Ecological restoration planning and implementation

Damien is highly experienced in the design and revegetation of restored and constructed wetland and terestrial systems. Whilst working as the Director and Senior Ecologist at Australian Ecosystems Damien successfully established diverse, healthy wetland plant communities in over 300 constructed wetland projects over the past 25 years.  This included two of the largest and most complex restoration sites to date in Victoria and Australia: 40 hectare Waterways Estate in Braeside, South East Melbourne and the restoration of 200 hectares of coastal park at the Victorian Desalination Plant, Wonthaggi.

Over this period Damien developed unique wetland and terrestrial restoration skills including:

  • Successful germination and production of a variety of species of plants in optimal formats ideally suited for rapid establishment
  • Developed knowledge on ecological requirements of plant guilds to ensure planting and recruitment success
  • Extensive experience in establishing plants in challenging dynamic wetland environments and polluted stormwater systems
  • Developed project design principles for achieving high survival rates and successful coverage of planting zones which in turn minimised long term weed management (planting rates, densities, species selection)

 

The Ecological Reserve at the Victorian Desalination Plant, Wonthaggi 2009-2012Desal-revegetation

Damien as director and senior ecologist at Australian Ecosystems worked in partnership with Thiess Degremont Joint Venture to undertake one of the largest and most complex landscape restoration projects in Australia. Damien assisted in the design, management and implementation of this 200 hectare project.  The site was predominantly farmland with small remnants of native vegetation.  Commencing in 2009 around 200 hectares of wetland and terrestrial habitat was created using more than 3.2 million indigenous plants of 250 different species (including 9 rare species), creating 12 different indigenous ecological vegetation classes (EVC’s), habitat for the nationally threatened Australasian Bittern and Australian Painted Snipe and the FFG-listed Swamp Skink. Project management included seed collection, plant propagation and plant establishment.

 “The Waterways” Estate in Braeside, South East Melbourne

Damien as director and senior ecologist at Australian Ecosystems worked with the team at AE to design and implement the award winning (UDIA Award for Water Sensitive Urban Design, 2001/2002 UDIA Award for Environmental Excellence, API award for SEAV State Environmental Development) 40 hectare Waterways Estate in Braeside, South East Melbourne. The aim of the project was to use constructed wetlands to reduce the pollutant loads to Mordialloc Creek and recreate habitat which originally occurred in the Carrum Carrum Swamp, a vast wetland complex which stretched from Mordialloc to Kananook and as far inland as Keysborough of which only 5% is left.  Commencing in 2003 around 40 hectares of wetland and terrestrial habitat was created using more than 1.4 million indigenous plants of 223 different species, creating 10 different indigenous ecological vegetation classes (EVC’s).  This included 14 species of rare or threatened plants. The successful establishment of such diverse vegetation has so far attracted 102 species of native birds, and the wetlands on the site are home to 6 species of frogs.

Given optimal conditions, including natural wetting and drying and protection from water bird grazing, wetland vegetation can establish very rapidly. This sequence of photographs, taken over a nine month period, shows vegetation establishment in a constructed wetland from newly constructed and bare of native species on the left to well vegetated with a high cover of indigenous plants and minimal weeds on the right.

Threatened Species Re-introductions

Establishing the nationally endangered Stiff Groundsel (Senecio behrianus)  in Gunbower Forest (2015) [Client: North Central CMA]Senecio-behrianus,-Two-Tree-Swamp-ps

Rakali collected seed and cutting material from every known population of the nationally endangered Stiff Groundsel and had this material propagated at a specialist indigenous nursery (Newstead Natives). Plants were planted, guarded, watered and monitored with the Barapa Barapa indigenous works crew in areas of suitable habitat within Gunbower State Forest and National Park

Establishing the nationally vulnerable Ridged Water-milfoil (Myriophyllum porcatum) in Gunbower Forest  (2014) [Client: North Central CMA]Myriophyllum-porcatum

Rakali propagated the national vulnerable endangered Ridged Water-milfoil (Myriophyllum porcatum) from seed from collected locally appropriate populations. Plants were planted, guarded, watered and monitored with the Barapa Barapa indigenous works crew in areas of suitable habitat within Gunbower State Forest and National Park

Habitat profile of the nationally endangered Stiff Groundsel (Senecio behrianus) (2015) [Client: North Central CMA]Gilgai-in-Black-Box-Plains-Woodland-with-M-porcatum-guard

For this project the habitat characteristics of all known extant populations of Stiff Groundsel were closely investigated to determine the species ecological requirements. This information was then used to determine suitable locations for the introduction of this species into areas primarily managed for nature conservation to help ensure its future survival in the wild.