Remarkable transformation: Willow Forest Wasteland to Healthy Wetland
April 2005: dense forest of mature willows (winter, so no foliage) and understorey of smaller willows and other weeds, on the northern margin of the silt flat. Weed removal has begun and some early plantings can be seen in the background.
February 2022: the willows and other weeds are gone and the silt flat is now a lovely meadow of native sedges – Carex gaudichaudiana in the foreground, Eleocharis sphacolata (“Giant Spike Rush”) behind.
Impossible transition, a decade in the making
Nov 2008: the dense forest of massive, mature willow (Salix fragilis) in full leaf, with understorey of small willows, small leaf privet, Japanese honeysuckle, blackberry and English ivy.
October 2019: taken from the same location (yes, truly!), showing the wetland now a meadow of native sedges, with wetland midstorey species like Leptospermum lanigerum and Gahnia sieberiana in the background. The northern and southern slopes are now dense and diverse communities of local mid- and upper storey species, many planted to provide habitat and food for birds. Bauera rubiodes (“River Rose”) in glorious flower on right (southern) bank. Our sedimentation pond (left foreground) assists by capturing silt that would otherwise be carried downstream, and by distributing water to support our plantings across the full width of the created wetland.
Twelve years to create a bush thicket, where once the giant willow ruled!
June 2010: This enormous “Crack Willow” (Salix fragilis) was growing on the steep bank beside the caravan park. Many of its 13 large trunks, extending over 10 metres to the tips, were overhanging the camping area below. This was dangerous because, as the name suggests, these willows are prone to dropping branches without warning and the branches on this tree were huge and potentially lethal. Removing it was way beyond the capacity of the Popes Glen volunteers but we stepped in to poison the remaining stumps when the contractors left. Even that was a challenge, with such big stumps on such a steep slope, but here we are rejoicing in a difficult job well done! It left a big barren space inhabited only by dense carpets of English Ivy!
March 2022: Twelve years of weed removal, planting and maintenance has given us this lovely dense thicket of Eucalyptus sp., Leptospermum sp., Hakea sp., Gahnia sieberiana, Blechnum nudum, Lomandra longifolia and Acacia melanoxylon. The now-largely decayed willow stump can be seen in the gap with the ivy to the far right of the picture.