Friends of Maria Island

Wildcare’s Friends of Maria Island demonstrated how long term commitment (of nearly 20 years) and consistent effort have paid off during the 2023 Community Landcare Conference Field Trip to Maria Island on October 15th – hardly a broom plant to be found!

The history and conservation values of Maria Island are special and volunteers play an important role in partnering with PWS to identify, monitor and address threats to these values.

Anne and Peter Booth, who lead the Friends, spoke of the group’s history:

“Discovering Sea Spurge on Maria Is. in 2003 at Riedle Bay, we began a twice-yearly clearance which continues today.

In 2005 Ranger Richard Koch initiated a volunteer program to control Montpellier Broom, (Skipping Ridge/Bernacchis Valley) and established a mapping grid. He also tagged the Spanish heath site near Haunted Bay.

FoMI became a Wildcare group in 2007 to target these species; Wildcare has given ongoing support throughout.

Primary control was completed in 2014 with monitoring occurring on a 2 to 3 year rotation. The aim is to prevent seed drop. Animal browsing of maturing plants is important; a psyllid (biological control) also has some effect. Seed bank life can be 16 years; sites are becoming weed-free and the proliferation of native species and ground litter has suppressed germination. In many areas, we are well on the way to eradication.

The inaccessibility of the Spanish heath near Haunted Bay made it unsuitable for commercial control. Volunteers, in two camping trips to Haunted Bay in 2008-9 (boat access), completed primary control, thanks to outstanding assistance from PWS in transport, logistics and direct support. Subsequent biennial checks have found little regrowth; burgeoning native species now make the site unrecognisable; it is now effectively clear. A smaller infestation, found in 2009 near Robey’s farmhouse, is monitored annually.

With up to five working bees a year this has been a major preoccupation for the last 18 years.

We now find it very rewarding to reflect on our achievements.”

And so they should!

Find out how you can be involved in their next field trip (8-12 Nov) at this link!

Join the Friends of Maria Island Wildcare branch to be kept updated on opportunities to volunteer.