Lending a hand in Metung rainforest

Lending a hand in Metung rainforest

More than 30 local volunteers joined members of the East Gippsland Conservation Management Network (EGCMN), in a rainforest at Metung’s Chinamans Creek last weekend to ‘lend a hand and learn’ about this special place.

EGCMN manager, Tom Crook, shared some of his knowledge about both the natural features and problems this habitat faces, helping the group look at the forest with fresh eyes and a new-found appreciation for its conservation value.

“The rainforest survives here as the gully provides a natural refuge from fire, which rainforests really can’t handle as they evolved long before fire became commonplace in Australia, millions of years ago,” Tom said.

“These rainforest areas provide us with a window into the past and allow us to see what forests Australia wide used to look like. They are also hotspots for rare plants and animals.

“The rainforest here is currently quite unhealthy having been historically degraded by stock and now becoming overrun with introduced ‘garden escapee’ weeds, including mirror bush, honeysuckle, ivy and asparagus fern, and further damaged by exotic sambar deer.

“Over the next few years we hope to help this rainforest naturally repair itself by getting rid of the weeds, planting local rainforest species and importantly giving locals the opportunity to help look after it as a community asset.”

Rainforests in this and other locations are home to large numbers of plants that are not found elsewhere due to the moist and often humid microclimate created by the thick canopy of rainforest trees, including lilly-pillies and muttonwoods which, unlike eucalytps, hold their leaves parallel to the forest floor, filtering light and casting a deep shade.

“The restoration of this patch of paradise (just over three hectares) is within reach and together we can bring it back to health,” Tom said.

“This project is funded, in part, by the Victorian Government’s Coastcare program and we are most grateful for the assistance.

“We will be holding another event in the gully sometime in the new year to which everyone is encouraged and welcome to attend.”

IMAGE: Ecologist and East Gippsland Conservation Management Network manager, Tom Crook, helping volunteers lend a hand and learn in the Metung rainforest on Sunday. (PS)