What is Connecting Country?
Connecting Country is a community-operated not-for-profit organisation working to restore and enhance biodiversity and improve the productive natural environment across the Mount Alexander region in central Victoria. The organisation is led by the community and works together with a wide range of other groups, organisations and government agencies.
Our vision is for the people of the Mount Alexander Region to be proud of the beautiful, productive, healthy and diverse landscapes, habitats, forests, waterways, flora and fauna that we have supported and created in our region.
Our mission is to connect country by drawing on the wealth of knowledge and experience in our community. We nourish and sustain the region of Mount Alexander by showcasing innovative possibilities of ecological land management.
Connecting Country’s operations are based on four key elements:
- On ground works to increase and enhance native vegetation and habitat through grazing change, revegetation, and pest plant and animal control.
- Community engagement through education events, an active website and volunteer involvement.
- The implementation of a long-term shire-wide annual monitoring program for birds, arboreal mammals, reptiles, frogs, and vegetation.
- Providing support for our 30 local Landcare and Friends groups.
Since 2010, Connecting Country has worked with over 200 landholders and groups to enhance more than 8000 hectares of habitat. We have run annual education events for many years, to which over 1000 people attended in 2014-15. We continue to monitor over 490 nest boxes and more than 50 bird survey sites.
To contribute to local needs we seek funds from diverse sources. Please contact us if you would like to be a project partner or know of grants which can benefit this region.
In 2007, The Norman Wettenhall Foundation developed a work plan for supporting community-led landscape restoration in south-east Australia. The Executive Officer contacted Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests (Mount Alexander Region), an environment group in Castlemaine, to see if there was interest in working collaboratively across the region on a landscape restoration project. A Reference Group was then formed.
During 2008, the project produced a Biodiversity Blueprint that identified our assets, the possible threats they face and what future actions we can take. It suggested directions, clarifies our priorities in landscape restoration and helped us to reconcile cultural, agricultural and natural values.
In 2009, Connecting Country worked in partnership with the North Central Catchment Management Authority to implement a program across the local landscape that had a specific focus on the threatened species, the Brush-tailed Phascogale (Tuan), and its Yellow Box Woodland habitat.
Since 2012, we have implemented programs related to local Landcare support, habitat connectivity, weed removal, supporting the development of local action plans, habitat enhancement for woodland birds, community skills training in environmental management and biodiversity monitoring. You can find more information on our current projects here.
‘We are so fortunate to have Connecting Country, your newsletters give me so much
involvement with our community but most of all JOY.’
– Gayle Gissing, Campbells Creek
‘It’s very gratifying to see Connecting Country paying attention to degraded landscapes
and encouraging restoration in woodland landscapes that are largely eliminated. If we
want these habitats in the future we must restore them almost from scratch. We need
test sites, to trial restoration approaches and monitor speed of recovery. Greenhill, (a
Connecting Country funded site) is a model for us all and hugely encouraging. It is an
example of what can be done with informed and carefully targeted, funded works.’
– Dr David Cheal, Federation University and Redesdale resident
‘The monitoring programs that Connecting Country are carrying out in their local region
are valuable for several reasons. First, they are being undertaken in a careful way, such
that the results obtained have the potential to provide meaningful new knowledge
about the flora and fauna of the local area and changes through time. This is not
always the case with community projects…Second, their programs have a strong
community element, with opportunity for community members to engage, learn about
nature and to see the outcomes.’
– Professor Andrew Bennett, Latrobe University