National NRM highlights for August 2019 - showcasing NRM highlights from around the nation, including innovative new projects and progress updates. 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.

The South West Catchments Council (SWCC) is the first Australian NRM organisation with a CASA Remote Operators' Certificate and they have a fleet of drones with near infrared sensors, Wildlife VHF tracking capability, vegetation, agricultural, commercial infrastructure monitoring and educational services. SWCC have recently developed a payload device that carries a 250ml sample bottle and records the GPS location of the sample point.

This allows for dozens of samples can be collected in a short space of time and it's the perfect solution for situations where there is steep access, unstable banks, flood conditions, water contamination or other dangerous site considerations. Check the YouTube link for a demo.

A revegetation site along Dandenong Creek. Photo by Alison Hoelzer.

Port Phillip and Westernport CMA are now three years into a 4-year project to transform the Dandenong Creek corridor into a world-class urban Living Link. They've been working alongside six partner councils and Parks Victoria across 38 priority sites to improve the landscape both for wildlife and people.

In the 2018/19 financial year, these works included 72.5 hectares of weed control, 16.9 hectares of revegetation , installation of 18 nest boxes, 150m of fencing to protect revegetation areas and 34 community events.

TNRM's 'Soil Symposium' hit the road across the NT - hosting events in Alice Springs, Darwin and Katherine to discuss the importance of healthy soils in farming and living systems. Topics included soil biota, soil carbon, biological agriculture, soil mapping & planning, and participatory approaches to improving soil condition.

Keynote speaker Dr Charles Massy discussed the role of regenerative agriculture to improve landscape health and function and each symposium finished with a broad discussion on regenerating  soils, and how to prepare prior to a negative impact such as drought, fire or flood.

Reef Catchments has compiled a  video showcasing the achievements of the 'Reef Trust 3' program. The video features interviews with local cane farmers and extension officers, highlighting the outcomes of the Reef Trust program locally.

Reef Trust 3 provided support, agronomic advice and resources to sugar cane farmers in the Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac region. The program helped growers to carry out on-farm improvements, including  herbicide and nutrient management practices, crop productivity and water quality. Take a look at the video here.

Victoria's North East CMA recently assessed the economic and social contribution of selected waterways and waterbodies to the regional economy.

The study included over 2,000 interviews of people using & visiting the waterways and waterbodies, local businesses and service providers. The findings prove conclusively the shared benefits of maintaining and enhancing local waterways. Click here to find out more.

A fish habitat restoration project being carried out by the Department for Environment and Water (DEW) is one of many projects being delivered to restore the ecology of the River Murray. The pilot project is focusing on rebuilding some important instream woody habitat, commonly referred to as ‘snags’, which play a critical role in the river system.

The pilot forms part of the $155 million South Australian Riverland Floodplains Integrated Infrastructure Program (SARFIIP) to improve the health and resilience of Riverland floodplains. SARFIIP is funded by the Australian Government through the Murray–Darling Basin Authority and implemented by DEW in partnership with SA Water.

Image credit: Nathan Hayes

NSW's Central West LLS announced works underway on a project in Lake Cargelligo to protect the Australasian Bittern; an iconic Australian bird species under threat. The project is focused on reducing threats to the Australasian Bittern by improving its habitat and controlling feral pests including pigs, cats and foxes that are known to prey on the chicks and eggs.

Contractors were engaged to carry out weed and pest animal control on the island and also a trapping and ground shooting program on a number of private properties surrounding the Lake. As followup, the Local Land Services’ biosecurity team supplied neighbouring landholders with pest animal traps, training in their use and trail cameras to target and control pests in the future.

Read more about the project here.

Image: Gidargil rangers Brendan Fletcher and Ronnie Blair with Rocky and Tom. Credit: Mike Nott via News Mail

Southern Queensland Landscapes (formerly Southern Queensland NRM) reported on the efforts of Rocky' and his pal Tom (handler), who have been hard at work at Deepwater National Park near Agnes Waters and Mon Repo near Bundaberg detecting the presence of foxes to help protect turtle nesting sites.

Tom & Rocky represent a ground-breaking conservation management tool with proven effectiveness in feral animal control when applied in conjunction with traditional management practices. Rocky has been trained to detect specific pest species - foxes, wild dogs and feral cats. Using his powerful sense of smell, Rocky's role is to track the scent of pest animals - in this case foxes - and help Tom establish population densities using GPS locations so that appropriate control methods can be undertaken by local councils and land management groups.