National NRM update for July 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.

On July 15, the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac Healthy Rivers to Reef 2020 Report Card for waterway health was officially launched. The 2020 Report Card provides detail on environmental indicators in the region’s freshwater, estuarine, and marine environments.

Queensland’s Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership represents 30 organisations committed to understanding and improving the health of Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac waterways and marine environments, and is hosted by Reef Catchments NRM. This is the Partnership’s seventh year reporting on environmental indicators in the region. Click here to download the report.

Blue Mountains Perch are only found in streams at the eastern edge of NSW’s Central Tablelands. Threats to the Blue Mountains Perch and its habitat include instream barriers and river regulation, sedimentation, riparian damage, degraded water quality, algae outbreaks, and invasive weeds and feral fish species. The 2019-20 bushfires have also threatened this species as known populations mostly occur within the fire-affected areas of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

The Central Tablelands Local Land Services has received funding to protect and conserve Blue Mountains Perch habitat by investing in improving stream management and condition upstream of these known populations. This will be achieved through stock-proof fencing to control stock access to waterways, installing alternative stock watering points where stock access to water will be lost due to new fencing, and targeted planting of native trees and shrubs to enhance stream protection.

‘Fonz’ the German shepherd is the first dog in Australia to be trained to sniff out the highly invasive, and at times very hard to identify, serrated tussock. Fonz was trained by internationally renowned dog trainer Steve Austin who worked with Parks NSW training dogs to find orange and mouse-eared hawkweed – one of Australia’s worst weed threats. The success of the hawkweed program was the inspiration for training dogs to detect weeds in Tasmania.

Over the next three years, Fonz will be working on detecting serrated tussock in the Tasmania’s north east and northern midlands.  This project is funded through the Tasmanian Government’s $5 million Weeds Action Fund. To find out more about the program click here.

Work to restore landscapes in South Australia affected by the Cudlee Creek fires are ongoing. At a recent Cudlee Creek Fire Recovery plant giveaway, 18,000 plants were handed out to nearly 200 landholders as part of a revegetation effort.

The event was part of the Local Economic Recovery Program which is being delivered in a partnership between the Hills and Fleurieu Landscape Board and Primary Industries and Regions SA. It is co-funded by the South Australian and Commonwealth governments under the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements. Click here to view a video of the day’s highlights.

Image credit: Matthew Doggett

In Tasmania, the Tasmanian Smart Seafood Partnership between NRM South and the Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council (funded through the Australian Government’s Smart Farming Partnerships component of the National Landcare Program) is supporting research into whether warm-tolerant giant kelp could be used as a foundation for future giant kelp forest restoration efforts. Around 95% of giant kelp communities have vanished from the seas around Tasmania with its decline linked to climate change and the increasing influence of warm and nutrient poor waters from the East Australian Current.

Early results from the project look positive, with juvenile kelp at two of the three test sites surviving well.  For more information on this project, visit the NRM South website.

The endangered northern hopping-mouse (Notomys aquilo) has not been recorded on the mainland in decades and is now restricted to Groote Eylandt off the coast of Arnhem Land. Territory NRM have a project, supported through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, to determine the current population density at significant sites, and to measure and manage key threatening processes for the hopping-mice, such as weed density and feral cats.

This year Territory NRM have been working in collaboration with Anindilyakwa Land and Sea Rangers and the NT Government’s Weeds Branch to conduct weed surveys and hopping-mice surveys, which has included counting burrows, camera trapping, and a novel technique of drone imagery.  The survey work will be repeated in two years to measure changes in the population over time, and determine if weed management has positive influence on the presence and abundance of the northern hopping-mouse.

Farmers, public land managers and NSW Local Land Services have joined forces to control feral pigs and other pest animals along the edge of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. The ‘Living on the Edge’ project is supported by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program to equip land managers to better understand and manage feral pigs in this delicate environment.

Follow this link to watch a video showcasing how this initiative is protecting natural assets, supporting biosecurity, and reducing the damage done and the disease threats posed by feral pigs.

Image credit: Brent Barrett

Recently, a team from WA’s Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) staff and volunteers re-introduced seven western ground parrots to a remote location east of Albany. This translocation hopes to create a new self-sustaining population of western ground parrots.

With the support of South Coast NRM, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, the DBCA will monitor the remaining birds in the source populations located within Cape Arid National Park and Nuytsland Nature Reserve. Read more about the project here.

Victoria’s  Port Phillip and Westernport CMA, partnering with OzFish, is working with recreational fishers to undertake fish habitat restoration, targeting the functionally extinct shellfish reef ecosystems in eastern Port Phillip Bay. Shellfish reef habitats are one of the most threatened marine habitats on earth and Port Phillip Bay is an important spawning and recruitment area for many fish species.

PPWCMA and OzFish kicked off the Port Phillip Community Shellfish Reef Project by spending a day with local fishers searching the seafloor for future restoration sites using a Remote Operated Vehicle. The project is supported by the PPWCMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s Fisheries Habitat Restoration Program. To read more about the project, click here.

Cutting-edge new models are being built which are set to significantly increase understanding of how coastal zones naturally remove nitrogen from waterways, as it is carried downstream, before being passed out into the ocean. Researchers from Southern Cross University and the University of Western Australia are teaming up with Queensland’s Healthy Land and Water NRM to build a model which will show how nitrogen is removed from water as it travels downstream through the catchment to the ocean.

The project has been made possible through funding  from the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Linkage Projects scheme. The three-year project is expected to start in late 2021, click here for more information.

Victoria’s Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CCMA) is starting work on five new sub-projects as part of the Australian Government’s ‘Wild Otways Initiative’, which is committing $6M to achieving on ground outcomes to improve the protection and management of threatened species. In partnership with public and private land managers, CCMA is delivering cross-tenure, threatened species management research and on-ground programs targeting priority species and their supporting habitat in the Otways.

The five projects are a pig and deer control program, a fox and cat management program, a phytophthora management program (a plant pathogen), a small mammal conservation project and a rewilding program for threatened species in the Otway Ranges. Projects will be implemented with relevant technical specialists (including universities, Zoos Victoria, NGOs, consultancies and land management agencies).

In addition to these five projects, the Australian Government’s Wild Otways Initiative includes a $1M Community Environment Grants Program, supporting community driven investment in project to protect and restore native plants, wildlife and coastal environments in the Otways. Read more about the initiative here.