As anyone who has travelled through Crookwell lately would have noticed, another section of Kiamma Creek has had the start of a makeover with the willows being removed from the area surrounding the caravan park in Crookwell. The project is the combined efforts of the Lachlan CMA, Upper Lachlan Shire Council, Kiamma Creek Landcare group and the Upper Lachlan Landcare group.
Many people stopped to watch the excavator that removed the willows in action as it was skilfully manoeuvred to cut, move, stack and poison the willows, including around 80 students from Crookwell Highs School, Crookwell Public School and St Mary’s Primary School who watched with enthusiasm as trees were cut through and dropped before being neatly stacked in piles ready to be taken away.
Kiamma Creek Landcare president Barry Murphy did a great job setting up the viewing area and giving the students and explaining to them what the project was about. “The students were very interested in what was happening and had a good understanding of why the willows were being removed. All were very keen to come back to help with the revegetation, particularly if it is in School time.” Mr Murphy Said.
There were a lot of questions from the students and one or two students were selected from each group to read the Kiamma Creek Landcare Poem which is all about the willows.
All that is left now is the stumps that have been poisoned and left as removing them would cause significant bank instability, and they will rot away naturally in time. The next stage if the makeover will be the revegetation and St Mary’s School in Crookwell have offered to come and assist Kiamma Creek Landcare Group with the planting next Tuesday (11th June) with a mix of local eucalypts and native shrubs that will provide wildlife habitat and food resources for native species.
Gen Reardon from the Lachlan CMA and Kiamma Creek Landcare have submitted more funding applications to continue the willow removal program in Crookwell. In preparation for future programs, landholders along the Kiama Creek and Crookwell River in the town, who are interested in having their willows removed when funding becomes available, are currently eligible to receive free native trees and shrubs to plant, so that there are trees already established prior to the willows being removed. contact Gen Reardon at the Lachlan CMA on 02 6385 1018 or Mary at ph 0459352892 Upper Lachlan Landcare firstname.lastname@example.org
Some Willow Facts from Gen Reardon
Whilst many people know that willows use excessive amounts of water during the summer, many don’t understand the detrimental effects willows have on the Australian landscape and its native species.
• Unlike native species that steadily drop leaves all year round, willows drop all their leaves at once resulting in a high nutrient pulse and mass decomposition in the water. This combined with the earlier dense canopy of willows that decreases light availability and stream temperatures causes decreased dissolved oxygen concentrations that our local native flora and fauna are not accustomed to.
• Their loss of leaves in the colder months also leaves no refuge for native species including so many of our smaller threatened woodland bird species.
• The thick canopy of the willow in spring and summer prevents natural regeneration of native species, by suppressing the growth of natives.
• In the water, willows develop dense, shallow ‘mat-forming’ roots that further suppress the growth of native, leaves bare ground and grow into the stream, changing the natural water courses into ‘braided streams’, causing erosion and creating complete blockages. The bare ground does not provide habitat for fauna including lizards, water rats and frogs.
• Unlike our natives, willows produce very little food resources in the way of nectar, sap, seeds or fruit.
• When Eucalypts drop their limbs, it often creates a hollow that is used by many native aboreal birds and mammals, Willows don’t do this.
• Willows have a lack of natural predators, which not only favours their growth over native species, but halts the food chain as there are few insects for birds and fish.
• Eventual dominance by willows leads to reduced natural biodiversity (flora and fauna) reducing conservation value. Native species will naturally form an ecosystem comprised of numerous canopy, mid-storey and groundcover plant species
Jack Page and Sam Spackman reading the Kiamma Creek Landcare Poem: