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A natural regeneration project is currently underway near the riparian zone on Sportsman Creek . unslashed Blady Grass (Imperata cylindrica var. major) is being used as the pioneer plant to allow natural selection of  local species to take hold and regrow forest. Results so far are impressive with healthy saplings of Red Gum (Euc. tereticornis), Swamp Turpentine (Lophostemon suaveolens), Red Ash (Alphitonia excelsa), Pink Bloodwood (Corymbia intermedia), Black Sheoak (Allocasuarina littoralis) and Soft-fruited Tea-tree (Leptospermum brachyandrum) all out-competing the Blady grass.

The following is an excerpt of a published article on  Blady Grass courtesy of  Patricia Edwards.                        Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition.

“Nature designed native grasses to provide for native animals and to help the soils in climates in which they all evolved. In Australia, the importation of domestic livestock forced landowners to replace native grasses with exotic grasses, to provide for a higher nutritional diet for their stock. Blady grass occurs naturally in sparesly scattered tufts through forests on light infertile soils. In cleared areas, however it can put on abundant growth with no nutritional value after its first young flush, taking up vital space in a paddock and quickly becoming a worrying fire risk. For years a solution for its control was fire, until it was realised that burning only brought it back thicker and more prolific than before. In some areas a more effective control is by grazing the young shoots and trampling mature plants before they can produce seeds. But what about areas where there are no cattle? A recent study undertaken to ascertain why this grass can run out of control and to gauge its proper place in the natural cycle revealed some surprising facts and showed it to be not the perennial pest it is generally seen to be. Armed with a plan for fire control, wetland restoration and a wildlife corridor an overview of an area choked by Blady grass for several years showed the tops of young trees poking above the impenetrable swathe. Interestingly, these occured in only the thickest clumps which had been thought to be smothering all natural growth. Examination also revealed that while the surrounding earth was hard and dry, the soil within the swathe was deep, soft and fertile and still retained moisture even after several weeks of  drought. The grass was not growing in a preferred patch of soil, as previously thought, but was in fact creating its own soil, by its quick cycle of regrowth and breakdown of its dense thin leaves and cataphylls. Also surprisingly, the soil proved to be alive with worms, frogs, insects and burrowing blindworms, all uncovered in a single search. Far from stripping nutrition from the ground, the patch of ugly, problematical grass was protecting a complex variety of natural organisms – including fragile sedges and ground covers from the searing heat and winter frosts, while maintaining a rapid creation of deep fertile soil. The Blady grass helped rather than hinder the restoration plan…”.

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