Ginninderra

Project update – September 2020

With wattles blooming and lambs relishing the green pastures – spring has arrived at Ginninderra.

After a horrendous hot, dry and bushfire smoke-filled summer, it’s encouraging to see the spring growth and green landscape that has emerged from good rainfall across autumn and winter. The signs of spring are all the more welcome after the extended impacts of COVID-19 across the country, and indeed the world.

We’re very happy to report the excellent growth and progress of the 5000 shrubs planted by community volunteers in the Box Gum Woodland and Dry Forest sites in 2017 and 2018. Some of these plots now feature shrubs towering over 3-4 metres and visible evidence of the return of native bird species.

Despite the unprecedented challenges associated with COVID-19, the Canberra hailstorm and bushfires, our team has been making steady progress on conservation activities as well as the preliminary planning for future urban use at Ginninderra.

On the far north of the site, near Wallaroo Road, a trial has been established to help support the survival of Blakely’s Red Gum, an iconic species of the Box-Gum Grassy Woodlands. With this species suffering from dieback, CSIRO and the ACT Government are partnering in provenance trials to compare the survivability of Blakely’s Red Gum trees grown from seed collected from different parts of Australia. Ginninderra is among four sites in the trials and seed is being provided by CSIRO’s Australian Tree Seed Centre.

As part of the grassland restoration trials in partnership with the Ginninderra Catchment Group, research activities are also continuing at the five sites on the Ginninderra property.

Our Project Team continues to work through preliminary planning, environmental and technical studies that will help to inform the proposed future sustainable development at Ginninderra East.

As part of this, CSIRO has also been meeting via teleconference with the relevant Commonwealth and ACT agencies to work through matters of traffic, infrastructure, environment and heritage.

Stay tuned to this website for further news about further activities and developments.

Shrubs sprouting and birds are back at planting sites

It only takes a few minutes among the community shrub plantings at Ginninderra to see and hear the transformation that is taking place across the Box Gum Grassy Woodlands and Dry Forest sites.

Following excellent autumn and winter rainfall, after a very dry and hot summer,­­­ a host of native shrubs are springing into blossom among the green canvas of spring at Ginninderra.

A thick layer of shrubs, some towering over 3-4 metres, can now be found across many of the plots where local residents and community volunteers planted around 3500 shrubs into two zones of the  Box Gum Woodland in 2017.

Just as pleasing as this wall of vegetation is the visible and audible evidence of native birds, according to CSIRO ecologist, Jacqui Stol.

One of CSIRO’s key goals in running the community shrub planting days in 2017 and 2018 was to restore healthy biodiversity and habitat for native birds as well as insects, possums, gliders and reptiles in these areas of high conservation value.

“Once upon a time these woodlands had many naturally occurring groves of shrubs like these. It’s been wonderful to see the amount of growth from the tiny tubestock into a diverse patchy mosaic of flowering wattles and other shrubs and providing valuable wildlife habitat.”

On the ridge where community volunteers planted shrubs among the scribbly gums and Dry Forest trees in 2018, the hot and dry conditions of 2019 and last summer have had more of an impact on growth and survival rates. Nevertheless, there’s a good cover of shrubs in these plots beginning to create the understory habitat previously lost over years of European settlement and agricultural land use.

Volunteers from the local community planted 1500 shrubs into the Dry Forest zone making a total of 5000 shrubs across the two years of community plantings.

Across South-East Australia, the Box Gum Woodlands and Derived Native Grasslands is classed as an endangered community, as only 10% of these remain, and only about 5% remain in good condition.

The community shrub plantings are part of a project to improve the health and quality of these woodlands in areas identified for future conservation on Canberra’s urban fringe.

 

Tall green trees in a field of green grass. A wall of shrubs at the site of this 2017 planting
A dry field with a large grey and brown tree in the centre Ridge site of the Dry Forest planting in 2018
A green field with trees growing. Hot and dry conditions in 2019 and over 2019/20 summer have had more of an impact on growth and survival rates for some of the 2018 plots