Barrer Hill Restoration Project
Barrer Hill is approximately 50 hectares and has a long history of human impacts attributed to commercial pine plantations and livestock grazing. It retains some high conservation values with rocky grasslands home to threatened species like the pink-tailed worm-lizard (Aprasia parapulchella).
Since 2014, significant box-gum grassy woodland restoration has been undertaken in a collaborative manner within an adaptive management framework. Initial work included removing exotic pines, weed control and site surveys and mapping. Progressively, over 50,000 new native shrubs, trees and groundstorey plants were planted across the site to reintroduce the species types and structural complexity seen in remnant woodlands. In addition, crucial habitat ‘building blocks’ were introduced, including placement of 1,000 tonne of coarse woody debris salvaged from felled native trees in Canberra’s urban environment; placement of 80 tonne of rock to extend pink-tailed worm-lizard habitat salvaged from new development sites; and radical groundstorey restoration of over 1 hectare of the site involving the removal of weed-infested, high-nutrient topsoil and native grass and forb reseeding. Eleven mature remnant trees were also vertically resurrected onsite to mimic the functions of large old trees. The most impressive of these structures, included a 400-year-old relocated yellow box tree reconfigured as a habitat sculpture titled ‘Life Support’.
The restoration of Barrer Hill is one of the most intensive woodland regeneration projects undertaken in the ACT and Australia and has provided an opportunity for testing innovative research, serving as an outdoor laboratory. Interpretive signage and community engagement efforts have raised local awareness of the work and fostered a sense of community stewardship for the area.