Bolivia Hill seed secured

Stevie Elwood from Inverell collects seed from the rare Bolivia Wattle before the highway realignment project can progress.

Stevie Elwood from Inverell collects seed from the rare Bolivia Wattle before the highway realignment project can progress.

“Quolls and wattles” were the stumbling blocks to progressing the Bolivia Hill realignment project, deputy prime minister and New England MP Barnaby Joyce said in his ‘state of the electorate’ address at a Tenterfield National Party celebration in the lead up to Christmas.

At least one of those blocks has now been removed with the completion of a seed collection project aimed at ensuring the survival of a rare and endangered wattle species unique to Bolivia Hill, which the New England highway crosses between Tenterfield and Glen Innes. Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) worked with Northern Tablelands Local Land Services (NTLLS) to collect seed from the native Bolivia Wattle as part of the highway upgrade work.

“We are committed to ensuring the preservation of sensitive environmental communities,” an RMS spokesperson said.

“The identification of this important plant during environmental assessments for the work provided an opportunity for us to work with the local community to arrange seeds to be gathered and stored for the future.” 

NTLLS collects and stores more than 400 native seeds under scientific licence with the seedbank available for the Northern Tablelands and North West regions, for revegetation and tree planting activities.   

NTLLS Seedbank Manager Ivan Lackay, is passionate about the survival of the Bolivia Wattle and being a local Aboriginal community member, is delighted to facilitate employment for young Aboriginal people in the protection of the species.

“The Bolivia Wattle is unique to the area it grows – on Bolivia Hill between Glen Innes and Tenterfield.  It is the only population of this particular wattle in Australia,” Mr Lackay said. 

“The Inverell Aboriginal Men’s Group took part in a professional seed collecting course in 2015 to learn species identification, seed collection methods and seed storage and was engaged to collect the rare and endangered wattle species.

“The five men have been observing the Bolivia Wattle trees regularly to monitor flower show and seed setting so when the seed pods started to open, they were ready to harvest the seeds.  The seeds were then cleaned and stored for future use. 

“This sort of species insurance is essential to the longevity of an iconic species like the Bolivia Wattle and the Northern Tablelands Local Land Services seedbank is ideal for storing and protecting this valuable seed. It has also enabled these young Aboriginal men to get back on country and practice traditional land management.”

The detailed design for the project is progressing with tenders to deliver the upgrade expected to be called in 2017.