If you think you are having a hard day at the office, spare a thought for our restoration crew at Skyline Tier, who have just finished removing pine wildings from more than 250 hectares of former pine plantation, to restore the area back to native forest. The project employed a regular team of six, as well as an additional twelve short term employees and many volunteers.
Dan Donaldson, Crew Leader, estimates that the project has removed more than a million pine wildlings. The crew also removed Spanish heath, gorse, blackberries, blue butterfly-bush, pampas grass and other weeds, as well as truck-loads of dumped rubbish and green waste.
In a dense area, 100 pines could be removed in ten minutes, mainly by pulling out by hand, with larger wildlings lopped and painted with roundup. So at sites where smaller pine trees were abundant and the crew were using mainly using loppers, the crew would remove around 2000 wildlings each per day.
Pines were treated at a much slower rate at other sites. For example, in the thickest undergrowth or when the crew were falling trees with chainsaws it would be more like a few hundred each, but usually well over a thousand each per day with loppers and bowsaws. The smallest wildings could be hand-pulled and the team were able to remove a thousand of them in an hour in some places.
‘It was hard manual work, but the hardest thing was to disband the team when there is still so much to do up there,’ said Dan.
A work place overlooking our East Coast beaches may sound pretty idyllic, but one of the biggest occupational hazards was extreme heat. ‘It gets fairly hot in summer and we made sure to started work at 7am to avoid the heat,’ said Dan, ‘but it really is a beautiful place to work. There are five wedge-tail eagles living in the area and we would often see two or more of them close by. One of the team encountered a very rare Giant Velvet Worm in her first week.’
‘The best thing about the job overall was that it shows how successful ecological restoration can be on a landscape scale.’