Frequently Asked Bushcare Questions
Bushcare - summary of frequently asked questions.
What is a Weed?
Simply put, a weed is a plant growing out of place. An evaluation of whether a plant is growing out of place is made on a site-by-site basis by the person or organization controlling the land in question. In the case of Council Bushcare sites, determinations are made by suitably qualified Council staff.
Careful planning is undertaken prior to any weeds being removed from a site. The timing of weed removal, and the rate at which weeds are removed are important aspects of a site work plan. In some cases, weeds are retained on a site for a considerable period of time in order to provide protection to emerging plants and resident animals.
One of the greatest threats to any bush regeneration site is unplanned, too rapid, or indiscriminate clearing of weeds. These threats can be realised by unregistered members of the public clearing what they believe to be weeds (not always the case) without consultation with the local Bushcare group or Council.
Why not plant nursery stock?
Regeneration has many advantages over planting nursery-grown seedlings. Allowing plants to grow from existing seeds assists in the development of healthy bushland by ensuring that plants best suited to the site are retained, and by retaining the biological and genetic integrity of a site. Not having to plant nursery stock also reduces the cost of undertaking bush regeneration work, leaving more resources available for tackling weed removal.
Does bush regeneration really work?
Yes. The gradual and well-planned removal of weeds has been proven to be effective in both the eradication of weeds and the emergence of native plants in a bushland setting. Careful follow-up weeding in areas that have been cleared previously ensures that weeds do not simply reinvade a site and, allows native plants to develop and out-compete weeds over time. The gradual changes that result from bush regeneration activities are best measured over months and years rather than days and weeks.
Asparagus fern at Magnolia Ave, Davistown smothering native plants. - An area recently cleared of Asparagus fern.
How much do I have to work?
Most groups work for two to three hours on a designated day each month. Many groups choose not to work over the very hot summer months or during school holiday periods. Bushcare does not involve working for a long time on any one occasion. Regular work over several years is one of the keys to success for bush regeneration.
What plant is that?
Good question and one asked by every bush regenerator! This is also an important question as one of the few golden rules of bush regeneration is;
If you do not know what a plant is, leave it in the ground.
Some natives can be confused with weeds, and a plant that merely looks weedy can actually be an important native.
There is no need to have any knowledge or experience in identifying plants prior to joining Bushcare. Every group is supervised by a qualified person who can answer questions such as this or else refer the question to a Gosford City Council Bushcare Officer.
Where will the work begin on a new site?
Weed removal usually starts in the least weed affected areas and works towards the most weed affected. This means that the most visible weeds may not be the first ones to be removed.
By improving the best parts of a site before tackling the worst areas, when a Bushcare group gets to the most weedy areas, they can spend more time on them without seeing the best areas deteriorate further. Weed free bushland provides seeds and native plant growth to assist with the regeneration process.
Can we remove all of the Lantana this afternoon?
Probably not. While Lantana is a common and easily recognised weed, it can be the only large shrub of a site. Large thick shrubs provide nesting sites and protection to a wide range of small birds, possums, bandicoots, and Blue tongue lizards.
Removing all the Lantana in a short period of time will force these animals to leave the site in search of a new home or protection.
Can we tidy this patch of bushland up a bit?
Bush regeneration is not concerned with tidiness. As a general rule, the messier a site is the more opportunities there are for small animals. Tangled vegetation, broken branches on trees and scattered bush rocks all look good to a bush regenerator.
In some areas, remains of past illegal dumping have become home to small animals and are retained on the site.
Should these old logs and dead branches be removed from the site?
No. Dead wood is an important resource in a bushland area. Logs and branches on the ground provide shelter for small animals. This shelter can be for day-to-day living, or a safe refuge during a bushfire or following the removal of weeds.
Dead branches on trees provide perching sites and protection for many small birds. A loss of this protection can contribute to more aggressive birds forcing smaller birds to find a safer place to live, nest or forage.
Where do the weeds and rubbish go if they are taken away for disposal?
Any material that is removed from a Bushcare site is taken to landfill for disposal. This is one of the reasons that every effort is made to reduce the amount of weed material that is removed from site.
Much of what remains of a weed once it has been removed can be dried and used as mulch on site. Therefore, only seeds, tubers, bulbs and other viable plant parts, and excessive or hazardous rubbish is collected and disposed of by Council.