What do swamp wallabies, giant dragonflies, elusive bush-peas and gang-gang cockatoos have in common?
They are just some of the endangered and threatened species of flora and fauna that call our Southern Highlands swamps home.
Our swamps are diverse communities full of edible vegetation, seeds, fruits and nectar-filled flowers which feed insects, skinks, birds and small mammals – which in turn feed native predators like snakes, kookaburras and other birds of prey.
The perched upland swamps in Penrose State Forest are a great example of these important biodiversity assets, and are also home to another very rare and valuable species: the Penrose Swamps Conservation Group.
Over the past five years this dedicated group of volunteers has been working hard to eradicate pest species such as blackberry bushes and wildling pine trees in and around the swamps, with the support of the Forestry Corporation, Local Land Services and Wingecarribee Shire Council through the Environment Levy.
Mayor Juliet Arkwright applauded the efforts of the group.
“For a small group of volunteers to have felled 20,000 wildling pines in this area is truly impressive, and is a testament to the fantastic work these quiet achievers put in when they meet every month,” she said.
In addition to this work, they also monitor bird populations and have been working with university researchers to map the peat substrate of the swamps and research distribution of the rare and vulnerable Eucalyptus aquatica trees.
Convenor of the Penrose Swamps Conservation Group, retired geologist John Shepherd, recently joined forces with Vanessa Keyzer, Regional Landcare Facilitator with Local Land Services, to publish a scientific paper on the ecology of Eucalyptus aquatica in the Paddy’s River upland swamps. The paper was published at the end of May in issue 14 (2014) of Cunninghamia, the prestigious plant ecology journal published by Royal Botanic Gardens.
In recognition of the outstanding achievements of this group, Wingecarribee Shire Council has nominated John Shepherd and the Penrose Swamps Conservation Group for the Peabody Environment and Landcare Award as part of the NSW/ACT Regional Achievement & Community Awards, which will be presented in November.
“This nomination is in recognition of the outstanding conservation outcomes this group has achieved,” Mayor Arkwight said.
“We need to shine a spotlight on the most valuable asset we have in the Wingecarribee – our people and their remarkable efforts.”