In an email to Blandforida (Newsletter of the North Shore Group of the Australian Plants Society), Jeff Howes pointed out a very interesting web site that discusses the problem of feral Indian Myna birds. Introduced to Melbourne in 1862 to control insect pests, despite being largely unsuccessful in this role they were taken to many places around the country and have now established significant feral populations.
Indian Mynas are listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the World's 100 Worst Invasive Species. Feral Mynas pose health risks to humans and livestock while having a significant negative impact on biodiversity, through competing for hollows and destroying eggs and chicks of other birds. These birds are known to mob and evict Kookaburras, Dollar Birds, Sugar Gliders and other mammals from their nests.
Don't confuse them with the Noisy Miner - a native bird whose only real similarity is that its name sounds the same.
The Common Indian Myna website covers:
..... now, if only someone would do something similar for those bloody european blackbirds.....
Bruce Maslin, of the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management, advises of a very important event for anyone interested in Acacia. Bruce writes....
"This is to inform you that a new Acacia website, WorldWideWattle, will be launched via a direct webcast from the small Western Australian rural township of Dalwallinu on 25 March between 6 and 7 pm (Western Australian Standard Time). The launch of WorldWideWattle is one of a number of events (including the launch of the AcaciaSearch book that Maurice McDonald and I recently completed) that will happen, under the banner of the 'Dalwallinu Environmental Expo', during this hour long webcast. The attached press release, prepared by the Dalwallinu Shire, provides some background information concerning this event."
Obviously, it's now too last to log in to the web cast but you can still view it via a link on the World Wide Wattle Web Site. However, be quick because it won't be there forever!
For reason's of space I haven't included the press release mentioned by Bruce but here's an extract of the most important points.....
The World Wide Wattle website will be launched during the Environmental Expo by the Hon. Kim Chance, WA Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Midwest, Wheatbelt and Great Southern. This site is a collaborative project involving the Shire of Dalwallinu, the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management and the Canberra-based Australian Tree Seed Centre (part of CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products). The aim of the website is to deliver authoritative information on Australian species of Acacia in order to inform, educate and promote the conservation, utilisation and enjoyment of this important group of plants.
Information focuses on the scientific, social and cultural importance of Wattles and is intended for use by a wide range of users, both professional and amateur, including taxonomists, ecologists, foresters, horticulturalists, naturalists, school children, and indeed, anyone who simply wants to learn more about this fascinating group of plants. It includes descriptions and photographs of the species, information about where they grow and how many species occur in different parts of the world, information on the cultivation, utilisation and taxonomy of Wattles.
The website is a culmination of work by a team headed by Mr Bruce Maslin from the West Australian Department of Conservation and Land Management. Mr Maslin has been studying wattles for more than 30 years.
The AcaciaSearch book is published by the Joint Venture Agroforestry Program (JVAP) and identifies, evaluates and provides detailed information for 35 species of Acacia that are considered prospective as new woody crop plants in the agricultural region of southern Australia (within the 250-650 mm rainfall zone).
The impetus for the study was the need to undertake large-scale commercial plantings with perennial plants as a treatment for salinity control in these regions.
Emphasis was given to fast growing species with potential for producing large amounts of wood biomass that may find uses as solid and reconstituted wood products and for bioenergy, and which may possess commercially attractive by-products such as extractives (especially tannin and gum) and fodder.
This publication is available from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) ph: 02 6272 4891.
The World Wide Wattle website and the AcaciaSearch book provide access to detailed information concerning many of these species. These products are the essential foundations for understanding and assessing the biodiversity value of Acacia and for effectively conserving, managing and utilizing this valuable resource. Some of the many areas where acacias have actual and potential application are in the production of wood products (sawn timber, furniture, pulp, reconstituted wood products, fuelwoods, craftwoods and musical instruments), secondary plant products (tannin, adhesives, gums, essential oils), environmental utilisation (reclamation of degraded and often salinised land which is often caused by over-clearing), seeds as food for human consumption, as a source of fodder, in horticulture/floriculture and as a host plant for the valuable Sandalwood tree.
A sterile form of Sollya heterophylla?
Sue Gwilym, Secretary of APS Victoria recently wrote:
"Your readers may or may not be aware of the environmental damage being caused by Sollya heterophylla (Bluebell Creeper) escaping from our gardens and smothering our bushland, but I thought I should pass on some information I received from Sustainable Gardening Australia about a sterile hybrid that is now available. Here is an excerpt from their newsletter (Edition 13 January 2004)."
For those who aren't aware, S.heterophylla is a serious pest in parts of southern Australia - see the map adjacent which indicates the natural distribution of the species (red) and the areas where it has become a pest (purple). The affected areas may not look large but it's a very small map!!
The fact that the species hasn't become weedy in other areas doesn't mean that it won't, given time, so the development of sterile form is worthwhile. I wonder, though, how much testing has been done and whether the sterility is a response to a particular environment rather than being a genetic factor.
Sustainable Gardening Australia
Sue's message spurred me on to take a closer look at the Sustainable Gardening Australia (SGA) website.
To quote from the site "SGA is a not for profit association totally committed to achieving real, continually improving and easily understood environmental solutions for gardeners. Sustainable Gardening Australia provides advice on gardening practices and clearly identifies low environmental impact products. Our mission is to change the way all Australians garden to ensure that they are working with our environment while engaging in their favourite hobby - gardening."
There's a lot to interest readers there, including a series of 'handouts' covering topics such as:
There's also a monthly online magazine. The contents of the March 2004 issue include: Ponderings of a Busy Gardener, Trench Bed Composting, Weed of the month: Watsonia bulb - Watsonia bulbillifera, Indigenous Plant of the Month: Pale Flax Lily - Dianella longifolia, Suburbaculture by Marika, looking at Hand Pollination, Integrated Pest Management, Sustainable Living Festival Review, Agapanthus reminder, Diary Dates.
Definitely worth bookmarking....
This is another site worth bookmarking if you want to keep up to date with environmental news.
Eco media is a non-profit Australian organisation providing a summary of environment and conservation related online media. Eco media covers mainstream news services, as well as media releases from key environmental organizations, government bodies and political parties. Although the service focuses on breaking Australian news, important international issues and events are also featured. Direct links to the full news reports and media releases are provided.
"Australian Plants"....in print!
The Society's 48 page, colour (printed) journal, "Australian Plants" has been published quarterly since 1959. It carries articles of interest to both amateur growers and professionals in botany and horticulture. Its authors include the leading professional and amateur researchers working in with the Australian flora and many beautiful and high quality photographs of Australian plants are published in its pages. Topics covered by the journal cover a wide range and include landscaping, growing, botany, propagation and conservation.
A subscription to the print version of "Australian Plants" is $20 annually for 4 issues (overseas $AUS32) including postage. To subscribe, print out the Subscription Form and post or fax the appropriate fee to the address indicated on the form.
Note that the contents of "Australian Plants" and "Australian Plants online"
These are some of the topics covered in recent issues of "Australian Plants":
Australian Plants online - June 2004