Ep.6 Friends Of Reg Seal Reserve Env. Group - David Jeffries

You're on the plants grow here podcast. I'm Daniel Fuller. Come along with me as we enter a hidden world of deep horticultural, ecological and landscape gardening knowledge with featured experts, industry professionals, and enthusiasts. There are heaps of ways that we can focus on ecology in an urban setting. And it doesn't always have to be large scale. Today, I'm lucky enough to be speaking with David Jeffries, who's one of the founders of the Reg Seal Park reserve. Thanks for coming on the podcast. David. Tell me how does a former Bangkok turn carpet cleaner end up being responsible for so many volunteers in such an important yet lesson known reserve in the city of Melville? Mount Pleasant, Western Australia?
Oh, thanks, Dan. Well, I've lived in Mount Pleasant, near the reserve for 33 years. And when I used to walk the dog, which was still have, I noticed this degraded bush area, and decided to contact the local council to do something about it. And that led to the formation of the friends group.
So what is the friends group?
It's just a group of people that we've got together. They're all volunteers, and they help out on a on a regular basis whenever needed.
Fantastic. So what sort of work do you guys do on a regular basis, or when
we do it, which is sort of Sunday mornings? We do waiting, we do planting? Certainly, they're the main two. And we have a bit of a normally a bit of a social event afterwards a barbecue or similar
that sounds Alright. So who is Red Seal? And how did the reserve come to be named after him?
Red Seal, he
has passed away, unfortunately, he was a Melville shock counselor from 1961 to 1963. And in those days, they served a couple of years on the council, and they had a parka reserve named after them. I think the reserve would have been declared in the late 1950s, when the housing developments were done in the area.
So why is this small parcel of land such an important reserve in the city of Melville? Well,
it's a declared reserve, but also it's such a piece of Bush, remnant bush land. And I'd say it's, it's representative of what would have been through that whole area. And these days is, you know, there's very little left. So there's hundreds of species of plants in there. So in my way of thinking, it's a throwback to what used to be there. So I think it's very important, right? So this might actually be one of the last places where some of those endemic animals and plants might actually be able to exist. Absolutely. It's, it's what's called a benzene complex soil type, which is a dry land. And there's there's a few wetland types down the bottom of the hill. But now this is probably that, that only saw complex with those sorts of plants, certainly in the area. So now very important.
Can you please describe a little bit about some of the wetland areas and how they're a little bit different to the other parts of the reserve? Oh, no.
Reserve is all dry land. But there's other reserves as you go down the hill? Sorry. There's some likes, and that, that's what we would describe as the wetland. So
okay, so it's a kind of a corridor between the wetland and other environments? Correct?
Yes, yes.
So how long have you personally been involved with Red Seal? Well,
I started this in May 2013. So it's just a little bit over seven years.
And what were the early days like,
now, the early days were quite difficult in terms of attracting and keeping volunteers. And it used to take us forever to plan to have yearly allocation of plants. And also in those days, I didn't have much knowledge about revegetation, either. So that didn't help.
What were some of the things that you learn along the way that maybe you were getting wrong in the first stages? Well,
I mean, Ben was a great help. But I didn't even know how to when we plant these plants, we put them in little green bags, and they held up with little sticks and sort of a provider, you know, help to protect against the weather and animals and the like, and I had no idea how to do that. So that's one example that now it's it's a piece of cake, but I had no idea in those days. So it used to take a long time to, you know, to put them in and now we can move at a far greater rate. For example,
did you learn any other tricks along the way?
offline tapes, I mean, I, I knew I used for example, what a bank share was, but I didn't know all the individual species. And you know, now I've got I've got some knowledge, I can identify the three main types that we have in the reserve, but now all sorts of things like that, because I had I had just a little bit of knowledge I had a I had a passion for it, but I didn't have the the knowledge that perhaps I've got now.
Well, that passion is gonna get you a long way when you're learning a new skill, isn't it?
Yeah, I think if you don't have passion, yet, you wouldn't be interested in the first place. So as a kid, I grew up in that the bush out towards the hills. And, you know, we were always playing in the bush. And it was just the vivid colors, you know, you're riding on, you're sort of running through the bush on the vivid colors are things that sort of takes me right back in some some ways. Yeah.
And it's not only important that we keep those colors there for the wildlife. But also, it's important to our mental health as humans to
correct. And also, we have sort of two parts to this reserve, we have the bush land bit, which is, we should say sort of authentic, and we only plant plants are endemic to the area. But we have another side that's outside the fence that we've totally revegetated was just all vacant woodchips and that we put in a lot of theory, they're all native plants, but very colorful. And that attracts a lot of the local people. So you sort of got to have that side to it as well, where catches people's eyes, I suppose.
So how's the friends group different now compared to when you guys started?
A year. So we've managed to retain the core group of originals. And as well, we have a new group of young families. And they use that for their social get togethers. Anyway, they are there's a grass section there with some tables and chairs. And they sit in there on weekends and that so these days, say planting and waiting days to become more about providing a sense of community with the added benefit of for the environment and
the beautification of the area. What sort of volunteer numbers were you getting in the early days compared to now?
Well, in the early days, sometimes it was just Ben and myself and maybe one or two others and their most recent event, a few weeks back, we had 16 adults and seven kids helping out.
That's a massive increase. That's about eight times.
It is Yeah, it's incredible man. And we don't have to try people just sort of just turn up now.
And there are also some kids getting involved. You mentioned? Well, there
are there's say there's kids that turn up and I think it's fantastic. See the kids planting, getting involved and exposed to nature in a hands on way. And I hope this size, the seed for the future involvement and caring for bush land, may be disproved will be so going in 20 or 30 years time and one of them one of them will wither later
on. Have you been contacted by any scientists or any other groups that would like to study the reserve? Yes, the
city of Melville did a flora and fauna survey under a strategic management plan back in 2017. And I was involved in reviewing the findings. Prior to its publication, I also had an approach from a uni student who wanted to test the effect of smoke water on the reserve. Unfortunately, this didn't happen due to a lack of funds, which is a pity as I'd like to see this process to see how that process does work with plant germination.
Smoke water. Tell me a little bit more about that. What does that mean?
look I know a lot about it was developed through some kings pack scientists and if you kept your smoke, and then add water to it, and then put it on the ground at a certain ratio. It leads to the germination of plants. So a lot of the seeds of a lot of native plants. Quite often there's a fire and people think it's the fire that germinates of plants. But it's not it's a smoke. So if you mix this smoke with water, you've captured the smoke, mix it with water, pour it on the ground that has the same effect as a fire. And that leads to germination. And we did have a small fire in the reserve recently, about a year and a half ago. And the smoke that was generated through that fire. It's amazing. The regeneration that little area. So very interesting concept. Wow. So
he did notice a big difference after the fire.
Oh, well, yeah, initially, it was bad. It was just totally burnt out. But after that, slowly things have come back. And now there's some even some new plants in there. But there were different species that weren't there before. So yeah, it's fantastic.
So there are a variety of native species thriving.
Yes, yes. Yes. No, they, they're seeds that were there. Were dormant and then with the the fire coming through, have managed to germinate and reproduce.
So have you noticed any changes in the other types of wildlife other than plains it'll,
we don't really have many animals in there. Because it's quite a small reserve. We only have some Blue Tongue lizards and there would be little, you know, in six on that, but I haven't really noticed any other any other difference in that regard.
Thank you. Cool. So what's a bat box? And how many do you guys have at Red Seal? Okay, so
bed boxes are hanging trees. And the hope is that micro bats will use them as homes. And we have three boxes in the reserves. And they were made by the big did mention.
And now do they benefit the ecology of the overall area?
Well, I think the the great pollinators, that's one thing they are, and the other thing is that they eat a lot of mosquitoes. So down the hill from our reserve is some wetlands and and so there's mosquitoes as a result of that. So certainly the bats would, hopefully keeping the mosquitoes and chicken the area.
Well, the residents can have to be happy about that, aren't they?
Well, in fact, that's why the was the rotary club that come up with this idea. And they've made and through this mentioned, they've made a lot of bed boxes and put them through these local areas with the idea that they would help to control mosquitoes. So they made hundreds of back bed boxes, and then we have three of them.
And how do you know for certain that you got micro bats?
Well, we don't I mean, I check them from time to time, but I guess unless you had a fixed camera on them, you just wouldn't know. But apparently, it takes up to five years for the bats to colonize these little boxes. So yeah, we just just not sure at the moment, we'll just have to see in the future. There is another lancair group that I'm working with. And in the next month, they're going to set up some bad acoustics bilobed on up and set that in the park and will be added apparently they'll be able to tell if there's if that's in the area. So that would be really interesting.
Yeah, that'd be cool. Do you have any interesting and rare plants in the reserve that do better there than in other environments, maybe some that are a little bit more difficult to grow.
We have a couple of species of of what I would call rarer plants, we have the cowslip orchard, orchids and some personeel sakata which also has is not a snotty goal. Many of the plants that are difficult to grow anyway ever we're now getting plants from a range of suppliers which is helping with the diversity and I'd also like to explore as I said before, explore that smoke water treatment as a means of determining some of the the seeds which are already in the ground.
How would a new Flora serve a benefit the group's knowledge,
also mentioned before a Flora survey was undertaken by the city of Melville in 2017. And the Lancaster group is undertaking its own one later this month and Ben recommend taking it most things but there are a few things he would like help with. And I suppose any survey enhances their knowledge following the last survey. The City of Melbourne, for example, asked us to plant bank shear grandness, which are quite rare in the local area. So you know, there's just an example that caused the survey was done. This is a tree that they think, you know, as becoming rarer, but then they supplied some of those tourists just to just to do to get more of them around the area.
What are some of the main problems you guys are working with in terms of dangers to the ecology
sides as a small reserve, it's got a fence around that. Dogs I certainly from my experience. I've seen some of these little Blue Tongue lizards. bluetongue go in as skinks, as they call them. Dogs have attacked them dogs off late. So that's a big issue even though people are supposed to have dogs on leads that doesn't happen and I'm sure that even little dogs when they see one of these go enters it just naturally attracted my go bomb. So you know, hopefully a dogs and Cat Cat certainly Irish Yeah.
Yeah, that's a real shame. How did you pick up so much knowledge about this subject? Did you have any formal training or you read a lot of books or tell me a little bit about that.
As I say, when I was a kid growing up in the bush I developed that sort of, I've always had a passion for for nature and plant and wildlife. And I've always been concerned about conservation as well. So that's where it started from. The knowledge I've developed has come through asking lots of questions or been going to courses arranged by the City of Melbourne. And really just heaps of googling, and, and trial and error is also an important learning tool.
Cool. So is there anything that you've really liked to tell the listeners about just before we wrap this episode up, maybe something that you're quite passionate about and that you feel the listeners really should know? I just
think anything that people can do to try and provide a home for local wildlife by planting plants and trees that attract wildlife is certainly something that people can do, even if they don't play it the preservation of old trees as well because they provide you know, existing trees but hypothet I had an unfortunate situation next to me. You know, the last year I've a new house was built and there was a 60 year old, beautiful red flowering gum that used to provide habitat for canopies, cockatoos and all sorts of things that come through. And despite me trying to Well, I did ask the new owners to preserve the tree, unfortunately, you know, it was still knocked over. And that was, I found that incredibly said, so yeah, look, I've planted a couple of new trees out the front, But the trouble is, they they take a long time to grow. So that's like, that's the main thing, just just do what you can to provide habitat and, you know, just try and make like that bit of difference and support any group sort of doing this kind of work. And also some of those old trees that people have tended to cut down, maybe they have a big hollow in it, maybe that some broken branches,
some of those can actually end up being even more beneficial than the healthy looking ones.
That's right, because those hollows, etc develop over quite often take 100 years and that's certainly the case with the Carnegie's cockatoos that they need those hellos to, you know, to breathe in. And that just takes a long time for it to happen. So it's not just the tree that people are knocking over all that breeding space and everything is taken out when those trees go over.
I follow an organization from the UK on social media called back from the brink. And then doing some really interesting work using, you know, qualified arborists to come through and mutilate some of the younger trees so that they are a little bit more like those older ancient trees, which are really disappearing and are in really short supply. What do you think about that sort of idea of mutilating the younger trees to provide habitat?
Yeah, I think it's a great idea I've seen over in Tasmania, it's I think it's the red bellied parallel might be wrong, but they only breed on certain islands of Tasmania. And because there's been habitat loss, etc. That's exactly what they do. They've taken professional chainsaw, people over there, and they've they've cut out all these all these nesting holes. And I've seen those documentaries where those birds habitat how habitate those those trees almost immediately, so? Yeah, I think it's a fantastic thing. And, of course, you'd have to get all the right approvals, etc. But maybe it's something that we look at here in the future as well.
Yeah, it could be that's really interesting to hear about the tazzy guys are doing it. Glad to know some of us Aussies are having to go with it.
Or, you know, it's so yeah, it's a it's a young guys are scientists, and he's taking it on himself. And he, he engages Lee spyphone. Like, go down there, and
they do good on him. Look, David, thanks for coming on the show. Man. This was an awesome episode. And I think you're right, it is really important that we protect those natural habitats. And that's especially true of the wildlife corridors. I mean, they're really a bit of a last resort because if we lose those, the impacts are just going to be massive,
totally gray. Thanks, Dan.
Did you guys find that as inspiring as I did, it's really true that we can make a difference. Even something so small as planting some native plants in your garden can help build some of those corridors and keep our native birds and insects and even other plants thriving in the environment so that they don't go extinct. Maybe Don't try to win the trees in your yard just so that you can provide some habitat. Instead, you can build some bird boxes or possum boxes. Get in a trained arborist if you really want to create some hollows within the tree

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