Waterfall Gully Reserve transformed little by little
Since 2005, the Friends of Karra Tartu (Redgum Swamp) has been helping to regenerate the natural flora at Waterfall Gully Reserve near Adelaide in South Australia. Under the guidance of former City of Burnside land management employee Andrew Crompton, now a volunteer, the group has seen the area transformed from a weed-infested site into a haven of local indigenous flora and fauna.
Andrew Crompton at Waterfall Gully Reserve.
Waterfall Gully Reserve contains a riparian ecosystem that had been destroyed by clearing, grazing and weed invasion. Recognising the impact of weeds reducing the native plant species in the area, Andrew and the Friends of Karra Tartu have been gradually removing all exotic flora from the 2.3-hectare site and protecting the regenerating local flora.
The approach to the restoration is to work in small areas and expand them once they have returned to predominantly stable native vegetation.
“We remove all weeds, protect all natural regeneration and introduce local flora propagated from nearby remnants where flora does not regenerate,” Andrew said. “The restoration process relies on regular visits by volunteers who remove all the weeds as they appear and protect the regenerating indigenous species. Getting to know all the local plants and weeds is essential for this approach to work.”
Volunteers removing weeds at Waterfall Gully Reserve.
Whilst a zero-tolerance approach to weeds is ambitious, Andrew believes it is achievable for relatively small areas, as the project has shown.
“The idea behind this approach is that the path of ecological succession is more likely to lead to stable, diverse native vegetation if no exotic species are present,” he said.
Over the past 14 years, Waterfall Gully Reserve has transformed from an area once dominated by willow, ash, giant reed, blackberry and morning glory into a high-quality flood-plain site. In 2005, only 12 indigenous plant species were observed in the reserve. Now, with about two thirds of the reserve under active management, 66 additional indigenous species have been recorded as naturally regenerating on the site.
To see the site guided back to a thriving habitat is an incredible result and a testimony to the hard work and dedication of Andrew and the Friends of Karra Tartu.