Blue Mountains Swampcare celebrates 10 year anniversary

BMCC Bushland Management Co-ordinator Eric Mahony presents the new soft engineering stormwater structures installed at the Leura catchment.
BMCC Bushland Management Co-ordinator Eric Mahony presents the new soft engineering stormwater structures installed at the Leura catchment.

The 10 year anniversary of Blue Mountains City Council’s Swampcare and Save our Swamps Program was celebrated at a Swamp Symposium recently.

The event highlighted the significant and award-winning achievements of swamp restoration in the Blue Mountains.

The one-day conference, which attracted 65 attendees, highlighted dedicated Swampcare volunteers who have contributed over 10,000 hours towards protecting Blue Mountains swamps.

Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill said the award-winning approach to swamp restoration is part of council’s whole of catchment approach to environmental management.

“Swampcare is a vital part of council’s highly effective volunteer program aimed at biodiversity conservation,” Cr Greenhill said.

“We’re able to better protect and restore swamps across the city thanks to 75 dedicated Swampcare volunteers.”

Blue Mountains Swamps are a biologically diverse plant community that occurs nowhere else in the world. The vegetation in these swamps range from low button grass clumps to large shrubs such as the hakea and grevillea species. The swamps provide essential habitat to several threatened species such as the Blue Mountains Water Skink (Eulamprus leuraensis) and the Giant Dragonfly (Petalura gigantea).

Council's Upland Swamp Rehabilitation Program started in 2006 after Blue Mountains swamps were listed as part of the Temperate Highland Peat Swamps on Sandstone endangered ecological community.

In 2008 Blue Mountains and Lithgow City Councils formed a partnership to deliver the ‘Save our Swamps’ (S.O.S) project to restore the endangered ecological community across both local government areas. The project was supported by grant funding of $250,000 over 3 years from the Urban Sustainability program of the NSW Environmental Trust.

In 2009 the S.O.S. project received a $400,000 Federal Government ‘Caring for Country’ grant to expand the program to incorporate Wingecarribee Shire Council and Gosford City Council. The partnership resulted in the swamp remediation model being rolled out to over 95 per cent of the endangered ecological community in the four local government areas.

The innovative integrated approach led to the project receiving four awards, including a special commendation in the United Nations World Environment Day Award for Excellence in Overall Environmental Management in 2011.

Speakers at the conference included palaeoecologist, Dr Lennard Martin, who spoke on the ancient origins of swamps and principal scientist at the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Martin Krogh, who discussed the health of Newnes and Woronora Plateau Swamps.

Eric Mahony and Amy St Lawrence from Council’s Environment and Culture Branch also gave presentations. The day finished up with a field trip to the new soft engineering stormwater structures installed at the Leura catchment.

The Swamp Symposium was made possible by funding from the Office of Environment and Heritage ‘Save Our Species’ program, the new NSW Environmental Trust funded ‘Swamped by Threats’ project and Council.

Interested in Swampcare? Get involved by emailing schew@bmcc.nsw.gov.au or call the Bushcare office on 4780 5623.