Citizen Science, On-ground

Supporting regeneration of the bush – Cooleman Ridge Park Care Group

Cooleman Ridge ParkCare Group was established in May 1991 by a remarkable woman called Bess Sledge. Bess had read about the success of Urambi Hills ParkCare Group, and decided to initiate a similar group to work on Cooleman Ridge.

Contributed by: Linda Spinaze

Advertisements in local press drew a group of interested volunteers. The first meeting of the group took place on 29 May 1991, with a membership of 27. A letterbox drop and information stalls at Cooleman Court and Weston Creek Festival then swelled membership.

While Bess and her husband David spent many days each week on the Ridge, a small band of enthusiasts formed regular working parties on a Friday and Monday and concentrated their efforts on their own ‘patch’. These ‘caretaker patches’ flourished and provided regular and rewarding work for many in the group, as they saw a great diversity of native plant and animal life returning to their areas. From early 1992, monthly Sunday work parties were also held at various sites along the Ridge.

Chris and Paul on Arawang. Photo: Cooleman Ridge ParkCare Group

Since then, the group has not only continued weeding out invasive exotic species, but has also established two nature trails with printed pamphlets, conducted an extensive and detailed tree survey, surveyed plant recovery after a controlled burn, monitored the vegetation in two areas over five years, and planted native species to replace exotic weeds.

Due to the diligence and enthusiastic efforts of the early members of the group and the continuation of working parties over the years, Cooleman Ridge members and visitors can now enjoy many areas on the ridge which have abundant native species.

Cooleman Ridge ParkCare Group aims to restore as much native vegetation as possible and to reduce the exotic, invasive weeds. Over the years the group decided to concentrate on removing non-native plants and to nurture self-seeding native species, rather than participating in time-consuming planting (and watering) exercises.

The group concentrates its energies on five areas spread out along the length of the ridge. They meet to work in these areas on a rotation once a month. Some members also work alone at other times, fitting their volunteering around life’s other commitments.

Photo: Cooleman Ridge ParkCare Group