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Revegetation at HWCA

The original composition and extent of the vegetation of Hunter Wetlands Centre Australia is difficult to determine due largely to the lack of information on the site and partly due to the amount of reclamation and alteration that had taken place.

Because of past uses of site the understory is also made up of a large number of weed grasses and annuals

Many weed species existed on  the site because of its prior use as a dump.

Others however are distributed from nearby areas by various means such as wind borne seed, movement of storm water, imported mulch, and via people  and birds.

There are many exotic plant species that occur at Shortland Wetlands. Occasionally, rubbish will be dumped on the site,  vegetation  cleared along fences that surround the site or  exotic tree species may be planted in the local area , which are all activities that can enhance the  spread of weeds on the site.

Many exotic plants that occur have the  potential to become environmental weeds and therefore pose a threat to the site’s values.

If not controlled, pest plants may dramatically alter the structure and composition of remaining native  plant communities, leading to a loss of native plant species and changes in habitat characteristics  for native fauna

 ‘Environmental’ weeds are exotic plants that invade native vegetation, adversely affecting native flora. Which often form a mono-specific stands,  causing changes in food resources and habitat structure, usually resulting in a reduction of the diversity and abundance of both  native plant and animal species .

Our main focus will be to remove those weeds which are listed in the WON’s list and or the HCRCMA priority list of weeds as these have catchment wide implications if left to spread although all weeds in a revegetation area will be removed as part of the revegetation process.

 The control of such  weeds is a requirement by law; they are listed by type and class via the local Council, and other  government departments, along with level of control and related information on control methods.

The most serious terrestrial weed species that occur at Shortland Wetlands include:

  • Bitou Bush(Chrysanthemoides monilifera), 
  • Small-leaved Privet (Ligustrum sinense),
  • Wandering Jew (Tradescantia albiflora),
  • Lantana (Lantana camara),
  • Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus),
  • Castor Oil Plant (Ricinus communis),
  • Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare),
  • Pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana),
  • Balloon Vine (Cardiospermum grandiflorum),
  • Madeira Vine (Anredera cordifolia),
  • Moth Vine (Araujia sericifera),
  • Green Cestrum (Cestrum parqui),
  • Camphor Laurel (Cinnamon camphora) and
  • Kikuyu (Pennisetumclandestinum).
  • Dock (Rumex spp.),
  • Water Primrose (Ludwigia peruviana), and
  • Pennywort (Hydrocotyle bonariensis),
  • African Olive (Olea euopea spp),
  • Broad-Leaf Privet (ligustrum lucidum),
  • Jasmine (Mandevilla laxa),
  • Morning Glory (Ipomoea indica),
  • Mexican Pine (Pinus spp), Guinea Grass
  • (Panicum maximum var.maximum), 
  • Asparagus Fern (Asparagus virgatus), 
  • Onion Weed (Nothoscordum borbonicum or N gracile),
  • Canna Lily (Canna x generslis),
  • Wandering Creeper (Trandescantia Fuminensis oralbiflora or zebrine),
  • Couch (Cynodon dactylon),
  • African Daisy (Senecio pterophorus),
  • Easter Cassia (  Senna pendula var.  glabrata), 
  • Purpletop (Verbina bonariensis),  
  • Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia,
  • Elm (Ulmus spp)


Aquatic Weeds

The most serious aquatic weed species that occur on the site include:

  • Alligator Weed (Alternanthera philoxeroides) which is currently being attacked by an ongoing spraying campaign ,
  • Torpedo Grass (Panicum repens) which grows in or near shallow waters forming monocultures where it can quickly displace native vegetation. 
  • Sharp Rush (Juncus acutus) which is closely related to a number of native rush species but is invasive also poses a significant threat as it also displaces native vegetation. Isolated plants have been found on various locations close to Ironbark Creek and in Hexham  Swamp.

Management actions and or plans backed by grant funds are underway to control or diminish most of these threats

Bush Regeneration

The dominant vegetation was Swamp Oak Casuarina glauca forest and Common Reed Phragmites australis, with the Reeds becoming more dominant in the wetter ‘swamp’ communities to the west.
These communities were almost totally cleared. The swamp communities on the eastern edge were also cleared and reclaimed, although the extent of the filling is unknown.
There were significant changes in the upland vegetation with most of the trees being removed and the natural understorey being replaced by pasture species in most areas. Remnant native species suggest that the original upland vegetation comprised an open forest dominated by Spotted Gum Corymbia maculata and Grey Ironbark Eucalyptus paniculata, with an understorey of various sclerophyllus shrubs.
In order to obtain baseline data of the original vegetation for future planting purposes, a flora inventory of the whole Hunter Wetlands Centre site was undertaken. The entire site was mapped and divided into zones.
Native plant species that were not endemic to the Hunter region were planted around the Visitors’ Centre building, while local native species representative of the existing plant community were planted around the human-altered ponds and other areas including other buildings.
Prior to 1988, 2,290 trees were planted by Greening Australia (Hunter Valley). Since 1988 all species, including the number of plants, the locality that was planted, and the person/s who planted have been recorded.
Members of the Australian Plant Society and the Hunter Wetlands Centre volunteers (Wetlands Centre Wonder Weeders) and supporters have undertaken most of the planting. The Jesmond Lions Club, Newcastle North and Newcastle Rotary Clubs, GreenCorps, Green Reserve and local Scout groups have also provided assistance.  There are three registered Landcare groups on the site including 'The Wetland Wonder Weeders, Thursday Mob' and the 'Butcherbird Gully Group'.
A grant from the Steel Industries Assistance Program facilitated the planting of vegetation from the Visitors Centre to Ironbark Creek. The planting of species such as Casuarina glauca, Melaleuca stypheloides, M. quinquenervia, M. nodosa, M. linearfolia, Crinum pedunculatum, Ficus coronata, Elaeocarpus obovatus, Callistemon salignus stabilised the clay banks of the canoe trail and provide a more aesthetically pleasing buffer of vegetation.

In other areas, Eucalyptus tereticornis and E. robusta were extensively planted as means of attracting Koalas to the site. Supplementing these Eucalyptus was the planting of 3,000 trees to form a wildlife corridor from the Melaleuca Swamp through to Ironbark Creek. Plants from genera such as Eucalyptus spp.,Acacia spp., Leptospermum spp., Ficus spp., Syncarpia spp., Alphitonia spp., have all been established and have shown substantial growth in these areas.

An enormous amount of work has been undertaken over the  years at the Hunter Wetlands Centre. Main work ( majority by the volunteers or  the Thursday mob) has involved removal of these invading weeds  and an inordinate number of other exotic grasses and herbs.

To join a Landcare team or the site maintenance team click here to send an email. Similarly, if you or your group would like to participate in our onsite regeneration works click here to make arrangements. 

Plant Source

Plants were obtained early on by donation and purchase with Australian Plant Society (APS) funds. Now plants are propagated on site for use at the Hunter Wetlands Centre and for sale to the general public.



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