Something is happening in the woods behind Alstonville, and it sounds like good news. Weeds are toppling, rainforest is sprouting, and a new group of landholders are finding out just what it takes to bring back their creek.
Known to locals as ‘Samuels Creek’, this small unnamed tributary of Maguires Creek trickles year- round off the Alstonville Plateau escarpment at Alstonvale.
The catchment was originally carpeted by a thick blanket of sub-tropical rainforest, but in the years since the felling of the Big Scrub Samuels Creek has gradually been overtaken by another kind of carpet: one of exotic plants such as Camphor Laurel and Privet.
Luckily for Samuels Creek, the nearby landholders on Wenga Drive in the west and Eltham Rd in the east are not easily dismayed.
Dotted through the canopy they could see large native rainforest trees, struggling to break free from the weeds. So, inspired by a desire to free these trees and return Samuels Creek to its former glory, the landholders formed the Samuels Creel Riparian Rainforest Restoration Landcare Group.
The Samuels Creek Landcare Group joined their local Landcare Network, met with other neighbouring groups working in nearby catchments, and contracted a professional bush regenerator to develop a site action plan to best attack the wall of weeds waiting on their back doorsteps.
North Coast Local Land Services is supporting the project, through funding from the National Landcare Programme.
One of five strategic headwaters projects in the region, the Samuels Creek Riparian Restoration project sets out to restore the riparian rainforest along 400m of creek line within one year.
Though small in size, the project was chosen for its integrated, systematic and strategic approach to natural area restoration.
Lead regenerator for the project, Tim Roberts, said the project covers almost the entire sub- catchment of Samuels Creek, and by starting at the head of the catchment the landholders reduce the likelihood that downstream areas are reinvested with weed propagules.
Richmond Landcare’s Landcare Coordinator Hannah Rice-Hayes said ‘The beating heart of this project lies with the landholders’.
‘As often as they can, they work alongside the bush regenerators; learning how to control the weeds, identifying natives, and building confidence in the restoration of the scrub, they are the real heroes, and the skills that they learn through this project will see Samuels Creek looked after for many years to come.’