Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Wheel Cactus 2018 Season Launch

Posted on 21 May, 2018 by Asha

The 2018 season of Tarrangower Cactus Control Group field days will be launched along Baringhup Road (near Maldon) this coming Sunday 27 May.  President Lee Mead has asked us to distribute the following message: 

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group continues to ‘wage war on Wheel Cactus’. We’re very pleased that Stephen Gardner, our new Tarrangower Ward Councillor for Mt. Alexander Shire, will be ‘cutting the ribbon’ for the launch of our 2018 season of Community Field Days, on Sunday 27 May at 10:30 am. 

Thanks to our sponsors and supporters, including Parks Victoria, Mount Alexander Shire Council and North Central Catchment Management Authority, we will hold these field days on the last Sunday of every month from May to October, to demonstrate how best to destroy Wheel Cactus.

Our State MP for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards, is also coming along to help motivate us to kill more Wheel Cactus, so please come and join us for a rewarding morning in the outdoors. We supply all the necessary equipment. All you need are sturdy shoes, long sleeves and pants and a hat.

The location this month is in Baringhup Rd, a few kilometers north of Maldon. To get there, follow Bridgewater Rd out of Maldon and turn left to Baringhup, and the property will be on the left opposite Hayes Rd. The route will be well signposted. The morning’s activities always end with a delicious BBQ lunch and friendly chat. These events are family friendly, but children must be accompanied by a parent at all times. If you have any queries please contact us via our website at www.cactuswarriors.org

 

Moths of the Box Ironbark forests: talk on Thursday 17 May 2018

Posted on 14 May, 2018 by Tanya Loos

Newstead Landcare are delighted to host Steve Williams as guest speaker at their next meeting on Thursday 17 May. The talk will start at 8 pm at Newstead Community Centre (9 Lyons Street, Newstead VIC) and will go for about 45 minutes, with plenty of time for questions and at the end. Everyone is welcome to attend. A gold coin donation will help cover costs.

Plume Moth (Stangia xerodes), photographed by Steve Williams

Steve Williams has been exploring the biology of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) in Box-Ironbark forest ecosystems for the last decade. During that period he has documented the life histories of nearly 400 moth species, many for the first time. This work, along with nightly recording of adult moth activity over the same period, is providing important insights into ecosystem functions.

Steve will share the fascinating life stories of a few of these amazing animals, and discuss how understanding this biology has implications for land and biodiversity management in Box-Ironbark forests.

 

 

Learning about caring for large old trees

Posted on 3 May, 2018 by Tanya Loos

On Saturday 28 April 2018, over 30 people gathered at the Guildford Saddle Club to learn about the value and care of our old eucalypt trees. This was a joint Connecting Country and Mount Alexander Shire event, and part of the council’s Sustainable Living Series. Tanya Loos (Connecting Country) was the presenter, and we also heard from Bonnie Humphreys (Connecting Country), Kylie Stafford (Mount Alexander Shire Council) and Bev Philips (Maldon Urban Landcare Group). One of the participants, Vicki Webb kindly volunteered to write this post about the workshop. Thanks Vicki, and to all involved in this most successful workshop. Further information about caring for large old trees will be posted on the Connecting Country website in the next couple of weeks. 

Bev is dwarfed by a huge and healthy grey box. Photo by Bonnie Humphreys.

Is there anything old eucalypts can’t do? They are a keystone habitat structure in Mt Alexander Shire, providing resources critical to species diversity – that was the message from Connecting Country on a perfect-autumn-day workshop under the box gums at the Guildford Saddle Club.

Just about all parts of these majestic trees sustain a huge number of mammal, bird, reptile and insect species. Hollows in the trunk, branches and dead stumps provide shelter and nesting sites. The tough leaves are a source of food, moisture and shelter. Flowers, buds and nuts feed a large variety of species. The bark shelters bats and insects. And at the end of the tree’s life, it decomposes and provides nutrients for the soil and trees of the future.

I’d heard that hollows take at least 100 years to develop, but was amazed to learn that up to five centuries are required to form a hollow large enough to host a powerful owl or black cockatoo nest. And if we want a diverse range of species on our land, we need habitat that has at least three and up to ten trees old enough to form hollows for each hectare.

 We came along to learn what we can do to help our trees reach these kinds of phenomenal ages. An important message was not to fuss too much. Tree health is largely determined by soil, and falling branches and leaf litter should be left in place as habitat and natural fertiliser. We should avoid adding fertiliser, to avoid nutrient overload. However, we can actively assist nutrient cycling by planting deep-rooted perennials like native lilies and grasses around the tree’s drip line.

Some people said they try to help their eucalypts by removing remove native mistletoe, which takes hold in trees already under stress. We learned that this parasitic plant actually provides valuable resources such as prime foraging and nesting sites for birds such as the diamond firetail, as well as providing fruit, nectar and nutrient-rich leaves to feed a host of other species.

We learnt that echidna mothers find piles of woody debris of sticks, branches and leaves the perfect place to leave their young while they forage in their territory for days at a time. This message was very timely for me … just a few days later I spotted my resident echidna burrowing into the pile in my yard left over from fire season preparations, and destined for the mulcher. It hadn’t occurred to me that piles like these should be dismantled before burning, otherwise the puggles (baby echidnas) will have no chance of escape. Even better, woody debris can be left in place to create habitat for woodland birds before decomposing into the soil, or put into a dam to help create wetland habitat. I’m more than happy for my ‘mulch pile’ to remain in place as some choice habitat.

This workshop reminded me of how important our old eucalypts are, and has inspired me to make sure this precious resource is well looked after on my property.

Vicki Webb, landholder from Sandon