Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

‘Future-proof your restoration’ seminars

Posted on 7 August, 2018 by Asha

Golden Wattle, by Tanya Loos

Come along and learn about how we can prepare our environment for a changing climate at two upcoming seminars. This is a chance to hear from experts in the field, share ideas, and browse through useful resources.

We have some truly amazing guest speakers lined up to talk about topics that are relevant to Landcare groups and landholders working to restore their land for the environment.

SEMINAR 1: WEEDS TO WATCH

Guest speakers:

  • David Cheal – ‘Weed attack strategies and plans’
  • John Morgan (LaTrobe University) – ‘Perennial grass weeds that will threaten nature’

When: Friday 24 August 2018, 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Where: Campbells Creek Community Centre, 45 Elizabeth St, Campbells Creek VIC

RSVP: by Monday 20 August for catering purposes to asha@connectingcountry.org.au

SEMINAR 2: PLANTING FOR THE FUTURE

Guest speakers:

  • Jeroen VanVeen (Bush Heritage) – ‘Woodland stress: signs of times to come?’
  • Sacha Jellinek (Greening Australia) – ‘Developing guidelines for Climate Future Plots in Victoria’
  • Brian Bainbridge – ‘Taking actions from modelling to reality’

When: Friday 31 August 2018, 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Where: Campbells Creek Community Centre, 45 Elizabeth St, Campbells Creek VIC

RSVP: by Monday 27 August for catering purposes to asha@connectingcountry.org.au

CLICK HERE to download the flier, or contact Asha on (03) 5472 1594 or at asha@connectingcountry.org.au for more information.

This event is funded by the North Central Catchment Management Authority, through the Victorian Landcare Program.

 

Habitat Health Check – our new project!

Posted on 7 August, 2018 by Tanya Loos

In 2009, Connecting Country created a Biodiversity Blueprint with the help of the community and our partners. From the outset, scientific monitoring has been a high priority at Connecting Country. Without monitoring, we don’t know if we’re achieving our goal to restore habitat for native species.

Monitoring achievements

We’ve been fortunate to have a world-class landscape ecologist, Professor Andrew Bennett, assist in creating our monitoring programs for woodland birds and Brush-tailed phascogales. As of 2018 we’ve collected 23,996 individual bird records, and 1,424 records for our phascogale monitoring.

Our wonderful ‘Connecting Landscapes’ project (2013- 2017) worked with local landholders to help restore over 1,600 hectares of land. It also funded staff to establish and run our bird and nest box monitoring programs. These days, funding is more likely to be smaller amounts of money over shorter time scales. In-house monitoring by staff has become a luxury!

In the meantime, we’ve developed a team of highly-skilled and enthusiastic volunteers ready to take a more active role as ‘citizen scientists’. We’re poised to update to a new model that is more community-driven – drawing upon the power of YOU, the community, to contribute data as volunteer citizen scientists.

This change has been in the air for a while. After the success of our ‘Stewards for Woodland Birds’ project, we’re delighted to announce we have funding from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust to support this important transition.

The new project is  ‘Habitat Health Check: empowering citizen scientists to monitor habitat health in Central Victoria.’

Male Hooded Robin. Analysis of our results shows a welcome increase of this species in the Mount Alexander region. Photo by Geoff Park.

Habitat Health Check – analysing and acting on our scientific monitoring

Habitat Health Check is a collaborative, robust, citizen science project that monitors native animals and plants in the Mount Alexander region. We will review our existing, long-term monitoring programs, and move to a new collaborative, targeted model that empowers our enthusiastic and skilled volunteers, improves scientific rigour, and promotes data sharing via the Visualising Victoria’s Biodiversity online portal.

Tanya Loos, Connecting Country’s monitoring and engagement coordinator, will deliver the project between now and 2020. Habitat Health Check will encompass BirdWatch, NestboxWatch, FrogandReptileWatch and PlantWatch.

Some expected highlights

Our scientific data will be analysed by experts from BirdLife Australia and Latrobe University, and the results shared in an exciting evening forum.

Four workshops will review our data and results, and invite the community to explore new scientific questions and methods. How can we best work with the new BirdLife Castlemaine District group? What have we learned in the past eight years? And where to from here?

We’ll collaborate closely with SWIFFT – the State-wide Integrated Flora and Fauna Teams, to share our findings and use this great online resource.

In 2019,  we’ll run a competition for the best local photographs of our favourite flora and fauna, for Connecting Country’s very first calendar!

Get ready to get involved

We will be recruiting team leaders to inform and guide our various citizen science programs – so birders, nestbox enthusiasts, plant nuts,  reptile watchers and froggers: watch this space!

 

 

Nest box adventures: a community effort in 2018

Posted on 19 July, 2018 by Asha

In May 2018, Connecting Country once again completed monitoring of our nest boxes. This was the fourth time we’ve checked the boxes since they were installed the Mount Alexander region in 2010/11. This year, we were lucky enough to have help from Beth Mellick from the Wettenhall Environment Trust and Jess Lawton from Latrobe University.

Asha, Jess, and Beth getting ready to check some nest boxes

Beth, Jess, and Asha tag-teamed going out with many fabulous volunteers to check the 300 nest boxes that are part of CC’s official monitoring program. For each box, we recorded information about which species were using it, either by identifying a living animal or by looking at the nest in the box.

The boxes were installed to provide crucial habitat for Brush-tailed Phascogales, but they also attract other animals like Sugar Gliders and invasive Honeybees. We also collected data to update our existing information on the box’s context in the environment (tree size, tree species, patch size, etc.). We are working on inputting all of this data into our database for analysis so we can compile a report with some results to share.

Thank you to all of the amazing people who volunteered their time to help this year: Jeremy, Lori, Naomi, Bev, Paul, Gayle, Carmen, Mal, Damian, Frances, Lachlan, and Meg. A big thank you also to the hundred or so landholders who continue to host our nest boxes on their property, and allow us access for monitoring.

Special thanks go to Beth, Jess, the Wettenhall Environment Trust, and Latrobe University for their support and for making this year’s nest box monitoring possible.

Brush-tailed phascogales in their nest with many scats on one side of the box.

For more information about Connecting Country’s nest boxes and past monitoring, CLICK HERE.