National NRM update for June 2020.  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 credit: Nathalie Laurence

Smart Farms Small Grants

Round three of the Smart Farms Small Grants is investing over $5 million in 113 projects across the country. Grant recipients include Landcare, farming businesses, farm systems groups, community groups and Indigenous organisations.

Funded projects are addressing many issues facing primary producers, including pest control, vegetation management, farm input efficiency, soil health, climate and market management and the use of new technologies. This program is developing and extending new tools and technologies to help farmers and regional communities adopt best practice land management.

Smart Farms Small Grants are part of the second phase of the National Landcare program, a $1.1 billion Australian Government commitment to natural resource management. For more information, visit https://minister.awe.gov.au/littleproud/media-releases/investing-smart-farming-future

Image credit: Wheatbelt NRM

In WA’s Wheatbelt region, Noongar Budjar Rangers have revisited a site in Aldersyde where they planted over 34ha of sandalwood hosts last year. Despite the very poor summer conditions, over 90% of the hand-planted host seedlings have survived. As part of their work with the Carbon Neutral Charitable Fund, the Rangers spent several days planting sandalwood nuts over the same site.

Wheatbelt NRM’s Jermaine Davis said the team found it really fulfilling to see the success of their efforts last year and how this work will heal the land into the future. “Working on country is the ultimate outcome for this Ranger team and they take great pride in their work,” said Jermaine.

The team will be returning in July to complete some infill planting and plant out new areas as part of this ongoing work.

Image credit: Corangamite CMA

Corangamite CMA has launched its ‘Grassy Eucalypt Woodlands Project’ for the Victorian Volcanic Plains, which will run until 2023. This region, which covers approximately 22,000 square km, stretches from Melbourne to the South Australian border and is home to several nationally threatened ecological communities  – including the Grassy Eucalypt Woodlands.

These woodlands provide critical habitat for a variety of animals including birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, and frogs and this project will improve the condition, connectivity and extent of these critically endangered Woodlands through the delivery of a private land stewardship program and improved management of public linear reserves.
This project is supported by the Protecting the Volcanic Plains Project and has received $2.8million in funding from the Australian Government.

Image credit: Rowan Smith, TIA

The Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) and NRM South are working on a perennial pasture trial that will give farmers on the East Coast of Tasmania new strategies to manage pasture production through drought. Ongoing drought conditions over the past three years have meant previous trials have not established, but recent autumn rains have provided better conditions to re-sow pastures and assess the response of previously established improved pastures. Though the response to rain has been varied, improved pastures have recovered well overall.

Improved pastures generally contain a combination of productive exotic grasses and legumes, these pastures are generally more productive than local native pastures.

With sowing now complete, NRM South and TIA will be working together to extend information from the trial to all farmers in the region over the coming months. For more information head to the NRM South news page and to see a video recap of pasture sowing click here.

The benefits of using soil moisture probes to help with decision making across a range of applications will be tested through on-farm demonstration sites across the Central West over the coming months.

Central West LLS in NSW has established test sites at New Mollyan, Gilgandra and Forbes to assess the use of the tool to deliver data for seasonal decision-making including nitrogen application, crop sequencing and yield estimates. The probes have long been used in the cotton industry but the trials would establish their potential for dryland broadacre operations. The aim of the trial is to show producers how the soil moisture probes work, what information they provide and the benefits of an additional layer of data in the decision-making process from each of the different scenarios.

The team hope to run small field walks to the sites later in the season and will be producing video and photo footage to show interested producers. The trial has also been featured in an article on The Land’s website.

After summer bushfires ripped through large areas of Main Range in southern Queensland, bushfire recovery work to support the rehabilitation of natural habitats and wildlife through mitigating pest and weed invasion is now underway.

Southern Queensland Landscapes have started their on-ground work with guidance from the Federal Government’s Wildlife and Threatened Species Bushfire Recovery Expert Panel. Priority actions such as working with landholders to perform on-ground assessments and protect unburnt areas for target species is now underway.

The program has been an extremely timely initiative as the pressures of extended drought, followed by fire and storms caused extreme pressure for landholders in the affected areas. With 119 animal species, 471 plant species and 191 invertebrate species appearing on the Expert Panel’s list, they are the highest priorities for urgent management intervention.

Image credit: Dean Heinze, Ecology Links.

Endangered animals and plants in the Victorian Alps are receiving a helping hand in the aftermath of the recent catastrophic Black Summer fires in North East Victoria. Endangered species are more vulnerable to threats in the period immediately after bushfires, as the changed landscape makes it easier for feral animals and weeds to invade and cause long-lasting damage.

Feral cats, deer and red foxes were actively targeted over 8,900 hectares of key habitat throughout the North East, using such management tools as baiting, trapping and shooting through a project supported by the North East CMA. In addition, weeds such as willows and soft rush were removed on 40 hectares in priority locations of the Alpine National Park, to protect endangered communities from these invasive plants.

These activities have complemented two existing projects also supported by the North East CMA: the Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery in the Victorian Alps project and the Alpine Peatlands Protection project, both running over five years.

Click here for more information.

South Coast NRM has announced $3 million in funding across five NRM regions for a 3-year project to protect black cockatoo nesting sites across Western Australia. The south coast is home to three types of black cockatoo – Carnaby’s, Baudin’s and the forest red-tailed black cockatoo – all of which are threatened by habitat loss.

This project will support private land holders to improve habitat for black cockatoos and will include revegetation of key food plants, improving nesting habitat through controlling stock access, regeneration, weeding and pest management and erecting artificial nesting structures or repairing existing nesting hollows. The project will work with community and landholders to contribute to the knowledge and management of black cockatoos on private land by surveying for undiscovered nesting sites and engaging community in project activities. Birdlife Australia will provide crucial support to the project for this component, plus relevant technical advice on the delivery of project activities.

Funding for this project has been made available through the Australian Government’s Environmental Restoration Fund.

Central Tablelands LLS recently completed phase one of restoration works at Happy Valley Swamp on NSW’s Newnes Plateau. This threatened ecological community was extensively burnt in 2013 and again last summer during a fire which burnt every swamp on the plateau. It is also frequently used by 4WD and trail bikes which has added to the damage.

Restoration works included a new crossing which will allow forest users including trail bike riders, bush walkers, and cyclists to cross through the swamp without causing further damage. Restoring this swamp, home to threatened species including the Blue Mountains Water Skink, Giant Dragonfly and Deane’s Boronia, has been a work in progress for a number of years.

Over the coming years Central Tablelands LLS will continue working with volunteers and Forestry Corporation to rehabilitate the swamp and maintain the integrity of the crossing.

The amount of funding available to support Adelaide Hills landholders in South Australia’s Cudlee Creek bushfire recovery efforts has tripled, following a huge interest from the community.

Cudlee Creek Fire Landscape Recovery Grants received 275 applications earlier this year and, in response to the high level of demand, available grant funding has been increased from $400k to nearly $1.2m.

In addition, through Adelaide & Mt Lofty Ranges NRM (now the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board), landholders have received 16,000 native plant seedlings—trees, shrubs, ground cover and grasses to help revegetate creeks, rebuild wind breaks and grow paddock trees for the future. The plants were grown by volunteers from the Habitat Recovery Alliance, Trees for Life, the Walkerville Rotary Club and Future Generations Natives.

The Australian Government has invested over $200 million in bushfire recovery for native wildlife and their habitat. This funding will continue to deliver a range of targeted on-ground recovery actions to prevent extinction and limit the decline of native species.

Image credit: John Tann on Flickr

Terrain NRM and the Tablelands Regional Council have joined forces to restore land at South Cedar Creek by removing guinea grass and lantana, and planting hundreds of native trees.

More than 1000 trees went into the ground recently, after spraying and brush-cutting marked the start of a four-year restoration program.

The site is important for several vulnerable species – such as the yellow-bellied glider, greater glider, magnificent brood frog, Lumholtz’s tree kangaroo and tapping green-eyed frog – and  three endangered ecosystems. It also provides important linkage for biodiversity conservation, however over the years it has been taken over by invasive weeds. For more information, visit https://terrain.org.au/from-weeds-to-wildlife/

New Landscape South Australia Act

From 1 July 2020, landscape regions replaced NRM regions in South Australia.  The Act will see the management of South Australia’s natural resources focused on a back-to-basics approach giving local communities a far greater voice. The Landscape South Australia Act 2019 replaces the Natural Resources Management Act 2004, as the new framework to manage the State’s soil, water, pest plants and animals, and biodiversity. For more information, visit: https://statewide.landscape.sa.gov.au/

Online NRM webinar series from the University of Melbourne

The University of Melbourne has launched a webinar series in natural resource management covering 10 topics in natural resource management issues.

Delivered by leading science academics and with an Australian perspective, they are relevant to anyone currently working within the environmental or natural resource management area. The webinars will run from July 14 to August 31.

https://science.unimelb.edu.au/landing-pages/nrm-webinar-series