Bolivia Hill Wattle seedlings found on .... Bolivia Hill

Stevie Elwood from the Aboriginal Men's Group collects Bolivia Wattle seed

Stevie Elwood from the Aboriginal Men's Group collects Bolivia Wattle seed

From little things, big things grow - about 250 to be precise. 

A road improvement north of Glen Innes has yielded a natural treasure trove.  Engineers were assessing the lie of the land in preparation for upgrading the New England Highway at Bolivia Hill when they identified a unique type of wattle.

Seeds of the endangered Bolivia Hill Wattle were gathered and they’ve now been sent to the Mount Annan Botanic Gardens for preservation.

A Roads and Maritime Services spokesperson said the unique wattle (known to botanists as Acacia pycnostachya) was identified during the review of environmental factors for the New England Highway upgrade at Bolivia Hill.

“The discovery provided an opportunity for Roads and Maritime to work with the local community to gather and store seeds.

“Five people from the Inverell Aboriginal Men’s Group participated in a seed collecting course to learn species identification, collection methods and storage.

Roads Minister Darren Chester with New England MP Barnaby Joyce at the site of the upgrade.

Roads Minister Darren Chester with New England MP Barnaby Joyce at the site of the upgrade.

“The wattle is unique to the area, growing only between Bolivia Hill and Glen Innes and Tenterfield, so it’s important to preserve for future generations.

“Almost a third of the seedlings collected have been sent to the Mount Annan Botanic Gardens, which are expected to produce about 250 plants in the future.”

The NSW Office of the Environment says the species is “vulnerable”.  It’s confined to New South Wales, with one of the main concentrations in the area between Glen Innes and Bolivia Hill.  

When engineers were planning the road improvement, an assessment of any potential damage to the environment was done.  It concluded:  “While there would be no direct impacts to this species, there may be indirect impacts caused by shading from the proposed bridge. This may affect up to eight individual Bolivia wattle plants. The impacts would not be significant.”  

Northern Tablelands Local Land Services Seedbank Manage, Ivan Lackay, is part of the local Aboriginal community and passionate about preserving this very special wattle.

“It was great to be given the opportunity to facilitate employment for local young Aboriginal people, for an important cause and the protection of Bolivia Hill Wattle.

“Training these men to monitor and then collect the seed enabled them to get back on the country and practice traditional land management.”

Work on the New England Highway upgrade at Bolivia Hill is expected to start next year and will take about two years to complete.