National NRM update for February 2021. This update represents just a handful among the hundreds of NRM projects going on across Australia, which are made possible through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and from respective State governments.

Bird experts from Queensland Wader Study Group and Gold Coast Shorebirds recently visited over 117 sites along the coast of South East Queensland to count the many thousands of migratory and other shorebirds that visit the region or live there all year round. This is the first time in over 10 years that such a comprehensive survey of shorebirds has taken place, and the data gained will inform management and conservation of the Moreton Bay Ramsar Site and other areas vital to these internationally important species.
The census was coordinated by Healthy Land and Water with critical support provided by Queensland Wader Study Group, Gold Coast Shorebirds, Queensland Parks And Wildlife Service– Moreton Bay Marine Parks, Moreton Bay Regional Council and the Australian Government’s Environment Restoration Fund.

Drought conditions affecting parts of the Northern Territory over 2018-2020 prompted industry to explore ways of better managing drought vulnerable rangelands to sustain their health and productivity, and build resilience in pastoral enterprises.

Territory NRM (TNRM) is working to raise industry awareness about drought and climate risks, and potential mitigation strategies. With support from the Australian Government’s ‘Future Drought Fund’ and in partnership with Cibo Labs and project partners (NT Cattlemen’s Association and Department of Industry Trade and Tourism), TNRM will be rolling out an innovative new web based platform that allows producers to plan stocking rates and manage grazing lands based upon accurate knowledge of current forage resources. These new technologies will change how producers manage grazing lands for optimal efficiency and sustainability and to mitigate the impacts of increasing climatic variability.

The 2020 bushfires in NSW’s Upper Murray not only devastated bush and farmland – waterways like Mannus Creek were also severely affected by runoff and bushfire sediment, decimating aquatic life. Recently, 2,500 baby Macquarie perch were returned to Mannus Creek to help rebuild the population. Mannus Creek contains one of four remaining populations of Macquarie Perch in NSW. DPI Fisheries NSW and Charles Sturt University, with support from Murray Local Landcare Services have been working to improve habitat conditions for Macquarie perch and reduce threats such as pest fish species. Watch this video for highlights from the release https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfDPrHRdRIw

For Wheatbelt NRM’s Noongar Budjar Rangers, a healthy country and healthy soils are of the utmost importance. They are now expanding their skillset in this area by participating in soil sampling at demonstration farm sites. Up to 17 local Aboriginal people are now employed through the program, empowering cultural custodians of the Wheatbelt to bring health back to country through activities including seed collection, revegetation and soil sampling. For more information on the soil trial and Aboriginal involvement in this program, visit https://wheatbeltnrm.org.au/whats-happening/news/aboriginal-nrm/noongar-budjar-rangers-grow-skills-country-and-farm

The far upper reaches of Victoria’s Agnes and Franklin rivers are inaccessible to most, but these waterways have been the focus of the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority’s headwater willow control program. This program aims to remove willows high in the catchment so that they can’t re-establish downstream. Willows can change stream and river courses, choke up the middle of waterways and take over from native vegetation – resulting in is less available habitat for native animals and reduced waterway biodiversity.
Over the last 20 years West Gippsland CMA has worked closely with farmers on the lower reaches of the Agnes and Franklin rivers to remove the willows, fence the rivers off from stock and plant trees to create a buffer. In the last financial year, WGCMA have completed over 250 hectares of willow control in the headwaters of these rivers. This three-year program is funded by the Victorian State Government’s Regional Riparian Action Plan. https://www.wgcma.vic.gov.au/news/latest-news/targeting-willows-at-their-source

Image credit: Michael Maconachie

The Brindabella Midge Orchid is a unique plant only found in Namadgi National Park. To protect its future, ACT NRM have developed an action plan to maintain a healthy wild population in the ACT. Their most recent progress report shows that the population is stable and habitat threats have been managed effectively. They are also building a seed bank in partnership with the Australian National Botanic Gardensto preserve the species and learn more about it. This research will be increasingly important to help prevent the extinction of this special species.

Read the full implementation progress report at https://www.environment.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/576551/Brindabella_Midge_Orchid_Action_Plan_-_Combined.pdf

District staff from SA’s Murrylands and Riverlands Landscape Board recently conducted river surveys from Blanchetown to Murray Bridge searching for aquatic weed infestations.
This year the focus was on early control of yellow water lily (Nymphaea mexicana), Sagittaria, golden dodder and its host noogoora burr. They treated known weed infestations and other major declared weeds along the river, creeks, and backwaters with follow-up treatment planned. The control work was undertaken with a specific chemical that is registered for use in waterways and is nontoxic to aquatic fauna. Aquatic weeds post a significant threat to agriculture, tourism and the environment and can potentially cost millions in lost revenue. For more information visit; https://www.landscape.sa.gov.au/mr/news/210208-river-surveys-defend-against-aquatic-invaders-nws
Staff from WA’s Peel Harvey Catchment Council (PHCC), along with landholders who have been involved in a ‘Numbat Neighbourhood’ project took part in the recent release of 11 numbats into Dryandra Woodland. The numbats came from the Perth Zoo and Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA’s) Breed for Release program and will be a great boost for the local numbat population.  The numbats had previously been fitted with radio tracking collars and DBCA will monitor these individuals to gain important information.
PHCC supports Perth Zoo and DBCA’s numbat breed for release program value adding to securing their food source, termites, and the work required to source wild-born numbats to provide new genetic stock for the captive breeding colony and radio tracking collars for their release. The breed for release program helps to ensure the security of existing self-sustaining subpopulations of numbats, extend the current distribution of the numbat and ensure the genetic health and diversity is maintained. This project is supported by PHCC through NLP funding.
February 2 was World Wetlands Day – which this year celebrates its 50th year. NRMs from across Australia highlighted the great work they are doing in many of Australia’s 66 Ramsar-listed wetlands.

In southern Tasmania, home to four Ramsar wetlands, NRM South is progressing work at Moulting Lagoon-Apsley Marshes. Working with project partners the Tasmanian Land Conservancy, Nature Glenelg Trust, the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and local landholders, project activities include weed control, using fencing to restrict stock and vehicle access and native vegetation restoration.

Over two days, representatives from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre were involved in wildlife monitoring work on two private properties surrounding the wetlands. TAC employees set up over 60 remote wildlife monitoring cameras on the edge of Moulting Lagoon, with support from Tasmanian Land Conservancy staff. Fauna monitoring is a key part of the project and will track how the ecological function of the wetland is being restored as a result of on ground works.