During 2009-10 volunteers from the Red Hill Regenerators contributed about 440 hours to the better conservation and management of the Red Hill Reserve. This included 11 working bees with each attended by an average of 10 volunteers.
Since our formation in 1988 we have largely concentrated on weed control, with some very encouraging results (based on our estimates):
· woody weeds have gone from occupying about 20% of the Hill to less than 5%;
· the population of the endangered Button Wrinklewort has increased from 1,200 to about 7,000; and
· rare plants such as Swanson’s Silky Pea have flourished (this plant now numbers over 1,000 whereas twenty years ago we estimate there were fewer than 100 plants).
However, over time we have become increasingly conscious that grazing pressure can undermine our efforts to regenerate and maintain good quality native vegetation. In particular, sheep, cattle, rabbits and/or kangaroos that over graze understorey risk major declines and local extinctions of plants as well as birds and other native animals that relying on such vegetation.
In 1917 Walter Burley Griffin called for grazing to cease on Red Hill so that natural revegetation accompanied by planting could occur. However, agistment grazing continued on Red Hill up until 1997.
The removal of cattle from Red Hill by Environment ACT in 1997, has resulted in considerable improvements in the state and composition of vegetation and has left kangaroos and rabbits as the only significant grazers in the Reserve.
Until recently the only attention that we have been able to direct towards better understanding and managing grazing impacts of kangaroos and rabbits on Red Hill was as an indirect consequence of the impact our blackberry control efforts have on rabbit numbers by reducing their refuges.