Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Backyard science cures for boredom

Posted on 2 April, 2020 by Ivan

No doubt you have seen some great ideas of how to remain engaged and occupied during the isolation phase of the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s a very challenging time and impacts continue to spread across the globe. Connecting Country is adapting our community engagement model, to deliver some events to our audience, community and stakeholders in the comfort of their own home. Stay tuned for when we advertise these events in the coming months. We also hope to produce some videos down the track to keep everyone engaged.

We have discovered some excellent activities you can do from the safety of your own backyard and still contribute to science.  ‘The Conservation’ recently published an inspiring article. Please enjoy the following extract highlighting many useful activities and ideas to contribute to backyard science. To view the full article  –  click here.

Environmental projects need your support too

The yellow-footed antechinus (Antechinus flavipes) is a curious little marsupial (photo by Jane Rusden)

If you’d like to get your mind off COVID-19, there’s a plethora of other options for citizen scientists. You can contribute to conservation and nature recovery efforts – a task many took to after the recent bushfires. Some sites ask volunteers to digitise data from ongoing environmental monitoring programs. Contributors need no prior experience, and interpret photos taken with remote digital cameras using online guides. One example is Western Australia’s Western Shield Camera Watch, available through Zooniverse.

Other sites crowdsource volunteers to transcribe data from natural history collections (DigiVol), historical logbooks from explorers, and weather observation stations (Southern Weather Discovery).

Citizen science programs such as eBird, BirdLife Australia’s Birdata, the Australian Museum’s FrogIDClimateWatchQuestaGameNatureMapr, and the Urban Wildlife App, all have freely available mobile applications that let you contribute to ‘big’ databases on urban and rural wildlife.

Nature watching is a great self-isolation activity because you can do it anywhere, including at home. Questagame runs a series of ‘bioquests’ where people of all ages and experience levels can photograph animals and plants they encounter.

In April, we’ll also have the national Wild Pollinator Count. This project invites participants to watch any flowering plant for just ten minutes, and record insects that visit the flowers. The aim is to boost knowledge on wild pollinator activity.

The data collected through citizen science apps are used by researchers to explore animal migration, understand ranges of species, and determine how changes in climate, air quality and habitat affect animal behaviour.

This year for the first time, several Australian cities are participating in iNaturalist’s City Nature Challenge. The organisers have adapted planned events with COVID-19 in mind, and suggest ways to document nature while maintaining social distancing. You can simply capture what you can see in your backyard, or when taking a walk, or put a moth light out at night to see what it attracts.

For those at home with children, there are a variety of projects aimed at younger audiences.

From surveying galaxies to the Bird Academy Play Lab’s Games Powered By Birds – starting young can encourage a lifetime of learning.

If you’re talented at writing or drawing, why not keep a nature diary, and share your observations through a blog.

By contributing to research through digital platforms, citizen scientists offer a repository of data experts might not otherwise have access to. The Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA) website has details on current projects you can join, or how to start your own.

Apart from being a valuable way to pass time while self-isolating, citizen science reminds us of the importance of community and collaboration at a time it’s desperately needed.

 

Local bird watching in a time of isolation

Posted on 2 April, 2020 by Ivan

Right now, the best thing we can do to help stop the alarming spread of coronavirus is to stay home as much as we can. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find pleasure in nature or practice our bird watching skills. Autumn is a lovely time to be exploring our ecological assets and watching our birds, while still practicing isolation and safe social distancing.

Connecting Country’s bird survey Group Sites could be just the thing for those of you local to the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria, by combining some bush time and exercise. Connecting Country has a number of bird survey sites located on public land, for the public to survey any time they wish. They’re all known to have interesting species present. If you’re lucky you might see birds like Hooded Robins, Diamond Fire Tails or Painted Button Quail.

Diamond Firetail has been spotted at our group sites (photo by Geoff Park)

The Connecting Country Group Sites are all on public land, and are perfect for 2 hectare – 20 minute area counts. You can find them on the Connecting Country website – click here.

Group sites encourage people to establish survey sites that other birdwatchers can visit, to optimise the amount of data that can be generated at individual sites. These group sites have been created in partnership with BirdLife Australia and developed with the beginner in mind. If you need a refresher on survey techniques or monitoring using the 2 hectare – 20 minute area count, please visit the BirdLife website – click here.

We also came across this excellent article in the Guardian newspaper, which mentions that we may be stuck indoors but the skies are a source of ornithological wonder. Experts reveal what’s out there, where to look and how to get competitive about it. For details – click here.

You don’t need all the gear in the world to go birdwatching, just binoculars and a field guide (photo by Connecting Country)

 

 

 

 

Take a guess….how many Eltham Copper Butterflies did we see last summer?

Posted on 2 April, 2020 by Ivan

The Eltham Copper Butterfly (ECB) is one of our most treasured and interesting threatened species, and we are fortunate enough to have the largest population in the world right here in the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria. In the past 12 months, the special little butterfly has attracted much-needed attention, attracting funding for three separate projects in our region.

Connecting Country obtained funding from the Mount Alexander Shire Council to increase community awareness and education regarding the butterfly, and to support citizen science monitoring in key locations to learn more about the local populations. We worked closely with local ecologists Elaine Bayes and Karl Just, who with support from Wettenhall Environment Trust continued their vital work on mapping local Eltham Copper Butterfly habitat and distribution. We also joined in the excellent Butterfly Celebration Day held in Castlemaine Botanical Gardens in November 2019. Our hope is that all Castlemaine residents now know about this amazing threatened species living on their doorstep!

Connecting Country delivered a popular community education workshop, and worked with ecologists Elaine and Karl to promote and coordinate four community monitoring sessions for Eltham Copper Butterfly around Castlemaine VIC over November 2019 to January 2020, when the adult butterflies were out and about (for details – click here). These events attracted excellent numbers of people keen to learn more about the life cycle of this butterfly and to participate in butterfly monitoring within local butterfly habitat. The aim was to support interested community members to learn how to monitor with expert guidance, providing skills for them to become citizen scientists, conduct more monitoring and (potentially) discover new populations.

Well, the results are in, the numbers crunched and the maps produced! We now have some great insight our local Eltham Copper Butterfly populations, including previously unexplored areas of potential butterfly habitat. In total 113 individual Eltham Copper Butterflies were observed in the prime flying period between 15 November 2019 and the 3 January 2020.

Monitoring results

Our monitoring experts, Elaine Bayes and Karl Just, provided the following summary of the results, accompanied by a very detailed and useful map of the areas they visited:

  • The monitoring team searched, ranked and mapped all of Kalimna Park (170 hectares) for butterfly habitat in November 2019. Time spent to carry out rapid assessment was 48 hours.
  • This work determined that out of 170 ha of Kalimna Park, 73.25 ha was classified as prime potential Eltham Copper Butterfly habitat (i.e., medium or high quality Sweet Bursaria habitat).
  • Using Eltham Copper Butterfly habitat mapping, the team searched areas that were determined to have good butterfly habitat potential. Using this method the group located five new Eltham Copper Butterfly sub-populations and extended the area of known Eltham Copper Butterfly occupancy from 3 ha to 8 ha.
  • In total 113 individual Eltham Copper Butterflies were observed in the prime flying period between 15 November 2019 and the 3 January 2020 (some of which may have been double-counted from resurveying same area).
  • The total survey effort or time spent searching for butterflies in this period was 187 hours.

More about wonderful Eltham Copper Butterfly

Castlemaine’s Kalimna Park is home to the largest remaining population of the threatened Eltham Copper Butterfly in the world. To learn more about this fascinating little butterfly, including ecology, distribution and information on how to identify this species from similar look-alike butterflies – click here. Please enjoy the video below, courtesy of the N-danger-D Youtube Channel, that has some excellent footage of this wonderful butterfly and symbiotic ant species.

We would like to thank the Mount Alexander Shire Council and Wettenhall Environment Trust for providing the funding for these projects. We hope to continue to monitor Eltham Copper Butterfly and implement management actions to help our local butterfly populations thrive over the next decade and beyond. 

 

 

Frogging on

Posted on 31 March, 2020 by Frances

Autumn is a great time for frogs and recording frogs using the excellent FrogID app developed by the Australian Museum. The Mount Alexander region is home to around ten native frog species. Perhaps you have some frogs in your backyard, property or local dam that you can visit safely while adhering to current safety isolation requirements.

We know that the reduction of permitted leisure activities is presenting challenges – so here are some froggy suggestions from the FrogID team to help make the most of your time at home:

  • Record frogs in your back yard: if you already have frogs in your garden or property then we want you to record them daily if they are calling. Send those records in, our validation team are working from home and are keen to hear your submissions. If government advice has not changed, record frogs on your daily walk, whilst maintaining physical distance from others.
  • Download an activity sheet: if you have children looking for a fun activity, we have a fantastic activity sheet you can download – click here. There is a quiz, colouring in, and other cool activities. It’s all set up for you to print from home!
  • Explore the FrogID app or website: the FrogID app and website have hundreds of species profiles for all of Australia’s frogs, you can play their calls, view pictures and learn all about where they live and how they breed.
  • Build a frog habitat in your garden: for those who want to get your hands dirty and don’t yet have a frog pond, this could be a good time to start. Upcycle that old bathtub, recycle some old downpipes, create an oasis for your froggy friends. Don’t forget to record any frogs once they arrive, and send in pictures of your garden with your submissions on the FrogID app.

To learn more about the FrogID app see our previous post (click here) or download the FrogID app (click here).

Our Director, Frances recently spotted this handsome Spotted Marsh Frog.

Spotted Marsh Frog (photo by Frances Howe)

 

 

Tanya’s tawny tales: a good news story

Posted on 27 March, 2020 by Ivan

We were thrilled to receive a well-written story from our former superstar staff member, Tanya Loos, about the journey of a Tawny Frogmouth. Tawny Frogmouths are often confused with owls, but are actually more closely related to the nightjars. Tanya gives us a great insight into these magnificent creatures and the journey of a special Tawny’s road to recovery. Please enjoy the following words and photos from Tanya.

The question I am most frequently asked is ‘I have found a bird that seems to be hurt – what should I do?’ It is always the same answer – capture the bird using a tea towel or towel, and place into an appropriately sized cardboard box. Then pop the box in a quiet room away from pets and people – and call a wildlife rescue number for assistance.

Usually it is a friend or local person – but a couple of weeks ago I got ‘the question’ via text from my teenage nephew! Heart burst moment! Nephew and Mum had seen a bird on the road in Hepburn – an owl they thought, that wasn’t flying away.

The owl turned out to be a Tawny Frogmouth – a much loved night bird that is commonly found in local forests and gardens. Even though Tawnies are brownish grey in colour, like owls, with big round eyes, like owls, they are quite different , and in a completely different bird family.

Owls (Strigidae family) are predators who hunt and kill their prey with their huge fierce talons. Tawny Frogmouths capture their prey – mice, frogs, and insects with their beaks. Their feet are strangely weak, without big claws, and are used only for perching.

In Australia, we have three species of Frogmouth in the Podargidae family – the Tawny which is found all over the country, and the Papuan and Marbled Frogmouths which are found in Cape York and southeast Queensland.

Another difference between owls and Frogmouths is that Frogmouths are masters of camouflage, with finely patterned feathers, who adopt a special ‘broken stick’ posture, where the Frogmouths close their eyes and point their heads up to the sky. Owls never do this.

One of the golden rules of wildlife rescue is that if an animal survives and can be released, it must be released where it was found. Animals such as Tawny Frogmouth have specific territories or home ranges – where they know where the best places to find food are, the best sleeping (roosting) sites and nesting sites. This area is also where their mates or family members are! Our family Tawny was taken to a wildlife carer in Gisborne – and after a week or two, I travelled down to see if the bird was ready for release.

In the picture you can see the loving hands of Lynda the wildlife carer as she was checking whether Tawny’s wings were strong enough to fly. You can also see that the feathers are slightly brown – which means she is a female bird! The males are completely grey – a lovely ash colour, with the same fine patterning.

Tawny Frogmouths are often confused with owls, but are actually more closely related to the nightjars (photo by Tanya Loos)

 

Tawny wasn’t ready then, but yesterday Lynda texted me saying that Tawny has made a full recovery and is now ready to go back to her Hepburn forest.

The car collision must have been a mild one. Sadly this is the exception – as animal loving folks know – death by car is all too common. Driving slowly and carefully at night, dusk and dawn is the only solution.

To contact Wildlife Victoria phone: (03) 8400 7300 – and they will refer you to one of the many local wildlife carers in our region.

by Tanya Loos

 

Connecting Country still hard at work!

Posted on 25 March, 2020 by Frances

Koala at Moonlight Flat (photo by Frances Howe)

Here at Connecting Country we take our social responsibility seriously, and while there are landscapes and people needing our help, we continue to operate and support our community. However, it may be in a slightly different format to normal to reduce infection risk.

In the interests of health and safety, all our staff are working from home as much as possible. Therefore our office at the Hub is temporarily closed. However, you can still contact us via phone or email. If there’s no answer on the office phone, please leave a message and we’ll get back to you. Our operating hours are unchanged: 8.30 am to 4.30 pm Monday to Thursday.

We are reworking our planned community events, converting them to online workshop format or postponing to later in the year. We’re reviewing our other activities with the aim of continuing our important work where possible without risking the health of our staff or community. Although some tasks will not be possible, there is much we can still do.

We will be adaptable and stay focussed until we all come through the other side of this difficult time.

We appreciate your support in helping keep our community and environment healthy! Please enjoy our favourite video below, from Remember the Wild, about our Woodland Bird Program.

 

Bird of the month: Australian Owlet-nightjar

Posted on 25 March, 2020 by Ivan

Welcome to our second-ever Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’ll be taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to be joining forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome any suggestions from the community and our supporters. We are lucky enough to have the talented and charismatic Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, with some assistance from the brilliant Damian Kelly. You may be familiar with the second bird off the ranks.

Australian Owlet-nightjar (Aegotheles cristatus)

The Australian Owlet-nightjar almost looks like a sugar glider, very cute with huge dark eyes peering from a hollow. Well known local author and photographer, Damian Kelly, has been trying for several years to photograph the resident Owlet-nightjars on my property as they soak up sun in their hollow entrance. However, they seem to know when he is coming and vanish.

Until recently, when he finally managed to coax the two birds at my place into modelling for him. Thanks for the photo Damian. The Owlet-nightjar is a near ground level, small and agile, insect and spider hunter, who emerges on dark often to drink and then search for prey. They will take prey on the wing, by pouncing from a low perch or running along the ground. So if you’ve got too many spiders for your liking, install a couple of nest boxes for Owlet-nightjars as they love them.

The Australian Owlet-nightjar is one of Australia’s most widespread nocturnal birds (photo by Jane Rusden)

The Australian owlet-nightjar is colloquially known as the moth owl (photo by Damien Kelly)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interestingly they are neither owl nor nightjar, but blend of these two, and a distinct species. Around their small bill and wide mouth are long rictal bristles for nocturnal hunting, reminiscent of nightjars. Like owls they have a round head and huge forward-facing eyes. Unlike nightjars, the eyes of the Owlet-Nightjar do not reflect light and they can be a very hard bird to see at night. Both male and female birds look indistinguishable, although the female can be slightly larger by 2-5%, which is impossible to actually see. Mostly they appear soft mottled grey with darker head stripes running back from the eyes middle of the head. If you see a rufous coloured Owlet-nightjar, it is most likely female.

Immature birds look almost the same as their parents, which is a nice change when you are trying to identify birds, as in many species they can look quite different. This species, thought relativity common in Box Ironbark Forest, can be incredibly difficult to find and see. They have a habit of dropping low in their hollow and out of sight before we’re aware of them.

Occasionally you may be lucky enough to see one that has flushed and is perched on a branch, but your best hope is in a hollow in just about anything from trees, to rocks, to buildings, usually not overly high up. I started putting up nest boxes when our resident bird tried to roost amongst tools in the back of the ute for several days! This year I discovered two Owlet-nightjars habitually roosting about 200 meters apart. The photos show the one in the nest box and the one in the tree hollow. Damian’s research found that pairs mate for life, but reside in nearby hollows.

Owlet-nightjars are often heard though rarely seen (photo by Jane Rusden)

 

They will have a dozen or more hollows they use over their home ranges of up to 80 hectares. I wonder if the two I see every day are a mated pair?

To listen to the varied and lovely calls of the Australian owlet-nightjar, please – click here

 

Words by Jane Rusden
Research material contributed by Damian Kelly
Photos by Damian Kelly and Jane Rusden

 

Prickly plants providing homes for wildlife

Posted on 19 March, 2020 by Ivan

Eucalyptus trees, their abundant nectar-rich flowers and the hollows that develop in older trees are typical habitat elements that spring to mind when thinking about wildlife habitat in Box-Ironbark Forests and woodlands. While these overstorey habitat elements are important, we also know that a diversity of understorey plant species are necessary for healthy resilient local forests and woodlands. And importantly for wildlife, this layer of vegetation within our local forests, gives protection, food and places to nest for many species of insects, small mammals, reptiles and birds, allowing them to survive and reproduce, and disperse through the landscape.

From clearing and disturbance that occured during the goldrush, the introduction of grazing animals over time, and invasive plants and animals, understorey plants have been lost or have greatly decreased in distribution and regeneration success throughout our landscape. This loss of species diversity reduces the complexity of habitats and their ability to respond, or bounce back from threats such as climate change.

Thankfully Connecting Country have secured funding over the past few years to return a suite of these understorey plants (many of which are prickly) to our region through landholder support and education to restore these vital species.

The most recent project supporting this work is ‘Prickly Plants for Wildlife on Small Properties’. The main focus of this two-year project is assisting landholders on smaller properties who may have missed out on previous Connecting Country projects that typically targeted larger properties (>10 Ha).

Connecting Country staff met with landholders who expressed interest in restoring the bush on their property, to assess the vegetation, identify threats and provide tubestock plants of local species suitable for their vegetation type. Where older eucalypts with hollows were lacking within the bush on these properties nestboxes were installed for species such as Brush-tailed Phascogale, Owlet Nightjar and microbats. This project is generously funded by the North Central Catchment Management Authority to improve the health and management of our landscape.

 

Landholders in the Mount Alexander region of Victoria have planted local indigenous species of understorey appropriate for their vegetation type.

 

Microbats were provided with homes through installation of nestboxes on properties lacking natural tree hollows.

 

 

 

Birdlife Castlemaine’s April 2020 bird walk: Cancelled

Posted on 19 March, 2020 by Ivan

Unfortunately, our partners at Birdlife Castlemaine have cancelled their monthly bird walk scheduled for 4 April 2020 at Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve VIC. Please see their notice of cancellation below.

If you can’t get out to your favourite spot in coming weeks you may like to sharpen your bird watching skills via the excellent eBird Quiz, which allows you to specify the location and time for each quiz you do. Try your skills on the eBird quiz choosing either images or bird calls from your local area (it will ask you to create an account or login first). And you can also check out our previous post on the eBird quiz or Merlin bird identification app.

‘The committee of BirdLife Castlemaine District Branch wishes to advise that because of the health concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the bird walk scheduled for April 4 at the Rise and Shine Bushland Reserve will be cancelled. We will monitor the situation and advise if further walk cancellations are required. In the meantime, we are looking at other activities that individual bird watchers can undertake during this period of “social distancing”, so please watch out for further news!’

Best wishes,
Secretary
BirdLife Castlemaine District Branch

Jacky winter side. Photo: Peter Turner

 

Who’s who in the Connecting Country zoo: Asha

Posted on 18 March, 2020 by Ivan

What motivated you to join Connecting Country?

While studying environmental science at Deakin Uni, we learned about habitat fragmentation and the importance of landscape connectivity. So, when I heard about a project called ‘Connecting Landscapes’ happening in my own hometown, I had to learn more! I came along to one of Connecting Country’s birdwatching workshops, met some amazing people, and I was hooked. Working at Connecting Country gives me the opportunity to do meaningful, rewarding work in close partnership with our community to care for our precious local environment. I am a strong believer in the power of community when it comes to land management and conservation.

What have you learnt from your time at Connecting Country?

So much! I learn new skills every day from the other staff on our team and from the Landcare volunteers I work with. Also, working with our local Landcare groups has affirmed for me just how much community groups of volunteers can achieve (answer: a lot!).

Which projects do you manage at Connecting Country?

I have been working as the Mount Alexander Region Landcare Facilitator for just over four years now. During this time I have also managed various other projects, such as reptile and frog monitoring and nest box monitoring projects.

However, I am taking six months unpaid leave from mid-March 2020 to go travelling. During this time Jacqui will be our Landcare Facilitator.

How did you first become interested in our natural environment and our unique ecosystems?

I was lucky enough to spend lots of time in nature with my family when I was young, bushwalking and exploring different places in our local area and elsewhere. I also have fond memories from studying biology at school – looking at aquatic macroinvertebrates from the dam next to campus under the microscope made me realise there’s a whole lot going on out there that we don’t often see. It changed how I looked at the world and made me want to learn more about environmental science.

How do you spend your time away from work?

When I’m not at work I love going birdwatching, camping at Leanganook, or playing a good board game with friends.

What is your all-time favourite music album, and why? 

‘Take care, take cover’ by The Mae Trio. Songs like ‘Heart of a storm’ perfectly describes for me the feeling of relief of getting back to nature when you really need it.

What is your favourite place to visit in our region and why?

There was a site in Glenluce where I did bird surveys during my Honours that was smack bang in the middle of the bush. During spring it came alive with wildflowers, and it is the only place so far I’ve been lucky enough to see a Painted Button-quail.

Favourite movie?

The first one that comes to mind is ‘Ever after’, because I have watched it many times! It’s a nostalgic one from my childhood, but I also loved rediscovering this interpretation of the story as an adult.

 

We wish Asha a fantastic break while she’s away on six months leave from mid-March 2020. During this time, Jacqui Slingo of Connecting Country is our Landcare Facilitator for the Mount Alexander Region.

 

Young Farmers Advisory Council seeking members

Posted on 18 March, 2020 by Ivan

It is important we encourage and support the next generation of farmers to the land and empower them to manage their land in a sustainable manner. Expressions of interest are now open to join the Young Farmers Advisory Council. Please see details below if you are interested in pursuing this opportunity to inform and influence the government on sustainable agriculture.

The Victorian Government is seeking enthusiastic, skilled and dynamic young people, from all agricultural industries and regions, to join the Young Farmers Advisory Council. Council members represent the interests of young farmers and provide advice to government on issues and program delivery affecting young people in agriculture.

The Young Farmers Advisory Council provides a strong voice for young people in Agriculture. The Council also serves to develop the sector leaders of tomorrow.

The Council is a group of eight dynamic and motivated young people from various agricultural industries and regions, who advise government on issues affecting young people in agriculture and on program delivery. Council members also act as young ambassadors to attract new entrants to the state’s vibrant agriculture sector.

To express your interest or for more information go to www.getonboard.vic.gov.au

Expressions of interest close: 22 March 2020.

For further information regarding the Council and appointment process, contact Gemma Heemskerk on (03) 9938 0161 or youngfarmer.coordinator@agriculture.vic.gov.au

 

 

Photographers of the Goldfields 2020 – show extended

Posted on 18 March, 2020 by Frances

The Photographers of the Goldfields show at Newstead Arts Hub will be on for another two weekends: 21-22 and 28-29 March 2020.

For further information on the exhibition, see our previous post – click here
Or visit the Friends of the Box-Ironbark Forests website – click here

Early morning on Mount Alexander (photo by Bronwyn Silver)

 

Regional Roundtable events in March 2020 – postponed!

Posted on 16 March, 2020 by Frances

We previously informed you about the upcoming Regional Roundtable events to inform renewal of the Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS) and regional Biodiversity Response Planning (BRP). However, we just received the following message from North Central Catchment Management Authority and Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.

Due to COVID-19 we have made the decision to postpone all Regional Roundtables until further notice.

Community engagement is an important and valuable step to inform the RCS and BRP. We are concerned the latest information regarding the virus could impact attendance at this time. We are also erring on the side of caution in case there is even the slightest chance of transmitting the virus between attendees.  

We are committed to hearing from our communities and we will keep you posted when the sessions are rescheduled.

In the meantime, online consultation will be open until 1 June 2020 so you can leave your feedback in regards to:

  • Regional Catchment Strategy renewal via: click here
  • Biodiversity Response Planning via: click here

Thanks again for your interest and apologies for any inconvenience.

North Central Catchment Management Authority
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning

 

Connecting Country upskill on Climate Future Plots

Posted on 12 March, 2020 by Ivan

We’re very proud of what we do at Connecting Country. After a decade of landscape restoration, we have helped restore 9,500 hectares of habitat, equating to around 6% of the Mount Alexander Shire. We know this is only the beginning, and more is needed to provide vital habitat, vegetation, education and monitoring across our region for years to come. We also know that we must keep learning and updating our skill set to adapt to climate change and the likely scenarios that will occur across our region.

It was with great excitement that some staff members attended a recent Climate Future Labs workshop in Bendigo. The workshop was hosted by Greening Australia and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Greening Australia and DELWP have been working with a range of organisations to develop guidelines for community groups and agencies to improve the resilience of plants in your neighbourhood by planting Climate Future Plots.

What are Climate Future Plots?

Climate Future Plots are simply areas of revegetated and restored land that include plant species that already occur naturally in the area, but also include plants of the same species from other areas with different climates. This genetic mixing helps increase the capacity of the plants in our natural environment to adapt to a changing climate. As the climate changes, these plant communities will be better equipped to change with it. By including a mixture of local and climate pre-adapted plant genotypes (such as seed from hotter and drier, or cooler and wetter climates) the plots aim to enhance the resilience of natural landscapes to the changing climate. Through monitoring, we will also have more accurate information to actively inform future restoration and biodiversity conservation management.

Climate Future Plots are valuable because they:

  • Develop climate-resilient habitat by creating natural areas that maintain ecosystem function in uncertain climate scenarios.
  • Act as nursery sites due to their high genetic diversity.
  • Enable testing of predictions and proposed management strategies under a changing climate.
  • Inform future adaptive management by showing how species respond to climate interventions.
  • Enable community engagement and awareness by providing opportunities to work together.

 

Connecting Country and Climate Future Plots

Connecting Country have conducted strategic revegetation across hundreds of properties in our region. We found the Climate Future Plots training and guide an excellent resource for our future activities and climate-proof revegetation projects.

Restoration Coordinator at Connecting Country, Bonnie Humphreys, said ‘This workshop provided us with a guide to how to plan revegetation under a changing climate, including working out what our future climate will look like, and how to select the appropriate species and provenances to plant’. ‘It is important that we plan our habitat restoration practices in line with future climate predictions, based on the best science we have available,’ said Ms Humphreys.

While the guide is a great resource, it will still require a lot of planning to coordinate and implement the guidelines. Our staff and committee are urgently seeking funding to start implementing the guide, and expand our networks so we can source suitable provenances of plants and seeds. Once we secure funding, we will start work on planning and constructing Climate Future Plots in the Mount Alexander region.

Guidelines

A copy of the ‘Establishing Victoria’s Ecological Infrastructure: A Guide to Creating Climate Future Plots’ is available online for downloaded – click here.

The purpose of the guide is to provide a step-by-step process for organisations and community groups to plan, establish and monitor Climate Future Plots, and to establish a network of climate-resilient plant communities across Victoria and ideally nationally.

Here are some highlights from our revegetation program, which have survived well in the recent extreme weather, so far (photos by Connecting Country)

 

 

Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya project

Posted on 12 March, 2020 by Frances

Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation have issued the first exciting edition of a newsletter update for the latest happenings within the Walking Together – Balak Kalik Manya Project. It’s great to hear about their recent cultural and ecological survey work in Kalimna Park, right next to the town of Castlemaine VIC.

The Walking Together- Balak Kalik Manya Project is a four-year project committed to writing site-specific management plans for two sites within Dja Dja Wurrung Country; Kalimna Park in Castlemaine and Wildflower Drive in Bendigo. Both sites have been selected because of their proximity to growing townships and the increasing pressures of urbanisation slowly encroaching closer and closer to these park boundaries. The project is focusing on how we can increase community connection with nature, improve visitation rates and encourage healthy use of these sites, all while maintaining and improving biodiversity. The project will promote Djaara employment and assist in Djaara reconnecting with traditional practices of land management.

To read the newsletter – click here

For further information, please contact:
Harley Douglas
Dhelkunya Dja Project Officer – Djandak
Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation
Phone: 03 5444 2888
Email: harley.douglas@djadjawurrung.com.au

For more information on the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation, please visit their website – click here

GRAND PLANS: Harley Douglas in Strathdale bushland the Dja Dja Wurrung are about to take a key role managing for the future. Picture: TOM O'CALLAGHAN

Harley Douglas in Strathdale bushland the Dja Dja Wurrung are about to take a key role managing for the future. Photo: Tom O’Callaghan Bendigo Advertiser

 

The allure of fungi – talk cancelled

Posted on 12 March, 2020 by Frances

Photo by Alison Pouliot

This event has been cancelled

Castlemaine and District Garden Club have kindly invited Connecting Country members to attend their meeting at 7.30 pm on Tuesday 24 March 2020 at Wesley Hill Hall, Duke Street, Castlemaine VIC.

They have been lucky enough to secure Dr Alison Pouliot as a speaker. Alison is an honorary fellow at Australian National University, and has published ‘The Allure of Fungi’. She runs fungi workshops, seminars and forays around Victoria, as well as photography workshops.

Her photography is spectacular and her knowledge of fungi is amazing. Visit her website to view her beautiful photos – click here

Cost for attendees is $5 which covers the talk and supper.

Please RSVP to castlemainegardenclub@gmail.com

For more information about the event, and Castlemaine and District Garden Club, please visit their website – click here

 

Grow Wild: Gardening to Sustain Wildlife in the Hepburn Shire

Posted on 12 March, 2020 by Frances

Update: The authors have cancelled the book launch of ‘Grow Wild’, but the book is now available to purchase.

Our Wombat Forest neighbours have been busy writing and publishing an excellent new book titled ‘Grow Wild: Gardening to Sustain Wildlife in the Hepburn Shire’.

They have extended a special invitation to the Connecting Country family to join them at the launch on Sunday 29 March at 2.00 pm in the Glenlyon Hall (Daylesford-Malmsbury Rd, Glenlyon VIC).

Written by local resident and avid gardener, Jill Teschendorff, and published by Wombat Forestcare, this beautiful book aims to empower people to include indigenous plants in their gardens and provide the special habitat needed by our local wildlife.

Guest speaker: AB Bishop author, radio presenter, horticulturalist and gardening ‘trouble-shooter’

Copies of the book will be available for purchase.

RSVP by Wednesday 25 March 2020
info@wombatforestcare.org.au
Jill Teschendorff 03 5348 7947

Please see the flyer for further information – click here

RSVPs are essential.

Butterflies enjoy backyard gardens and are excellent pollinators for many plant species. Photo: Elaine Bayes

 

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)

 

Talking sludge with Susan Lawrence – 13 March 2020

Posted on 5 March, 2020 by Frances

Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club are hosting Susan Lawrence talking about ‘Sludge: An Environmental History of the Gold Rush’ on 13 March 2020.

The gold rush was one of the defining episodes in Australian history and has left a rich legacy in culture, architecture and archaeology. Many of the stories are well-known but the profound environmental disruption associated with the gold rush is all but forgotten. For decades a deluge of sand, silt and gravel poured from the mines. New research is showing how one hundred years later the effects of the sludge continue to shape Victoria’s rivers and floodplains. It has implications for the management of cultural heritage, river remediation programs, catchment management, public health and debates about how people and environments interact.

Prof. Susan Lawrence is an archaeologist at La Trobe University, Melbourne. She has nearly thirty years’ experience working on sites all over Australia, including Tasmanian whaling stations and South Australian farms. She is the author of several books and has published internationally on gender, artefact studies, urban archaeology, colonialism, and industrial archaeology. Susan is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Society of Antiquaries of London. Her most recent book is Sludge: Disaster on Victoria’s Goldfields (Black Inc/La Trobe University Press 2019), co-authored with Peter Davies.

Castlemaine Field Naturalists meet monthly at 7.30 pm in the Fellowship Room behind Castlemaine Uniting Church, 24 Lyttleton St, Castlemaine VIC.

Visit their website for more information – click here

 

Have your say on regional biodiversity planning – postponed

Posted on 5 March, 2020 by Frances

These events have been postponed

Following our recent post on the 2020 Regional Round Table sessions (click here), North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) have announced a further workshop on Tuesday 7 April 2020 at  Daylesford Town Hall (76 Vincent St, Daylesford VIC).

Community members are invited to join the North Central Catchment Management Authority and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) at their 2020 roundtable sessions to have your say about what you value in the region. This year’s roundtables focus on renewing the CMA’s 2021-2027 Regional Catchment Strategy and DELWP’s Regional Biodiversity Response Planning. They give the community a unique opportunity to have input directly into these important plans.

To book your seat at the table: click here 

The round-table events are an important tool to ensure the community is involved in future biodiversity and land use planning. Photo: NCCMA