Back in 1989, Warringal Conservation Society master-minded a huge
mixed planting on the banks of Banyule Billabong in Heidelberg (and many
more since) - now well-grown and most successful. Till then the only
cover for small birds (blue wrens, finches etc) was blackberry and
hawthorn scrub under a fringe of big old Red Gums. Weeds and pasture
grass were sprayed on the actual sites. The brambles and hawthorns were
not removed until the young gums, wattles and other native shrubs and
bushes were growing up well and providing alternative cover for the
little birds - now joined by many insectivorous birds such as Grey
Fantails. While the plants were still young it was necessary to weed
them from time to time to keep out pasture grasses and other weeds.
A different problem for the Friends of Wilson Reserve, Ivanhoe, was
(and still is) the abundant growth of the ground-smothering garden
escape, Tradescantia. It was very encouraging to discover that when
this is removed, the seed-bank of native shrubs starts to germinate at
once. We found tremendous growth of young Tree Violet (Hymenanthera)
and Coprosma coming up, most of which survived. The trouble with Trad is
that you must keep on weeding it as it creeps back. It is of course
necessary to re-plant where the blackberries and privet are removed,
using weed-mat as necessary. All it takes is Council funding and staff,
herds of volunteers, and persistence. You can't just re-plant and walk
away, because the supplies of weed seeds and propagatable material is
It's great to see the return of birds previously just about extinct
in Melbourne suburbs, such as Common Bronzewings.
Neither of these operations would have been possible without the
support of Banyule City Council and its predecessor, Heidelberg City
michael norris wrote:
I try never to talk about clearing weeds, only about replacing weeds.
Planting (a great favourite with the general public) is one
possibility but there is recent research suggesting that in many
circumstances just removing weeds is sufficient, because it will lead
to natural regeneration.
Of course there is evidence that in some locations invasive
environmental weeds (IEW), such as lantana, are great habitat or food
In some instances, for example where Blackberry provides the only nest
sites for Fairy-wrens, it is good to provide alternative planted
habitat as part of staged replacement.
I think retention should be encouraged only where the affected species
are threatened (on some important scale) and there is a clear policy
for managing the weed (often including removing fruit, especially
where it is likely to be dispersed by birds, foxes...). The recent
article on Camphor Laurel in Australian Field Ornithology was
interesting about a downside of a particular IEW. It can, see the
archives, attract rare birds but the article suggests they may be
poisoned by eating the fruit.
All that said, I have planted Tree Lucerne in my back yard for the
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