Palmgrove Park Avalon, Hazard Reduction

Client name: Northern Beaches Council

Location: Palmgrove Park, Avalon

With smoke from the bush fires thickening the air and the devastating news of fires raging through Australia, plans and preparation are required to avoid the worse outcomes. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by a vast amount of bushland; however, the risk of bush fire becomes a significant threat to lives, property and the environment.

Northern Beaches Council had made plans for many of their reserves and one in particular, Palmgrove park in Avalon had prescribed a controlled burn plan, but plans had to change due to two very sweet and fluffy Powerful owl chicks present in the park.

The Powerful Owl, Ninox strenua, is Australia’s largest owl and when you encounter one in the bush it is truly awesome. They usually roost during the day amongst dense leafy foliage of trees and shrubs and so protecting this habitat is crucial, sadly the owls are adversely affected by land clearing. Dragonfly crew had to take extreme care and consideration to carefully not disturb the chicks too much and manually remove plant materials. 

Ecological burning is undertaken to replicate the natural fire cycle. Each native vegetation community has particular fire needs, and controlled burning assists these natural processes, helping to stimulate native plant regeneration and enhancing biodiversity. It also aids in weed control.

Palmgrove Park contains a significant stand of Cabbage Tree Palms as part of the Littoral Rainforest and Pittwater Wagstaffe Spotted Gum Forest. The scope of this project was to manually remove fine fuels and plant material which would have otherwise been burned.  Clearing and diminishing available fuels within the area to reduce against the spread of a bush fire, keeping the residents and wildlife safe. 

Removing mid-storey Palm fronds still attached to the Livistona australis to prevent laddering into the canopy. Completed maintenance works within high resilience areas down the bottom of the Reserve targeting seeding grasses and annuals throughout native ground vegetation. Species targeted were Bidens pilosa, Solanum nigrum, Sonchus sp, Ehrharta erecta, Poa sp, Conyza sp, Bromus sp, Brisa sp, Gamochaeta sp and Ageratina riparia.

Happy to report that the chicks felt safe and sound, perched high above looking down upon the Dragonfly crew, monitoring every move. Whilst the Dragonfly crew working on the ground looking up making sure that the chicks did not feel threatened or stressed by the clearing.