Restoring the natural balance


Friends of Ferny Creek are celebrating the success of a 10-year restoration project in Upwey which has brought lyrebirds back to the area after they disappeared in the 1950s.

Over the past 10 years, Friends of Ferny Creek have led a successful ongoing restoration project in the Upwey corridor that connects the Ferntree Gully and Sherbrooke sections of the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

The corridor includes 60 hectares of wet and damp forest dominated by mountain ash and manna gum trees.

This particular area is important because of its biodiversity, which provides habitat for the threatened sooty owl, but also allows local animals to move between the two sections of the National Park.

Friends of Ferny Creek volunteer Bill Incoll said weeds represented a major risk to the area and that the restoration project was created to combat their spread.

“Most of the weeds involved are garden escapes, spread into the area by birds, wind and water, direct dumping from adjacent private property owners or establishment by the original settlers,” he said.

Friends of Ferny Creek started the restoration project to restore the biodiversity, removing environmental weeds and allowing the native vegetation to regenerate naturally.

Today, the weeds have been greatly reduced and native vegetation has regenerated to occupy much of the corridor.

Since the group’s work, Mr Incoll said that native vegetation quality has increased by 32 per cent and added that in 2010 there was a sighting of a male superb lyrebird in the Mast Gully Creek catchment – the first observation of a resident superb lyrebird in the area since the 1950s.

The bird has since taken up permanent residence in the study area.

“Lyrebirds are mainly affected by weeds that stop them from finding food on the forest floor,” he said.

“English ivy that grows develops into a very dense mat on the forest floor stops lyrebirds from finding their food.

“If we can remove the ivy and replace it with native vegetation that gives them much more space to forage in.”

As well as Friends of Ferny Creek, the restoration project involves Friends of Sherbrooke Forest, Friends of Monbulk Creek, Parks Victoria International Volunteers and the Green Army. There has been support from Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, Port Philip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, and the Australian Government’s Envirofund.