National NRM update for December 2020 – January 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.

Image: NRM North

In 2018, the Australian and Tasmanian governments jointly committed funding for the River Health Action Plan – to be delivered by NRM North. The funding supports priority projects to improve Launceston’s combined sewerage and stormwater system.

Dairy, grazing and urban land use are the three largest contributors to pathogen loads in the greater estuary catchment and are also major controllable sources of nutrient and sediment loads. The program has produced four educational videos looking at various approaches to reducing pathogens loads in the estuary. For more information, visit https://nrmnorth.org.au/water/education/river-health-action-plan/

Image: NACC

The Northern Agricultural Catchments Council has launched a partner project with the WA’s Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions to monitor the rare Foote’s Grevillea (Grevillea calliantha) and collect seed to safeguard the genetic diversity of this species. Foote’s Grevillea is only known to exist at six sites within an eight-kilometre range. Funded through NLP, the project enables propagation of seed stock and the revegetation at known sites, the establishment of a new population, and increased engagement of community and landholders to raise awareness and understanding of Foote’s Grevillea. The project is also working to boost the species recovery through improved management and threat abatement at known sites. Read more at the link: https://www.nacc.com.au/setting-seed-rescuing-footes-grevillea/

Image: Terrain NRM

In Queensland’s Far North, Woodleigh Cattle Station owners have been working with Terrain NRM on improving the land through engineered rock chutes, repairs to old tin mining tailings dam complexes and changes to grazing practices. A new 50m rock chute, completed in December 2020, has been built to stop erosion and the ongoing loss of valuable topsoil.

Many landholders in this catchment area (upper Herbert) are still dealing with the impacts of historical mining practices and legacy erosion issues. The work is part of a larger Herbert Gully and Grazing Project, funded through the Australian Government’s Reef Trust IV program to target erosion hot spots, which prevents the loss of healthy top soil and productive land and reduces fine sediment loads flowing to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. Visit https://terrain.org.au/rock-chute-for-erosion-control/ for more information.

Glenelg Hopkins CMA (GHCMA) has released a 10-part video series on the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, highlighting the recovery work being undertaken by GHCMA, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team in Hamilton, Victoria. The recovery program has been running since the 1980s and GHCMA have been involved with the project since the 1990s. Now listed as extinct in mainland Australia, the fox and cat-free reintroduction site in the Hamilton Community Parklands is home to around 100 bandicoots. The series of short videos can be viewed here: https://www.ghcma.vic.gov.au/projects/bandicoot/

A NSW government-funded program is providing grants of up to $10,000 for livestock owners to improve stock water infrastructure such as troughs, tanks, and dams. North Coast Local Land Services has identified that access to off-stream water for stock is a priority for recovery in the region post-fire and drought. By focusing on surface water and planning for fire risk, this project will help farmers to provide stock water infrastructure post fire, increase off stream water for livestock and improve animal health outcomes through better access to water. Participants will also have the opportunity to attend an on-farm workshop or webinar in the new year to learn more about stock water management options.

The grants are part of the Bushfire stimulus project for the recovery of the natural environment, farming enterprises, and local businesses after the 2019-20 bushfires. For more information, visit: https://www.lls.nsw.gov.au/regions/north-coast/latest-news-and-newsletters/nc-news/2020/north-coast-producers-to-access-stock-water-infrastructure-funding

Image: TNRM

In the Northern Territory, Territory NRM and NT Weeds Management Branch have been coordinating with Queensland NRM groups to halt the spread of Prickly Acacia into the headwaters of the Georgina River and onto the Barkly. TNRM recently visited seven Barkly cattle stations to raise awareness about the risks of Prickly Acacia becoming established, and providing information and materials on how to identify and effectively treat it. TNRM also promoted the new NT Weedmate app as a tool for tracking and reporting treatment and distributed Graslan herbicide – donated by Desert Channels NRM through the broader Prickly Acacia Alliance.

TNRM staff found that offering further training to property staff on weed identification and effective treatment would  help accelerate control efforts. This collaboration between the NT Weeds Management Branch, Territory NRM and the Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association has been a successful approach for dealing with this complex, cross-jurisdictional rangeland issue. This project is supported through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Image: J Hall

Eight wine and grape growers have teamed up with SA’s Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board to promote biodiversity in and around vineyards in the Adelaide Hills. Through the Wildlife for Wine project, the Board is supporting and collaborating with growers to create a greater balance between the environment and the practice of viticulture. Funded through South Australia’s NRM levy, the project is supporting grape growers to increase local native biodiversity, which in turn attracts native animal species – especially insects – that can help control pests in the vineyard, and so reduce the need for chemical control.

Examples from different properties include restoring wetland areas, planting native species, and seeding a nearby paddock to native grass and forb species. Wildlife for Wine began in 2018, and in 2020 approximately 41 hectares was planted to native species on viticultural properties across the McLaren Vale, Adelaide Hills and Barossa. For more information on the project, visit: https://www.landscape.sa.gov.au/hf/land/landholder-services/wildlife-for-wine

A new video released by South Coast NRM (WA) celebrates the success of South Coast NRM’s Yakamia Creek project that will improve habitat value of the creek and the health of Oyster Harbour. Over the two years of the Yakamia Creek Fish Friendly Farms project, there has been 25 community engagement events involving over 300 people and establishing three rehabilitation sites, engaging 20 contractors along with volunteers planting more than 5000 seedlings. The rehabilitation sites demonstrate achievable options to encourage better management practises by landowners that have Yakamia Creek flowing through their property.

South Coast NRM hopes to continue this project with the new State Government Healthy Estuaries WA program and attract further funds to support rehabilitation actions on Yakamia Creek. Take a look at the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT58F8vMAV8

South East Local Land Services is working closely with NSW DPI Fisheries on the genetic rescue of the Endangered Macquarie Perch in South East NSW. Once widespread in the upper reaches of many major rivers in the Murray-Darling system in NSW, ACT and Vic, as well as in the Shoalhaven and Hawkesbury-Nepean systems, Macquarie Perch has been endangered for many decades, with small isolated populations leading to inbreeding.

After rigorous biosecurity and risk analysis, 40 descendants of fish translocated out of the Murray-Darling system over 100 years ago to Cataract Dam, are now being re-introduced into the upper Murrumbidgee to invigorate the gene pool. With NLP funding, the ‘Reaching for the Recovery of the Endangered Macquarie Perch’ project is also undertaking habitat restoration. Other project partners include the Upper Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach, Landcare Australia, Bush Heritage Australia, Rivers of Carbon, the Australian River Restoration Centre, and the University of Canberra. Watch the video here: https://www.facebook.com/NationalLandcareProgram/videos/132059252084867

Dr Grace Hodder and volunteer Tara Smale out in the field for mouse survey work as part of the Marna Banggara project.

Late last year, SA’s Northern and Yorke Landscape Board led a survey of mouse abundance in barley and wheat crops on the southern Yorke Peninsula. Carried out as part of the Marna Banggara project, this baseline data will be used to monitor the effectiveness of Barn Owls in controlling mouse numbers, which has a potential flow-on benefit for the agricultural community. There are plans to augment current populations of native Barn Owls by installing nest boxes in the project area.

Marna Banggara is a landscape restoration project that aims to create a safe haven for some of Australia’s most threatened species, reinvigorate iconic bushland and benefit the community, economy and agriculture on Yorke Peninsula. It is anticipated that small native predator species such as the Barn Owl will benefit agriculture through the control of rabbits and house mice, which will in turn reduce crop damage and baiting costs.

This project is jointly funded through the Northern and Yorke Landscape Board, NLP, the South Australian Department for Environment and Water, WWF-Australia and Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife, and includes involvement from many other partners.  https://www.landscape.sa.gov.au/ny/projects/Marna_Banggara_A_safe_haven_for_native_species

Research has shown the NSW Ocean Trawl Fishery has minimal interactions with seabirds. To ensure the NSW Ocean Trawl Fishery remains seabird friendly into the future, NSW trawl fishers have worked with OceanWatch Australia and NSW DPI Fisheries to develop seabird management plans for individual vessels that describe a range of operational and physical measures to prevent interactions.

The voluntary adoption of these measures by fishers demonstrates that with collaboration between fishers, scientist and decision makers, simple practical solutions can be implemented to ensure fisheries are sustainably managed. Follow the link for more information: https://www.oceanwatch.org.au/uncategorized/nsw-trawl-fishers-endorse-seabird-friendly-fishing-practices/

NSW’s Hunter Local Land Services continues to help bushfire affected livestock producers recover from the 2019 Bushfires with a range of projects and measures geared to improving livestock health and welfare. Work continues across the region to rebuild fences, but producers are reporting straying livestock, which increases biosecurity risks, may have consequences for animal health and potentially introduces new endemic diseases into a herd.

Hunter LLS is supporting producers address these issues through targeted testing of livestock, water and feed in partnership with local private veterinarians. Activities are also underway to develop better management and on-farm treatment of blue-green algae in dams, provide better access to on-farm nitrate testing of fodder, subsidise strategic testing for key endemic diseases, provide water quality and fodder testing and producing materials to assist producers prepare for emergencies and to help first responders better manage livestock immediately after the emergency.

These projects are being delivered through funding provided by the NSW State Government and the Australian Government to assist in the recovery of bushfire affected communities. Visit: https://www.lls.nsw.gov.au/regions/hunter/latest-news-and-newsletters/h-news/2021/animal-welfare-support-continues,-long-after-the-fire-is-out

Image: NRM South

NRM South and project partners working to protect Tasmania’s critically endangered Southport heath (Epacris stuartii) carried out a survey in the island’s far south to assess the current status of this very rare plant.  Listed as one of the 30 priority plants in Australia’s Threatened Species Strategy, the only known wild population of Southport Heath is at risk from weed invasion, inappropriate fire regimes and mammal browsing.

The survey results were mixed – showing good signs in some spots but ongoing issues in others. Working in partnership with DPIPWE, Tasmania’s Parks and Wildlife Service, the Tasmanian Seed Conservation Centre, Threatened Plants Tasmania and pakana Services, NRM South will be putting measures in place to tackle high priority weeds, boost the seedbank reserve, find out more about the optimal conditions for germinating seeds and raise awareness about the species in the local community. For more information, visit https://nrmsouth.org.au/hunting-for-rare-heath-in-the-far-south/

Image: SQL

Queensland’s $7.5 million Commonwealth Fencing Northern Riverbanks program is helping to better manage stock and other impacts on river ecosystem function in the Queensland Murry-Darling Basin. In 2020, 10 pilot projects were established to fence off riparian areas and provide off stream watering for stock.

Led by Southern Landscapes Queensland (SQL), project works included 40km of riparian fencing, 14 off stream water points and some complementary works to manage weeds and pests in riparian areas in the Condamine, Balonne, Border Rivers and Warrego catchments. The Queensland Murray-Darling Catchments Limited Aboriginal Rangers contributed to fencing along the Balonne River and to weed management in traditional Bigambul country in the Border Rivers.

SQL is negotiating with the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments to determine priority areas and support processes for ongoing work in 2021 and 2022.