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Workshop on the rehabilitation and management of disturbed native plant communities


Coffs Harbour, 14-15 March 2007


This article was published in Australasian Plant Conservation 15(4) page 4. 


The downpour was so intense that the plane needed two attempts to land at Coffs Harbour airport. This wasn’t looking promising for our field trip and I had no plan B! Luckily, the skies cleared for the workshop – another sunny field day in a long run of ANPC events.


This was our second NSW coastal region workshop. See APC 15 (3) pp 2-3 for the report on the first, held at Ulladulla in October 2006. The Coffs Harbour workshop was our biggest workshop yet, with 111 people registering, several of them days after the closing date. You just can’t turn away people keen to come all the way from Christmas Island, can you?


The program was similar in structure to the Ulladulla workshop, but focused on issues relevant to the NSW north coast. Our first speaker was Pastor Ben Bird of the Gumbula Julipi Elders Group, who welcomed us to Country. A range of highly experienced presenters then spoke on ecological principles, planning, vegetation condition assessment, soil characteristics, provenance of plant material and monitoring and adaptive management – all from the perspective of rehabilitation practice. Other topics included North Coast Endangered Ecological Communities (EECs), case studies on coastal wetland rehabilitation at Nambucca and Bellinger Rivers and also Urunga Lagoon, and a summary and discussion of the Border Ranges Hotspot Rainforest Multi-species Recovery Plan involving Queensland and NSW landholders, community groups, researchers and agencies. Work on Bell Miner associated dieback in woodlands and forests and a possible relationship with dense understorey lantana was outlined; this meshed well with the demonstration of the ‘splattergun technique’ for lantana control during the field excursion. 


The field trip on the second day took us to the Jetty Dunecare rehabilitation site at the Jetty area of Coffs Harbour. This site admirably demonstrates the achievements of an energetic community group battling serious urban development pressures. Discussions on weed control and some local plant identification added to the diversity of issues covered. The next site was Coramba Nature Reserve, a stark contrast to the Jetty beach front. About 20 minutes north-west of Coffs Harbour, the nine hectare reserve sits amid cleared grazing land. Although small, the reserve is significant as it contains one of the few remaining stands of ‘lowland rainforest on floodplain’, listed as an endangered ecological community under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995.


Here the group rotated around activities led by four specialist leaders, covering bushland condition assessment, monitoring, manipulating regeneration in weed-dominated sites and soil analysis. A hot but happy and well-fed crowd gathered back at the buses for the return to Coffs Harbour.


This workshop, like its Ulladulla precursor, was subsidised by the NSW Environmental Trust, which is gratefully acknowledged for its frequent support of the work of the ANPC.