The Rehabilitation of a Former Sheep Camp on Mount Majura
First step. Friends of Mt Majura (FoMM) began work at the old sheep camp in 2003. The approximately 4.5 ha area was monitored and subdivided to proceed in three stages. An inventory of introduced and indigenous plants of the site was compiled that lists the weeds for removal and the native plants for direct seeding and planting.
In December 2003, two small 2×3 meter trial plots along the trail were hand-weeded and seeded with Speargrasses and New Holland Daisies and monitored over time. Collection of native seeds from nearby sites began in the summer of 2003 / 2004 and continued over the following years.
Weeding. In October 2004 large-scale removal of horehound, thistles and Indian Hedge Mustard began at Stage 1 to the west of the Casuarina trail and at the top part. We had several weeding parties at Stage 2 in July 2005 and started follow-up weeding at Stage 1 sites from spring 2005 onwards. In summer 2006 saffron thistles had been removed from a large area at Stage 2 before the plants could release their seeds.
We moved on to Stage 3 in winter 2006, tackling horehound in the vicinity of FoMM’s information display, down-slope near the pine plantation and up-slope along the summit trail. As usual, we hand-pulled the weeds, placed them in bags, which we carried to a pick-up point. The weeds were collected by FoMM members and by rangers of Parks, Conservation and Lands and delivered to Canberra Sand and Gravel where they are turning into fine compost. By now an estimated thirty truckloads of weeds have been removed from the site.
After each weeding session, we broadcast seeds of indigenous grasses and forbs on the sites disturbed by the weeding activity. Direct seeding of mat rushes, hopbush and wattles started in early spring 2005 at Stage 1 and 2 sites.
Tree planting. During winter 2006 we raised seedlings from locally collected eucalyptus seeds. End of August 2006 we planted the seedlings at the cleared areas of the sheep camp. The planting sites were carefully chosen and prepared complete with miniature catchments. The young plants did very well and started to grow new shoots despite several frosts in September. A campaign addressed to walkers and runners to share water with the seedlings was just taking off when in early October in a senseless act of vandalism the seedlings were uprooted.
What next. We will raise a second batch of tree seedlings, which will be ready for planting in winter 2007. If vandalism continues we will trial direct seeding of trees. We plan to collect more seeds of groundcover plants and to conduct follow-up weeding at Stage 2 sites during the cooler months in autumn.
Friends of Mt Majura co-ordinator