Mallee Catchment Management Authority

Quantifying impacts of stock exclusion fencing on native vegetation

 

  • $140,420 funded through the Australian and Victorian Governments, and the Mallee CMA
  • A scientific method for long term monitoring of vegetation change designed and implemented
  • Baseline data collected to enable future assessment

 

Grazing by livestock is seen as a major threat to the condition of remnant vegetation in the Mallee. But what is the impact of excluding stock and on-ground interventions, such as stock exclusion fencing, on remnant vegetation?

 

A long term monitoring project has been designed and implemented to collect data on the impacts of stock exclusion fencing on native vegetation.  The Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research were commissioned to develop a scientific monitoring program and sampling design for this project.

 

Monitoring sites have been set up on grazed, ungrazed and long ungrazed sites in a variety of vegetation types on both private and public land. The sampling design allows for fine scale detection of impacts on key attributes of vegetation condition: how does stock exclusion affect woody species recruitment, impact on understorey structure, change species composition?

 

Monitoring sites were first sampled in 2009/ 2010, resampled in 2012 and will be sampled again in 2014.  While there is variability across the sites, early findings suggest that stock exclusion positively influences remnant condition. For example, canopy tree species diversity has been found to be high in ungrazed than grazed sites.

 

Invaluable baseline data has already been collected in this project.  This long term monitoring project will supply the necessary quantitative data to guide future management practices.

 

 

Hattah Lakes Environmental Works Project

QUICK FACTS

  • $32 million package of environmental works and measures
  • One of Australia’s largest environmental works projects
  • Provides a sustainable solution to watering an iconic lakes system

 

One of Australia’s largest environmental works projects is demonstrating how infrastructure can be used to achieve environmental outcomes in the Murray-Darling Basin.

 

The $32 million package of works at Hattah Lakes, in north-west Victoria, was completed in 2013 to provide a long-term, sustainable solution for effectively and efficiently delivering water to the lakes.

 

The infrastructure performs three core functions to increase the frequency, duration and extent of watering events at Hattah Lakes by:

 

• making it possible to top up natural floods to increase water levels in the lakes system;

• pumping water into the system when river flows are not able to naturally reach the lakes; and

• holding water in the system to maximise the ecological benefits of watering events.

 

The Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) coordinated the Hattah Lakes environmental works project, on behalf of the Victorian Government, Murray–Darling Basin Authority and the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries, and in partnership with Parks Victoria. Construction works were undertaken by Goulburn-Murray Water.

 

Funding was provided through The Living Murray program, which is a joint initiative funded by the New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, Australian Capital Territory and the Commonwealth governments, coordinated by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

 

 

Environmental Management Action Planning – Creating positive change in the Mallee

 

Quick facts:

  • $1.9 million investment package from the Federal and Victorian Governments over 10 years
  • Environmental management plans now cover over 1 million hectares
  • Strong regional collaboration between farmers, the Mallee Catchment Management Authority and the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries

 

The EMAP program is a skills, knowledge and planning program tailored to Mallee dryland farmers. The program aims to engage with farmers to increase their skills and knowledge across a range of areas based on local environmental and agricultural issues. Since 2005, the program has helped over 537 farming families to plan and carry out works that protect natural resources, improve the productivity and profitability of their farms, and reduce the offsite impacts of agriculture.

 

Participants in the EMAP program have identified and mapped over 7,900 individual on ground actions to help them tackle the 1.1 million hectares of Mallee land highly susceptible to erosion, the 34,000 ha affected by human induced salinity, and other key threats such as climate variability, invasive species, and declining soil health.

 

More than 80% of farmers report that they have improved their skills or knowledge through the program, especially in formulating visions for their farm and in making informed management decisions. There is also strong evidence that participants intend to use their new knowledge and skills and that planning is leading to action; with landholders completing an average of 34% of actions within four years of undertaking the program.

 

New field guide to help tackle pest animals in a cultural landscape

  • Total Project Cost $96,000
  • A practical approach to managing pest animals in areas of Aboriginal cultural sensitivity
  • A collaborative project led by the Mallee CMA, in partnership with the local Aboriginal community

 

A field guide incorporating Indigenous ecological knowledge with contemporary methods of pest animal management is now available free of charge to landholders across the Victorian Mallee.

 

Developed by Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), together with members of the local Indigenous community, the field guide helps landholders identify Aboriginal cultural places and appropriate ways for managing pest animals at these sites.

 

To date, more than 8,000 individual Aboriginal cultural places have been recorded within the Mallee. As Victorian law protects all Aboriginal cultural places and objects, it is important that landholders have reliable, clear guidance on how to manage pest animals, while preserving and protecting cultural heritage sites and values in the region.

 

The field guide explains what culturally significant sites are – such as burials, middens and scarred trees – and then works through the various methods for treating rabbits, foxes, pigs and goats in these areas.

 

The field guide is titled “Land management practices to preserve Aboriginal cultural heritage values – pest animals” and was supported by the Mallee CMA, with funding from the Australian Government.

 

The user-friendly and practical field guide is being used by land holders and land managers across the region, including a large number of Landcare groups in the Mallee.