This weekend Erin (see Next Gen giving our farm lots of TLC) has bought the troops in to put the finishing touches on our Fountaindale Dam project
Fountaindale Dam is a beautiful area bordering our farm but was sadly suffering from benign neglect and we have taken it upon ourselves to build community partnerships to help rectify this.
This important community area covers diverse environmental zones including the headwaters of Fountaindale Creek which flows into Minnamurra River and wetlands.
Red circle indicate area of Fountaindale Dam at Jamberoo
Whilst the dam borders our farm it is actually owned by Kiama Council who built it a long time ago in the hope of supplying Kiama with water. An expensive pipe dream as it turned out.
Lots of farm generations have had fun playing under the dam wall
Above the dam are a number of hobby and lifestyle farms and many small mountain streams which bisect significant areas of high conservation value remnant rainforest feed into the dam. The hobby and lifestyle farms unfortunately in the main don’t fence their cattle out of the waterways and this has led to considerable degradation of the upper stream beds during the drought.
The region is also habitat for the spotted quoll – a beautiful little native animal (which also has a penchance for chooks)
Spotted quoll cute and endangered but don’t let him near your chickens
Zieria Granulata is an endangered shrub found only in the Illawarra region of NSW and also thrives here.
With the support of Kiama Council and funding from a Community Action Grant and Erin’s expertise we cleared the invasive evil lantana from the banks of the dam.
Lantana is considered to be one of the ten worst weeds worldwide but it is so entrenched in the Australian landscape its thickets now provide a substitute habitat for a range of animals, including bandicoots, whipbirds, quail, wrens, birdwing butterflies and brush turkeys, where it has replaced the natural understorey vegetation.
Every wise landholder knows removing Lantana is a waste of time unless cleared areas are revegetated with native trees or pasture immediately and regular maintenance is a must until the vegetation is well established.
Once we had cleared the Lantana we sowed ryegrass in the open areas and did spot spraying of secondary weed nasties in the rainforest understory.
We ensure all our paddocks around the dam have a permanent pasture coverage which helps keep the nutrients on the pasture where they should be and not washed into the waterways during major rainfall events.
This weekend Erin and her eco warriors have planted a further 400 rainforest tree species such as Black plum, bleeding heart and myrtle ebony as part of a new wildlife corridor.
Petrol powered plant auger makes light work of digging the holes
We even landscaped the backyard of our friendly neighbourhood wombat
Michael bravely put his hand up to plant all the Giant Stinging Trees (Dendrocnide excelsa)-
The purpose of these plantings is to strengthen the existing wildlife corridor that links the lower rainforest to the rainforest around the dam. Once the trees in the wildlife corridor are established we will be planting rows of native grasses to act as a nutrient buffer zone between the pastures and the dam. This will ensure minimal farm runoff can get into the community waterways and help reduce the nutrient load on the waterways.
All the rainforest trees that have been planted here have been provided by Landcare Illawarra as part of the “Illawarra Rainforest and Woodland project”.
This project aims to increase the genetic diversity of plantings in the Illawarra which has the potential to increase the level of fruiting of individual species. This is an important project as it aims to ensure genetic variability in the many species selected. Landcare Illawarra has collected seed from multiple locations to guarantee this.
Many hands make light work and another great effort from Next Gen Eco Warriors
Heads up today is Erin’s birthday – you can wish her happy birthday and tell her what a great little eco warrior she is via Twitter @ErinLake_C2G