Landcare Partnerships in Action – Community planting for Araluen Creek

Sunday 2 April saw an enthusiastic group gather along Araluen Creek for the Upper Shoalhaven Landcare Council and Upper Deua Catchment Landcare Group Community Planting Day. Four hundred trees, shrubs and grasses were planted, fertilised, staked, watered and protected with tree guards and weed mats. Penny Hayman, Secretary of the Upper Deua Catchment Landcare Group, sent a note to the organisers saying: “Wonderful day. Top organisation. Please send everyone a photo with a gold star.”

Gold mining took off in the Araluen Valley 170 years ago starting a process of massive environmental impacts. Over time the Valley has converted to agriculture which has also had its impacts. In the late twentieth century community groups worked to build partnerships to re-balance economic activity and environmental resilience and to repair some of the natural environment, particularly the waterways.
The Upper Deua Catchment Landcare Group (UDCLG) in 2020 obtained bushfire recovery money to try to deal with the ravages on Araluen Creek of a quick succession of drought, fire and flood.  “We saw the damage that had been done with the loss of good farmland, the falling of mature trees and the reduction or disappearance of fish and eels,” said Cath Harrison, UDCLG Community Liaison Coordinator.
The UDCLG worked with the Upper Shoalhaven Landcare Group, South-East Local Land Services and several local landholders to do earthworks to stabilise the creek and build its resilience to future flood events. This included managing stock access to the creek and tributaries and replanting appropriate local species. This will help reduce erosion by holding soil in place, reducing debris and taking energy out of the water in flood events.
On Sunday 2 April a great group of volunteers dug through rocks and clay to plant about 400 plants along Long Flat Creek, a tributary of Araluen Creek, on the property of Ken Harrison.  The focus was on trees with around 260 trees planted for canopy along with about 130 grass and shrub plants.
“It’s great to have active involvement from landholders and Ken has gone ‘above and beyond’ in this project” said Tony Peters, UDCLG President. “He has not only fenced off an active watering area and replacing it with troughs, he also actively assisted on the day and has established ongoing watering and weeding processes while the new plants get established.
The volunteers used an array of tools to break through river debris brought down from previous floods to dig holes deep enough to give the plants their best start in their new homes.
Some of the plants were also raised by volunteers who participated in an earlier workshop given by Lyn Ellis, formerly of Currajuggle Creek Nursery, who attended on the day. "Some of these trees that have been in their pots for a long time and have grown very tall will be suitable to plant as long-stemmed tube stock. They can be planted deeper than normal as long as they have a fairly thick sturdy stem." said Lyn Ellis. "New roots will form from leaf nodes and the extra depth will give the trees less temperature fluctuations, more moisture availability and additional stability in their early lives especially in flood zones and increase their chances of survival."
The volunteers worked under and out from the existing majestic river casuarinas along the creek. However, some of these trees were impacted by the drought and one was singed by fire and they might be dying.
“River oaks will start sprouting with the stock excluded and the additional plantings from this Landcare event will be a great help,” said Ken Harrison. “I want to thank everyone who came today and to Landcare generally for making such a difference. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Local videographer Clare Young was on-site for the day, gathering more footage for a forthcoming video on the Araluen Creek Restoration Project. Watch this space for more news on this part of the project.

The Araluen Creek Restoration Project is funded through the Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund