In celebration of National Student Volunteer week, our Canberra team welcomed students from Australian National University to volunteer on a conservation project in the Lower Cotter Catchment in the ACT.
The day commenced with a project and site overview by Ally, a Ranger from Murrumbidgee River Corridor Depot. Ally described how the Lower Cotter Catchment was devastated by catastrophic fires in 2003. The area previously had a long history of pine forestry, however the ACT Government made the decision to allow the area to regenerate back to native vegetation. A lack of vegetation and heavy rains has resulted in substantial erosion gullies, which carry soil-laden rain water directly into Canberra’s future water supply – Cotter Dam. Not only does the lack of vegetation affect water quality, it also threatens native fish.
Due to nutrient poor, highly sodic soils, the area has required a great deal of rehabilitation to restore it back to native health. The restoration program has involved the planting of thousands of native shrubs and trees across the Lower Cotter Catchment, which require watering and regular maintenance.
Our aim for the day was to tend to a thousand plant guards, re-staking and readjusting as necessary to prevent the young plants from being eaten by native wildlife (kangaroos, wallabies and wombats) and feral pest animals (deer and rabbits). The volunteers were very enthusiastic and the team achieved several hundred guards before morning tea.
Morning tea took place on a hillside overlooking the stunning Murrumbidgee River. Thanks to ANU+ who catered for the day – volunteers were able to enjoy cups of tea and gluten free, dairy free vegan cupcakes with vanilla icing and banana cake with lemon icing.
At lunchtime the team travelled down to the Cotter picnic ground on the Cotter River and used the electric BBQs to cook lunch. The students showed off their cooking skills at the BBQ and a side serve of tomatoes and fruit completed the meal.
CVA’s Conservation Officer, Lesley Peden said the students loved the day and really made a difference to the rehabilitation of the site. “The highlight was definitely the BBQ, not only for the food and the setting but also because we were surrounded by native birds and kangaroos. The next BBQ might even include kangaroo, to give the students a real ‘Aussie experience’! The many international students in the group also found it to be a memorable experience.
Hopefully they will spread the word to their friends at ANU and we will continue to share our love of the Nation’s Bush Capital with volunteers both local and from overseas.”
We have a number of volunteer opportunities around Canberra, to get involved contact Lesley on 02 6247 7770 or email [email protected]