Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

People power! Victoria Gully Group working bee

Posted on 14 December, 2020 by Asha

People power! Earlier this month, twelve Victoria Gully Group volunteers hand-pulled over 2,500 Cape Broom (Genista monspessulana) seedlings at Clinkers Hill Bushland Reserve near Castlemaine in central Victoria. Several years ago, Victoria Gully Group began major restoration work at this site, so this working bee was important follow-up on past work.

Cape Broom is a noxious weed that has damaging impacts on the environment and agriculture in Australia. For more information about its impacts and management – click here and here.

When removing the Cape Broom seedlings, volunteers could see native seedlings emerging, including acacias, native peas and bursaria. If left unchecked, the Cape Broom would quickly grow to out-compete and smother the diversity of native habitat plants growing at the site. As many Connecting Country followers will know, Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa) is a vital plant for the life cycle of the threatened Eltham Copper Butterfly (Paralucia pyrodiscus lucida). For more information about their unique relationship – click here

Victoria Gully Group volunteers also work with the Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning to do restoration work such as revegetation, weed control and exclusion fencing just down the road from Clinkers Hill in Victoria Gully (a tributary for the local Forest Creek in Castlemaine). In recent years they have also established and maintained frog ponds in the gully to provide habitat.

Landcarers are often a humble bunch, so the amazing volunteer work they do can fly under the radar. Victoria Gully Group’s recent working bee was just one example of over 100 Landcare and Friends group working bees that take place in the Mount Alexander region every year to care for our local environment. Let us acknowledge and celebrate this achievement.

If you’d like to volunteer with Victoria Gully Group, or one of our other local Landcare or Friends groups in the Mount Alexander region, you can find their contact details on Connecting Country’s website – click here

 

Prickly plants for wildlife and community: McKenzie’s Hill Action & Landcare Group

Posted on 3 December, 2020 by Asha

Our ‘Prickly plants for wildlife and community’ project was coordinated by Connecting Country during 2020, in partnership with four local Landcare groups from across the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria. The project was made possible by generous support from the Albert and Barbara Tucker Foundation.

McKenzie’s Hill Action and Landcare Group is one of groups that collaborated with Connecting Country on this project. We supported groups with specialist botanical advice, developing local planting lists and planting hundreds of local-to-the-area (indigenous) understorey plants.

These understorey plants will help provide valuable food, nesting sites, and shelter for local woodland birds (photo: Connecting Country)

McKenzie’s Hill Action and Landcare Group planted 200 tubestock plants at two of the sites they regularly work on: Adelaide Gully and 70 foot Hill Reserve, near Castlemaine VIC. As a group, they have been working at these sites for many years to remove weeds and replace them with indigenous plants.

The sites have an established eucalypt canopy, so the group has been primarily focusing on planting shrubs and smaller understorey plants to increase diversity within the sites. Plants such as Hedge Wattle (Acacia paradoxa), Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa), Rosemary Grevillea (Grevillea rosmarinifolia), Bushy Needlewood (Hakea decurrens) and Tree Violet (Melicytus dentatus) are great dense species which provide protection and nesting sites for small birds and insects. Common Fringe-myrtle (Calytrix tetragona), Matted Bush-pea (Pultenaea pedunculata), Flax lilies (Dianella spp.) and Rice flowers (Pimelea spp.) provide a diversity of both flowering and lifeforms, valuable for a variety of different animals.

The groups have also installed nest boxes and provide resources for woodland birds and other animals through their planting.  They have spent hundreds of hours on these sites over many years. The plants added this year required around 30 hours of volunteering to do site preparation, planting, installing guards, and watering. Luckily, they managed to get most of the work done before COVID-19 restrictions began.

Since COVID-19 emerged, members have not been getting together to share a meal at their meetings, but the executive still meets online via Zoom when necessary. COVID-19 has limited the community engagement side of their work, by restricting numbers at their working bees to keep people safe, and participants bringing their own tools and morning tea.

The group have managed to continue to do their volunteer work despite the challenges. President of the McKenzie’s Hill Action and Landcare Group,  Jan Hall, said, ‘Our work helps keep the reserves healthy and supports the bird life in the area, an area which is fast becoming urbanised. As there aren’t public green spaces being provided as part of the developments, these reserves give people a chance to get out and walk in the bush and be closer to nature.’

McKenzie’s Hill Action and Landcare Group encourage interested community members to get in touch with them about care of the local reserves and future activities. To find their contact details – click here

McKenzie’s Hill Action & Landcare Group volunteers busy planting 100 prickly plants for habitat (photo: Sylvia Phillips)

 

Prickly plants for wildlife and community: Campaspe Valley Landcare

Posted on 29 October, 2020 by Jacqui

With support from the Albert and Barbara Tucker Foundation, Connecting Country partnered with local Landcare groups during 2020 to protect and enhance habitat on public land. Our ‘Prickly plants for wildlife and community’ project involved four Landcare groups across the Mount Alexander region of Central Victoria. Campaspe Valley Landcare is one of these groups and has done an amazing job to get their project completed, despite the need to adapt activities to COVID-19 restrictions. We hope you enjoy this article written by Barbara James of Campaspe Valley Landcare about their group and their recent planting.

Campaspe Valley Landcare (CVL) operates to the north of Kyneton, within the area between the lower reaches of the Coliban and Campaspe Rivers leading to Lake Eppalock in Central Victoria. Our group has members that live within four Shires including Mount Alexander, Macedon Ranges, Mitchell and the City of Greater Bendigo. The group’s main focus is eradicating weeds, revegetation, and identifying and surveying for indigenous plant species. Newcomers can gain advice on issues of biodiversity on their properties. CVL can help landowners access appropriate information such as whole farm planning courses and the latest weed eradication methods.

For more information about Campaspe Valley Landcare, or to get in touch please – click here

As part of the Prickly plants for wildlife and community project in 2020, Campaspe Valley Landcare received 300 prickly plants that were planted mostly on a block of public land in Barfold. The block is situated on the corner of School Rd and Dallistons Rd, and is managed by the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP). This land contains part of Back Creek, which has been a group focus for several years for gorse and other weed eradication.

Campaspe Valley Landcare planted and guarded 300 prickly plants in 2020 as part of the Prickly plants for wildlife and community project

 

The current project will build on previous CVL work along Back Creek which encouraged participation in various publicly funded programs. This has included Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT), and DELWP programs, which provided $3,700 towards weed control and planting during 2015-2016, and $1,500 in 2017 as part of a Good Neighbour Grant. Our group has continued to employ a contractor to spray gorse, and we have also purchased and planted native understorey species ourselves.

Kangaroos and other animals have been problematic, as well as a few years of drought, so we have tried various methods of guarding over the years. Prickly plants seemed like a very good idea for survival, helped by the taller guards provided by Connecting Country via the grant.

The prickly plants were a mix of locally indigenous species selected for their form and flowers to provide habitat resources

 

Planting out was difficult due to COVID-19 restrictions, but we managed to do it in a COVID-safe way, and are pleased a wetter spring this year did help. Due to the problems with group planting and COVID-19, some other roadside planting sites in our area were supplemented by the plants provided through this project. We are hopeful that they will have a better survival rate due to their bristly nature, the taller guards, double stakes and a wetter spring and Summer. Thank you to Albert and Barbara Tucker Foundation and Connecting Country!

Barbara James
Campaspe Valley Landcare

 

A self-guided bird-watching walk with North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare

Posted on 15 October, 2020 by Asha

Take yourself on a self-guided bird-watching walk, organised by North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare with support from Connecting Country.

North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare have created this walk as the perfect excuse (if you need one) to go out and learn about what birds live where and why. This event is a self-guided tour in the North Harcourt Sedgwick area of Central Victoria. Just look for the posters and follow along!

The posters will have information about the habitat at different points along the walk and which birds you might see there. It is designed for everyone, from kids to avid bird-watchers. Any time is a good time for bird-watching, but the best times are early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

The walk begins at the intersection of Mandurang S Road, Springs Road, and Bryden Road in Sedgwick and follows the Coliban channel (see map on the right for details). You will need to bring some binoculars, and a device with a bird ID app is a massive advantage. Don’t forget good walking shoes, first aid kit, and some water and snacks. Allow around 20 minutes at each one of the four stations. The entire walk is around 3 km return (allow around 2 hours). The trail has some steep sections so please go at a safe pace. Please stay on the track at all times and, with the weather warming up, be aware of snakes.

When: This event will run from 19 October to approximately 8 November 2020.

To download the poster: click here

For more information about the walk please email NHSELandcare@gmail.com

For more information about North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare: click here

 

Prickly plants for wildlife and community in Sutton Grange

Posted on 1 October, 2020 by Jacqui

‘Prickly Plants for Wildlife and Community’ is a project coordinated by Connecting Country during 2020 in partnership with local Landcare groups, with funding from the Albert and Barbara Tucker Foundation.

The project has supported Landcare groups to seek specialist botanical advice, develop local planting lists and plant hundreds of local-to-the-area (indigenous) understorey plants. These plants will help provide valuable food, nesting sites, and shelter for local woodland birds in the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria. Sutton Grange Landcare is one of four groups Connecting Country worked with on this project. We hope you enjoy this article about their work.

Albert Cox Wildlife Sanctuary

Sutton Grange Landcare Group has cared for the Albert Cox Wildlife Memorial Sanctuary since 1991, including working hard to control weeds and plant local native species. Their vision is to improve habitat for birds and other wildlife and they wanted to plant more indigenous shrubby plants to create more areas for birds to nest and to provide refuge and habitat.

Albert Cox Wildlife Sanctuary in Sutton Grange VIC, with large mature River Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis). Photo: Naomi Hewitt-Ware.

The sanctuary was set up for just this purpose by local school teacher and amateur naturalist Albert Cox who taught at the local school for almost half a century until 1961. He encouraged students to make a note of birds, plants and other wildlife they observed. These observations were then shared and written into the observations book he curated. Cox’s diary entry demonstrates his love of the natural world and relationship to local wildlife (from Birdlore article by BJ Coman):

 ‘…On the morning of the 26th September 1951 the thrush that had been for such a long period a friend of all at the Sutton Grange School was found dead beside the residence garden. This bird was well over thirty years old and had nested around the school residence all these years, many seasons being spent in an old billy hanging under the veranda. The bird had died of old age, being found lying with an insect still in its beak. It died in the middle of the nesting season leaving a mate to hatch out and rear a family.

Sutton Grange Landcare Group has continued Cox’s example of observation and care through working bees and hundreds of volunteer hours spent controlling weeds, planting and maintaining the plantings at the sanctuary. They often see wildlife in the reserve including echidnas, wallabies, possums and a wide variety of birds.

Naomi Hewitt-Ware and son Murray from Sutton Grange Landcare Group planted 100 plants in the sanctuary during winter 2020 as part of ‘Prickly Plants for Wildlife and Community’. The plants were locally-grown indigenous species including Lightwood (Acacia implexa), Hedge Wattle (Acacia paradoxa), Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata), Hop Bush (Dodonaea viscosa), Late-flowered Flax-lily (Dianella tarda), Bushy Needlewood (Hakea decurrens) and Tree Violet (Melicytus dentata). In the creek, they planted Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata), Common Tussock-grass (Poa labillardierei) and Basket Sedge (Carex tereticaulis).

Murray at work installing guards around the plants to protect them from wallabies. Photo: Naomi Hewitt-Ware.

These will complement previous plantings by the group including Silver Banksia (Banksia marginata), a species which has become rare across our region. Group members are very happy with the guards provided for the project, which make it harder for wallabies to damage the plants. They will continue to replace guards, water, and weed around plants as necessary to give them the best chance to establish and grow. Fortunately, this year has been excellent year for planting, with ongoing rainfall.

A healthy-looking Silver Banksia (Banksia marginata). This species is now rare across our region. Photo: Naomi Hewitt-Ware.

There is a creek flowing through the reserve which has an established canopy of introduced Pine trees (Pinus sp.) and impressive old River-red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis) with hollows. It is a place of refuge, made possible by the careful work of the group removing weeds such as Gorse (Ulex europaeus) and Broom (Genista monspessulana) over the years.         

A creek flows through the sanctuary and has benefited from many years of weed control by Sutton Grange Landcare Group. Photo: Jacqui Slingo.

Landcare members are very appreciative of the support from the Albert and Barbara Tucker Foundation and Connecting Country, and are especially glad at being able to plant in such a good planting year.

To find out more about Sutton Grange Landcare Group or to get involved contact Christine Brooke (Secretary) by emailing .

 

 

 

Goodbye Gorse – Taradale Landcare’s Gorse control strengthened

Posted on 23 September, 2020 by Jacqui

Taradale Landcare, with support from Connecting Country and local contractors, have been busy controlling Gorse (Ulex europaeus) around Taradale in central Victoria.

With COVID-19 restrictions preventing Taradale Landcare’s regular working bees from taking place during 2020, group members have been busy working on their own properties. Fourteen landholders were able to participate in the project that was made possible with a community grant from the Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT).

The grant co-funded treatment of over 11 hectares of Gorse on private land in Taradale, mostly on the (northern) Kangaroo Creek, but some also on Dearden Creek and the Coliban River. Landholders implemented approved methods including manual, mechanical, and chemical treatments. The works were enabled via a rebate to landholders of 50% of the gorse treatment using local contractors, up to a limit of $1000 per property. Landholders committed via a voluntary agreement to maintain the effort on controlling Gorse in future years. Taradale Landcare, Connecting Country, and contractors have all assisted landholders to design ongoing treatments and, in some cases, revegetation advice.  Alana Robinson, a participating landholder noted, ‘The grant helped us to bite the bullet and get started with tackling the Gorse. We would have done it eventually on our own, but this way we’ve been able to get it done now before the problem gets any worse.’

While a new round of this grant has not been offered in 2020-21, Taradale Landcare would be interested in hearing from Taradale landholders who would like to register their interest in future submissions.  Please contact Brian at Taradale Landcare by emailing taradalelandcare@gmail.com. For more information about Taradale Landcare click here.

 

 

Last chance to book for AGM 2020

Posted on 17 September, 2020 by Ivan

Our first ever online Annual General Meeting (AGM) is fast approaching. We currently have 77 bookings, so get in fast for our remaining tickets to join what’s sure to be a great event and a fun afternoon.

Please join us for this free event on Saturday 26 September 2020 at 2.00 pm for a refreshingly brief AGM and two rather special guest presenters. We will even provide some virtual refreshments!

Our AGM 2020 speakers:

  • Jess Lawton (Connecting Country) will present on ‘Connecting Country’s ten years of ecological monitoring‘. Jess is our treasured Monitoring Coordinator, PhD candidate and resident phascogale expert. Join Jess on a journey through Connecting Country’s long-term monitoring programs, with a focus on nest boxes and bird surveys.

 

  • Jacinta Humphrey (La Trobe University) will present on ‘The impact of urbanisation on birds’. Jacinta is a PhD student at La Trobe University and member of the Research Centre for Future Landscapes. Join Jacinta to hear about her research into the impact of expanding urbanisation on wildlife, with a focus on birds – a key issue raised by the local community during our recent Habitat Health Check project. To view Jacinta’s engaging video summarising her project – click here

 

Everyone is welcome! This is a free event but please register with Trybooking so we can send you the online meeting link prior to the event. To register – click here

AGM formalities:

Please note only current Connecting Country members can vote in the AGM.

If you have any questions, please email info@connectingcountry.org.au or call (03) 5472 1594.

 

Economics of the Victorian Landcare Facilitator Program: a strong case for investment

Posted on 8 September, 2020 by Ivan

An economic analysis of the value of the Victorian Landcare Facilitator Program demonstrated that the $4 million program generates $31 million in value – a benefit cost ratio of more than 7:1.  The report was commissioned by Landcare Victoria Inc. and prepared by the global consulting firm RPS Group with the aim of quantifying return on investment.  It also demonstrated that the wider social cohesion created by Landcare Facilitators and their activities is valued at $87 million.

These results show that Landcare Facilitators play a crucial ‘leveraging’ role for Landcare in Victoria. While Landcare projects deliver net benefits in and of themselves, the facilitators amplify the scope and scale of Landcare activities across the state.  The report provides a powerful argument for continued government support of the Victorian Landcare Facilitator Program.

To view the ‘Landcare Victoria – return on investment’ report – click here

February 2020 Landcare Link-up (photo by Jacqui Slingo)

 

The Landcare movement in Australia brings together a diverse community of staff, landowners and volunteers. Landcarers support rural and regional communities by restoring Australia’s natural environment, improving the sustainability of agricultural activities and building resilience in communities. Landcare projects attract investment and in-kind support into these communities, provide opportunities for volunteering, and deliver substantial outcomes from relatively small investments.

The State Government Victoria invests in the Victorian Landcare Facilitator Program as part of it’s support for Landcare activities across the state. The program funds facilitators to support Landcarers around the state to deliver outcomes by building partnerships, securing grants and supporting project delivery. In 2019, Landcare Facilitators supported 689 groups across Victoria, playing a major role in initiating, securing funding for, delivering, and increasing the impact of Landcare projects.

How you can help

If you’d like to help secure future investment in Landcare in Victoria:

  • Contact your local Member of Parliament.
  • Tell them about how important the Landcare Facilitator Program is for your Landcare Group and community, and about the terrific return on public investment the program generates.
  • Ask them to ensure they support continued funding for the Victorian Landcare Facilitator Program and Landcare Grants Program in the upcoming Victorian state budget.

Connecting Country Acacia workshop with Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare Group in 2019 (photo by Gen Kay)

 

 

 

Loss of Maldon Urban Landcare Group’s valuable restoration work

Posted on 6 August, 2020 by Frances

Unfortunately a large area of established revegetation of local native plants was cleared this week in Maldon.

The revegetation site is located on the northern end of the former South German Mine in Phoenix Street, Maldon VIC. Maldon Urban Landcare Group (MULGA) successfully revegetated the site as part of a larger long-term restoration project to restore the site that began in the 1990s.

An article about the revegetation site and the project was published in the 2015 Victorian Landcare and Catchment Magazine. To view the article – click here

The northern end of the site has now been groomed and almost entirely cleared of vegetation. We understand the area was cleared by an operator under the direction of Parks Victoria, who are responsible for managing the land. MULGA were not informed or consulted about this action.

Naturally, MULGA members have expressed their distress, frustration and disappointment that this has happened. Local Parks Victoria staff are in contact with MULGA regarding their concerns.

MULGA is one of Victoria’s oldest Landcare Groups. They are well respected and known as a hardworking, dedicated group of volunteers who put a huge effort into restoring the degraded reserves around Maldon. To learn more about MULGA’s work – click here

 

Site at former South German Mine in Phoenix Street, Maldon in August 2020

 

Barkers Creek Landcare & Wildlife Group take action during COVID-19

Posted on 6 August, 2020 by Jacqui

Action Plan from Barkers Creek Landcare & Wildlife Group

Barkers Creek Landcare & Wildlife Group recently released their impressive action plan for 2020-2024.

COVID-19 safety restrictions meant the group couldn’t hold a workshop and meet in person as planned. Instead they held an online member survey to get feedback on priorities for the next five years, and find out what members enjoy most about being in the group.

I’m sure you’ll agree the result is a beautifully presented and informative plan, complete with a map of their project sites and new signs, and lovely photos of plants and animals, and working bees in Barkers Creek!

To view the plan – click here

From the plan:

‘Once again, the survey really affirms how much people love living in Barkers Creek and how committed they are to restoring our local environment whether that be on public land or private property.

We encourage people to explore our group’s Landcare website – www.barkerscreeklandcare.org.au and join our group… and let’s see what we can achieve in the next 5 years.’

‘…Barkers Creek is a ‘Community’ … it’s not just the bit of ground between Harcourt and Castlemaine where it has been dug up, chopped down or dumped on.’

All the plant and animal photos were taken in Barkers Creek!

 

 

Landcare group health survey: closes 26 July 2020

Posted on 16 July, 2020 by Ivan

We received a request from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) to assist them with an important survey for Landcare groups and members in our region. The survey will give them valuable information to make strategic funding decisions and allocations over the next year, and allow groups and members to provide feedback on their projects, memberships and volunteering activities. Please read on for details of the survey and how to complete it.

The Victorian Landcare Program 2019-20 Group Health Survey is now open and DELWP would love to hear what you have been doing, how you are going and your priorities for the next 12 months. The Group Health Survey provides a snapshot of the health of groups and the contribution of Landcare and environmental volunteering to a healthy environment.

Data collected through the Group Health Surveys is important to help DELWP and the Catchment Management Authorities understand the health of Landcare in Victoria and assists with planning the support provided through the Victorian Landcare Program.

To complete the survey – click here

Please complete by Sunday 26 July 2020. The survey should take about 30 minutes to complete.  You may want to complete it at the next meeting of your group or share it between group members to complete different sections.

Working bee with Ian Higgins from Friends of Campbells Creek (photo: Asha Bannon)

 

 

 

Need advice on controlling Gorse? VGT extension in Sutton Grange

Posted on 9 June, 2020 by Jacqui

Please see the invitation below to landowners in the Sutton Grange area from the Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT).  For enquiries, or to register your interest, please contact Brydie Murrihy from the VGT on the details below. 

The Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT) will be delivering a community-wide extension services program in the Sutton Grange area this June/July 2020. Households may register their interest by contacting Brydie Murrihy by email or phone (see below for details).

Extension Service
The VGT Extension Officer, Brydie Murrihy, will conduct a property assessment either alone or assisted by the landowner and will provide professional best practice management advice tailored to the property. The landowner will receive extension material and information on any support or assistance that may be available to them, a property map detailing location of gorse plants, a detailed weed management plan and follow up phone calls and/or visits with landholders if required.

This program is a free service and the property inspections will be scheduled to suit the participants involved.

Image may contain: plant, flower, sky, cloud, tree, outdoor and nature

Gorse (Ulex europaeus) is a Regionally Controlled Weed in the most parts of Victoria. It is a threat to native plants and animals and is best controlled early and consistently as part of an integrated approach. Photo: VGT

Application
If you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Brydie or the VGT via the VGT website or social platforms (Facebook & Instagram).

To set-up an inspection: Brydie Murrihy 0428 335 705 or email bmurrihy@cva.org.au.

There are limited spots so get in quick!

Social distancing rules will apply.

 

Congratulations to local Landcare on community grants

Posted on 4 June, 2020 by Jacqui

Maldon Urban Landcare group (MULGA) recently received a community grant to encourage people to choose  local indigenous plants in their gardens. The new project, funded by a small community grant from the Mount Alexander Shire community grants program, will add to MULGA’s current work. Their activities include long-term weed control and revegetation, and a project advocating for the protection of large old Eucalyptus trees in the Maldon area.

MULGA will produce and distribute a brochure about local native species to local residents, listing species that can be found in the bush around Maldon VIC. Gardeners will find tips on where to purchase local native plants and how to care from them.

In a recent interview Bev Phillips (MULGA Secretary) said, ‘As our climate gets drier the prediction is that in 50 years we’ll have the climate of Dubbo’. All but the toughest of plants will require care until established, and growing local natives requires far less water as they are already used to the dry conditions and poor local soils. By choosing to plant these local species, wildlife benefit too. ‘Planting natives helps to support the native birdlife – and everything else – the lizards and insects,’ Bev said.

Congratulations are also due to Nuggetty Land Protection Group who received a grant of $1,406 for their project ‘Gazebos to share’.

Links and further resources:

  • Full interview in the Midland Express – click here
  • Information on Mount Alexander Shire Council community grants – click here
  • Information on native plants of the Mount Alexander region – click here
  • More about Maldon Urban Landcare Group – click here
  • More about Nuggety Land protection Group – click here
  • Find your local Landcare group – click here

Spreading wattle (acacia genistifolia) is an excellent small garden plant, which is excellent habitat for woodland birds and flowers beautifully. Photo: Jacqui Slingo

 

Tis the season to be planting

Posted on 4 June, 2020 by Ivan

Connecting Country are busily preparing to roll out our 2020 revegetation projects across the region over the next few months, with an abundance of moisture and perfect growing conditions. Recent rainfall in central Victoria means planting conditions are likely to be particularly good compared with in recent years, which has us excited about the prospects for the 4,500 plants ready at the Connecting Country depot.

Of the 4,500 plants, 1,500 have been provided by TreeProject and the remaining provided through Connecting Country’s funded landscape restoration projects  TreeProject is a wonderful not-for-profit group that connects landholders and community groups with volunteers who propagate low-cost indigenous seedlings to revegetate degraded landscapes. TreeProject is able to keep seedling costs as low as possible thanks to the commitment and enthusiasm of the volunteers who propagate the seedlings in their backyards from materials TreeProject supplies.

Our Landscape Restoration Coordinator, Bonnie Humphreys, has spent the past few weeks preparing for plant delivery and ensuring the plants are in top condition. Bonnie said ‘Connecting Country has 23 landholders signed up for the current 2020 batch of plants and projects, but we will be looking to expand to reach further landowners if more funding comes along. We are very lucky to have some terrific local plant suppliers, such as Newstead Natives, an indigenous plant nursery that propagates local plants for our region for habitat restoration’. Please enjoy some photos of the delicious plants, with our staff members Bonnie Humpheys, Jacqui Slingo and Ivan Carter.

Over the past decade, Connecting Country has worked with over 250 landholders and groups to enhance more than 10,000 hectares of habitat across the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria. This equates to approximately 6 percent of the Mount Alexander Shire. ‘It has been my pleasure to again be part of delivering Connecting Country’s revegetation program this year. We have some great projects enabling us to support landholders to restore and create valuable habitat across the shire.’ said Bonnie.

Unfortunately, we do not have any current capacity for additional landowners to join our restoration projects, but are actively seeking further funding. We do encourage landowners to fill out our expression of interest form, or contact us for advice how to conduct restoration work on their properties for optimal biodiversity outcomes. Once we have your details on file, we can let you know of opportunities for assistance as they arise. To access the expression of interest form – click here

To find out more about our current projects or discuss your eligibility, please email us at info@connectingcountry.org.au. If you have filled out an expression of interest form in the past 12 months, we have you on file and you don’t need to fill in another form, but you can always let us know you are still interested via email.

Connecting Country has a long-standing history of restoring landscapes across our region (photo: Connecting Country archive)

 

We plant, we look, we learn, we share, we cycle

Posted on 28 May, 2020 by Ivan

We received a fabulous Landcare story written by Beth Mellick from Muckleford Catchment Landcare Group, as part of Connecting Country’s ‘Landcare Stories’ series. The story highlights the importance of Landcare in our community, and how Landcare can be fun and engaging in many different ways across our diverse community. Since early 2012 Connecting Country has employed a local Landcare Facilitator to support the work of community land management groups in the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria.

To join a local Landcare group, please visit our list of contact details for the Mount Alexander region – click here

Please enjoy the following words by Beth Mellick. For more details about Muckleford Catchment Landcare and their current activities – click here

Muckleford Catchment Landcare is made up of a vibrant group of landholders who are interested in being sustainable and want to know more about protecting their local environment.

We help each other out, share information and get together to plant trees to increase habitat connectivity. We hold workshops and events, and are active around protecting our roadsides and native species. We monitor nest boxes once a year at the Walmer Conservation Reserve, and have an annual bike ride. We leave weed control to contractors, and concentrate our time on activities that are enjoyable, interesting and social.

Once a year we get together and plan our activities for the following year: looking at someone else’s property, workshops on something we want to know (like how to retain water in the landscape or turn a dam into a wetland), and where we can plant habitat for strategic connections in the Muckleford landscape. We also look to partner with Connecting Country and other local groups on projects that will benefit our members.

We wanted to do something different – something fun that we could make an annual event for members to look forward to. We use the bike lane beside the railway line, starting at the Muckleford train station, going through Maldon and ending up at a local pub for lunch, before we return. We attract new members to this event. They often bring friends and family members of all ages and interests to get involved, and we love it.

Muckleford Catchment Landcare aims to:

  • Improve water quality in the Muckleford Creek and its tributaries.
  • Conserve soil in the Muckleford Creek catchment.
  • Create a healthy and viable balance between farming and biodiversity.
  • Encourage discussion, debate, participation and co-operation between landholders within the catchment.
  • Harness local knowledge and expertise to improve the environment and productivity.
  • Assist landholders to access funding for land improvement projects.

Annual Muckleford Landcare bike ride (photo: Muckleford Catchment Landcare Group)

 

 

Farm dam enhancement – webinar on 4 June 2020

Posted on 28 May, 2020 by Ivan

We came across an upcoming free webinar by the Sustainable Farms initiative on how to enhance your dam for biodiversity and improved water quality. Typically farm dams were constructed solely to provide water for stock and for irrigation, but that has been slowly changing. Although your dam’s primary role may be to supply water for farm production, there are some simple and inexpensive steps you can take to help turn your dam into a haven for local wildlife.

You might recall our recent spotting of Long-Necked Turtles in a farm dam at Golden Point here in central Victoria (click here), which was a good testament to the landowners efforts to improve habitat quality on their property.

Join Sustainable Farms ecologists Dr Mason Crane and Eleanor Lang from the Australian National University, and vet Eve Hall for a webinar to learn about:

  • Results of Sustainable Farms pilot study into the benefits of enhancing farm dams
  • Water quality and its impact on productivity
  • Healthy dams and biodiversity – creating habitat for critters such as turtles

The discussion will focus on how this applies to agricultural landscapes within the North East Victoria, South West Slopes, Central Tablelands and Murray-Riverina. However, much of the information will also be relevant to our region.

Farm dam enhancements: free webinar
When: Thursday 4 June 2020 at 12:30 to 2:00 pm (AEST)
To register: click here
For enquiries: contact Tamara Harris, Sustainable Farms, Australian National University by phone (0428 621187) or email (tamara.harris@anu.edu.au).

This workshop will be held using Zoom. Prior to the event, participants will be sent instructions on how to sign in. Participants will need a computer, tablet or phone device with speaker and microphone (camera is not necessary).

For more information on the Sustainable Farms initiative: click here

Farm dams can serve multiple purposes and improve local ecosystems (photo: Sustainable Farms)

 

 

 

Survey on biodiversity priorities in Mount Alexander Shire

Posted on 19 May, 2020 by Jacqui

Tarrangower Cactus Control Group provided the following invitation to complete their brief survey about weed management and compliance in the Mount Alexander Shire by 31 May 2020.

Tarrangower Cactus Control Group has created a very short online survey to try to gauge how other community members and groups within the Mount Alexander Shire feel about noxious weed management within our Shire:

  • Are you concerned about the spread of noxious weeds in our local natural environment?
  • Do you think enough weed management is carried out by our local Shire?
  • Would you like our Shire to treat our natural environment with a greater priority?
  • Would you like to make a comment about local weed control?

Here’s the link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FPQ6QV8

There’re only 10 simple questions and it should take only 5 minutes to complete. We’ll collate the answers at the end of May 2020.

Tarrangower Cactus Control Group Inc

 

FAQ about COVID-19 impact on Landcare projects

Posted on 23 April, 2020 by Jacqui

Here is an important update from the Landcare team at Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) about current and future grants for Landcare groups and volunteers. They provide some excellent ideas about how to stay involved in Landcare while complying with COVID-19 restrictions.

Dear project managers and environmental volunteers across Victoria

Thank you to everyone who has contacted staff from the Community Programs team within the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning over the past few weeks to discuss our grants programs, volunteering under coronavirus (COVID-19), and to raise the questions or concerns that you have about your current and future projects. While we all work through this challenging time, we appreciate you getting in contact to discuss these issues with us.

Please see attached a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) update from our team, which provides details about the impact of COVID-19 on the various grants programs that we help deliver, including the possible variation of projects that have been delayed due to COVID-19. The FAQ also includes a list of ideas for staying involved in environmental volunteering while at home and following government COVID-19 measures.

We hope this list provides some useful ideas for ways to stay connected with your environmental volunteering communities, and some helpful suggestions about how you can continue to do your work. If you have any other ideas or suggestions please share them with us and we will add them to future updates, so that others can try them too.

To access the FAQ – click here

If you have any questions please contact DELWP (enviro.grants@delwp.vic.gov.au).

 

 

Sharing is caring – Landcare Link-up a success

Posted on 10 March, 2020 by Asha

Do you want to make a difference and help care for our local environment? Are you interested in learning more about caring for our local environment? A great place to start is by getting involved with your local Landcare group!

At our recent ‘Landcare Link-up’ on Saturday 29 February 2020 at the Castlemaine Uniting Church Hall, nine of our local Landcare and Friends groups shared stories of their work with 35 fellow volunteers and other community members. Our region has one of the highest densities of landcare and friends groups in the country, who deliver on-ground works, biodiversity monitoring and landowner education events.

Here is a small taste of what each group spoke about – if anything piques your interest, please go ahead and contact the group to chat more! Contact details can be found on our website by clicking here.

Maldon Urban Landcare Group – Update on their work monitoring and protecting large old trees (aka ‘Living Treasures’) on public land in Maldon.

Friends of Kaweka Sanctuary – The history of Kaweka Sanctuary and the work of the Friends group to care for this beautiful park right in Castlemaine.

Barkers Creek Landcare and Wildlife Group – Information on local rabbit populations, the recent ‘Rabbit Buster workshop’, and how to manage rabbits in our region.

North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare – The story of this group’s recent rejuvenation, how they are working to engage new people and the next generation, and their plans for the future.

Intrepid Landcare retreat – An overview of the exciting 2019 Intrepid Landcare retreat for 16 to 35-year-olds in Castlemaine.

Sutton Grange Landcare Group – Introduction to the Albert Cox Memorial Sanctuary and Sutton Grange Landcare Group’s work to care for this special site.

Golden Point Landcare – An engaging talk about the process and benefits of becoming incorporated!

Muckleford Catchment Landcare – How this group keeps Landcare fun by focusing on things like planting days, bike-riding, and good food.

Tarrangower Cactus Control Group – Using biocontrol to support weed control and a new survey for Landcare groups to give feedback on weed management in the Mount Alexander Shire.

A huge thank you to everyone who spoke at the Landcare Link-up and to everyone who came along to share in the storytelling. It was a heart-warming and inspiring afternoon, and a great showcase of the amazing power of volunteer groups!

Landcare volunteers at the February 2020 Landcare Link-up (photo by Jacqui Slingo)

 

Gorse management info session: 21 March 2020

Posted on 27 February, 2020 by Ivan

Our partners at Sutton Grange Landcare Group have teamed up with the Victorian Gorse Task Force (VGT) to deliver an information session on Gorse (Ulex europaeus). Gorse is a species of flowering plant in the pea family (Fabaceae). It’s native to the British Isles and Western Europe, and has spread over 23 million hectares in Australia.

Join the Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT) at the information session with the Sutton Grange Landcare group on Saturday 21 of March 2020, held in the Sutton Grange Hall (921 Faraday-Sutton Grange Rd, Sutton Grange VIC ). There will be information about the role of the Victorian Gorse Taskforce, a chance to chat with their Extension Officer, information on best practice gorse management and refreshments to finish.

RSVP to Brydie Murrihy on 0428 335 705

For more information please contact:
Brydie Murrihy (VGT Extension Officer)
m. 0428 335 705
e. VGT@cva.org.au
or
Christine Brooke (Sutton Grange Landcare)
e. sglg@live.com

The Victorian Gorse Taskforce was formed in 1999 and launched a community-led integrated approach to reducing gorse across the landscape. VGT members include local people who have successfully controlled gorse on their land, as well as natural resource management, agricultural, pest management and other experts. We work with private landowners and public land managers such as the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, local councils and catchment management authorities. We also work with researchers exploring new ways to tackle gorse.

Please enjoy the video below by the VGT, that outlines the impacts of Gorse across Victoria.