Bush regeneration is a type of nature restoration carried out in Australia. It is carried out to restore native vegetation areas and ecological balance in nature. The primary aim of bush regeneration is to protect and improve an area’s fauna and floral diversity by ensuring that environmental conditions are favourable for the growth and survival of native plants.
Invasive plants, commonly known as weeds, are currently one of the major ecological problems in Australia. These weeds harm the soil, water quality, agriculture and animals and affect the nation’s economy. Bush regeneration is the only way to counter this problem and protect the environment.
At the time of European settlement, numerous plants and animals were introduced to Australia. Over time, the population of some of these new species of plants and animals has increased drastically. The growth has now reached a point where it is considered “invasive” and damaging to the environment.
The emergence and further domination of invasive species in natural areas is one of the most destructive threats our environment faces. If the growth of these species is not kept under check, it will be very difficult to manage their invasion later on when they become a threat to the natural biodiversity. This disrupts the ecological balance and affects the growth of native animal and plant species.
Here are the principles and techniques for bush regeneration to improve the ecological processes and encourage the natural growth of native plants.
Conserving the natural areas that are still free from invasion is the first priority. The focus should be on protecting these areas from threats like weeds, stormwater, grazing, and mowing.
The restoration of bushlands degraded by hazards like grazing and weed invasion becomes the next goal after retention. In this stage, the aim is to eliminate weeds using differentforestry tools designed for this function.
Replanting in an area should only be carried out when you are sure that the native plants can grow and flourish naturally without human assistance. The site conditions must be evaluated thoroughly before going forward with replantation.
While working in this sector, you often hear the terms’ good bush’ and ‘bad bush’. People generally refer to a weed-free bush as good and a degraded, weed-invaded bush as bad.
In reality, the scenarios are seldom this distinctly divided and most often fall in grey. A site area mostly has a mixture of good and bad bushes. Working from good to bad bush simply means to de-weed the strongest part of the worksite first and then proceed to the most degraded area.
Gradually work outwards to build a strong, healthy patch of bushland that can reestablish itself and create a natural perimeter to counter weed invasion. You can use bush regeneration tools to get started with this process.
Once you start recognizing the different kinds of weeds, you will see that they are everywhere. While it is hard to resist the urge to pull out handfuls of weed to speed up the regeneration process, you must have a controlled approach. Weeds are also a part of the ecosystem. Limitless growth is an invasion, but complete absence can also affect the ecological balance significantly.
You will need time to understand how nature works. When you remove clumps of weed, the open, clear ground lays vulnerable to another invasion. The quick germination process of weeds is one of the reasons why the invasion has crossed limits in recent years. So, do not pull out everything at once. Observe how fast an area’s weeds grow and develop your countermeasures according to that time schedule.
Creating a buffer zone or a shock barrier is a great defence mechanism against weed invasions and other threats to the bushes. You can use the weeds to create this protective barrier at the worksite.
It sounds counterproductive, but start by understanding that there are different types of weeds, among which some can be used for our benefit. For instance, the Lantana weed can be successfully used for creating a buffer around bushlands.
It is easy to treat and remove Lantana, and growing it as a buffer will help you stop the invasion of other weeds.
Following these steps will certainly help in the growth of native flora. But that is just the first step. The hardest part of bush regeneration is following up on the cleared areas to eliminate regrowth of weeds or to assess any other threats.
Following the techniques mentioned above and constant, long-term follow, you will see great results in no time.
Author bio: Mike Sharp is an Australian horticulturalist living in Northern NSW with a keen interest in bush regeneration and native plants. He has worked with Forestry Tools on multiple bush regeneration projects in recent years.