In partnership with local Friends Groups and other stakeholders, Council has been making significant progress protecting and restoring some of the remaining natural areas in Boroondara. There have been many successful initiatives, a number of which are highlighted below (for more examples, refer to the Biodiversity Strategy Review available to download from Council's website).
The Wurundjeri Gardens have been revegetated and restored by members of Hawthorn Historical Society to reflect the original plants that once grew there and to highlight Aboriginal food plants and materials. Dorothy Sutherland, from the Friends of Wurundjeri Gardens, shares her story:
'Though challenging at times and a steep learning curve, with a few mistakes made along the way, it's been a fascinating journey of discovery for those associated with the garden's development. Today, visitors to the garden are amazed that it is not a natural piece of bushland. There is a surprising amount of birdlife, including sightings of nankeen night heron, kookaburras, nesting lorikeets and smaller species like thornbill. The cheeky Willy Wagtail has been a constant presence since the beginning and has become the mascot for the volunteer friends group, some of whom have worked there on a monthly basis since 1990.'
In 2007 Burke Road Billabong reserve was a ten-hectare area on the Yarra with some magnificent River Red Gums but significant amounts of weeds and debris, a legacy of neglect and the old Kew rubbish tip. The land is traversed by the main Yarra shared trail and has one of the few remaining natural billabongs that occur along the Yarra River floodplain. A Committee of Management (and Friends Group) was set-up to rehabilitate the site, and since then weeds including Boxthorn, Gorse, and Bitou bush have been eliminated, and substantial inroads made with the Blackberry, Hawthorn, Cruel Vine, and Wandering Creeper. Thousands of indigenous plants have been propagated and planted, and a picnic area and table constructed. RMIT students use the area for practical work in their Conservation and Land Management studies. The City of Boroondara assists the Friends Group with the provision of tools, mulch and advice.
A series of roosting boxes for micro-bats have been installed and a monitoring project shows these are well used. The area has attracted locally rare marsupials including a wombat and kangaroo; and since the filling of the billabong and wetland in 2010, waterbirds and frogs have returned to the area.
Bringing back the birds to Gardiners Creek
Since 2002, Friends of Gardiners Creek Valley and Council officers have worked to restore the area along Gardiners Creek between Nettleton Park and Markham Reserve. Before planting began, the land was dominated by weed species such as Desert Ash and Willow.
The revegetation and restoration work has transformed the landscape and created a functioning biodiversity corridor. In recent years, community members and staff have been delighted to witness the gradual return of small birds, including families of Superb Fairy-wrens, which are settling along the corridor as habitat condition improves.
At Nettleton Park, the beautiful native grass and wildflower meadow beneath the River Red Gums provides a delightful display in Spring and many enthusiastic local residents and scouts groups have contributed to planting efforts over the years.
Creek improvements and riparian plantings by Melbourne Water at Eric Raven Reserve have created critical habitat for many species, including the Rakali (also known as the native water rat).
Long-term residents of the area have reflected on the transformation:
'Twenty-five years ago, the land by Gardiner's Creek in Ashburton was just a paddock. It's been transformed over the years. Even the high tension power lines aren't so evident!'
'I can remember what the rail lines and drainage lines were like; just concrete gutters. Now many have been carefully returned to what they were like originally.'
Glen Iris Wetland brings water quality and biodiversity gains
In 2012 a substantial wetland was constructed on the site of the former Glen Iris and Tooronga Bowls Club (behind the University of the Third Age). The project was developed by Council in partnership with Melbourne Water and developers Stockland Corporation.
The specially designed wetland acts as a natural filter for stormwater from the local catchment on the north side of Gardiners Creek. It reduces the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous, suspended sediment and other pollutants in the stormwater before it enters the creek. More than 10,000 native plants, trees and ground covers were planted in and around the wetlands, with reeds and rushes now providing excellent spring breeding habitat for native ducks.
This is a great example of water sensitive urban design improving the ecological health of our waterways, while providing habitat for birds and an enjoyable area to relax, walk or cycle around.
For sixteen years, the Friends of South Surrey Park and Council officers have rejuvenated Back Creek between Union and Riversdale Roads. The Park had contained many willows and other weed species, which were removed with the help of the City of Boroondara and Melbourne Water. The weeds have been replaced with plantings of native grasses, sedges, shrubs and trees. The transformation has been so effective that the ambience when resting on the installed seats makes it hard to believe the Park is only 12 kilometres from the CBD. There are now regular sightings of Kookaburras, Tawny Frogmouths and microbats amongst the native animals that visit the park.
A local resident has enjoyed the gradual transformation:
'It's been fantastic to watch how South Surrey Park has changed from a wasteland to a wonderful and accessible community resource. It now has fantastic natural vegetation and native fauna.'