The vegetation of Cooleman Ridge consists mostly of open grasslands with intermittent patches of woodland. There is a surprisingly diverse range of flora especially considering that 30 years ago it was a sheep paddock.
Most of the trees have been planted since the reserve was established in 1991, but there are quite a few mature trees, which are presumed to be pre-1990 including Eucalyptus nortonii, E. polyanthemus, E. melliodora and kurrajong. At certain times of the year, various native grasses can be seen covering large patches and the many species of acacia exhibit their yellow blooms.
The Cooleman Ridge Park Care Group maintains an updated list of native and exotic species of plants that can be found on the Ridge. Please see the Plant List page for a complete list of identified species. Please note that you can vary your options on the Plant List and bring up more or less information.
Recently, the Group has used special apps to record where species can be found. These apps include Canberra Nature Map and Collector.
Useful Flora identification links:
Tree species guides which were collated by the Group for the species found on the Ridge.
Cooleman Ridge has a number of areas that have been planted with native species to provide a varied habitat, and protection of vulnerable species.
Most of these areas were planted by the group in the decade after 1991, but some of them existed before the formation of the Group and their origin is unknown. The purpose of the plantings is varied. Some have been planted as wind-breaks, and others to replace the native tree cover that had been removed.
The plantings are made up of various Australian trees, some indigenous to the local area, some not. Some of the plantings have included ground cover (Hardenbergia) and bushes (Bursaria).
Please click on a coloured area in the map below for more information.
Note: Not all plantings have been shown on the map.
Intruding into this native diversity are introduced plants, some of which are invasive and some taking on plague proportions in some areas at particular times. Weeds and weeding are the central focus of the Group to regenerate the native flora.
The definition of a weed is contentious, however in this context it is “any plant that was not present prior to European settlement”. To prevent our group being over-whelmed by the weedy growth, they focus on the plants that are invasive and which suppress the overall growth of native species. Additionally we target specific areas of the Ridge.
The most significant factor in the history of weeds has been the presence of grazing on the Ridge. This is because land management in the past encouraged:
There are some areas of the Ridge which have better native cover than others. These are areas that would not have been heavily grazed, mostly the northern aspects. You can still notice that on the high, western-facing hills, there are the remnants of “sheep-camps” where sheep rested, and these areas under the trees are covered in invasive weed species.
In recent years the weeds that have been targetted have included African Lovegrass, St Johns Wort, blackberry, Briar rose, Pattersons curse, verbascum, mustard weed, wild oats, serrated tussock and wild sage. There have been other species causing problems over the years but the effective work of the Group has reduced the incidence of these weeds.
The group uses the Collector app to notify the Parks and Conservation weeds officer where weeds have been found, and to also map any weed management on the ridge. Collector can also be used to map rabbit warrens.
For Weeds in the ACT
For a local Weed Management Plan
General Weed info: https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/biosecurity/weeds
Local weed info: https://molonglo.org.au/Information/Weeds
Calendar of when to treat weeds: https://molonglo.org.au/sites/default/files/Fact%20sheets/Weeds/04%20ControlCalendar.pdf
Since the Cooleman Park Care Group was established in 1991, the Group has conducted the following surveys:
More recently the Group has been involved in Vegwatch, which has involved monitoring 2 sites on the ridge yearly since 2016.