This week the REF team was focusing on surveying a section of Casuarina forest. On their way to the survey site they discovered two new species for the list.
When working in the restoration of wetland areas like those surrounding Hays Inlet, it is important to conduct surveys in order to determine the health of the area as well as identify the strategies needed to improve its stability and biodiversity. These surveys are designed to look at weed and erosion issues as well as catalogue the flora and fauna within the area. The team from REF Inc has been surveying the Hays Inlet wetlands and remnant forests and recently came across two previously unidentified species of plant.
The first plant discovered was a member of the Quandong family the Hard Quandong or Elaeocarpus obovatus. Green glossy leaves and white bell like flowers ensures the small stand of trees stand out against a background of dry forest. The trees will provide a harvest of blue fruit early in the new year which will provide food for many local bird species. This tree is a Queensland specialist found mainly in Northern Queensland although it ranges south as far as the central coast of New South Wales.
The second identification process demonstrates the need to keep checking vegetation throughout the year. Chris Joyce had been keeping his eye on a small tree adjacent to one of the channels in Hays Inlet. It can be difficult to identify plants and often you need to wait for it to flower before you can be sure which species you are looking at. During the survey the tree was spotted in flower and Chris was able to identify it as the Lolly Bush or Clerodendrum floribundum. This plant, like the Hard Quandong is a tropical species found in Queensland, NT, WA and Papua New Guinea.
The next challenge for the team will be to categorise the native species of flora found in the area. The diversity and variety of plants discovered so far indicate it will be a long list. Our remaining wetlands around Hays Inlet are certainly worth preserving.