Melaleuca irbyana Recovery Project
By Jen Ford
Teams from the Gold Coast, Brisbane and west of Brisbane Ecological Restoration team have been contributing to the recovery of the Melaleuca irbyana or weeping paperbark, which is listed as Endangered under Queensland’s, Nature Conservation Act 1992. This endangered species has a very limited distribution and is only found from Gatton in south east Queensland, east to Brisbane and north to Injune as well as a few small pockets in northern NSW, near Casino (Craven & Lepschi 1999; Herbrecs 2008). It grows in flat areas that are periodically water-logged and loves poorly draining, heavy clay soils.
The team have been applying assisted regeneration and weed control in the area for approximately 18 months to support the health, growth and reproduction of the existing population on site in Jimboomba. They also planted 15,000 trees including 7500 Melaleuca irbyana and 7500 other suitable native plants, mainly Eucalyptus species to provide a healthy buffer to the existing population and expand its cover.
The team first had to acquire a Harvesting and Propagation permit from the State Government and have been working closely with Barbs Trees, to collect enough local seed, propagate enough plants and get them to a point where they were strong enough to plant out and battle the elements, including mobs of 20+ grey kangaroos. While this particular species loves ‘wet feet’ not all of them could cope with hundreds of millimetres of rain falling in a single day. Most of the planting however is thriving and since planting and through sensitive weed control, a number of weeping paperbarks have germinated naturally and are growing. The team will put in some additional plants in late Spring to further bolster the population and will continue maintenance until the end of 2024.