Volunteer revegetation work on Scottsdale. Photo: Peter Saunders.
Grazed, cleared, cropped and sown aren't the usual qualifications for a Bush Heritage reserve, but on Scottsdale that has been the fate of about 300 hectares of the 1,328 hectare reserve. Nonetheless, this unique property is home to some of Australia's most threatened temperate ecosystems.
With ongoing help from our supporters, the 300 hectares that have been modified are being restored and will soon help support some of the threatened species that occur in the natural areas on the reserve.
Just 45 minutes south of Canberra, Scottsdale protects endangered grassy box woodlands and temperate grasslands. It also harbours many rare birds, animals, fish and reptiles.
Wrapped around Scottsdale's northern and western flanks is the Murrumbidgee River, which cascades over natural rock weirs, through deep tree-fringed pools and around river-sculpted rocks.
Scottsdale is also an important part of the Kosciuszko 2 Coast project – a community partnership established to help landowners create connections between remnant woodlands and grasslands in the region between Kosciuszko and Namadgi national parks across to the escarpment forests on NSW's far south coast.
All this has been protected thanks to the generosity of our supporters.
What this reserve protects
Silver-leafed mountain gum. Photo: Matt Appleby.
Peregrine falcon. Photo: Wayne Lawler/Ecopix.
If you know where to look, Scottsdale is home to a remnant of Australia's last ice age, the silver-leafed mountain gum.
Adapted to a time when this part of the world was much drier and colder, just ten populations of this little mallee tree are thought to exist in Australia, and it has been listed as vulnerable to extinction.
The reserve also protects these significant species and communities:
- Rosenberg's monitor (vulnerable in NSW)
- Speckled warbler (vulnerable in NSW)
- Peregrine falcon
- Brown treecreeper (vulnerable in NSW)
- Currawang (spearwood)
- Curved rice flower
- Button wrinklewort
- Silky swainson-pea
- Yellow-box grassy woodland (nationally critically endangered)
- Scribbly gum-black cypress-pine forest
- Tablelands frost hollow grassy woodlands
- Southern tablelands natural temperate grassland (nationally endangered)
What we’re doing on the property
Seedlings ready for revegetation efforts on Scottsdale. Photo: Stuart Cohen.
Restoring an entire ecosystem is a tricky business, but at Scottsdale we hope to do just that by helping natural regeneration along, and by replanting key species of the precious yellow box woodland.
A project aiming to restore 300 hectares of woodland is being carried out by Greening Australia - funded by the Australian Government and Bush Heritage.
How do we create an environment that favours native plants when the soil has a long history of fertiliser, grazing and cultivation? African lovegrass is a major headache. Cropping areas on the valley floor have become infested with it, but we are trying out a few different techniques.
One successful strategy has been removing the top 10cm of nutrient-enriched topsoil. We then direct seed with a mix of native trees and shrubs. So far the new seedlings are doing great, and we're thrilled with the lack of weed competition.
Relocating the striped legless lizard
With 1 in 15 Australian reptiles at risk of extinction, we're translocating and reintroducing the striped legless lizard to Scottsdale. We rescued these nationally threatened lizards from two development sites in northern Canberra.
Upper Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach (UMDR)
The UMDR has been reestablished to demonstrate ways of supporting the recovery of native fish populations. Amongst its projects are carp control research and willow reductions measures.
Electro fishing for carp as part of pilot project on carp control at Scottsdale. Photo: Annette Ruzicka.
Carp are one of the world's most invasive species and research we're involved in has the potential to inform targeted carp removal on a much broader scale.
Not much is known about their movements and where they aggregate in the context of this upland riverine system. The project involves tagging fish and tracking their movements with acoustic telemetry. They will also be lured, trapped and removed from a section of the river, to learn more about their population structure.
Finally, local anglers will be engaged to support the work by reporting carp sightings and carp catches including numbers, behaviour and size using a soon to be released app.
Reducing the impact of willow trees
Willow infestation is a major issue for native fish habitats - it can block out native plants, alter stream flows, cause flooding and reduce water quality. The UMDR works to control young emerging willows with volunteers in kayaks cutting back and removing the plants before they can establish.
UMDR Project facilitator Antia Brademann has described how they can block waterflow as well as produce a fibrous root mass that tends to affect habitats on the bank and make burrowing difficult for platypus.
''We also get leaf fall from the willow in the autumn," she said "and we often get a rotting muck at the bottom of the water. It degenerates water quality and raises phosphate levels.''
The project is led by the Kosciuszko 2 Coast partnership, with more funding from the Murray Darling Basin Authority and Bush Heritage Australia.
Volunteers – the spirit of Scottsdale
Volunteers gather native seed for revegetation at Scottsdale Reserve. Photo: Graham Fifield.
It would be no understatement to say that volunteers have made Scottsdale the place it is today.
In one year alone they clocked up nearly 1,000 working days helping with revegetation, tackling weeds and feral animals, carrying out survey work, looking after infrastructure, mapping and closing rabbit warrens, and more.
The majority are locals who care deeply about their patch of bush, but they also come from further afield.
The volunteer-run nursery on Scottsdale is a case in point, with local curator Suzanne Connelly regularly on site to tend to the seedlings and grasses such as bulbines, trigger plants, chocolate nodding, yam daisies and blue devils, which are grown from seed.
The Murrumbidgee River at Scottsdale Reserve - a favourite haunt of platypus, the Ngunawal clan totem. Photo: Nicole Pyne.
Scottsdale is within the traditional lands of the Ngunawal people and is very close to Lake George, where the Ngunawal creator being (Budjabulya) is thought to reside. It was also part of a trade route with the neighbouring Yuin people, and home to the Ngunawal clan totem, the platypus (mulagun).
In 2009 and 2010 Bush Heritage worked with the Ngunawal to carry out cultural heritage surveys, unearthing artefacts, including stone axes and tool-making materials. This important work will help Bush Heritage protect and preserve the cultural heritage of the Ngunawal at Scottsdale.
A gravesite and the ruins of a couple of small cottages are reminders of Scottsdale's more recent past, when it was used mainly for agriculture.