Photo: Kristian Bell

Ten years of forest restoration in the Upwey Corridor, Dandenong Ranges

Over the past 10 years, Friends of Ferny Creek have led a successful ongoing restoration project in the Upwey Corridor. The Corridor connects the Ferntree Gully and Sherbrooke sections of the Dandenong Ranges National Park east of Melbourne.

The Corridor includes 60 hectares of wet and damp forest dominated by Mountain Ash and Manna Gum. The area is important because of its biodiversity, such as the threatened Sooty Owl, and for allowing local animals to move between the two sections of the National Park. But weeds represent a major risk.

‘Most of the weeds involved are garden escapes, spread into the area by birds, wind and water, direct dumping from adjacent private property owners or establishment by the original settlers,’ said Bill Incoll, a volunteer with Friends of Ferny Creek.

In 2006, Friends of Ferny Creek began a restoration project to restore biodiversity. The main approach was to remove environmental weeds and allow the native vegetation to regenerate naturally.

Today, the weeds have been greatly reduced and native vegetation has regenerated to occupy much of the Corridor. Native vegetation quality has increased by 32%.

‘Work on reducing weeds has strong and lasting effects,’ said Bill Incoll.

In 2010, there was a sighting of a male Superb Lyrebird in the Mast Gully Creek catchment – the first observation of a resident Superb Lyrebird in the area since the 1950s. The bird has since taken up permanent residence in the study area.

As well as Friends of Ferny Creek, the restoration project involves Friends of Sherbrooke Forest, Friends of Monbulk Creek, Parks Victoria International Volunteers and the Green Army. There has been support from Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water, Port Philip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, and the Australian Government’s Envirofund.

A paper on this restoration work was published recently in the Journal of Ecological Management & Restoration (doi: 10.1111/emr.12329)