientists understand where trees are dying, why they are dying and importantly, how to stop other trees from meeting a similar fate! To be part of the project, visit the Dead Tree Detective Website. All you need is a smartphone to take photos of the trees and record their location via gps. Once you have taken the photo, you can submit it to the team and help collect data for this vital project. The project is contributing data to the Atlas of Living Australia. Watch here.

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