National NRM update for May 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.

Celebrating Biodiversity Day

May 22 was International Day for Biological Diversity. Tackling ongoing biodiversity loss is one of the key actions being addressed by regional NRMs across Australia. Here is just a handful of current projects that are working to protect and restore species and habitats.

In Adelaide, two decades of work by local councils and the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Natural Resources Management (NRM) Board have prepared the way for releasing hundreds of rare Yellowish Sedge Skipper butterfly at specially planted sites. There has been extensive replanting of Thatching Grass (Gahnia filum), which these butterflies rely on, in preparation for their return. To secure their future, more Gahnia sedgeland will need to be planted and more reintroductions made over the next few years. Click here for more information.

In Tasmania's north, the Partnerships for Giant Freshwater Lobster Recovery project is contracting landholders to undertake river rehabilitation works. Coordinated by NRM North, the project offers assistance to landholders to fence stock out of rivers, revegetate streambanks with native species and provide off-stream water sources for stock to improve habitat availability and connectivity for the threatened giant freshwater lobster (Astacopsis gouldi). The project has received good engagement from landholders and is on-track to meet its 5 kilometre end-of-financial-year target for rehabilitation of priority river reaches.

For more information, visit the NRM North website.

Ongoing monitoring and trapping works on French Island in Victoria are being supported through Port Phillip & Westernport CMA’s Two Great Ramsar Wetlands Project. This project is working with land managers and communities to reduce threats to the Ramsar-listed Western Port and Port Phillip Bay wetland, including French Island - one of five island havens identified in the Threatened Species Strategy. Since 2010, PPWCMA, Parks Victoria and French Island Landcare have been working collaboratively with landowners to manage feral cats. To date over 1,100 feral cats have been removed from the island, with an estimated population of between 100 – 200 feral cats remaining.

Following a recent eight-week feral cat cage trapping program undertaken by French Island Landcare, 19 feral cats were removed. Through a Responsible Pet Ownership program, residents and the community are also being supported to understand and reduce the impacts that cats have on native wildlife. A database of owned cats on the island has been established, allowing them to be returned. For more information, visit the PPWCMA website.

In WA, the Peel Harvey Catchment NRM Connecting Corridors and Communities Restoring the Serpentine River Project has begun work at the Karu Bilya Wetlands restoration site, situated on the Serpentine River.

Together with GP Forestry and the local Bindjareb community, Peel Harvey Catchment NRM will be delivering a range of activities that will help enhance habitat and reconnect corridors along the river, as well as protect and conserve existing areas of riparian and bushland vegetation to improve overall ecological function of the site.

A combination of almost 12,000 native ground cover, shrub and tree species will be planted across the site to restore ecological corridors for our wildlife and enhance overall biodiversity within the area.

This project is an important link to past and current project works in adjacent areas including the large-scale Peel Main Drain Off-line Water Treatment project and the artificially created Anstey Wetlands project.

As part of the NSW Environmental Trust funded Wild Orchids project, endangered crimson spider orchids will soon be introduced into Woomargama National Park. The project aims to improve the long-term viability of three endangered orchid species: the Crimson Spider Orchid (Caladenia concolor), Sandhill Spider Orchid (Caladenia arenaria), and Oaklands Donkey Orchid (Diuris callitrophilla). These species now only occur in tiny numbers in the wild and are at considerable risk of extinction.

Work is currently underway to set-up two areas within Woomargama National Park as translocation sites to establish new populations of the Crimson Spider Orchid. Parklands Albury Wodonga in partnership with Murray Local Land Services, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Conservation and Biodiversity Division, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and Woomargama National Parks Volunteers have started fencing out two 50 m x 20m areas. For more information, visit the LLS NSW website.

Almost 20 years after the Genelg Hopkins CMA began to improve the passage for native fish in the Glenelg River, the final piece of the puzzle has been put together with this extraordinary fishway.

With the last rock placed in the river, it means fish can now swim the length of the river from its mouth at Nelson to the Rocklands reservoir - perfect for migratory species like the Tupong.

This fishway - along with the others completed along the river - is part of the Glenelg River Restoration Project, which has long sat as one of the CMAs highest priority projects. It achieves significant outcomes for environmental water, fish migration and connectivity, and landholder partnerships.

The project was awarded the International River Foundation Australian Riverprize Award and works have been funded by the Victorian Government through DELWP and VEWH.

Queensland's Healthy Land and Water is coordinating the recovery of seagrass in priority areas by working with mooring owners to replace existing block and tackle moorings with environmentally friendly moorings (EFM). Delivery is undertaken in close consultation with State Agencies, Traditional Owners, community groups and the boating community.

To date, there has been an EFM uptake of 70% at North Stradbroke (Minjerribah), 52% at Point Halloran and 74% at Coochiemudlo Island. This next phase of the EFM program will see another 116 old block and tackle moorings replaced with new EFMs in the Moreton Bay Marine Park.

The current EFM program is a partnership with Maritime Safety Queensland, Department of Environment and Science, Gold Coast Waterways Authority, the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, EFM installers and mooring boat holders. More seagrass monitoring is being introduced within the Mooring Areas as part of the Ecosystem Health Monitoring Program. For more information, visit the HLW website.


Other NRM News

Reef Catchments has recently been appointed the Program Manager of the Reef Islands Initiative project in the Whitsundays. This initiative is establishing a network of climate change refuges by protecting critical habitats on four Great Barrier Reef islands. Reef Catchments' goal is to make the Whitsundays a global hub for inshore fringing reef stewardship, and over the next four years, work on a variety of priorities will be delivered.

The Reef Islands Initiative is a $14 million, 10-year program of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, supported by funding from Lendlease, the Australian Government’s Reef Trust, the Queensland Government and the Fitzgerald Family Foundation. For more information, visit the GBRF website.

The Department for Environment and Water’s Science, Information and Technology Branch with the Conservation and Wildlife Branch have adopted two new digital tools to support bushfire recovery on Kangaroo Island.

In response to the summer bushfires, the CSIRO launched the Citizen Science Bushfire Recovery Project Finder; a collaboration between CSIRO, the Citizen Science Association of Australia (ACSA) and Atlas of Living Australia.

The department’s work using camera traps to monitor wildlife recovery on Kangaroo Island formed part of the launch and they are now using the ‘Wildlife Spotter’ tool of this website to engage the interested community, particularly citizen scientists, to help identify wildlife in over 15,000 photos taken by 70 cameras deployed in parks on the island.

The photos form part of the department’s Kangaroo Island Dunnart Survey Project, which is helping the bushfire recovery effort by recording how many native and introduced species pass monitoring sites through the remaining unburnt patches of native vegetation. This data will help them understand surviving populations, assist with introduced predator control and inform recovery actions for species of concern like the Kangaroo Island Dunnart, Little Pygmy Possum and Southern Brown Bandicoot.

Anyone can help with identifying Kangaroo Island wildlife photos by creating a free account on the Atlas of Living Australia website.

Monthly batches of images, also known as ‘expeditions’ will be uploaded for citizen scientists to identify.

New technology is helping to protect marine life and deliver positive results for the longline fishing industry. Funded through the Federal Government’s Our Marine Parks Grants Program, the project being delivered by Tuna Australia uses beacons and satellites to help prevent the accidental drift of lines into no-fishing areas of marine parks.

Initial reports from fishers trialling the new technology show increased accuracy in positioning and tracking of their lines, improving the overall efficiency of their operations and protecting our unique marine species and their habitat.

Click here for more information about the Our Marine Parks Grants Program and here to read the joint media release.