Thursday, December 19, 2013

View from Mt Kosciuszko


Ever wondered what it looks like at the top of Kosciusko. From the top of Australia's highest mountain. John Evan's and his merry band of bushwalkers give us a 360 degree view from the summit. For any information on bushwalking in Canberra, the ACT region and beyond I highly recommend a visit to John's website Johnny boy's walkabout.


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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Gorse spider mite

I was only noting the abundance of St John's wort flowering around here recently and pondered the difficulties of control. I suspect manual spraying is their principle form of attack. I found this recent ACT Government project interesting. The biological control of another weed of significance in Canberra, a weed called Gorse...
TAMS media release
Released 12/12/2013
"They might be too small to see but Gorse spider mite plays an important role in the battle to control environmental weeds in the ACT. 
The miniscule eight-legged creatures feed exclusively on Gorse, a plant native to western Europe, now listed as a weed of national significance in Australia due to its invasive nature. 
"The mites have been introduced to a site at Bruce, where they will hopefully eat through a significant amount of Gorse and establish a colony population so they can be used in other sites," Steve Taylor, Senior Weed Management Officer, ACT Parks and Conservation Service, said. 
"Gorse invades bushland, threatening the survival of native plant species, and provides shelter for other pests, such as rabbits and foxes. In the ACT, Gorse infestations are localised and cover small areas, as it has been controlled with a rigorous herbicide program. 
"While a lot of the work in controlling this pest species is done with selective herbicides and mechanical removal, the mite is used to further weaken the plant. There are a number of sites across the ACT where mites have been introduced to control weeds, including Scotch Broom mite, which was released earlier this year in Williamsdale. The plan is to establish about half a dozen other sites for Gorse spider mite in the ACT. 
"Importantly the mites do not feed on any other plants. Bio-control agents, such as Gorse spider mites, are only released from quarantine after rigorous testing over a number of years to ensure they do not affect other species. It was provided to the ACT free-of-charge as part of a partnership with the CSIRO and Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries." 
The biological control of weeds, such as the introduction of Gorse spider mite, has been used in the ACT to help control a range of other weeds including Paterson's Curse, St John's Wort and Blackberry. It is just one part of the ACT Government's integrated approach to managing invasive and environmental weeds. 
For more information on weed control work in the ACT visit www.tams.act.gov.au or call Canberra Connect on 13 22 81."
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For more information on the biological control of gorse - Tasmanian Institute of Agricultural Research - http://www.weeds.org.au/WoNS/gorse/docs/Pamphlet_6_GSM_APR08.pdf
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby - saving an endangered species


Seems there is a new addition to the Tidbinbilla breeding program. This is particularly important for genetic diversity in a population so important to the re-introduction of these rare animals to the wild. Excellent news...

ACT Government TAMS media release 
Released 02/12/2013
Brett McNamara, Manager of Regional Operations, National Parks and Catchments, today announced that Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve has welcomed a very special addition to its Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby population. 
"Since 2010, 53 Brush-tailed Rock-wallabies have been bred at Tidbinbilla's Animal Breeding Centre, but none quite like the little joey recently born who has introduced very valuable genetics to the rock-wallaby species," Mr McNamara said. 
"Low genetic variation makes a population vulnerable to inbreeding which can be detrimental to long-term reproduction rates, so it is great to see the management strategies employed by ACT Parks and Conservation now paying dividends to increase overall genetic diversity. 
"The recruitment of new genes is one of these strategies, with the father of the new pouch young taken from the wild in East Gippsland, Victoria and relocated to Tidbinbilla in 2012. 
"The team at Tidbinbilla has also enlisted the help of geneticists from the Southern Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby Recovery Team to divide the wallabies into breeding groups. 
"The wild male was put into a female dominated group with wallabies deemed a good mate choice based on genetics and age as well as the bond they have with the male. Now, six months later, he has sired his first joey. 
"This birth is a great achievement which the team at Tidbinbilla is justifiably very proud. Last year they bred a record number of the species, with 18 born in captivity at the reserve. This is another huge step forward in ensuring the long-term survival of the overall population. 
"The joey is settling in well to the beautiful surrounds of Tidbinbilla where it has plentiful food and is joined by the 10 other joeys that were bred this year." 
Mr McNamara said the ACT is also playing a significant and leading part in the re-establishment of the species in Victoria. 
"As part of the captive breeding program, eight wallabies bred at Tidbinbilla were released into the Grampians National Park in Victoria in 2012 and have helped improve the area's genetic diversity. Two of those we have released have now bred in the wild. 
"Tidbinbilla's breeding program is part of a national effort to save the critically endangered Southern Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby species from extinction. The wallabies are locally extinct in the ACT and it is estimated there are less than 40 left in the wild – all of which reside in Victoria."
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The Canberra Times has also reported the event - Baby wallaby a big step for survival
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Monday, December 2, 2013