A rare native orchid has been observed on Mount Canobolas for the first time in 24 years after reappearing following the devastating bushfire in February.
Retired Orange botanist and life member of the Orange Field Naturalists and Conservation Society, Dr Colin Bower said about 90 fire-dependent Canobolas Leek Orchird plants had been seen.
Dr Bower said they were in a restricted-access area of the mountain, however it was an area where mountain biking has been proposed.
“They are proposing to put the mountain bikes almost everywhere. It certainly would impact them,” he said.
It got the kibosh then and the Orange Field Naturalists don’t support the idea now.Dr Colin Bower, retired botanist
Dr Bower said the bushfire burned about 70 per cent of the State Conservation Area destroying ground cover and shrubs and leaving charred trees and bare ground.
However warmer weather in September had led to native grasses and “a dazzling array of fire-stimulated wildflowers” sprouting.
“It has been astonishing to see the variety and abundance of wildflowers stimulated by the fire,” he said.
“In most years Mount Canobolas is known for the colourful spring displays of shrubs in the heathlands. However this year the absence of shrubs and thick grasses in the forests and heaths has made room for a kaleidoscope of orchids, lillies, daisies and other herbs.
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Dr Bower said the Mount Canobolas environment was sensitive to soil disturbance.
He said weed problems near the road to the top of the mountain had occurred in areas where road drain installation and other work had been done.
Dr Bower said he was opposed to a plan for a chairlift on the mountain because of a risk to the environment.
“If it can be done sensitively without harming too much, then maybe, but no,” he said.
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“It’s not a new idea. It was raised probably 30 years ago. It got the kibosh then and the Orange Field Naturalists don’t support the idea now.”
Another group member Dr Richard Medd said the mountain was an important area for Indigenous people who traditionally ate the underground tubers of plants including the orchids.
“The abundance of these food plants on the mountain highlights the importance of Mount Canobolas, or Ghannabulla, as a Wiradjuri ceremonial and meeting place,” he said.
“It is likely these plants were encouraged by ‘fire-stick farming’ for feasting by visitors during ceremonial events.”
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