At the invitation of Tamborine Mountain Landcare Inc, our group tagged along to their survey of a small area around the top of the Deerbrook Fire Break. This exits to the North from the dirt section of Wongawallan Road about 300 metres down from the top locked gate. This fire break extends past the top of the Gold Coast City Council Commonwealth Games Bush bike training area and along/down a ridge to the NNW into the valley above the western end of Welches Road.
Report in Progress Map
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Judith Roland (President of TM Landcare) told us of the importance of these surveys to their work and funding. She always checks the survey data for each new regeneration project to assist with species selection for that general area. A big thank-you was expressed for the work of Mike Russell and others for more than 10 years of data compilation and recording system work as well as arranging for the visiting species identification experts.
Glenn Leiper attended to assist with the Tamborine Mountain Landcare Survey as well as to collect data as part of his weekly survey program around South East Queensland for Queensland Herbarium records. Glenn is well known for his skills in native species botanical identification and surveys and he works in the Society for Growing Australian Plants. His work as first author and excellent photography is a major part of the Mangroves to Mountains book series.
We turned left off Wongawallan Rd towards Deerbrook Fire Break (see its track map) and climbed to the highest point of the ridge which flows down the the North North West. At this high point we reached Deerbrook Break and you can see the GCCC sign-age for the Mountain Bike training tracks for use at the upcoming Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
This area is either part of or abutting the Eagle Heights Conservation Area (page 13 Map at top) in the GCCC Tamborine Guanaba Conservation Plan. That Plan states that the Eagle Heights Conservation Area is a Key Reserve in their Conservation Plan. Eagle Heights Conservation Area has been purchased using the open space preservation levy (OSPL).
So some comments from that Conservation Plan for this important area of Tamborine Mountain are very relevant to this site. Some are quoted below from that plan pertaining to the whole Plan area as well as specifically mentioned for the Eagle Heights Conservation Area.
The area has Eucalyptus tereticornis, Eucalyptus siderophloia, Eucalyptus propinqua, Eucalyptus saligna or Eucalyptus grandis, Eucalyptus microcorys, Eucalyptus acmenoides, Lophostemon confertus tall open forest on metamorphics +/- interbedded volcanics.
The management cluster is mostly rural, and much of the land adjoining the reserves is classified as rural residential land. Grazing and hobby farming are common land uses in the vicinity of the reserves, although there is also forested private land adjacent to the reserves. In the east of the management cluster there is the suburban area of Upper Coomera.
Flora studies within the planning area have determined that Gold Coast City Council vegetation types 29, 1a, 2 and 2a (Table 2) contain significant habitat for rare and threatened plant species (Searle and Maden 2007). Eagle Heights Conservation Area contains the largest quantity of these vegetation types, suggesting that this reserve offers significant habitat for rare and threatened plants.
Eagle Heights Conservation Area also contains potential habitat for several species listed under the Queensland Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 2006 including the vulnerable brush tailed phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa) and the vulnerable long nosed potoroo (Potorous tridactylus).
Creek flows through Eagle Heights Conservation Area and is located within the Coomera River Catchment (WBM Oceanics Australia 2005). The planning area offers valuable protection to the waterways in the management cluster. In particular, the vegetated portions of the reserves provide important buffers and wildlife corridors, stability of the interface between land and water and protection of water quality which plays an important part in the river’s habitat and ecological values.
Eagle Heights Conservation Area, Guanaba Creek Reserve, Mystery Road Reserve, King Parrot Reserve, Gladrose Reserve and Caballo Road Reserve all support significant tracts of native forest. Remnant vegetation of very high ecological value is found in Eagle Heights Conservation Area and King Parrot Reserve. These reserves contain fauna habitat such as fallen timber, hollow logs, tree hollows and some permanent water sources. Weeds are
present in reasonably areas of these reserves, although this is being addressed by ecological restoration works.
A total of 682 native and exotic plant species representing 431 genera from 126 families of vascular plants have been recorded within the planning area. This is exceptionally diverse in a global context (Leiper et al. 2001). Fourteen regional ecosystems (REs) and specific regional ecosystem vegetation communities (Queensland Herbarium 2009) have been identified. One of these regional ecosystems is classified as ‘endangered’ (RE 12.3.1, which is also an element of 12.3.1/12.3.2 below), with a further three classified as ‘of concern’ (REs is also an element of 12.3.1/12.3.2 below), with a further three classified as ‘of concern’ (REs 12.3.11, 12.11.9 and 12.3.2 (an element of 12.3.1/12.3.2)), under the Queensland Vegetation Management Act 1999. Of these REs, 12.3.1/12.3.2, 12.3.1 and 12.11.9 have low or very low representation within the city (GCCC, 2009a).
Glen explained how regular fires lead to nitrogen deficiency and decimate under-story plant survival. This eventually leads to ground cover from blady grasses. The loss of under-story leads to significant reduction in bird, mammal and reptile life in this forest. This was evident this day with almost no animal activity in the survey area.
There were signs of Wattle growth activity which without regular fires can help form bacteria around roots for nitrogen rebuilding of soils.
We reached an old barb wire fence running to North North East. This probably marked the boundary to an adjoining Freehold property identified with QLD Globe data on Google Earth. We moved back to the East and up the track.
Soil structure of the area is a shallow prairie soil developed on metamorphic sandstone and intruded Rhyolite.
About 50 metres up we went to the left along the East slope of the knoll. As we started our return on the Eastern slope of the knoll we sensed Glenn was disheartened from a low species count (most likely from regular fire damage). However, he spotted an interesting sapling 20 metres away and on the journey to it and just after it we found about another 10 species mostly of ground covers.
The total species count for the Survey Site was over 60 which may be less than expected for this type of eco-system but still good given what seems to have been repeated fires
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