This project tests methods to facilitate germination and establishment of native trees via seed fall onto plots in a grazed paddock adjacent to remnant sclerophyll vegetation. The project examines the influences of season and previous land use practices through various plot treatments. The role of fire has been identified as crucial to the future of the sclerophyll plant communities but proximity to urban and peri urban areas or seasonal conditions such as drought and wet seasons are crucial issues for the timing of burning in regeneration sites.
The project aims to determine the most efficient methods for the regeneration of Koala food and shelter trees Melaleuca quinquenervia, Eucalyptus robusta, E. tereticornis and other co-existing swamp sclerophyll species on cleared and previously grazed paddocks. The project utilises 15 regeneration treatments including fire, herbicide, scraping, tillage and nil treatments, overlayed with seeding, watering and no watering. There are 10 replicates of each treatment giving a total of 150 plots. Measurements include plant species, distance to seed source and closest Koala feed trees, climatic factors such as rainfall, temperature, wind speed and direction.
A case study of a discrete coastal area in Tweed Shire in the vicinity of Cudgen Nature Reserve is being undertaken through the Tweed Byron Koala Connections project to inform management activities for the protection of Koala habitat across tenures in the Northern Rivers region.
The project will implement relevant actions to reflect the urgent requirement to restrict wildfire events from the project area for the period of one ‘koala generation’ (until 2017, based on timing of the most recent wildfire event in 2009).The complementary requirement to develop relevant longer term bushfire risk management strategies that are integrated across tenure, including appropriate hazard reduction, will also be undertaken.
Achievements to date
Engagement with local RFS representatives including Brigade Captains has been extremely valuable. This has resulted in commitment to mobilise a double response to wildfire incidents, use of conditions on hazard reduction certificates to limit impacts to Koalas and cooperative identification of additional fire management infrastructure required.
Additional fire trails have been identified and approved by the Far North Coast BFMC with an aim to establishing the trails prior to the 2014/15 fire season. Collaborative work has also been undertaken with NSW NPWS in the development and integration of pre-burn koala survey methods and protocols for hazard reduction burns in and near koala habitat.