20 November 2020

Volunteers descend on Namadgi to give Mother Nature a helping hand

| Michael Weaver
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Landcare volunteers Caitlin McLeod and James Walsh

Landcare volunteers Caitlin McLeod and James Walsh remove weeds in the burnt backdrop of Namadgi National Park. Photos: Landcare ACT.

Ten months after the Orroral Valley fire burnt through more than 80 per cent of the area in January and February, the signs of life are now so abundant at Namadgi National Park that volunteers can’t remove the weeds quickly enough.

Two-by-two, volunteers worked last weekend to cut and dab briar rose and verbascum weeds which have inundated areas after substantial rainfall.

Grasses also form a deep green against the backdrop of burnt trees that are beginning to flower for the first time following the bushfire. Feral deer are also a threat to the landscape with an abundance of greenery.

Landcare volunteers

Landcare volunteers, ACT Parks staff and ministers Mick Gentleman and Rebecca Vassarotti at Namadgi National Park on Sunday (15 November).

Landcare ACT CEO Karissa Preuss said a group of 20 volunteers dug in at the Glendale Picnic area weeding, planting and restoring habitat for native wildlife, but she is not surprised at the level of interest the community has shown.

“Almost 1000 people put their hand up to be involved in bushfire recovery in the ACT earlier this year and recent events have reached capacity within minutes of being advertised,” Ms Preuss said.

“This recovery program is helping volunteers address high-level risks to biodiversity in Namadgi, which was badly affected by fire early this year. Volunteers are working with park rangers to weed and replant areas that are prone to weed infestation and reduced habitat for native animals.

“A lot of the burnt area needs to be left to naturally regenerate, but the help offered is needed to deal with weeds moving into the burnt areas.”

Karissa Preuss and Martine Franco

CEO of Landcare ACT Karissa Preuss and EO of Southern ACT Catchment Group Martine Franco at Namadgi National Park.

Last weekend’s effort was the third of a series of eight Landcare ACT events that are supported by both the Landcare Australia Bushfire Recovery Grant Program and WIRES Landcare Wildlife Relief and Recovery Grant Program, in partnership with the ACT Government and the Southern ACT Catchment Group.

Volunteers who have taken part so far have described the emotional effect of seeing the park in its current state. Ms Preuss said the opportunity to work closely with ACT Parks has given volunteers a sense of ownership and agency and that the program is important for both environmental and human wellbeing outcomes.

Namadgi National Park

The burnt landscape of Namadgi National Park on Sunday, 15 November.

“While this program is focussed on restoring habitat, it also has positive outcomes for volunteers. We are hearing it means a lot to them to help make a difference in their local environment, especially after a tough year of bushfires, hazardous smoke and the pandemic,” she said.

“The Landcare movement around Australia is playing a significant role in addressing issues that we have faced this year and Landcare ACT is pleased to be able to deliver a program that brings people together and helps to regenerate the national park so many people in this region are connected to.”

With so much of Namadgi National Park burnt in this year’s devastating fires, hundreds of Landcare volunteers and community members are keen to be among those to visit the sites worst affected to help restore the natural environment.

READ ALSO Georgeina’s baptism of fire puts her in good stead for the bushfire season ahead

Southern ACT Catchment Group executive officer Martine Franco said the interest from the community wanting to lend a hand to help the park recover has been amazing.

“Canberrans love Namadgi. It’s their own wild and beautiful National Park and they are champing at the bit to get their hands dirty in recovery efforts,” Ms Franco said.

“The enormous interest from the community to volunteer really shows how much Namadgi is valued by Canberrans. It’s clear Canberrans don’t mind doing the hard work to help the natural environment recover.

“This new volunteer interest is no surprise given the hundreds of hours volunteers contribute to the ACT region’s environment every month. Volunteers are expressing that the opportunity to be out in the national park, working to preserve the area is giving them a sense of agency and purpose and helping them feel empowered.”

To find out more about volunteering, visit the Landcare ACT website.

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