Merri Creek Management Committee

(19/9/2007)

Some local native animals have become dependent on thorny weeds to replace their long-lost habitat.

These animals include Swamp Wallabies who use the cover provided by Gorse bushes, Silvereyes that snack on fruits of Blackberry and New Holland Honey-eaters who sip Boxthorn nectar. You are invited to help plant native habitat for these animals.

When their weedy homes are removed to achieve wider environmental goals, these animals must locate alternative habitat or must move on. Providing for these hardy animals requires forethought. Plantings of indigenous shrubs may take several years to mature and provide replacement habitat for animals such as Blue Wrens.

"Revegetation will eventually benefit a wider range of native fauna than the weeds they replace but we need to be planting them now,"said Brian Bainbridge, Merri Creek Management Committee's Technical Officer.

The Friends of Merri Creek's project, Black & Blue, funded by Melbourne Water's Community Grants Program, addresses this problem through the re-introduction of suitable shrub species where woody weeds such as Blackberry, Boxthorn and Gorse are being removed. The project name refers to the close association of Superb Blue Wren colonies with exotic Blackberry thickets.

A rare winter visitor from inland Australia, the Spiny Cheeked Honeyeater, has brought home to Brian Bainbridge, a keen birdwatcher, the urgency of this work. In recent weeks a pair has taken up residence in a patch of large Boxthorns in the Merri Creek Parklands. The Boxthorn berries are an important food source. "We will need to be planting Kangaroo Apples and other native fruiting plants now if we want to continue to enjoy its 'cheeky' presence and beautiful song in future years."

A series of plantings in July and August at key sites in Campbellfield, Fawkner and Clifton Hill promise to be enjoyable ways that community might help with this important work. For more details call MCMC on 9380 8199. (19/9/2007)