Regeneration of the coastal strip from Smoky Cape to South West Rocks

A $78,250, 18 month grant (Feb 2010 - Sept 2011), funded by the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority, this Coastal Bio-Grant (NR-09-10-BG-C2) project will consolidate several years of regeneration work by our group, including the supervision of contractors funded by previous grants. It will increase resilience of native flora in an area ranked as number 1 priority in Bitou TAP 2006 by the eradication of remaining pockets of invasive weeds (Bitou, Lantana, Senna, Passionvine) and removal of emerging weed species (Gloriosa Lily, Asparagus Fern). This coastal area contains significant ecological communities such as Littoral rainforest, Themeda grassland on sea cliffs and coastal headlands, Frontal dune and Coastal Dune complexes. Many significant plant species ( eg.Plectranthus cremnus, Stackhousia spathulata) occur in this area. This project will consolidate work done to date by addressing remaining areas such as cliffs and steep gullies which have proved very difficult to access and which thus constitute a threat in terms likely re-infestation of treated areas. Also, remote and rough areas unsuitable for volunteers to treat will be addressed by employing contractors. These areas include extensive areas of Themeda grasslands and patches of littoral rainforest.

This project will reduce the impact of weeds of national significance, increasing the area of native habitat managed to reduce critical threats. It involves a coastal environment and  will be managed by a community organisation, South West Rocks Community Dune Care Group. It will also increase our group’s involvement in the management of natural resources.

The area, between Smoky Cape lighthouse and South West Rocks town, mainly in Hat Head National Park including Arakoon SCA, is identified in the 2006 Bitou TAP as the number 1 priority site for implementing Bitou control. This area contains the significant ecological communities of Littoral rainforest, Themeda grassland on sea cliffs and coastal headlands, Frontal dune and Coastal Dune complexes. It also includes several plant species listed in the Bitou TAP as high (Plectranthus cremnus, Chamaecrista maritime, Stackhousia spathulata) or medium (Acronycia littoralis, Dianella crinoides) priority.

Although progress has been significant, there remain some pockets of infestation as well as emerging weeds such as Glory Lily and Moth Vine. The native vegetation in this area has recovered to a high level of resilience, and the weed seed bank has been depleted by our work over the years, but further follow up is required to ensure the Bitou in particular does not become re-established. This is a particular concern in areas that have been more disturbed by human activity, such as around the Lighthouse precinct and on Main Beach.

This project will build on and consolidate the work South West Rocks Dune Care has done in past years to enhance the stabilisation and resilience of rare and threatened species and ecological communities in Hat Head National Park and Arakoon SCA from Smoky Cape lighthouse to the town of South West Rocks.