Urban Creek Recovery

Urban Creek Recovery

What is watercourse restoration?

An important first step in watercourse restoration is to remove the most invasive plants or ‘Creek Bullies’ because they often have biggest negative impacts on these natural ecosystems including displacing and shading out our local native vegetation, decreasing habitat for fauna, contributing to the decline of water quality, altering the natural flows of creek, increasing flood risk and increasing bushfire fuel loads.

In order to tackle the weed problem without causing unnecessary damage to the creek system you need to have an understanding of the original native vegetation which was once in the area, knowledge about which plants are causing damage and how to carefully remove these invaders. Once you have worked that out, it is all about choosing the right timing, order of actions and working with nature to create opportunities for natural ecosystems to restore themselves. Replanting with local native seedlings is also carefully planned to replace habitat elements or species that have been lost or to stabilise some areas. 

Here are some examples of the type of work we do to manage vegetation around our watercourses:

  • Control weeds that can push out other native plants, wreck habitat for wildlife and block drainage.
  • Control or reduce some native reeds that can grow excessively due to high nutrient levels. 
  • Remove rubbish, debris and silt.
  • Introduce or leave wildlife habitat such as logs and rocks.
  • Plant local native seedlings to help manage erosion, create homes for wildlife and bring back native plant species that have disappeared from that site. 
  • Protect some natural areas from damage such as people walking and driving over sensitive native vegetation and fragile soils.
  • Work with passionate volunteers who help look after our natural areas and teach others about our amazing plants and animals.
  • Monitor the level of weed infestations and the condition of native vegetation to assess the health of our native vegetation and track changes over time. 

Protecting our watercourses is a team effort. Specially trained council staff, contractors and volunteers work hard to ensure that our natural heritage survives for future generations.

Urban Creek Recovery Project Targets

As part of our funding agreement with the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board we have agreed on some targets for the 5 year Urban Creek Recovery Project. These targets include:

  • Planting more than 50,000 native seedlings to improve habitat for wildlife.
  • Undertaking environmental weed control along more than 52km of watercourses, totalling 433 hectares including improving the condition of 150 hectares of the nationally endangered Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa) grassy Woodland vegetation community.
  • Establishing 30 bushland condition monitoring sites to track the success of on-ground works. 
  • Connecting the community to their local creeks by holding field days, producing educational material, working with 42 school and community groups, hosting at least 15 planting events and encouraging nature play.
  • Working together with TAFE and indigenous communities to provide on-ground environmental training opportunities.

Urban Creek Recovery Project activities and outputs are reported to our funding partners every six months. To view the latest update of our achievements against all agreed project outputs check out this summary of achievements.

Protecting our watercourses is a team effort. Specially trained council staff, contractors and volunteers work hard to ensure that our natural heritage survives for future generations.

For further information on this project please check out our frequently asked questions page or contact the City of Onkaparinga Natural Area Conservation Team on 8384 0666.

To show the changes happening in our creeks over time, we have created an interactive Urban Creek Recovery StoryMap (coming soon). The map shows all the creeks where works are occurring and includes access to monitoring data such as vegetation health assessments and changes in weed density. You can also check out hundreds photopoints of creeks across the region such as this one:

These two photos were taken 3 years apart in the same location at Education Creek, Happy Valley. The photo on the left shows the creek infested with woody weeds such as olive and Desert Ash. After the weeds were removed, we planted local native seedlings. Some logs were left on site to provide shelter for native animals.