All activities undertaken by the Committee are guided by the Mt. Leura and Mt. Sugarloaf Landscape Master Plan, Management Plan and Implementation Plan 1994 (revised 1997).
The aims of this plan are to;
- Revegetate the Reserves with indigenous vegetation to provide habitat and improve the aesthetic appeal and community enjoyment of the Reserves, whilst maintaining view lines of these significant geological features.
- Enhance recreation and tourism to the site by providing visitor facilities to increase enjoyment of the Reserves.
- Provide educational opportunities to increase appreciation of the reserves and their natural, geological, and historical significance.
Working towards these goals has resulted in the following key projects and achievements of the Committee.
Revegetating the Mounts… A growing success! This has been one of the major activities of the Committee.
As a result, we are observing increased wildlife on the Reserves, including wallabies, echidnas and koalas.
Over the past 14 years, over 100,000 indigenous herbs, grasses, shrubs and trees have been planted on the reserves, with most areas now revegetated.
This has been achieved through the help and involvement of a huge number of volunteers at different planting days including;
- Annual Father’s Day Community planting- this is attended by over 40 community members every year.
- Sydney 2000 Olympics Community Planting to honour local Olympian Bill Roycroft.
- Carbon-offset plantings with Greenfleet.
- Numerous plantings by school groups, particularly Camperdown College.
- Numerous plantings by overseas volunteers through partnerships with Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA) and International Student Volunteers (ISV).
- Propagation and some seed collection of these indigenous plants have been undertaken in partnership with Camperdown College, students, the Committee, local community and overseas volunteers.
- Assist in establishing Camperdown College Nursery for the propagation of seedlings to be planted on the Reserves and for students´ curriculum.
Within 60 years of being planted, about 80 per cent of the trees on Mount Leura and Mount Sugarloaf Reserves will be gone, returning the vegetation back to woodlands as it was prior to European settlement. Planting trees at a higher density than what was naturally found on the Reserves is in accordance to the Committee´s long term revegetation strategy. According to the Reserves´ management plan, the trees will ´thin out´ naturally, with shorter lived species dying off and others dying through natural competition and disease.
Research shows that before European settlement about 110 trees per hectare grew on the Reserves. The initial high density plantings help with weed control and growth rate of trees, meaning within 15 years there will be a closed canopy, shading out exotic grasses such as phalaris and cocksfoot that elevate fuel loads and fire risks. If trees were planted at the desired final density, extensive exotic grass control would be needed at great cost to the Committee, Corangamite Shire and therefore the ratepayers.
Working out what grew on the Mounts was like putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Early settlement photos from the 1860s-70s were used, along with early settler records and paintings of the Mounts from the late 1850s. Existing native species was noted, as were the species and densities remaining on similar landmarks in the surrounding district, including Mount Buninyong.
Exotic tree and weed removal:
Removal of 450 pines and cypress trees & control of significant weeds, including Paterson´s Curse, Blackberry and Thistles; Timber from felled cypress was used to build one of the information shelters on the reserve, and other community infrastructure such as signage. Mapping and monitoring of weeds across the Reserve is also being undertaken annually.
Plant and wildlife habitat and monitoring:
Remnant vegetation mapping of indigenous species, so we can monitor populations and assist in future seed collection. Development of Mt. Leura and Mt. Sugarloaf herbarium with Camperdown College Environment Group. Bird surveys undertaken with the Camperdown College Environment Group has identified an increase in the number and species of birds on the reserves. Wildlife surveys undertaken with the Camperdown College Environment Group and installation of motion-sensor cameras in the early 2000s, to monitor fauna on the Reserves. Further surveys are planned to take place in the near future so comparisons can be drawn and populations monitored. To provide further habitat, the committee have installed numerous nest boxes which have been built by local students and overseas volunteers.
Walking trails and community facilities:
Developed extensive visitor facilities on the reserves, including; Three information shelters and public access gates. Constructed a network of walking tracks (over 5.6km) including 3 sets of steps. This includes directional signage and walking trail brochures. Built two information shelters; including one in partnership with Camperdown Rotary Club. Constructed and installed 2 picnic areas & 17 seats/picnic tables, many with Camperdown College VCAL students.
Volunteers ´cos we can´t do it without them: Friends of Mt Leura
Volunteers are involved in all aspects of the project. Over the past year, the Committee and other volunteers have contributed over 1,900 hours to management of the Reserves. This has an estimated in-kind value of over $47,500. Since 2002, other volunteers have contributed over 10,000 hours to this project. The Committee has provided numerous opportunities for the community to gain different knowledge and skills. Activities undertaken to educate and raise awareness about the Reserves and local environmental issues include;
- Regular (usually monthly) community workshops in partnership with Friends of Mt. Leura.
- Various interpretive panels on the reserve about local plants, animals, geology and history.
- Develop a community indigenous demonstration garden and accompanying signage and brochure to raise awareness about local plants and using these in your own garden.
- Production of information booklet ‘The Volcanic Edge’, walking trail notes and brochures.
- Production of Volcanic postcards in partnership with Corangamite Arts.
- Tours for local, national and international groups of the reserves, including a recent tour for visiting international geomorphologists.
Over 500 people have participated in the Annual Community Planting Days. The Committee have hosted Greencorps Crews, and volunteers from around Australia and the world.
Click here to connect with Friends of Mt Leura on our facebook page. Regular posts show the latest updates on the reserve and includes community event invitations.
Click here to contact Friends of Mt Leura, membership is open to all and it’s free! A great way to stay connected and hear about community and conservation activities on the reserve.
Click here to find out how you can get involved.
Project Funding: The Corangamite Shire Council provides the Committee with annual funding to assist with maintenance of the reserve. This funding also helps to employ a project manager, who is vital to the success of the project.
Using the financial contribution from Council, the committee has value-added this investment by successfully sourcing a further $250,000 funding from various governmental and non-government organisations, including Federal Government, State Government, corporate sponsorship, Landcare, and other local community service groups. Click here for more information on partnerships.
Future projects: With most of the revegetation work completed on the Reserves, the Committee moves into the next phase of management, based around maintenance and community education and involvement. Planned future activities include;
Complete review of risk management and fire risk management plans for the reserves in partnership with Council and CFA. In particular, this will identify strategic fuel loads reduction.
Review the Mt. Leura and Mt. Sugarloaf Landscape Master Plan, Management Plan and Implementation Plan to set the future direction for the Committee.
Remove last remaining Pine and Cypress trees; Boundary fence replacement; On-going reserve, facility and vegetation maintenance; Creation and installation of interpretative signage and education trails (i.e. geo-caching); Work with partners to create wildlife corridors (‘biolinks’) connecting our Reserve and other significant native vegetation patches across the local landscape; Continue regular community workshops and volunteering opportunities.