Brush Farm Park
When Europeans first arrived in Sydney, the Wallumatagal aborigines occupied this site, and it was most likely covered with Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest vegetation community. In 1794 Brush Farm Estate was established and by the early 1800’s large areas were cleared for use as farmland. This continued up until 1914, when Brush Farm Park was dedicated for the purpose of public recreation. Over the next few decades, the large open areas of Brush Farm Park were gradually filled in with vegetation – mostly exotic weeds such as Large-leaf privet (Ligustrum lucidum). In the 1980‘s work began on regeneration and revegetation of the site, largely driven by the enthusiasm of local Bushcare volunteers and supported by the City of Ryde.
The steep gullies and clay soils of the site present particular challenges to restoration works, as over-clearing of vegetation will cause loss of soil and destabilisation of banks. The restoration work on this site has focussed on successional development of a native canopy and its associated understorey. In areas where the soil profile has been irreparably altered, revegetation works have used locally sourced plants to replace cleared woody weeds. Less disturbed soils have had weeds removed gradually, with sensitivity to the existing native vegetation, and occasional transplanting of native understorey species from other parts of the reserve.
Brush Farm Park today is markedly different to how it was thirty years ago. Since that time the coverage of woody weeds in the reserve has gone from over 90% to less than 1%. In 1994 around 100 native plant species were recorded in the reserve. This increased to over 150 species found in a 2006 survey. The reserve now provides habitat for the threatened Powerful Owl (vulnerable in NSW) as well as Ringtail Possums and many species of small birds. The vegetation communities on site are now classified as Coastal Warm Temperate Rainforest in the deep gullies along the creeks, and Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest on the higher slopes.
Bush-it has worked in conjunction with the volunteers at this site to continue the transition from weed-dominated gullies to native rainforest stands. The experience of the volunteers has been invaluable, and allowed Bush-it staff to learn new techniques and strategies, which have given fantastic results. This partnership has been mutually beneficial, as the volunteers have also gained from the expertise and enthusiasm Bush-it brings to our work.