In a nutshell my role as part of the Banrock team is to ensure that the ongoing monitoring of our biodiversity and environmental assets are maintained to a high standard in order to retain our Ramsar accreditation.
Broadly speaking this involves all of our Vegetation surveys, bird, fish and frog surveys and keeping track of the water quality. There is an ever-present duty to try to keep on top of any outbreaks of pest plants and animals and to maintain our feral fence structures to protect our biodiversity.
Seasonally there is seed collection to be done including sorting, cleaning and storing before later propagating them in the nursery here which can be up to 16,000 seedling. Later comes the site planting site preparation followed by the planting which we often run with school and community groups. Planting helps us to target areas were there are concerns with erosion, salty soils and lack of diversity caused by the historic grazing of sheep in the landscape.
In a word… Summer! When the weather warms up and a week of 40+ is forecast there is little choice but to start early and then retreat to the office for the day. Sometimes I think the desk work is almost as challenging as the hot weather for an outdoors person like me.
The flora list was under represented when I began with Banrock Station which was a joy for me to be able to put my skills to work. Since 2012 I have added 178 species to bring the list to a total of 315 making it tough to pick a favourite. A standout would be the Quena (Solanum esuriale) which is a small kind of bush tomato. I found it in 2016 when monitoring one of our critically endangered Spiny daisy sites.
The land was Tilled prior to that planting and since the Quena wasn’t present at all in the area it suggests that there may have been some old seed still viable buried which was bought the surface and able to grow within a fenced area away from animals. A good reminder to the testament of some of our lesser known plants.
I love it here in the early spring. The mornings start to warm a little, flowers bloom after a winter slumber and the birds return to the wetland as we raise the water levels to feed and breed.