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Monday, November 17, 2008

Bush regeneration

Bush regeneration is an ecological technique practised in Australia to restore remnant bushland ecological communities that have been invaded by weeds. This process attempts to protect and enhance the biodiversity of plants and animals that exist in Australia.


One approach to bushland restoration was detailed by the Bradley Sisters in the mid 1960's in Sydney. Their approach was to start with good-quality bushland, secure that area, then work outward to the degraded areas, thereby strengthening the ecological community and forcing out weeds, which are often more aggressive in growth and out-compete native species for resources.

Bush regeneration is generally carried out by two different groups: professional bushland restoration consultants; and members of the public that create a community group to care for a particular site

Community Bush Regeneration - Bushcare

A community group that restores bushland on public land is often referred to as a bushcare group. This name was first created by volunteer groups working in the Sydney area though has spread to a range of location across the continent.

There are numerous volunteers working in Bushcare Groups to restore remnant patches of native bushland on public lands. Often such groups are co-ordinated by local councils. Councils often provide training, tools and resources. It is common for local government to have an appointed Bushcare officers on staff to manage such groups.

Examples of large bushcare programs include the Blue Mountains just outside Sydney, with 50 such Bushcare working supported by the local Blue Mountains City Council. Ku-ring-gai Council, an urban Sydney Council, which has 11 km² of bushland has over 70 bushcare groups with approximately 700 active volunteers. Hornsby Shire Council, located just north of Sydney, not only has a large number of bushcare groups and an active bushcare program, but has an online Herbarium, listing the native species that grow in the Shire.

Bush Regeneration Technique

The natural Australian bushland is particularly suceptable to invasion from weed species from around the world, due to its geographical isolation and relative environmental equilibrium. Controlling weed species in bushland areas is considered key to the protection of biodiversity.

The effectiveness of Bushcare groups is still debated amongst ecologists, some[who?] argue that volunteer labour is often sporadic and ineffective. Some[who?] consider bushcare a more effective education tool for greater environmental awareness and devote major resources to trainers, seminars and newsletters.

Rapid weed removal can lead to the destruction of potential wildlife habitat[citation needed] particularly for small birds. Fortunately this problem is now recognized and wildlife needs are regularly considered when devising a site strategy.

Another problem that can occur is when weeds are removed but follow-up weeding/maintenance is inadequate. This can be particularly problematic with underskilled volunteers and Land Managers who take on more than they can maintain.

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