An Environmental Project of
The Bremer Institute of TAFE
The Society for Growing Australian Plants, Ipswich Branch
by Bruce Tinworth.
In the winter of 1991 the Ipswich Branch of The Society For Growing Australian Plants (SGAP) secured the use of a parcel of land at The Bremer Institute of TAFE, Bundamba Campus. A prominent, but denuded hill with views of Ipswich and beyond, to the scenic rim. This was the culmination of more than twelve months of consultation and negotiation with innumerable authorities.
On Sunday, 3rd November 1991, a small and diverse group of people gathered together under a sky, grey with the promise of rain after a dry winter. The group grew to 50+, some bringing plants, others bringing tools and materials. These people were SGAP, TAFE Horticulture students and volunteers with the same 'green' ideals. They came for the Official Opening and Inaugural Planting of a "Rare and Threatened Species Botanic Garden." They became a part of SGAP Ipswich Branch's coming of age.
|The then Minister for Environment and Heritage, the Hon. Mr Pat Comben MLA, standing under the shade of a mature Araucaria bidwillii (Bunya Pine) officially opened our Rare and Threatened Species Botanic Garden, by planting the first of many trees, a Pouteria eerwah (syn. Planchonella eerwah), Black Plum, an endangered local species.
Sharing this hill with the solitary magnificent Araucaria bidwillii (Bunya Pine), which has now gained heritage status, (TAFE In The Ipswich District 7-2-5, Ipswich Heritage Study 1992 14-1184-0022), is a remnant stand of Eucalyptus melanophloia (Silver Leaved Iron Bark), and one of three remnant stands of Xanthorrhoea sp. (Grass Tree) in Ipswich.
The Ipswich City Council, (the then), Moreton Shire Council, local companies and businesses, environmentally aware individuals and SGAP members made donations of materials and services to enable half of the planting site to be contour ripped to a depth of 500mm, and 150+ trees to be planted, watered, mulched, fertilised, staked and fitted with tree tubes. Their generosity ensured the Project had resources for the next planting. These persons are to be commended for their foresight. They are now tangibly a permanent part of the first official "Rare and Threatened Species Botanic Garden" in Queensland, if not Australia. So impressed was he with this concept that Mr Pat Comben MLA, wanted to "...use Bundamba as a prototype for similar projects in different plant communities throughout Queensland." (From Opening Speech, Channel 9 Broadcast, 3 Nov 91.)
The inaugural planting was of a native permaculture area; a garden for the cultivation and study of edible plants. Most of these were donated by Clay Pave Pty. Ltd, Dinmore, a green initiative of this local company. Subsequent plantings have been on the Eastern slope, an open forest and woodland community, and on the Southern slope, a depauperate rainforest community.
Down the South-western slope is Boyce's Quarry Environmental Park, a twin-sister project. While the Botanic Garden site was almost totally denuded, Boyce's Quarry had been an unofficial refuse tip since the 1930's. The work on this site is mostly done as live work activities for the Institute's Horticulture students and has, for the most part been funded by Landcare & Environment Action Program (LEAP). Work to date has included a species survey by Lloyd Bird (mostly weeds and garden escapees), extensive clearing of those weed species, walking tracks, three bridges, a boardwalk, a barbecue, and a picnic shelter, (which doubles as a classroom) and extensive planting of indigenous species.
This site has provided the appropriate niche for the planting of Tropical, Sub-Tropical and Riparian communities; so both projects compliment each other, to the benefit of our Environment, SGAP Ipswich, and The Bremer Institute of TAFE Horticulture Dept.
To date, the following list of threatened species has been integrated into the appropriate communities and are included in the National Endangered Flora Collection (NEFC), of the Australian Network for Plant Conservation (ANPC).
Many other species planted are listed as "Rare and Threatened Plants" (QDPI), or are listed as uncommon on Flora Surveys conducted by SGAP - Ipswich. A large percentage of the remainder being commercially unavailable indigenous species.
1992 was a good year with 957mm of rain (40"), approximately 110% of the S.E. Queensland average rainfall, but it was still necessary to supplement the rain with monthly waterings, due to the exposed nature of the site. Our losses from exposure (wind, frost and dehydration) and vandalism were a surprising 1.5% of total planted.
The subsequent four years were very hard on our Botanic Garden and our small team of volunteers.
In 1993 only 430mm of rain was recorded (19"), 54% of S.E. Queensland average rainfall, the lowest recorded since 1936 when only 397mm (15.5") was recorded. It is almost amusing in retrospect to think we postponed our original planting in 1991 because of what we perceived to be a long dry spell. That year was actually just under average at 815mm (32"), but in the three month period prior to planting only 45.5mm (13/4") was recorded. The rainfall in 1995 was even less than 93/94, and a couple of -10° C frosts took their toll.
During a 43° C+ week, community volunteers spent three days minimising the effects of the extremely high temperatures. A further fourth day in that week our young trees were tended by a group of young Danes and Brits from the Australian Trust For Conservation Volunteers (ATCV). They had spent the previous couple of days planting a salt pan at Black Snake Creek, so our hill was almost a respite for them.
Some tests and trials have been performed - soil type, soil nutrient and water penetration/retention. The soil sampling indicates that our site is predominantly loamy-clay. Top soil and organic material on the site is negligible. This is due in part to the activities of the previous owners, saw milling and quarrying, but mostly to 'landscaping' by the present owners, The Administrative Services Dept; who covered a considerable area with varying thicknesses of sub-soil spoil removed from an adjacent site during building construction work. Soil nutrient tests at a cross section of sites were disappointing to say the least. Several granular fertilisers have been trialed with promising results. But due to the absence of regular penetrating rain (less than half the average), side dressings of granular fertiliser are a wasteful and therefore an expensive exercise. To remedy this, technical grade soluble fertilisers and a fertigator were purchased. This makes much more of the nutrient applied available to the plants.
In an attempt to reduce the time-consuming hand watering some irrigation trials were undertaken. The results were predictable, considering our limited water supply: 6L/M @ 450KPA. Covering all plants in eleven hours with an impact irrigator resulted in a 50mm penetration. Eight hours at 1.5 minutes applied to each individual tree by hand provided 250mm of penetration. Both measurements were taken immediately after application. So, during the summer months (3/4 of the year) it has been necessary to hand water eight hours per week to supplement the needs of each plant. Due to the exposed nature of the site any longer between watering resulted in noticeable wilt in many species.
Less than ideal environmental conditions are causing some species to survive in a stressed state, and this creates susceptibility to pest infestations. Most of which have been identified, but the results of our management strategies have been disappointing. Our worst infestations affecting Syzygium, Eugenia, Acmena, Waterhousia and Pouteria sp. is Ceroplastes rubens (Pink Wax Scale) & the resultant sooty mold. The other pests include:
Eucalyptus sp. - Eriococcus coriaceus (Gum Tree Scale)
Acacia bakeri - Cryptes baccatus (Wattle Tick Scale)
Macadamia sp. - Xylorycta luteotactella (Twig Girdler)
Macadamia sp. - Acrocercops chionesema (Leaf Miner)
Alphitonia sp. - Ancita marginicollis (Ringbarking Beetle)
Ficus coronata - Philiris innotata (The Caterpillar of the Common Moonbeam Butterfly)
Podocarpus elatus - Misc. Tip Borer
Pleiogynium timorense - Misc. Tip Borer
It has not been an easy five years, but there have been rewards. Australian Nature Conservation Agency (ANCA) have recognised efforts and supported us with two National Landcare Program (NLP) grants totalling $4,200 in 1994. The Ipswich Beautification Council awarded the Botanic Garden First Prize in the "Best Use of the Environment" category. Ipswich Envirocare Inc. awarded the Tinworth Family the 1995 Envirocare Environment Award for "...an outstanding achievement in the establishment of the Rare and Threatened Species Botanic Garden, at the Bremer Institute of TAFE." Then in 1996 the Ipswich Beautification Council gave the Botanic Garden awards in three categories. The Bremer Institute of TAFE received awards for "Community Garden" and "Large Commercial Garden"; and The Society for Growing Australian Plants.
The greatest reward though has been the pleasure of watching a denuded hill transformed into a forest of species indigenous to the sub-tropical region of Northern New South Wales and South East Queensland.
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