Restoring the Swainsona Reserve in Wodonga West has been an ongoing community project since the livestock were first removed 20 years ago. In partnership with community organisations, business and residents, Parklands has raised funds and found innovative ways to improve the natural assets of the reserve, removing environmental pests and weeds, replanting and encouraging natural regeneration to slowly change the character of the reserve from farmland to bush.
Restoration of this site is particularly important not only because of the rare Swainsiona Pea found here, but because it sits at the head of the Felltimber Creek catchment, where it has the potential to contribute positively or negatively to the entire length of the creek that so many in Wodonga know and love.
Recent Swainsona Restoration Walks have focused attention on the need for constant vigilance to stop weed invasion in the reserve. The difficulty of removal increases exponentially if the weeds have even one season of seeding. Both recent walks involved cutting and poisoning of environmental woody weeds, including a few small Willows, from the roadside.
Hand weed removal has been done annually for the past decade, usually with students of the National Environment Centre’s Cert IV in Conservation and Land Management. However, as these course are no longer being run, Parklands needs community assistance to continue to monitor the roadside to prevent woody weeds escaping into the reserve.
Many hands are at work in the area, and all are needed to ‘chip away’ at the work required.
Wodonga Council have removed Willows from the gully in Klinges Hill, with the willow mulch currently stored at the Felltimber Creek Road carpark, awaiting removal. This will reduce the seedbank of willows spreading down Felltimber Creek from the upper catchment.
A Landmates team, through the Wodonga Urban Landcare Network (WULN), are currently hand clearing woody weeds from the upper section of Felltimber Creek, where Parklands have also sprayed the blackberries and smaller woody weeds, leaving the native raspberries as important habitat and tucker for native birds and reptiles. WULN has funds from the Victorian Government to remove environmental weeds and replant with native plants between Lambourn Drive and Felltimber Creek Road, and will follow up the current weeding operations with mechanical removal of large willows next year.
In recent years the Green Army removed large amounts of woody weeds in the Wodonga Council corridor near Lawrence St. The Friends of Felltimber Creek have been instrumental in organising weeding and planting events along the creek, coordinating with Parklands, the Green Army teams, student projects and groups like Girl Guides to follow up with more weeding and planting of native species.
The Friends of Felltimber Creek are looking for local residents willing to help restore Swainsona Reserve and improve Felltimber Creek through Wodonga. Any support from pulling the occasional weed as you walk to putting your gloves on for a weeding morning, borrowing our nestbox camera to record nestbox occupancy in an area, turning up to a planting day or helping to organise one, or simply taking care of the strip beside your yard, would be greatly benefical for all.