The group has developed a broad strategy to achieve its goal of regenerating the bush on Cooleman Ridge. This strategy guides all the work that the group performs on the ridge.
However, our work and the strategy that guides it is generally poorly understood or even misunderstood by the broader community.
This page is intended to better explain the what, why, when, who and how of the groups work.
The groups strategy is based on our own variation of the Bradley Method of bush regeneration.
The Bradley Method is popular amongst similar "landcare" groups that are trying to "regenerate the bush".
The effectiveness of this method is proven and is now widely accepted as the most cost-effective method to regenerate the bush. It has become the de-facto standard for bush regeneration groups throughout Australia.
The Bradley Method is based on the belief that the Australian bush has a natural tendency to regenerate itself.
This is because natives are generally better adapted to the conditions of the Australian landscape and will eventually out compete most exotics, whether humans help or not. That is, if left alone, the bush will naturally regenerate itself, even it this process would take decades or centuries.
However, humans can significantly accelerate this natural regeneration process. The main idea of the Bradley Method is for humans to tap into this natural tendency of the bush to regenerate itself - all mother nature needs from us is a helping hand!
The most important thing humans can do to help accelerate the natural regeneration of the bush is through an intensive and targeted weeding plan. The Bradley Method places a strong emphasis of "weeding over planting".
However, this emphasis of weeding over planting is the single biggest misconception the general public has about bush regeneration in general and our group in particular.
Bush regeneration is usually seen by the general public as being "all about planting". Also this emphasis does not fit with the stereotypical view of "landcare" groups promoted by the media which portrays planting as being more sexy and glamorous than weeding.
Furthermore, this emphasis on weeding is counter intuitive to those unfamiliar with it. Planting seems to be the more intuitive way of restoring native vegetation. That is, if you want more native plants then it seems obvious that we should just simply plant more of them.
The main reason why weeding is preferred to planting is that it removes competition preventing native vegetation from naturally regenerating itself.
The main factor that prevents the natural regeneration of the bush is the presence of competition in the form of weeds as they "compete" for essential resources that allow natives to naturally regenerate to their full potential.
The three main resources that weeds compete for include:
The main reason for weeding therefore is that it simply removes this competition on natives and thereby allows them to maximise their use of these essential resources.
Removing competition releases the resources for the native plants to utilise and has the following important benefits to native vegetation:
Weeding therefore significantly accelerates the natural regeneration of native vegetation and once competition for these scarce resources is removed, the bush typically thrives.
Weeding can therefore be though of as is a natural "accelerant" to bush regeneration, just as petrol is an "accelerant" to fire.
The group believes that weeding is the single most cost effective way of stimulating natural regeneration.
Specifically, weeding can achieve the same results more cost effectively than an equivalent planting strategy, or put another way, weeding gives a much better "return on investment" than planting.
The idea is that it is more effective to "remove" exotics (ie. weed) rather than "add" natives (ie. plant).
We believe that an hours weeding gives a much better return than an hours planting, or alternatively, it is better to pull out 100 weeds than plant 100 trees.
The following table summarises the relative "costs" of planting over weeding to achieve the same level of bush regeneration:
Or in other words, weeding is a "low cost, high return" activity whereas planting is a "high cost, low return" one.
Furthermore, weeding has many secondary benefits in addition to its role in stimulating native regeneration. These include benefits such as fuel reduction and improved recreational amenity.