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What is Bush Regeneration?

Bush regeneration is the practice of restoring bushland by focusing on reinstating and reinforcing the system's ongoing natural regeneration processes (Australian Association of Bush Regenerators). Bush regeneration work aims to rehabilitate the bush from a weed infested or otherwise degraded plant community to a healthy community composed of locally occurring native plants.

Bush regeneration programs are long term commitments that require the development of a variety of skills, concepts and techniques. These cannot be obtained overnight, they are developed through a combination of learning, research and observation.

Bush regeneration is not just weed removal, it is an integrated approach that encourages the bush to 'bounce back' through natural processes. This approach must focus on many aspects of the environment such as habitat, drainage, weed sources and establishing native communities.

What is ecological restoration?

Ecological restoration describes the practice of helping an ecosystem recover from damage or degradation and restoring it to its pre-existing state. Ecological restoration helps reinstate the structure and function of vegetation at a site and, where possible, facilitates natural processes of regeneration.

Approaches to ecological restoration
Natural, healthy ecosystems have an inherent regeneration capacity or resilience that enables them to quickly repair themselves after disturbance. Damaged or degraded ecosystems often lack this capacity and are said to be less resilient. Generally, the more degraded a site is, the less resilient it is and the longer it will take to recover from disturbance. The site-specific relationship between degradation and resilience forms the basis for selecting the most appropriate restoration approach.

• Natural regeneration is used for large, intact, weed-free areas of native vegetation where healthy native plants are capable of regenerating naturally.
• Assisted natural regeneration is used in fairly healthy native vegetation where natural processes of regeneration are somewhat inhibited by an external factor such as weed invasion. This approach is commonly referred to as 'bush regeneration' and involves systematic weed removal.
• Reconstruction, often involving planting or re-seeding, is used in highly degraded vegetation that cannot naturally recover from disturbance.
• Fabrication is used when site conditions have been irreversibly changed and it is not possible to restore the original plant community. Large restoration projects often involve a combination of these approaches.

Irrespective of the approach adopted, effective ecological restoration requires thorough site assessment, a clear understanding of site-specific objectives, adequate resourcing, the use of standard weed control methodologies and a long term commitment.

At the heart of most ecological restoration projects is systematic, long-term weed management. This usually entails primary weed control to remove primary weed structures, follow-up work to manage new or re-emerging weeds and ongoing site maintenance designed to keep minor weed reoccurrences in check.

Supporting information and links
• See Australian Association of Bush Regenerators (NSW) Inc. website for detailed information: www.aabr.org.au

• The South East Queensland Ecological Restoration Framework provides a code of practice, guidelines and a practical manual for ecological restoration that has become a standard reference for practitioners in SE Queensland and the Northern Rivers of NSW.

• Subtropical Rainforest Restoration: a Practical Manual and Data Source for Landcare Groups, land Managers and Rainforest Regenerators, produced by the Big Scrub Rainforest Landcare Group, also contains a wealth of information relating to ecological restoration of subtropical rainforest. (Visit: www.bigscrubrainforest.org.au/online-store/subtropical-rainforest-restoration )

Do I need a licence to carry out ecological restoration on my property?

A licence is required to carry out bush regeneration in an Endangered Ecological Community. Find out more on the Office of Environment and Heritage website:
www.environment.nsw.gov.au/wildlifelicences/index.htm

Where can I find out more information about weeds?
Weeds
Far North Coast Weeds


Site action plans

Site Action Plans (SAPs) are often used as a guide to carrying out on-ground weed control work. Site action plans:

• Describe and map site-specific biodiversity values, including the legislative status of plant communities and individual species of flora and fauna;
• Outline the threats to these values; and
• List the management actions (often a series of weed control strategies) required to mitigate these threats.

SAPs use good quality maps to describe management zones and other key information to help bush regenerators and landholders work effectively in the field. SAPs also outline the methods to be used to monitor the response of native vegetation to management actions, providing a useful means of evaluating a key element of project success.

Council has developed a standard SAP template and other standard documents for ecological restoration projects being carried out under Council's Biodiversity Grant Program. These standard documents provide a framework for site assessment, monitoring and evaluation and progress reports. This framework helps bush regenerators and landholder understand what is required for each project and provides a basis for assessing value for money and project effectiveness.

Links to SAPs

Site Action Plan Guidelines (244kB PDF)
Site Action Plan Template (40kB DOCX)
Monitoring and Evaluation Form (61kB PDF)
Last Updated: 29 September 2016