Contributed by Dr. Tony Parkes, President, Big Scrub Landcare

Five projects contributed to our continuing long-term Big Scrub Restoration Program in 2016-17:

  • Year 5 of our six-year $250,000 NSW Environmental Trust project titled Rehabilitating/restoring endangered lowland subtropical rainforest
  • Year 1 of our two-year $100,000 NSW Environmental Trust project titled Saving critically endangered lowland subtropical rainforest
  • Year 3 of our three-year $100,000 NSW Environmental Trust project titled Targeted remnant linkage across the Big Scrub
  • Year 3 of our three-year $100,000 Commonwealth Government 20 Million Trees Project titled Big Scrub Rainforest – creating better linkage using stepping stone plantings.
  • Two Big Scrub Green Army teams

These projects, other than the Green Army, plus donations from our supporters, provided a total of $156,000 in 2016-17 that funded 400 days of on-ground work by our expert bush regeneration contractors and $15,000 worth of rainforest planting stock.

Regenerators spent 225 days rehabilitating or providing ongoing care of 38 Big Scrub remnants. These remnants have a total area of 475 ha and include two remnants in Nightcap National Park; five NPWS Nature Reserves; six Ballina Council remnants; and two public reserves – Booyong and Nobles’ Scrub.

Unfortunately, we did not have enough funding to continue work at nine other Big Scrub remnants that we are rehabilitating, to do the minimal amount of work needed at several other Big Scrub remnants or to undertake rehabilitation work at other high conservation value remnants of critically endangered lowland subtropical rainforest outside the Big Scrub area where we have funded work in the past. The inadequate level of funding in 2016-17 is illustrated by comparing the 225 days of remnant work last year with the more than 500 days of remnant work by our bush regenerators in the peak funding years 2009 and 2012.

In the current year we expect to suffer a further decline in grant funding for remnant rehabilitation and ongoing care unless we are successful in an application we made under the Commonwealth’s Threatened Species Recovery Program. If that application is not successful we will again be short of funding for remnant work despite the expectation of initial funding in the order of $60,000 from the Big Scrub Foundation’s long-term endowment Fund. We will need to look to the community for donations to help finance the level of remnant work required.

Grant funding helped us to re-establish rainforest at 11 sites with a total area of 75 ha. This work, which cost $77,000 including $15,000 of planting stock, involved facilitated natural regeneration, strategic plantings and the conversion of camphor forest to rainforest. It included expanding remnants, connecting remnants and re-establishing rainforest at Wompoo, a NSW National Parks nature reserve that connects Nightcap and Goonengerry National Parks, and at Rocky Creek Dam, Rous County Council’s major reservoir adjacent to Nightcap National Park.

Two Green Army teams did good work assisting our professional bush regenerators by carrying out many useful tasks including site preparation and tree planting, simple weed control and assisting with monitoring. They also played useful roles at the Big Scrub Day and field days. We were sorry that this excellent program was terminated because it achieved outcomes for the participants and for environmental restoration.

Our members and other landholders carried out a larger volume of restoration work than we were able to fund from our grants and donations during 2016/2017. We salute their efforts.