National NRM update for October 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.

With support from the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage, WA’s South Coast NRM have joined forces with the City of Albany to save one of the largest patches of Coastal Saltmarsh in this region of WA after severe damage by off-road vehicle access. Coastal Saltmarsh is a Threatened Ecological Community that provides habitat for numerous species including prawns, fish, insects and hundreds of resident and migratory shorebirds. The large patch of Coastal Saltmarsh at Emu Point in Albany provides wildlife with an important feeding ground and nursery habitat. Flora surveys are being carried out each year to monitor the condition of the Coastal Saltmarsh community and evaluate whether access control is having the desired effect of protecting and improving the condition of this community. See Great Southern Live’s article for more details about the project at Emu Point.

A program initiated by Wangaratta Landcare and Sustainability Inc has removed nearly 17 tonnes of carp from Victoria’s lower Ovens River in the past six years. The work has been delivered in partnership with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research and the North East Catchment Management Authority. The Lower Ovens River floodplain is recognised as a nationally important wetland complex containing 1800 individual wetlands, including at least 185 native and nine recorded endangered species. The ongoing work to protect and improve the area requires management of invasive species like carp. Carp found during regular electrofishing surveys are collected and transported to NutriSoil where they are converted into fertiliser which is sold commercially. The collaborative targeted approach maximises cost benefits of electrofishing and removes large quantities of carp from the catchment. Read the full story here.

WA’s Northern Agricultural Catchments Council NRM have joined forces with a biological soil consultant to establish a three-year trial looking at the effects of variable rate applications of compost on a salt scold.  There has been a small amount of research looking at the use of compost to ameliorate saline scolds with positive effects but minimal on-ground implementation of this to date. Salinity is a significant constraint to farming in WA’s Northern Agricultural Region. The hope is that this project can support landholders to adapt and increase their resilience to significant changes in climate by demonstrating a method for reducing constraints and increasing productivity in these salinity-affected areas. Head to the link for more information.

In far north Queensland, a team from James Cook University is working with Terrain NRM to capture footage of elusive mahogany gliders on monitoring cameras and to also catch them in wildlife-friendly traps during night field trips in woodland between Tully and Townsville. Mahogany gliders are only found in North Queensland. The last population estimate, of between 1500 and 2000, was in 2010 – the year before Tropical Cyclone Yasi tore through critical glider habitat. Read more about the monitoring project at the link.

Terrain NRM is working with scientists as part of a broader project that also includes tree-planting on private land and controlled burns in glider habitat – to keep woodland thickening from reducing glider movements in the little habitat they have left. The ‘Biodiversity Hot Spots – Tackling Woodland Threats’ project is supported by Terrain NRM through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Following floods in June in Victoria’s West Gippsland region, debris and rock filled, and effectively closed, the Thomson River Fishway. October works cleaned up the fishway to re-open it to migrating fish over spring. The West Gippsland’s CMAs fishway project was constructed and opened in 2019, allowing native fish access to the upper Thomson and Aberfeldy rivers for the first time in a century. Subsequent surveys have shown a return of migratory fish in the upper reaches of the waterway. The Thomson is one of the region’s most significant and ecologically important rivers, and the fishway allows passage between the Gippsland Lakes to the Victorian alpine region. Read more about the project here.

Through their Litter Free Estuaries initiative, OceanWatch Australia has been testing methods for surveying litter that ends up on the sea floor. They are currently investigating several methodologies to explore their effectiveness in various estuarine habitats. This work forms part of a framework for reducing litter in estuaries, targeting a poorly understood subset of litter, benthic litter. This refers to litter that is deposited on the sea floor, and whilst too often out of sight and out of mind, it can cause serious degradation to the biodiversity, recreational, social, or cultural value of an estuarine area. This project is a NSW Environment Protection Authority, Waste Less Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.

Victoria’s Reed Bed Swamp is of environmental and cultural significance, and is a key part of the proposed Victorian Murray Floodplain Restoration Project, which is developing opportunities to establish permanent watering infrastructure to help the floodplain and wetlands like Reed Bed Swamp to survive. The North Central Catchment Management Authority has managed two recent water for the environment flows into the wetland – in 2021 and in 2019. Since this year’s delivery, swathes of aquatic plants including the rare river swamp wallaby grass and water nymph, have since sprung up across the wetland, and it has also brought birds back to the area. This year’s flow also included the planting of culturally significant food and medicine plants, as well as reeds and rushes to restore habitat for the Endangered Australasian bittern. These results highlight how resilient these wetlands can be, and with a little nudge in the right direction, can be restored into something truly spectacular. To find out more about the project, visit http://www.nccma.vic.gov.au/media-events/media-releases/swamp-success-something-special

Tasmania’s NRM South is delivering a new drought resilience building project through the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund. This project is a collaboration between NRM South, NRM North, the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture, AgriProve and producer groups affected by drought. The project will be helping farmers in drought prone regions of Tasmania by testing locally innovative methods for responsively managing ground cover and a new Farming Forecaster pilot project – a powerful feed budgeting and stock management tool for farmers and advisors. While Farming Forecaster is already widely used in NSW and Victoria, this pilot will be a first for Tasmania and has real potential to provide farmers with more confidence in making decisions in tough years, and to be able to react earlier to opportunities. Take a look at their introductory video to find out more.

The continued growth of Western Quoll numbers in SA’s Ikara-Flinders Ranges National Park (IFRNP), and its expansion to surrounding pastoral and conservation properties, has encouraged the SA Arid Lands Landscape Board to move forward with plans to further expand the species as part of its Bounceback and Beyond project. It follows cat, fox and dog control over a 500 square-kilometre area in Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park (VGRNP) and on surrounding properties throughout August in preparation for the release, giving the reintroduced species the best chance of survival. Western Quolls were reintroduced to IFRNP in 2014, using a population sourced from Western Australia. The species, which disappeared from the area as long ago as the 1880s, is an important totem animal to the Adnyamathanha people, who are supportive of the planned translocation to VGRNP.

The Manning River Turtle (Myuchelys purvisi) is a unique endangered species that only exists in the mid and upper reaches of the Manning River, NSW.Hunter LLS has been working on a collaborative project since 2018 to help protect this species, and a project was developed with the local community to protect and enhance the habitat of this flagship species through improved land management practices, supporting community action and increasing public awareness. With ongoing ecological monitoring, the group is aiming to reduce the knowledge gaps of this little-known turtles’ populations, habitat, and threats. Head to the link to watch a summary video about the project https://www.facebook.com/HunterLLS/videos/977573642793941/

This project is supported by Hunter Local Land Services, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program and Catchment Action NSW.

NRM Regions Australia has released our first annual report, covering all the highlights from the 2020-21 financial year. To view a copy of the report, click here.