Reports from the Field

Busselton Naturalists’ Work at Ambergate Reserve

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Above: Surveying for Declared Rare Flora (Verticordia)

In 1985, the Busselton Naturalists’ Club was approached by a local shire councillor, concerned over a request from a local farmer to lease shire land at Ambergate, about 9km south of the townsite. The land contained high quality native vegetation, together with an old sand pit and a storage site for shire road-making materials, but most of the 75 hectare reserve was of high conservation value.

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The Club asked the Shire to delay any decision on the future use of the land, in exchange for which the Club would undertake environmental surveys of the reserve and submit its own proposal in due course. Thanks to willing volunteers, including members of the WA Naturalists’ Club (Brad Maryan and David Robinson conducted a reptile and frog search, for example), the Club approached the Shire in 1987 with a proposal to protect the reserve’s natural values and develop interpretive facilities and a walking trail. Much to our surprise, the Shire accepted our 3-page management plan and appointed the Club as reserve managers.

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Since then, the Club has overseen major weed and pest control programs, constructed an interpretive shelter and car park in the centre of the reserve next to existing roads, turned the sand pit into a seasonal wetland, revegetated with native plants and laid four kilometres of walk trail. In the intervening years, most of the reserve has been found to comprise Threatened Ecological Communities, with several rare and endangered plants and animals calling the reserve home.

Ambergate Reserve is now one of the most popular wildflower sites in the City of Busselton. We estimate that over 8000 people walk part or all of the walk trails each year and we have installed over 200 plant identification signs, many of which also contain ‘bush tucker’ information about identified plants. Bench seats are scattered throughout the reserve and our latest project has seen the installation of four bat roosting boxes.

Bernie Masters