COASTAL REHABILITATION AT TREE POINT
Tree Point, located north of Darwin, is a coastal habitat restoration project being run by the Larrakia Rangers. This Territory Natural Resource Management-funded project aims to restore a section of coastal monsoon forest as part of a broader management strategy for the coastal habitat of the greater Darwin region. Over the last three years, this low-key project has far exceeded its initial modest targets of clearing a small 0.5ha section of the invasive weed poinciana. Since 2013, it had been extensively removed from across approximately five hectares, including dozens of large, mature trees that were felled with the help of a qualified arborist. To effectively eradicate this prolific and fast growing species, individual plants need to be cut down and the stumps poisoned to prevent them re-shooting. In order to be able to carry out this work, six Larrakia rangers have so far received a certification in chemical handling and 17 have been trained in chainsaw use over the course of the project.
The site has also been used for a range of other training purposes, including plant identification and tree planting (part of a Conservation and Land Management Certificate) as well as GPS use and basic mapping. As new areas are cleared and opened up, dormant seeds spring into action which means an abundance of small seedlings that also need to be regularly removed by hand. The final part of the rehabilitation process involves planting in native seedlings which will eventually help suppress further poinciana regrowth once the natives have properly established.
However, this hot and tiring work is not without its rewards. As well as learning new skills and restoring an important piece of coastal habitat, the Larrakia rangers also created quite the local buzz when they found a pair of rare Atlas moths during one of their routine visits. This species is uncommon in the NT and is only found at a handful of coastal monsoon forest sites. Although it was once local to the Darwin region, it hasn’t been seen near the city in decades and this site is the closest it’s been found to Darwin since the early 1970s when it was last seen in the city. Since this discovery, rangers have made some changes to the selection of natives being planted to include host plants for Atlas moths - Litsea glustinousa, Croton argyratus and Pittsporum moluccanum - that will encourage them to stay, breed, and hopefully continue their migration across the NT coastal fringe.