Once home to the second largest patch of Banksia marginata in the Adelaide Hills, Charleston Conservation Park is beginning to once again bloom with yellow blossoms.
A $15,000 Foundation for National Parks (FNPW) grant will be used to host community seed collection days, grow banksias in the volunteer run nursery and hold planting events in the park.
Banksias are an important food source, providing nectar and seed to birds, insects and even mammals like the yellow footed antechinus and western pygmy possum.
The park was burnt in the devastating Cudlee Creek bushfire in 2019. While fire can often help to regenerate banksia plants, dry conditions before the fire meant there was little to no banksia seed set or regenerated.
National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Conservation Ecologist Anthony Abley said banksia grassy woodland was endangered in SA because historically much had been cleared for grazing with very little conserved.
“In order to safeguard the banksia population, NPWS in a partnership with the Native Vegetation Council doubled the size of Charleston Conservation Park by purchasing the neighbouring farm in 2017 allowing the banksia woodland to expand,” he said.
“Banksias are keystone species in that landscape where they punch far above their weight in terms of what they contribute to the local ecology.
Friends of Charleston Conservation Park volunteer Billy-Jo Brewer said the group was excited to be able to help such a significant remnant recover from the 2019 wildfire.
“Volunteers have rallied to save the troubled banksia population,” she said.
“The Friends of Charleston have collected seed and plated more than 20,000 banksias since 2017.
“This year, the group has partnered with the passionate volunteers at the Fleurieu Coast Community Nursery to grow more than 2000 banksias to further bolster the population.”
Recently, volunteers from the Friends of Charleston Conservation Park joined forces in a working bee at the Yankalilla based nursery to pot up the valuable seedlings.
“With a target of 1000 baby banksias for the year everyone was thrilled to double the numbers,” Ms Brewer said.
The seedlings will make their way back to Charleston Conservation Park in June, when they will be planted and nurtured by the Friends Group to give the population a second chance to thrive.
The project is an ongoing partnership between the Friends of Charleston Conservation Park and NPWS, who have partnered with FNPW and the Fleurieu Coast Community Nursery