One plus One = Three?

Even if your day job is the furthest thing from enjoying the great outdoors, every one of us can play a role in conserving our beautiful Mid West region, says NACC’s Corporate Services Manager Tom Maina.

Recently he had the privilege and opportunity of joining volunteers and students from the Central Regional TAFE in Geraldton, on a revegetation expedition at the iconic Abrolhos islands.

Over two days, the team planted more than 2,600 plants in a degraded patch of land on Rat Island – which had previously been colonised and over-run by invasive weed species.

Prior to Tom’s arrival at the project site, the area had been prepared by an advanced team who had completed weed control activities and laid-down protective, biodegradable matting over the planting area to suppress further weed growth, and prevent erosion.

The revegetation exercise involved the planting of five plant species namely Carpobrotus virescens (Pig face), Threlkeldia diffusa (coastal bone fruit), Rhagodia baccata (saltbush), Atriplex cinerea (saltbush) and Nitraria billardierei (Nitre bush).

The crew got down to work straight-away, and made rapid progress digging holes, and adding fertiliser and water, before planting the seedlings. Another round of follow-up watering was carried-out to boost the seedlings’ chances of establishment and survival in case there was no natural rainfall forecast at the islands in the first couple of weeks after planting.

Tom said: “What I really liked about this activity, and others like it, is the way in which they demonstrate the benefits of organisations working synergistically to achieve environmental outcomes that probably wouldn’t be possible by themselves,” he said.

“This aligns well with one of NACC’s central tenets – of collaboration and working in partnerships.

“The involvement of volunteers further enhances community engagement thereby building capacity of individuals involved in caring for their environment.”

He said after each long day’s work, he did not waste any time in getting “out and about” to explore the surroundings and check-out the local flora and fauna.

“We were all free to choose an activity of our liking during the free time – whether it was a swim, or a snorkel in the pristine waters, some fishing or a look around the Island,” said Tom.

“A walk around the Island did give me an appreciation of what it might have looked like in a different life, when the island were a hive of human activity in the days of guano mining or when they were home to hundreds of people involved in the fishing industry.

“Not far from the planting area are the now forlorn remains of the Island’s old footy oval.”

Work accomplished, and satisfied with the progress of the plantings, it was time to head back to Geraldton, but not before a stop- over at the Morley Islands to check on the progress of some previous mangrove plantings.

After the relatively barren sand-dune revegetation site, the mangrove habitat was a burst of colour and activity – thanks to some sea lions spotted frolicking in the adjacent waters… or taking an afternoon nap.

As we approached the mangroves, a flock of birds which had been perching on the dried-out mangrove trees took to the air and fluttered away. It was quite a sight.

As the team cruised homeward, a somewhat sombre mood fell over all of us, as we contemplated heading back to our offices, work and study after a couple of fantastic days on the Islands. Maybe it was partly due to reflecting on what had been achieved, or maybe it was just great to relax the muscles that had received a workout, but all was quiet onboard the boat. All in all everyone had a great time.

“As you read this, I’m back in my office at NACC, but already I’m looking forward to another opportunity to volunteer and to returning in a couple of years to check-out the progress of plantings.”

Tom Maina

Corporate Services Manager, NACC

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