Bringing Back the Bush
'Bringing back the Bush' is the title of the book written by Joan Bradley about the practices she and her sister Eileen developed as they set about restoring weed-invaded
bushland in a reserve in Mosman in the 1960s.
[see Further Reading]
The Bradley Method
These two remarkable women, the Bradley sisters, laid down a set of principles of bush regeneration (see at left) which still form the framework for the rehabilitation of degraded bushland today.
It is known as the Bradley Method.
Modern bush regenerators have added some techniques to the Bradley Method, including:
- the judicious and minimal use of herbicides, which results in less soil disturbance than hand removal of roots
- less dependence on mulching, which may discourage native plant regeneration: many natives need bare soil and light to germinate
- the planting of local native species where the bush no longer has the resilience to regenerate naturally, or where soil erosion is likely.
The Blue Mountains Bushcare Movement
photo: © Alan Lane
Popes Glen Bushcare Group removing a dense infestation of Japanese Honeysuckle and English Ivy.
Four years later
photo: © Alan Lane
Lush growth of native plants. The bush has come back: nothing was planted!
Every month, from Lapstone to Mt Wilson, more than 40 groups of bushcare volunteers, of all ages and backgrounds, troop out to their local patch of bushland and spend a few hours together helping to reverse the damage done to the environment by invasive weeds and stormwater runoff.
They do this by assessing the existing vegetation, planning carefully, removing weeds, encouraging the bush to expand, consolidating the progress made, then moving into new areas. They use the principles of bush regeneration to guide their work.
photo: © Alan Oliver
Steps constructed by Minnehaha Falls Landcare Group, North Katoomba
Bushcare Belongs to Our Community
The Bushcare Movement fosters a sense of community responsibility for the natural environment. The first group of volunteers commenced work in 1989.
Since 1992 these community efforts have been supported by Blue Mountains City Council, which now provides Bushcare Officers, materials, and on-site training.
photo: © Anne Bowman
'I like weeding days. We help to make the bush better. It's fun.'
But Bushcare remains a community-driven movement: for every hour Council puts into the program, the community puts in more than three.
Community involvement encourages long-term, consistent projects, and high quality care and maintenance for bushland reserves. Many groups have successfully applied for grants for large works which are beyond their capacity as volunteers. Grants have brought much-needed money and work into the Mountains.
Grants have funded such projects as tracks, steps and boardwalks, bridges, restoration of creeklines, drainage structures and wetlands, interpretive signage, professional bush regeneration teams, and environmental education.
photo: © Mike Purtell
Trackwork, bridges and creekline restoration at Else Mitchell Park
Why Participate in Bushcare?
'Why do I do it?' replied one volunteer. 'Because I have to. If you care about the bush, you have to get out there and help. You can't just ignore it. You have to do something.'
photo: © Jasmine Payget
South Lawson Park Bushcare Group
'It's great to get outside in the fresh air, get a bit of exercise, and help save our unique Australian bush,' said another volunteer Bushcarer. 'All the time you're learning about plants and animals. And it's not hard work either: Bushcare days are great social and family occasions, when you can meet and talk to interesting local people.'
Learn more about joining Bushcare
Find a Bushcare Group in your area.