A local volunteer group used a Green Adelaide Grassroots Grant to help save native grey box gum trees in Sturt Gorge Recreation Park. Find out how they saved the trees.

Sturt Gorge Recreation Park has large areas of ‘grey box grassy woodland’ which is made up of a layer of native plants on the ground and mostly the grey box gum (eucalyptus) trees. Once common across southern Australia, these native woodlands are now considered threatened and need our help to ensure their long-term survival.

Many of the large, old grey box gums in Sturt Gorge are surrounded by olive trees which are competing with the gum trees for soil nutrients and water in the soil and putting our natives under increasing stress. Other weeds such as chincherinchee (Ornithogalum thyrsoides) are smothering the native plants on the ground, making the whole area increasingly unable to support the native animals and birds who call this park home.

With a Green Adelaide Grassroots Grant, Friends of Sturt Gorge (FoSG) volunteer group were ready to step in, tackle the olive trees and save the local gum trees.

Read on for more about FoSG Grassroots Grants story:

Why is this grant project important?

Old gum trees like the grey box gum often have hollows in their trunks that provide safe places for local birds to make their nests, plus their white flower is an important food for possums and rainbow lorikeets. They also give our native bees plenty of pollen.

These gum trees need to be looked after for local plants, animals and bugs!

Two images side by side, one (left) with lots of olive trees and the other (right) with the weedy olives removed
Before and after following olive removal around Sturt Gorge Recreation Park

How did the Grassroots Grant help?

A Green Adelaide Grassroots Grant helped FoSG to employ a contractor who specialises in bushcare projects to remove the olive trees from Sturt Gorge Recreation Park. They were growing on steep slopes where volunteers could not reach them.

Another contractor was also employed to dig out 6,000 chincherinchee weeds across the park.

The grant also helped the group buy supplies to support a series of working bee events where FoSG and other local residents got together to do weeding in the park. Over 350 hours of volunteer time was spent freeing grey box gums from the threat of olive trees or other weeds.

Two images side by side, one shows a grey box tree surrounded by smaller olive trees (weed), the second shows the olives cleared
Before and after this grey box gum tree was freed from surrounding olives

How did the project improve the environment for the community?

The work has increased the diversity of native birds and animals in the area who rely on the native grey box gum trees.

Surveys of birds visiting the old gum trees were done before and after the works. They showed an increase in number and type of birds visiting the park. FoSG will continue to monitor the activity of the local birds in the area.

Also, the working bees attracted 41 new local people to participate in looking after the park and many of these new volunteers signed up to be members of FoSG. This is a fabulous outcome for the group and ensures that the area will continue to be cared for going forward.

Young participants near an olive tree, helping with weeding activites
The working bees attracted new members for FoSG

Words of advice for future grant applicants

Amy Blaylock, President of FoSG says “although it seems like a lot of work, I found it useful to go through the risk analysis process because it helped me to do some thinking about plan Bs, should something not work out.

“Also, if you want to involve schools, make sure you give them plenty of notice about your ideas and be prepared to be flexible, as their timetables and commitments might not always fit with yours and last-minute things can pop up.

“Finally, schedule in times to take photos and collect other data to demonstrate your project progress, so that you have it all when you get to the end.”

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