A whole lotta melons

NACC’s new Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program is up-and-running and already ‘kicking goals’ with conservation projects and outcomes across the region.

The Aboriginal Rangers recently provided a valuable contribution to a revegetation project being undertaken by the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) in the Moresby Range Conservation Park.

Aboriginal Rangers – employed through Program partner Western Mulga – removed more than 1.6 tonnes of invasive weeds (melons) from revegetation areas scheduled for planting during winter 2018.

The melons (Citrullus lanatus) are known as Afghan or camel melons, and are frequently also referred to locally as ‘paddy melons’.  They originate from Africa, and are very drought tolerant – often the only plant left surviving after a summer drought.

DBCA Geraldton Flora Conservation Officer Alanna Chant said the 2018 revegetation site had become infested with the melon following summer rains in 2015 and 2016.

“Whilst the area will be sprayed for weeds prior to planting, the seed contained within the melons would remain present and ready to germinate when new seedlings are establishing,” she said.

“Removal of the paddy melons is labour intensive work, but we have now given the next lot of native seedlings planted a much greater chance of survival.

“Since paddy melons are a summer weed, they germinate when the new seedlings are at their most vulnerable.”

The Western Mulga Ranger teams are also participating in the collection of native seeds that will be propagated for future planting.

“As the Moresby Revegetation project aims to plant a large diversity of species, seed collection can determine what we might achieve in terms of planting diversity,” Alanna said.

“Any assistance with obtaining the required seed will make a huge contribution to achieving the desired diversity.”

Gunnado on Country Training

Another team participating in the Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program – the Gunnado on Country Training team (who are undertaking a TAFE certificate in Conservation) – also participated in seed collection at the reserve, and will assist with future seed cleaning.

The Moresby Revegetation project, jointly funded by DBCA and NACC, aims to replenish the biodiversity of the Moresby Range.  The first stage of this project included planting 40,000 seedlings of 32 species over 16ha during the winter of 2017.  The second stage aims to revegetate a similar sized area adjoining stage one, to be planted during winter 2018.

The project will assist in the protection and maintenance of environmental values and natural assets by restoring habitat for:

  • Five Threatened Flora: Eucalyptus cuprea, Grevillea bracteosa subsp howatharra, Drummondita ericoides, Caladenia hoffmanii and Leucopogon marginatus.
  • Various Priority Flora: Acacia gunettii, Grevillea triloba, Androcalva microphylla.
  • One Threatened Fauna: Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus latirostris).

 

The Moresby Range Revegetation project has benefited from community involvement throughout the project, including from NACC, the Geraldton Herbarium Group, the Greenough Prison, and Central Regional TAFE.

Planting in winter 2018 will provide another opportunity for people to volunteer, to see how last year’s plants are doing, and to plant another 40,000 seedlings.

 

The Midwest Aboriginal Ranger Program is supported by NACC through the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

 

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