In 1991 when David Blomfield purchased his 66 hectare property on the upper reaches of Mudgeeraba Creek he knew he had a lot of work ahead of him. For years the property, which contains dry eucalypt open forest, wet sclerophyll forest and subtropical rainforest had been logged. Timber was milled on site and parts of the property were heavily disturbed. Buried amongst the thick lantana, David came across the rusted remains of old logging wagons and equipment.
Despite the impacts of logging and other disturbance, David soon became aware of the importance of the property for nature conservation. It adjoined Springbrook National Park and a botanical survey of the rainforest confirmed the presence of numerous rare and threatened species. The question was, “how to make a start with such a big job of restoration?”
While working full time during the week, David devoted his weekends to restoring a rainforest gully near his house. After clearing the lantana by hand he planted some native rainforest species including some propagated from seed collected on the property. However, it soon became apparent that with an excellent seed source from surrounding intact forest, natural regeneration was very vigorous and could be relied on to quickly fill the gaps.
At that time the thought of restoring the entire property seemed hardly possible but, encouraged by his success in one small area, David decided to continue the work by extending the initial project to a new area along the driveway. At this time the critical importance of follow-up weeding became apparent. It was found that after a couple of years of follow-up work, the canopy had closed sufficiently to shade out the lantana and prevent it re-infesting restored areas.
David registered the property with Land for Wildlife in 1999. Then, wishing to protect the property permanently, applied for a Voluntary Conservation Agreement (VCA) with Gold Coast City Council in 2003. The VCA places a covenant on the conservation land and is binding on future owners.
All Gold Coast VCA property owners receive financial support in the form of a rate rebate (referred to as a ‘donation’) and reimbursement of management costs incurred in protecting or restoring the conservation area. David found that this enabled him to make excellent progress with the restoration work as some of the VCA money could be used to employ a contractor to assist with lantana clearing and some of the follow-up weeding.
Gold Coast City Council has recently revised its VCA policy to provide increased incentives for ecological restoration. Council sees this as an essential part of its Nature Conservation Strategy that aims to increase the native vegetation cover in the City. VCA landholders are now entitled to an upfront incentive payment of $7,000 and can claim up to $7,000 per annum to cover management expenses.
By encouraging and assisting the efforts of dedicated landholders like David Bloomfield, Council sees an excellent return on its investment in the form of biodiversity conservation and for improved protection of the adjoining national park and Council-managed conservation reserves.
David Blomfield shows Darryl Larsen (GCCC Land for Wildlife Officer) a patch of healthy regenerating rainforest that was a wall of lantana ten years ago.
In partnership with landholders, Gold Coast City Council’s VCA program helps to protect and restore areas of high conservation value such as this stretch of Upper Mudgeeraba Creek on David’s property.
The work ahead – a lantana infested gully (shown on the left) contrasts dramatically with the restored subtropical rainforest on the right side of the image.
Article by Darryl Larsen, Land for Wildlife Officer, Gold Coast City Council
Please note that VCA Policy figures were updated in March 2022.