The centrepiece of the ARF’s efforts in the Daintree is 80 hectares of land at Cape Tribulation - The George Mansford Reserve - named after Brigadier George Mansford (retired), founding chairman of the Australian Rainforest Foundation.
The block abuts the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area with Mount Sorrow to the west and Thompson Creek flowing through its centre. The land has been identified by scientists as having the highest ecological values.
Technically the vegetation type is Type 1a/2a complex mesophyll/ mesophyll to notophyll vine forest with a canopy to approximately 18-25m in height and exhibits many rare and threatened species of flora and fauna, including the endangered cassowary.
A little over a quarter of the allotment had been previously cleared for farming. However intact remnant riparian rainforest remains adjacent to Thompson Creek and in fragmented patches of re-growth in the cleared areas. A range of environmental weeds and introduced species occur in these cleared areas and on the forest’s margins.
As the aerial photo shows, two large areas of rainforest were cleared either side of Thompson Creek, which bisects the block.
Following a number of scientific studies in the late 1990’s attempts were made to purchase the block from private ownership. Finally, with Australian Government funding, the Australian Rainforest Foundation managed to secure the property in 2006. With further funding from private and corporate donations, the Foundation has managed to complete the initial rehabilitation of the property. So far 78,000 rainforest trees across 100 different species have been planted on this site.
Of course there is much more to be done to make this reserve accessible to the wider community.
The Rehabilitation Process
The photo gallery shows how the ARF went about rehabilitating the cleared areas. The process undertaken was:
- Poisoning of grass infestation of mainly introduced cattle feed grass-brachiaria but also lantana and Guinea grass, was done using boom spray, quickspray and knapsacks using glyphosate in accordance with published rates.
- Burning of the dead trash and then discing of the ash into the soil followed.
- A period of time was allowed for the remnant seed bank to germinate and this was chopped into the soil using harrows and tractor. This process was undertaken a number of times until the remaining soil seed bank was substantially reduced.
- The final weed regrowth was sprayed and the paddock trenched for planting using a single tyne ripper following contour lines.
- Revegetation planting was undertaken in two periods in November 2012 and May 2013 with 78,000 seedlings of 100 different species, grown out from seeds collected in the area previously. Trenches were 300mm deep and no fertilizer or mulch was used.
- Considerable follow up weed spot spraying was undertaken, particularly in open spaces and on tracks. This was regrowing grasses with emergent sicklepod observed in open spaces. This weed was treated with Grazon or hand pulled.