Organ Pipes National Park - Revegetation.

Photo: Artichoke thistle When Organ Pipes National Park was declared in 1972, Apart from the spectacular rock formations, it was a depressing sight. Head-high artichoke thistles blanketed the creek flats and slopes, horehound had spread everywhere, boxthorn bushes crowded the slopes and plains, and other weed species filled the gaps. Erosion gullies scarred the steep slopes. Rubbish was piled here and there.

The National Parks Service decided to aim at restoring the area's vegetation as far as possible to its original condition. Considerable progress has been made towards this goal, and many valuable lessons learnt which have helped revegetation schemes elsewhere in Victoria.

Revegetation in the sense used here is the process of changing a disturbed ecosystem to an indigenous one. (Indigenous species are those native to a particular area). The strategies used can be both direct and indirect. Direct strategies include direct seeding and planting of indigenous species as seedlings; indirect strategies may involve weed and vermin control, or the use of fire to stimulate germination of preferred indigenous species and to suppress exotic plants. Photo: Friends group members actively revegetating

Photo: Friends at work A successful revegetation plan relies on indigenous plant seed being available. In 1972 there were few undisturbed remnant sites of indigenous vegetation in the park. A group of interested people started a series of working days to clear rubbish and help eradicate weeds. They also surveyed the remaining native vegetation, both in the park and in similar areas nearby, collecting seed and striking cuttings to raise young plants.  There is Australia-wide and even world-wide interest in the Organ Pipes project, and the work of volunteers has been vital to its success. 

The change from a degraded landscape to a more natural one has been recorded on slides and photographs. The slides may be viewed during your visit after consultation with park staff. 

Records have also been kept of all planting and direct seeding trials. It is important to monitor the progress of the revegetation program, as the rate of ecological change is very slow.

The major task of re-establishing overstorey plants has been highly successful. The second stage of the revegetation program involves re-establishing the indigenous understorey species.

Photo: Friends members nest to tree guard pile.

Photo: Orchard that produces local seed! In 1990 a seed bank and seed safe were established in the park o provide a seed source for revegetation. 

The park's seed bank and nursery provide tube stock for planting out seedlings and for direct seeding. Direct seeding is scattering a mix of seed over a suitable area and limiting negative growth factors such as rabbits and weeds. Direct seeding is cheaper than growing tube stock and planting it out.

It is particularly important to have a seed bank because many of the remaining indigenous sites near the park are under threat from development. This may lead to a reduction in the genetic diversity of rare grassland species.