Ongoing Project: Moorabool Tributary at Gheringhap

koala tree planting project moorabool

Overview:

“A landowner with a determination to help koalas, and a grass-roots community group are working together to recreate an ecosystem. In just two years, this partnership has radically improved 1.7km of waterway leading into the most flow-stressed river in Victoria: the Moorabool River. Koalas will benefit in time, but Platypus, wombats and Wedge-tailed Eagles are already better off from the 3100 trees planted, 800m x 30m wide of invasive weed removed and 1.7km of waterway fenced off from grazing.”

Janine Duffy, President Koala Clancy Foundation

Location: Gheringhap, north west of Geelong

Status: Confirmed

Total project cost: $14900

We are seeking a partner to fund part or all of this project. An exclusive partnership is currently available.

Number of trees/shrubs: 1490

Size of planting site: 2.45 hectares

Contact: president@koalaclancyfoundation.org.au

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Vision:

To revegetate a degraded tributary of the Moorabool River, to provide additional high quality habitat for koalas, to slow erosion and improve water flow and quality into the Moorabool, and to protect the large remnant River Red Gum forest growing on the banks of the river on the property.

The majority of the tributary was infested with introduced Spiny Rush Juncus acutus – an invasive noxious weed. This serious environmental weed eliminates almost all other native vegetation, obstructs water flow, and harbours pest animals. The remnant old River Red Gums growing in the tributary were under threat from the weed, and some had already died. Spiny Rush is very difficult, expensive and time-consuming to control. Planning to control it began in 2020, spraying started in 2021 followed by mulching. About half the rush was killed and mulched in time for planting in winter 2021. Further spraying continued in early 2022, with mulching scheduled before winter.

Map showing koala tree planting on site at the Moorabool River, Gheringhap

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PAST PLANTINGS ON THIS SITE:

2021 planting:

Number of trees/shrubs: 1641

Size of planting site: 3.3 hectares

Total project cost 2021: $16410 funded by Binance Charity and landowner. (Note: this figure does not include the cost of Spiny Rush control, funded in full by landowner.)

Progress report: at 28 Feb 2022 plants are thriving. The largest of them – River Red Gums and Silver Wattles – are already 1.2m high.

Pic in 2020 showing broad infestation of Spiny Rush before control
The same gully in September 2021 after Spiny Rush control and planting

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2020 planting:

Number of trees/shrubs: 1020

Size of planting site: 1.132 hectares

Total project cost 2020: $10200 funded by Koala Clancy Foundation donors and landowner.

Progress report: Across most of the site, growth has been exceptional. Hop Goodenia, Sweet Bursaria, River Bottlebrush and Woolly Tea-tree are growing really well. Silver & Black Wattles are over 2m high. River Red Gums are 1 to 1.5m high. At the far southern end of the planting conditions became too salty over an area of 0.3 ha, and about 60 eucalypts have died. We will replant this area with more salt tolerant plants in 2022.

June 2020: before planting
June 2020: planting in progress
June 2020: River Red Gums planted near the Moorabool
Feb 2022: the same River Red Gums 20 months later

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2019 planting:

Number of trees/shrubs: 460

Size of planting site: 0.6 hectares

Total project cost 2019: $4600 funded by Koala Clancy Foundation donors

Progress report: Plants grew very fast in their first year, but in 2021 the River Red Gums were infested with Leafblister Sawfly (a native insect) that slowed their growth. Landowner sprayed with pyrethrum, and most have recovered and are growing again in 2022. Silver & Black Wattles and Blackwoods were never affected, and some are now 3m high.

June 2019: planting in progress
June 2020: Some of the River Red Gums planted in July 2019
October 2021: the 2019 plantings growing very well

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What species have we planted:

Note: species shown in bold are the dominant plants that we plant in high proportion.

TREES

Silver Wattle Acacia dealbata
Late Black Wattle Acacia mearnsii
Blackwood Acacia melanoxylon
River Red Gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis
Yellow Gum Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp connata
Swamp Gum Eucalyptus ovata

SMALL TREES & LARGE SHRUBS
Black Sheoak Allocasuarina littoralis
Drooping Sheoak Allocasuarina verticillata
Sweet Bursaria Bursaria spinosa
River Bottlebrush Callistemon sieberi
Hop Goodenia Goodenia ovata
Prickly Tea-tree Leptospermum continentale
Woolly Tea-tree Leptospermum lanigerum
Tree Violet Melicytus dentatus
Kangaroo-Apple Solanum laciniatum

SMALL SHRUBS & WILDFLOWERS
Berry Saltbush Atriplex semibaccata
Golden Daisy Brachyscome dentata
Lemon Beauty Heads Calocephalus citreus.
Common Everlasting Chrysocephalum apiculatum
Clustered Everlasting Chrysocephalum semipapposum
Button Everlasting Coronidium scorpoides (Helichrysum)
Common Billy Buttons Craspedia variabilis
Nodding Saltbush Einadia nutans
Ruby Saltbush Enchylaena tomentosa
Scaly Buttons Leptorhychos squamatus
Tangled Lignum Muehlenbeckia cunnninghamii
Sticky Boobialla Myoporum viscosum
Tree Everlasting Ozothamnus ferrugineus
Fragrant Saltbush Rhagodia parabolica
Woolly New Holland Daisy Vittadinia gracilis

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How is wildlife benefitting:

Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos, Superb Fairy-wrens, Red-rumped Parrots, Eastern Rosellas, Brown Falcons, Black Kites, Galahs, Straw-necked Ibis, Australasian Pipit, Red-browed Finch, Flame Robins, Yellow-faced & White-plumed Honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds, Australian Magpies, Willie Wagtails, Black-fronted Dotterels and a family of Wedge-tailed Eagles are all using the planted sites. A newly-constructed wombat burrow has been seen.

Platypus have been seen in the Moorabool River at this location, and will be benefitting from improved water quality with the removal of Spiny Rush.

A Wedge-tailed Eagle on nest in one of the old remnant River Red Gums

What’s exciting about this:

In just two years, we have radically improved 1.7km of waterway leading into the most flow-stressed river in Victoria. Brought together by a will to help koalas, our partnership with this landowner has caused the removal of a noxious environmental weed from 800metres of creekline, planted 3121 trees and plants, and fenced off 1.7km of waterway, protecting it from livestock grazing pressure.

The benefits will not only be to koalas, but to scores of birds, other mammals and insects.

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Opportunities are available to become involved with this project as a funding partner or volunteer. Contact president@koalaclancyfoundation.org.au

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