National NRM update for February 2022. 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.
In parts of Australia, water hyacinth has become a major pest of rivers and dams. Rampant growth of water hyacinth can destroy native wetlands and waterways, killing native fish and other wildlife. Growth can be so rapid that an infestation may double in size every week under ideal conditions. Queensland's Reef Catchments, through funding from the Australian Government’s Reef Trust, is working to protect and restore wetlands south of Mackay. As part of this project, the use of a long reach excavator was trialed to mechanically remove water hyacinth and put it into the cane fallow paddock as mulch.
Reef Catchments and the landholder are now investigating if the mulch layer of aquatic weeds in the paddock will improve soil conditions and benefit the next cane crop, optimising the balance between production and ecosystem protection. The potential for biocontrol releases are also being investigated, which could deal with the infestation long-term, since the seed bank can be viable for up to 25 years.
Following the devastating 2019-20 bushfires, the recovery of the natural environment is ongoing. In NSW, Murray Local Land Services is partnering with the Wiradjuri people of the Brungle-Tumut Local Aboriginal Land Council to deliver Traditional Owner-led bushfire recovery activities. The first step in this restoration is revegetating areas that have been burnt and this project has been providing training for Wiradjuri women in the skill of collecting native plant seeds for sowing. These activities are also providing a valuable economic resource as Traditional Owners will have the opportunity to sell on some of this seed. Click on the link to watch a video about this recovery work https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTdnBnn5ILc
WA's South Coast NRM, in partnership with Albany Heritage Reference Group Aboriginal Corporation, Birdlife Australia and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, is protecting the critically endangered western ringtail possum and endangered Australasian bittern by undertaking feral predator control and weeding projects at Lake Pleasant View, North Sister and South Sister Nature Reserves, near Albany.
The results from regular monitoring across the reserves have shown an increase in western ringtail possum numbers, and a decrease in the activity of feral cats and foxes. Bird call recordings during the Australasian bittern breeding season show a regular and consistent presence of the species at the site since the start of the project in 2019. These findings provide optimism that the recovery efforts South Coast NRM and partners are undertaking, with the help of NLP funding, are contributing to the protection and conservation of these unique and precious threatened species.
Five farmers from SA's Eyre Peninsula are preparing to trial treatments and planting options to test regenerative agriculture practices for improving soil carbon. The soil carbon grants are part of a Regenerative Agriculture Program delivered by the Eyre Peninsula Landscape Board and facilitated by Agricultural Innovation and Research Eyre Peninsula (AIREP), through NLP funding. The Eyre Peninsula has large areas of agricultural land that is subject to acidification; as well as having a significant proportion of soils at moderate to severe risk of wind erosion and soils with low organic carbon. The grants will give farmers an opportunity to trial methods that can help address these issues by providing local examples of soil carbon improvement opportunities, and narrowing down the best treatments for specific regional issues - while easing the expenses associated with these amelioration treatments; https://www.landscape.sa.gov.au/ep/news/farmers-take-up-soil-carbon-improvements
Little Llangothlin Nature Reserve in the Northern Tablelands region of NSW covers 257 hectares and is listed as a wetland of international importance under the RAMSAR convention. The lagoon is an important habitat for waterbirds, eels, freshwater turtles, frogs, snakes, swamp wallabies and kangaroos and is one of the few remaining publicly accessible freshwater lagoons in the state. Northern Tablelands Local Land Services have been working alongside Landcare, National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Aboriginal community at Guyra, to carry out seasonal tree planting at the Reserve to grow and restore this wetland. Funding provided by the National Landcare Program is also supporting research to discover and describe the web of life at Little Llangothlin Nature Reserve. Find out more about the project at https://bit.ly/3INNzRy
Taunton National Park in central Queensland is home to Australia’s largest population of bridled nail-tailed wallaby - once believed to be extinct. The Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA) is administering a conservation project and providing off-park management to help this wallaby population. Through their coordination efforts with land managers and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) to implement individual predator control actions such as baiting, trapping and shooting, FBA improved the effectiveness of feral predator control by combining on-park and off-park efforts simultaneously.
Collaboration between QPWS, FBA and the land managers of the region has been critical to conservation efforts and a January 2022 CSIRO Wildlife Research journal article by QPWS reported that wallaby numbers had increased by 214% in the four years from 2013 to 2017 because of the extensive efforts taken by the invested stakeholders. Over 20km of cattle exclusion fencing was also installed by FBA to help develop vegetation corridors to provide shelter and food for wallabies on private properties neighbouring the park. For more information on the project, visit https://www.fba.org.au/collaboration-brings-back-endangered-bridled-nail-tailed-wallaby/
Willow trees growing along waterways cause significant environmental damage by forming dense tree canopies which block light to the waterway. Without light, most native vegetation will not persist, resulting in a loss of plant and animal richness. Willow roots also impede water flows and autumn leaf fall can reduce oxygen levels in the water causing stress and even death to fish and other aquatic organisms.
For the last 4 years, willow control works have been undertaken in Victoria's Budj Bim Cultural Landscape with Gunditjmara Traditional Owners, private landholders and Glenelg Hopkins CMA with fantastic on-ground results. This long-term activity is continuing this year with revegetation works along Killara (Darlot Creek) and Palawarra (Fitzroy River) where willows have already been removed. These willow control works will also be extended across the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape to further protect the values of this culturally significant landscape for future generations. These works are part of the Budj Bim Connections Flagship Project which is funded by the Victorian Government under the fifth tranche of the Environmental Contribution.
In May 2021, 600 endangered gudgeons (known to Adnyamathanha people as Wirta Udla Yarri) were helicoptered from their home in SA's Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park and the adjacent Moolawatana Pastoral Lease. Of these, 300 were placed in permanent springs in Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park and 300 in the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area, north-west of Hawker. For the gudgeon to establish successfully in their new locations, they needed to survive their first winter and produce young fish, which they appeared to have done at both locations. These translocations have doubled the number of known populations and represent an important milestone for the South Australia Arid Lands Landscape Board’s Bounceback and Beyond project, funded through the NLP; https://www.landscape.sa.gov.au/saal/news/small-fry-is-big-news
The Ngadju Rangers have been providing on-ground monitoring required to support this pilot network. The 2019–20 fire season saw unprecedented bushfires in forests, woodlands, rainforests and shrublands across Australia. Monitoring these fires provide an opportunity to understand how ecosystems recover from fires of this scale, and assist to determine where interventions such as weed management are needed to enhance recovery.