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.