Regenerating the island's rainforest. Picture of two flying foxes hangingupside down.

By 1986 the vegetation on the island was seriously degraded. The area was no longer used as a public pleasure garden nor as a sporting centre since the northern stream of the river, with its deep swimming hole, had been silted up. Interest in azaleas and other flowering shrubs planted here had dwindled. Weeds choked everything. Heavy madeira vine covered even trees, pulling them down, choking and snapping them. Broken poles of tree trunks poked up amongst a huge thicket of tangled weeds. Floods brought more weed seeds, storms felled large trees that had helped control weeds by shading the ground. Bellingen Island's forest was on its way to collapse.

In 1986 a small group of people began removing these weeds. They chose to avoid using chemical poisons as much as possible (and passed up eighty thousand dollars in order to work with the methods they believed in). Some of these original people still work here without pay. Other volunteers have come and gone so that the group is usually about six or eight. They have removed choking weeds, and trees have recovered. They have planted more, using seed gathered on the island. They are regenerating the natural rainforest. It is a constant job, keeping weeds at bay. Weeds are heaped up then covered with black plastic, causing them to die and rot down.

Storms and floods damage the island, sending trees tumbling, and floods have carved away large areas from the southern edge. The easiest time to find them is at about 10.30 or 11.00.


Bush regeneration. Young Giant Stringer Tree.
Young Giant Stinger tree.
When it was very young it was
bent down by choking weed vines. Now free of weeds, it is recovering.

Through all this the forest supports a flying fox colony that has been present constantly since 1998, and all year except winter for many years before that.

The regeneration group's success was recognised in 1999 when they won first prize in the Nature Conservation section of Landcare's national awards. You can visit or join this regeneration group any fine Tuesday morning on Bellingen Island.

ferns path


Flying Fox face

All photographs and text are subject to copyright Vivien Jones ©2000

Phone: 02 6655 2213

The flying foxes
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Drinking in the river
We need flying foxes
Local attitudes
Regeneration of the rainforest
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