National NRM update for March 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.

In December 2019, the Gosper’s Mountain bushfire impacted nine of the twenty-one known Purple Copper Butterfly sites in the Lithgow area. One of Australia’s rarest butterflies, the Purple Copper Butterfly, is only found in the Central Tablelands of NSW at elevations above 900m.

Fortunately, recent surveys found Purple Copper butterflies present at most of these sites – but post-bushfire weed encroachment is posing a risk to their habitat. To ensure that weeds do not continue to impact on butterfly habitat recovery, several organisations have banded together to tackle weeds and rehabilitate habitat.

Lithgow Oberon Landcare Association, NSW’s Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and Lithgow Council are working with the Central Tablelands Local Land Services at 11 sites to ensure the Purple Copper Butterfly can make the best possible recovery. The recovery work is funded by the Australian Government’s Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery program. https://www.lls.nsw.gov.au/regions/central-tablelands/latest-news/ct-news/2021/partners-unite-to-help-purple-copper-butterfly

In early March, Torres Strait Regional Authority’s Land and Sea Management Unit (LSMU) joined staff and students at Tagai State College – Waybeni Buway Ngurpay Mudh on Thursday Island, for a Clean Up Australia Day event to pick up rubbish within their school and on local beaches.

LSMU staff also led discussions on how to responsibly dispose of rubbish and how individuals can reduce the use of plastics to stop microplastics impacting our land and sea and endangering animals.
Clean Up Australia Day is an annual event held on the first Sunday of March and supported nationally by individuals, schools, and communities to not only remove rubbish from nature, but also focus on preventing plastic pollution from entering our water ways.

Recent monitoring at Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park saw good numbers of Western Quoll (Idnya) and Brushtail Possums (Virlda) captured as part of SA Arid Lands Landscape Board’s ‘Bounceback and Beyond’ project. The final tally of 89 quolls and 28 possums are some of the best results on record for the project.

Idnya and Virlda were reintroduced to the Flinders in 2014-2017 through a partnership between the Department for Environment and Water and the Foundation for Australia’s Most Endangered Species Ltd., and are culturally significant for the region’s Adnyamathanha people – adding to the importance of this project’s success.

Monitoring of both species is supported by the SA Arid Lands Landscape Board, through funding from the National Landcare Program. https://www.landscape.sa.gov.au/saal/Projects_and_Partners/Projects/Bounceback_and_Beyond

A pest management project delivered in Queensland’s Toowoomba region has been celebrated as a success, removing 676 breeding warrens from around 700 farmland properties between Highfields and the Upper Yarraman.

Wrapping up at the end of February, the three-year project surveyed some 3,200 properties. The rapid breeding rate of rabbits is well known and it was estimated that the total warrens removed could have produced up to 158,000 rabbits over the three years that the project was running.

This collaborative project was run in partnership with Southern Queensland Landscapes, the Darling Downs Moreton Rabbit Board, the Towoomba Regional Council and Biosecurity Queensland. https://www.sqlandscapes.org.au/program-removes-158-000-rabbits-from-farmlands-in-trc-region

In north west NSW, efforts are underway to reconnect habitat in areas known or suspected to be used by Regent Honeyeaters. North West Local Land Services is working on strengthening linkages from the Barraba area (where successful Regent Honeyeater breeding has been recorded in recent years) to large forest remnants including Mount Kaputar and the Pilliga where they were once abundant.

Remnant riparian forests are important linkages and provide safe pathways across the landscape for many native animals. Work will include revegetation with heavy nectar producing trees and mid-storey shrubs such as callistemon and melaleuca.

This autumn, North West LLS and project partners will revegetate 14ha between Mt Kaputar and Pilliga adjacent to the important remnant riparian forest along Eulah Creek. North West LLS has a target to revegetate a total of 20 ha by 2023. This project receives funding through the National Landcare Program. https://www.lls.nsw.gov.au/regions/north-west/key-projects/national-landcare-program/protecting-woodland-bird-habitat-for-regent-honeyeaters

Parkinsonia is one of Australia’s worst weeds. If left untreated, it displaces native vegetation, prevents stock from accessing water, and hinders mustering. Last year, Queensland’s NQ Dry Tropics worked with Jangga Traditional Owners and staff from Bioherbicides Australia to tackle a major parkinsonia infestation on a grazing property near Moranbah.

Around 4,000 trees were injected with DiBak, a native fungus that should take root and reduce the infestation. Ongoing monitoring will determine the success of this intervention, which aims to improve habitat condition for wildlife in adjacent remnant brigalow areas, as well as benefit grazing management. A video has been produced to tell the story about the project, available to view at the link; https://www.facebook.com/nqdrytropicsNRM/videos/349960996283956

This work is part of the Conserving Brigalow Corridors project, delivered by NQ Dry Tropics and funded through the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment National Landcare Program.

The South West of WA has been chosen as one of only six regions to take part in a $23.5 million Carbon + Biodiversity Pilot, encouraging farmers to carry out mixed-species tree planting projects for both climate and ecosystem benefits. The South West Catchments Council will be helping to develop biodiversity protocols to ensure that requirements are suited to the region’s unique environment.

Developed under the Australian Government’s $34M Agriculture Stewardship Package, this pilot project will provide a premium payment for biodiversity improvements delivered through Emissions Reduction Fund carbon farming projects. In recognition of consumer demand for sustainable products, it will also include an associated certification scheme, which will allow consumers to select sustainable farm produce. For more information, visit https://swccnrm.org.au/carbonbiodiversity/

Developed by Tasmania’s Cradle Coast Authority NRM, a new citizen sciencebased toolkit for Little Penguins was launched earlier this year. Funded by the Tasmanian Government, the toolkit will help land managers and community groups monitor Tasmania’s Little Penguin populations and manage threats to their colonies.

Developed in partnership with Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Water and Environment, the toolkit provides guidance on survey methods that community groups can use to monitor changes to penguin populations in their local area. It also provides methods to assess the Little Penguin habitat potential of an area, as well as ways to effectively assess current and future threats to colonies.

Data collected using these methods will help improve knowledge of Little Penguin populations and distribution around the state. https://www.cradlecoast.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Media-Release-New-toolkit-to-help-protect-Little-Penguins-ID-54574.pdf

Recent surveys in Victoria’s King River showed encouraging signs for the health of the fish community, including several threatened species. The first confirmed Trout Cod was detected in this river reach in decades, and juvenile Macquarie Perch recorded near Edi are likely to be the first natural recruits since the 1950s.

There were also good numbers of Two-spined Blackfish, River Blackfish and Murray Cod, and surveys found Southern Pygmy Perch between Moyhu and Edi; a significant find for this small fish species whose numbers have declined in the Murray Darling Basin and are often only found in small isolated populations.

This outcome has been hailed as an indication of the success of habitat works undertaken by the North East Catchment Management Authority. This work has been funded by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning as part of the $222M investment in waterway and catchment health, as well as by Recreational Fishing Licence fees which are managed by the Victorian Fisheries Authority to improve recreational fishing. https://www.necma.vic.gov.au/News-Events/Media-Releases/ArtMID/537/ArticleID/1605/King-River-survey-yields-encouraging-fish-finds

Rangelands NRM in WA has signed an agreement with The Institute for Drone Technology to build a training course aimed at using drone technology for natural resource management. Designed for first time users, this training will ensure that people new to using drones will know the rules and regulations and how to safely operate a drone.

Rangelands NRM identified a lack of training and induction available to pilots and organisations wanting to operate drones in the sub 2kg category. In conjunction with the Institute for Drone Technology, Rangelands has created an affordable online NRM Induction course that allows anyone working or associated with the NRM sector to gain competency and comply with relevant CASA requirements. For more information, visit https://rangelandswa.com.au/rangelands-nrm-to-introduce-drone-induction-course-offering-an-alternative-to-better-monitor-natural-resources/

Ten years ago, Werribee Zoo in Victoria revegetated a 30 metre buffer along the Werribee River. Endemic Werribee blue box eucalypts, sheoaks and wattles were planted as well as smaller wetland plants.

This year, the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority’s Western Environmental and Agricultural work crews have been spending every Friday assisting Zoos Victoria to catch up on weed control and maintenance in this area that was delayed due to COVID-19. They have removed inkweed, boxthorn, Cape ivy and spurges, as well as stakes and plant guards.

Thanks to the revegetation works and ongoing maintenance, the area has become a wildlife corridor and is regularly frequented by wild black wallabies.