From weed-infested scrub to nature wonderland
WHEN Peter Turland began volunteering on an area of Crown Land on the outskirts of Tucabia 10 years ago there were metre high weeds, sparse vegetation and a rubbish dumping ground. Now it's home to multiple species of birds and more than 1000 plants including 70 rainforest species.
Project co-ordinator Mr Turland has spent the past 10 years rehabilitating and regenerating the two-hectare reserve, just for something to do.
He said it all began when he was unemployed and looking for a project because he couldn't find a job.
"To get Centrelink I was working with unemployment agencies. I was looking for an approved activity because I couldn't get a decent job," Mr Turland said.
He was completing his diploma in Conservation and Land Management through Tafe at the time.
"I was doing my summer work on the endangered paperbark, there is a couple of places in the area where it grows," he said.
"A friend of mine goes, 'you go past mine everyday to Grafton to home, and it's located over there'."
Because it is on council managed land, he went to the land department and council to enquire about it.
The species of endangered paperbark, formally known as Malaleuca Irbyana, was located on the reserve and was considered under threat with Landcare wanting something done to protect its habitat.
"I went to Landcare and they said yes that tree is registered on our database," he said.
"I wrote a management plan and submitted it to council, it was approved and then with a couple of alterations it became the operation management plan, that was before work started."
Now Mr Turland describes the project as a commitment.
"I'm 65 this year. Provided I'm still fit enough I'll continue to do this for as long as I can," he said.
Mr Turland said at the beginning there was a lot of work to be done but it was worth it because now students and the community can visit the land and get involved.
"It's educational but it's pleasant. So is sitting here.
"The birds have now increased enormously from what it was 10 years ago and it's a pleasure.
"I'll even sit down and relax sometimes.
"Now I've done something that is completely different and the public can come, it's a safe place."
Mr Turland is starting to think his 10 years of effort was all worth it. he is trying to encourage more schools to come to the area, and is trying to secure funding to build an open structure.
"What they can do is come in here and grab a branch or something, right now there is no where to go and work on it," he said.
"Hopefully they get that funding, have some fold up tables, and go there in more comfort and more room, so that's what I am thinking. On the flat, out of the weather and document what they have got."
"I am putting a lot of ponds in there. I would like schools to come with their scoops because there would be tadpoles that live in the water."
Last Tuesday students from Maclean Tafe who are doing certificates in Conservation and Land Management visited the spot to learn plant identification.
"This is the third year Grafton and Maclean Tafe have been bringing their students here. They love it because there is nowhere else they can take them," he said.
Later in the day Mr Turland planted seedlings and a rainforest species in a demonstration for the students.
"Another passion of mine is getting as many rainforest species that are native to the Clarence Valley, stuff people have never heard of," he said.
"I've brought some endangered paperbark seedlings and other uncommon rainforest species with me."