Contribute to the PestSmart survey

If you don’t already know about it, we recommend checking out PestSmart Connect which distils 12 years of research on best practice pest animal management. PestSmart prides itself on making freely available pest animal information toolkits which incorporate factsheets, case studies, glovebox guides, videos and more – all available online – www.pestsmart.org.au. Information is available on wild dogs, rabbits, foxes, feral pigs…the list goes on. The toolkits are becoming well known and utilised as a digital resource for land managers wanting to learn more about pest animal management.  

This is your chance to enhance PestSmart and help the team tailor the update of the website to suit your needs.

The Centre for Invasive Species Solutions are conducting research into digital information and tools that might be useful for people with a role or interest in pest animal management. They want to hear from both users and non-users of PestSmart – so please take a few minutes to complete this short anonymous survey, open until the 10 March.

FILL OUT THE SURVEY HERE

New report shows high cost of weed control

The National Farmers’ Federation and NRM Regions Australia have joined a growing call for collaborative investment in a fully funded CISS weeds RD&E program.

A new report released this week by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions has found that the agricultural cost of weeds is on average, $4.8 billion per year, or $13 million a day.

National Farmers’ Federation Chief Executive Officer, Tony Mahar said the figure was up 20% from the last comprehensive national economic analysis carried out in 2004.

“The cost of weeds to farmers’ back pockets is growing and we need smarter, more strategic national investment in research, development and extension solutions to manage them,” Mr Mahar said.

Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS) Chief Executive Officer Andreas Glanznig said weed biocontrol was one such example.

“To build on the $10 billion worth of benefits weed biocontrol RD&E has delivered to agriculture to date, Australia needs a new 10+ year national program to generate an on-going pipeline of biocontrol agents after current key major projects wind up in 2020,” Mr Glanznig said.

A more strategic approach is in line with a request by the Federal Government for the CISS to develop a 10-year national investment plan for weeds RD&E, a draft of which is currently open for feedback.

“The new National Weeds RD&E Investment Plan will play a part in unlocking agricultural innovation, a priority in NFF’s 2030 Roadmap, a plan for agriculture to achieve $100 billion in farmgate output by 2030,” Mr Mahar said. 

“A new national CISS weeds RD&E program will ensure new innovative tools are delivered on-farm, quicker, putting money back into the pockets of Australian farmers.”

NRM Regions Executive Officer, Kate Andrews stressed the need for collaborative and strategic action on weeds to protect the environment and agriculture.

“Tomorrow’s weeds are already here, and we know that some 20 new weeds naturalise in the environment each year. That is 1 new weed every 18 days!

“We support a CISS National Weeds RD&E Investment Plan and welcome the Centre’s leadership in this space,” Dr Andrews said.

Download the new weeds economic impact report here www.invasives.com.au/our-publications

To view the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions draft weeds investment plan visit – www.invasives.com.au/weeds-rde-feedback

QUICK FACTS

·         The cost of managing weeds and associated production losses are collectively costing Australian farmers $4.8 billion per year or about $13 million per day.

·         Overall, the cost of weeds has increased 20% since the last economic impact report undertaken in 2004, 15 years ago.

·          On average 1 new weed naturalises in the environment every 18 days.

·         This new economic impact assessment was led by Dr Ross McLeod from eSYS development Pty Ltd.

·         The Centre for Invasive Species Solutions has developed a 10 year draft investment plan for a new National Weeds RD&E Plan.

Content originally sourced from a National Farmers Federation Media Release dated 11 February 2019

Restoring oxygen levels in Broken Creek

Goulburn CMA are working with partners to trial methods for improving oxygen levels in Broken Creek, and deal with the effects of the ongoing heat and low flows in many of the region’s creeks on native fish.

Goulburn Broken CMA River Health Manager Mark Turner said waterways, including Hughes, Hollands, King Parrot, Seven and Castles creeks and the lower Broken River had sections with very low or no flows.

“Our staff has been liaising with partner agencies to monitor water quality in creeks and rivers across the catchment for the past few months due to the below-average rainfall and extreme heat,’’ Mr Turner said.

“Some parts of the catchment received a small boost after rain in mid-December but given the dry conditions we’re experiencing there has been very little run-off into many of the region’s waterways. This recent spate of heat has seen many of the smaller creeks and waterways, which rely solely on rainfall and run-off for their flows, slow to a trickle.”

Mr Turner said at this stage there had been no reports of native fish deaths in the catchment, but after seeing the situation in NSW saw an opportunity to be proactive in addressing the issue.

“The main risks to native fish are a drop in oxygen levels in the water as it warms up and becoming stranded in small, unconnected pools.

“Native fish and other aquatic wildlife generally try and move to shaded areas and deeper water during warmer weather, which is why the work we do with the community to re-snag and revegetate waterways to create and link cooler, deeper pools is so important.”

The lower Broken Creek area is of particular concern as land use modifications have transformed it into a series of disconnected pools. However, it does still retain a lot of natural values including an important native fish population.

“I just want to know that if something can be done, I want to know it prior and be ready.

“Rain and run-off are the only ways to improve flows in most of these creeks. While we hope there is some decent rainfall on the horizon the Bureau of Meteorology is predicting below average rainfall and hotter conditions for the rest of summer.”

This article is adapted from an news item that originally appeared on the Goulburn Broken CMA website and an ABC Country Hour interview.

Rangelands NRM to provide services to RLP program

Rangelands NRM is one of 47 organisations that has been selected to deliver the $450 million Regional Land Partnerships program over the next five years.

This is the important second phase of the Coalition Government’s $1 billion National Landcare Program.

Rangelands NRM will initially focus on five projects each of one-year duration:

  • Communities protecting the values of West Kimberley Ramsar Sites
  • Finding common ground to protect Ningaloo Coast and Shark Bay World Heritage Areas
  • Reducing Risks to Bilby Habitat across the WA Northern Rangelands
  • Reducing Risks to Malleefowl Habitat across the WA Southern Rangelands
  • Creating a Community of Practice to manage for climate change across the WA rangelands

Community engagement is a key theme of the Regional Land Partnerships Program, with at least 20 per cent of project budgets supporting small, on-ground projects that are delivered by, or directly engage with the local landcare community.

“We will be working with our partners in the region to monitor threatened species including the Bilby and Malleefowl and protect their habitats from fire, ferals and weeds,” Rangelands CEO Debra Tarabini-East said.

“We’ll also be working closely with pastoralists and other land managers to enable them to undertake sustainable agricultural practice.”

This article originally featured on the Rangelands NRM site on 20 December 2018

New projects for SA Murray-Darling Basin

The SA Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management (SAMDB NRM) Board will receive more than $10 million dollars over five years from the Australian government to support delivery of local programs, relevant to the SAMDB region under the recent round of the $450 million Regional Land Partnerships funding.

The SAMDB projects are supported by the Australian Government’s Regional Land Partnerships (part of the National Landcare Program) and SAMDB NRM Board.

The SAMDB projects include;

  • improving habitat viability and other recovery actions for threatened Mallee woodland birds including; Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata), Red-lored Whistler (Pachycephala rufogularis) and Black-eared Miner (Manorina melanotis)
  • restoring the ecological character of the Ramsar wetlands of the SA Murray-Darling Basin
  • restoring the iron-grass natural temperate grassland of South Australia
  • building skills and enhanced management of farm soils and vegetation for improved resource sustainability and productive capacity.

The Regional Land Partnerships is a core component of the Australian government’s $1 billion investment under Phase 2 of its National Landcare Program over five years.

Click here for the original media release

Photo Credit: Natural Resources SAMDB

195 new Landcare projects announced

Regional and local communities across the nation today received a significant boost as the Coalition Government announced 195 new projects to be delivered under its $450 million Regional Land Partnerships (RLP) program.

Natural resource management groups across the country will receive funding to deliver the new phase of projects, harnessing local knowledge and expertise to deliver real outcomes in their communities. These projects will focus on recovering vulnerable ecological communities, protecting threatened species, and reducing threats to our globally significant wetlands.

Additionally, the RLP includes sustainable agricultural projects to improve soil quality, assist farmers adapt to climate change, and respond to evolving market demands. The RLP is a core component of the Government’s $1 billion investment under Phase 2 of its National Landcare Program.

Minister for the Environment, Melissa Price, said the 195 projects had been targeted to achieve the best value for money, allowing natural resource management groups to protect their local environment.

“We believe working in partnership with local communities delivers the best results, and this funding allows individual organisations to deliver projects tailored to the specific needs of those communities,” Minister Price said.

“Of the investment under this program, $170 million will help protect and recover Australia’s threatened species and ecological communities.

“We’re also funding projects that will work towards restoring and managing identified threats to 24 globally-recognised Ramsar wetlands, and reducing threats to seven World Heritage areas across the country.

“It has been encouraging to see our delivery partners actively leading the way by focusing their efforts on regional and local projects that align with our national priorities, such as improving the prospects of plants and animals listed under our Threatened Species Strategy.”

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said $70 million of the fund would go into sustainable agriculture projects.

“The projects bring good environmental and farming practices together to benefit both nature and agriculture,” Minister Littleproud said.

“One project in Queensland’s Desert Channels trains farmers to improve soil and native vegetation.

“This project will boost farm productivity while improving habitat for native animals.

“We’ve also renewed funding for Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitators to get the most out of these projects.

For further information, visit: www.nrm.gov.au

Download the full list of projects here

Improving drought resilience through NRM

Farmers across eastern Australia are facing the prospect of a dry summer on the back of a long period of below average rainfall.

Short term assistance packages can help farmers through the worst of these periods however, a recent research report by the University of Canberra has highlighted the importance of natural resource management in improving resilience to drought conditions over the long term.

“This report gives us valuable insights into how NRM programs can bring farming and landscape benefits beyond the typical outcomes of weed control, better grazing practices or threatened species management,” NRM Regions Australia, Executive Officer Kate Andrews said.

“While it’s long been known that NRM can have flow-on benefits, we don’t always have the analytics to demonstrate this.

“Learning more about what NRM actions bring the most benefits in combating the effects of drought will help in building more robust and targeted programs in the future.”

The research found that many NRM investments improved resilience to drought. One of the most important actions identified was in regards to helping farmers to plan for and manage risk. Other beneficial activities identified were supporting graziers to manage groundcover, control of feral animals, improved water use efficiency, and building feed reserves.

The research outcomes underscore the importance of the link between natural resource management and agriculture, acknowledged in the Memorandum of Understanding the NFF has with NRM Regions Australia which was signed during 2017.  

National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) President, Fiona Simson, welcomed the report.

“Farming communities and NFF are concerned about the resilience of farmers and their enterprises in times of drought.

“We are pleased to see analysis that adds evidence-based insights into how we can build resilience to drought and which explores tax deductible insurance premiums.”

Climate models predict more frequent warmer and drier periods across Australia, and helping farmers better prepare for this eventuality is critical to sustaining our industry.

Natural resource management bodies based regionally across Australia are responding to this challenge via a range of targeted programs including grants and landholder workshops, and improved soil, water and grazing management.

The University of Canberra research report provides additional evidence to support the work already underway and provides scope for improvements to how such programs are rolled out, communicated, or adapted.

For more information and case studies highlighting the benefits of NRM programs to farmers in improving drought resilience, check out our section on Building Drought Resilience in our Knowledge Bank section.

Funding boosts recovery effort for a Tasmanian endemic

In 2017, project partners including NRM South, the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service, the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (Threatened Species Section) and the University of Tasmania received grant funding from the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Recovery Fund (TSRF) for emergency intervention actions to save Morrisby’s gum from extinction. The project aimed to create safe havens to protect Morrisby’s gum from browsing and wildfire, to improve habitat by infill planting and controlling invasive grasses, and to investigate methods to improve the genetic diversity of seed stock.

Morrisby’s gum (Eucalyptus morrisbyi) is one of Australia’s most threatened eucalypts and has an extremely restricted distribution in the wild. Endemic to Tasmania’s southeast, it was previously known to only exist in two locations, which have suffered rapid dramatic declines in recent decades. With the loss of all but a few established trees, they were considered to be functionally extinct as there were fewer than 30 mature trees in the wild producing seed.

Following the announcement of TSRF funding, a landowner situated approximately 50 km from the remaining stands, contacted NRM South to inform them about a mature block of E. morrisbyi that he had planted on his property in the 1990s, which had since disappeared from formal records. This was a significant boost for the recovery project – providing valuable new genetic material from a stand of healthy mature trees.

One year on, recovery actions under the TSRF project have already contributed to improving the trajectory for Morrisby’s gum. In the last six months there has been substantial regeneration of suppressed juvenile plants in two fenced safe havens at Calverts Hill Nature Reserve, 446 E. morrisbyi planted into empty niches and an increase in the genetic diversity of seed banked material from this provenance.  Seed collection from 53 plants in the seed orchard has confirmed a provenance that is  genetically diverse from the other populations.

TSRF project activities, which have been coordinated by NRM South, will wrap up in June 2019. For more information about the project, check out NRM South website updates here and here.

Submission to the Senate inquiry into our faunal extinction crisis

While Australia is renowned for its unique and varied biodiversity, our ‘megadiverse’ landscapes are losing mammal species at a rate faster than anywhere else in the world. NRM Regions Australia recently made a submission to the Senate’s ‘Environment and Communications References Committee Inquiry’ into Australia’s faunal extinction crisis. The aim of this submission is to highlight the crucial role that NRM organisations play in conserving our biodiversity assets. The integrated approach to landscape management that has been practiced under the NRM model for decades has enabled regional NRM bodies to address land and water management practices and deal with other threatening processes such as loss of vegetation, weed and feral animal impacts. These actions, which involve community and a range of land managers, are vital in protecting habitat at a landscape scale.

Australia’s declining biodiversity decline demands attention, particularly when faced with the challenges of climate change, a growing population and greater global competition for diminishing resources. Without the national ‘infrastructure’ provided by NRM regions many of our landscape-scale threatened species projects could not be delivered. To download a copy of the submission, click here.

47 organisations to deliver the $450 million RLP program.

Successful tenderers for Regional Land Partnerships have been announced, with 47 organisations getting the green light to go ahead with projects under Phase 2 of the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. Over the next five years, these organisations will continue the long standing commitment to deliver on-ground natural resource management through projects targeting key national environment and sustainable agriculture priorities at a regional and local level.

With an investment totalling $450 million, priority activities under RLP include protecting and improving soil condition on agricultural land, protecting threatened ecological communities, restoring globally-important wetlands, and supporting recovery efforts for species identified under the Threatened Species Strategy.

For more information, refer to the official Media Release; Regional Land Partnerships: a fresh start for Landcare.