Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Pioneering climate future plots for our region

Posted on 15 March, 2021 by Ivan

Connecting Country has secured funding through the Ross Trust to establish two climate future plots of 500 plants right here in Mount Alexander region during 2021-23.

We will focus on two species from our local area: Silver Banksia (Banksia marginata) and Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa).

We are looking to include a variety plant provenances, grown from seed from areas that are hotter and drier, as well as areas that are cooler and wetter. Even though our climate is predicted to become hotter and drier, there may be other genetic information stored within a particular provenance, such as ability to survive an insect attack, or frost resilience, which plants from the hotter and drier area do not have.

To select our provenances we are looking at the Bureau of Meteorology’s climate predictions for our region. We have paired these predictions with species distribution and the availability of seed for our chosen plants.

Our climate future plots will create seed production areas and provide climate-adapted seed for use in future revegetation projects. They will also help to identify individuals and provenances most suited to survive in our changing climatic conditions.

Monitoring will allow us to assess and track the plants. Randomisation of provenances will help mix up pollen so it is more likely to be shared between plants when they flower and reproduce. This sharing of diverse genetic information may help the plants adapt as our climate changes.

Landholder expressions of interest

We are currently looking for a landholder interested in hosting a climate future plot for Sweet Bursaria on their property. Not every property is suitable for a climate future plot. It requires a long-term commitment and there are some important criteria that must be met for site selection. These criteria are provided below.

If you meet the criteria and are keen to host a climate future plot for Sweet Bursaria, please fill in our expression of interest form – click here

Please return your expression of interest form to Bonnie at Connecting Country via email (bonnie@connectingcountry.org.au). Expressions of interest close on 30 March 2021.

Criteria for site selection

Criteria for the ideal climate future plot are:

Land with:

  • Minimum of 3 hectares (7.5 acres) of clear space for Sweet Bursaria planting in a square block (excluding existing vegetation and structures).
  • Proximity to Castlemaine in central Victoria (maximum 20 km), with easy vehicle access to the site for installation, monitoring, maintenance and community involvement.
  • Suitable conditions for the target species to facilitate healthy growth.
  • No livestock grazing.
  • Legal protection through land tenure, nature covenant or planning scheme (e.g., zoning and overlays that restrict development).

 

Landholders with:

  • Long-term commitment to retaining their property and the plots intact.
  • Demonstrated history of managing the property for biodiversity conservation and restoration.
  • Capacity to understand the climate future plot concept and scientific importance of correct plot maintenance.
  • Capacity to commit to future land management actions (e.g., weed and rabbit control, grazing exclusion, maintaining plant guards).
  • Willingness to allow ongoing access for Connecting Country and volunteers for monitoring, maintenance, seed collection and community education.

 

Learn more about climate future plots

For more information on climate future plots, see:

 

Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club AGM plus excursion – 12 & 13 March 2021

Posted on 10 March, 2021 by Asha

As a monthly tradition, Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club hold a meeting with a guest speaker on the second Friday of the month, followed by a group excursion or field trip the following day.

Castlemaine Field Nats provided the following details about thier March 2021 excursion. For more information visit their website – click here

Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club
2021 Annual General Meeting and Guest Speaker

Our meeting on Friday 12 March 2021, 7.30 pm will again be online using Zoom (if you wish to attend, please email Peter Turner at munrodsl@iinet.net.au).

Following our AGM, the guest speaker will be Reiner Richter, one of the most prolific contributors to citizen science databases in Australia with many specialties including dragonflies and orchids. Reiner will tell us about the recent field guide he has produced together with Ian Endersby: ‘Dragonflies and Damselflies of Victoria and Tasmania‘.  Reiner will explain what lead him to produce the book and the work required to get better photos of many of the species. He will also discuss the photo processing that was required in order to show the required detail for the publication.

Our guest speaker will follow the usual ‘observations’ session when members can share recent interesting sightings with an option to show a photo or two. If you have photos to be shown please email JPEG file(s) to Euan Moore at calamanthus5@bigpond.com by noon on the day of the meeting.

Excursion

Our February excursion to Tullaroop Reservoir had to be postponed due to the sudden COVID lockdown, so we will try again on Saturday 13 March 2021. Meet at the car park opposite the Castle Motel, Duke Street (Castlemaine VIC) at 1.30 pm sharp or at the Tullaroop Reservoir picnic ground at the dam wall at 2:00 pm.

Watch out for raptors as you drive across the Moolort Plains to the reservoir!

After gathering at the picnic ground, we will take a short drive to where we will park and then walk along the shore of the lake and in nearby bushland. Afterwards we will drive back to the picnic ground for afternoon tea. There is a toilet block at the picnic ground.

Bring binoculars, sunhat, block-out, hand sanitiser, water and snacks and wear stout walking shoes.

Please comply with current Government COVID-safe requirements.

The Field Trip will be cancelled in extreme weather conditions.

There are NO excursions on total fire ban days.

Castlemaine Field Naturalists Club

 

Escaping the trap to reduce platypus deaths

Posted on 10 March, 2021 by Frances

Our colleagues at the Australian Platypus Conservancy published the following update on progress following the ban on opera house yabby nets. Evidence so far indicates the ban is working to reduce platypus and rakali deaths caused by these nets. Please read on for details.

To read the full version of ‘Platypus News & Views’, the newsletter of the Australian Platypus Conservancy (Issue 83 – February 2021) – click here
To learn more about the Australian Platypus Conservancy – click here
To read Connecting Country’s previous post on this issue – click here

Two platypus that drowned in an opera house trap in 2015 (photo: Australian Platypus Conservancy)

ESCAPING THE TRAP

Since 1 July 2019, the Victorian government has banned recreational use of opera house traps and other enclosed nets to capture crayfish or yabbies in all public and private waters throughout the state. The new rule aims to reduce the number of platypus, rakali (or water-rats), turtles and other air-breathing animals drowning as bycatch in enclosed traps. So how successful has this move been in reducing deaths of non-target species?

Based on records collated by Mike Sverns (DELWP Major Operations and Investigations Unit), only one platypus reportedly died in an opera house trap in the first 18 months after the Victorian ban was implemented (in King Parrot Creek in September 2019), with two rakali mortalities reported in the same period (in the Barwon River in April 2020). On average, eight times as many platypus and four times as many rakali reportedly died each year in enclosed traps set in Victorian waters in the 36 months preceding the ban.

It’s also worth noting that the ban on opera house trap use has been strongly supported by nearly everyone in the Victorian community, including recreational angling groups. To encourage persons to make an early switch to wildlife-friendly open-top yabby nets, the Victorian Fisheries Authority funded a Yabby Net Swap Program, whereby anglers could swap up to three opera house traps for one open-top yabby net. This program was very successful, with 20,000 open-top yabby nets distributed to persons across the state between December 2018 and February 2019.

Legislation banning use of opera house traps in the Australian Capital Territory came into effect in 2020. The ACT also followed Victoria’s lead in announcing that opera house traps could be exchanged for open-top lift nets at participating fishing tackle shops (with a limit of two new free nets per person). Elsewhere in Australia opera house traps cannot be legally deployed in Tasmania or Western Australia. New South Wales has announced they will eventually be banned throughout the state but (as far as we know) still hasn’t seta date for this to occur.

Even though Victoria’s ban has been an unqualified success in many ways, some illegal usage is likely to continue for some time due to the huge numbers of opera house traps that were previously purchased. More than 60 enclosed nets have been seized by Victorian fisheries and wildlife officers since mid-2019, including 23 opera house traps confiscated from a single person, resulting in a substantial fine. Unfortunately, it could be many years before these traps finally disappear from Victorian waters, as illustrated by a drum net being removed from the Goulburn River in May 2020, two decades or more after its use was outlawed.

Therefore, please continue to watch for use of illegal yabby traps and nets and report them at once to your state/territory fisheries hotline (13FISH in Victoria). Also, do whatever you can to encourage New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory to take action to ban all use of enclosed yabby nets and traps within their respective borders.

Australian Platypus Conservancy

 

Camp Out on the Mount 2021 – we’re going virtual!

Posted on 10 March, 2021 by Asha

This year, to reduce the risk of having to cancel or reschedule, we have decided to jump the gun, get creative and plan for a virtual ‘Camp Out on the Mount’. No, this doesn’t mean toasting marshmallows by the light of your computer screen. We are encouraging everyone to plan their own camping trip in whatever way is possible for you, and to join in online by contributing to our ‘Camp Out Collage’ (details to come).

When: 3 – 18 April 2021
Where:
Online at www.connectingcountry.org.au/landcare/camp-out-on-the-mount-2021/
How to join in:
Sign up to our blog for updates, or check the webpage during the dates above
Questions:
email asha@connectingcountry.org.au

We hope to capture the ‘Camp Out on the Mount’ spirit by encouraging everyone to engage with our special ‘Camp Out 2021’ web pages, and inviting you to contribute to our ‘Camp Out Collage’ of photos, stories and pledges. These will focus on some of the elements that make the Camp Out special:

  • Camping out (of course!)
  • Caring for the land
  • Loving Leanganook
  • Connecting with Indigenous culture

More details about how to participate will be shared on our blog in the coming weeks. To subscribe to our weekly e-news so you don’t miss any updates – click here

Camp Out on the Mount 2019 (photo by Leonie van Eyk)

 

Seeking volunteers for 2021 nest box checks

Posted on 10 March, 2021 by Jess

Monitoring our favorite marsupial, the frisky Brush-tailed Phascogale, is one of our core monitoring activities here at Connecting Country. We’re excited to be planning our nest box monitoring for autumn 2021.

Connecting Country’s nest box monitoring program was established in 2010. Our 450 nest boxes across the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria allow us to collect valuable scientific data about the threatened Brush-tailed Phascogale and other arboreal mammals. For more information on our nest box monitoring – click here

This year, our nest boxes will be surveyed by an intrepid team of trained volunteer team leaders. Volunteering on environmental projects is a great way to learn about our local environment, keep active, contribute to nature conservation, learn skills and meet new people.

This Brush-tailed phascogale is at home in its messy nest in Sutton Grange (photo by Jess Lawton)

 

We are looking for people who may be able to assist us in two ways.

1. Volunteer field helpers

This will involve assisting Volunteer Team Leaders to conduct nest box surveys, with feet planted firmly on the ground (i.e., not climbing ladders). This role involves:

  • Travel within the Mount Alexander region
  • Following safety procedures
  • Carrying ladders and equipment to sites
  • Helping to navigate to sites
  • Writing observations and recording data
  • Taking photos

Field work roles require working on uneven ground and carrying ladders (these are heavy!) through the bush, sometimes in hot or cold weather. Some sites require hikes through uneven terrain, or climbing over fences. Volunteers require a reasonable level of fitness, and an adventurous spirit!

2. Volunteer in the office

This could suit someone local who is willing to commit a short amount of time more regularly (e.g., 1 – 2 hours a week between April and June) managing paperwork and data sheets from the Castlemaine office. This may involve:

  • Helping to record who has filled out paperwork
  • Scanning and organising data sheets
  • Assisting with entering and curating data

 

If you are interested in assisting us, please send a brief email to jess@connectingcountry.org.au stating:

  • If you would prefer to assist as a field helper, or in the office
  • Your availability during April and May 2021
  • Why you are interested in volunteering (so we can do our best to make your volunteering experience as useful as possible for you!)
  • Any relevant experience
  • Any questions you have

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

2021 bird walks with BirdLife Castlemaine

Posted on 4 March, 2021 by Ivan

Our friends and project partners at BirdLife Castlemaine District have shared their latest ‘Bird Walks Calendar 2021’, which sets out all the excellent monthly bird walks they have planned for the rest of 2021. If you have not attended one of their bird walks, then make 2021 the year to enjoy the pleasure of a guided bird walk with friendly local experts. Please read on for details, provided by BirdLife Castlemaine District.

March 2021 bird walk

Date: Saturday 6 March 2021 at 9 am
Leader: Damian Kelly
Location: Glamorgan Reef Bushland Reserve, Yandoit VIC

Monthly bird walks can be a healthy stroll with lovely people, with birds providing a natural bonus (photo by Frances Howe)

Dear members and friends,

Please find attached the BirdLife Castlemaine District Branch 2021 Calendar with brief details of our monthly bird walks and the bird camp to be held in September.

Full details about each walk will be posted on the BirdLife Castlemaine District. Facebook page and included in our eNews prior to each walk.  If you are interested in the bird camp, contact details are on the calendar.

Thanks to Bob Dawson, BCD’s Bird walk coordinator and to those who have already led walks or will be doing so as the year progresses. All levels of experience welcome – walks are a great chance to learn from and have fun with fellow birdwatchers. Full details about each walk will be posted on the BirdLife Castlemaine District Facebook page and included in our eNews prior to each walk.

Walks will be cancelled if, during the walk period, severe weather warnings are in place; temperatures over 35oC or persistent rain is forecast; a Total Fire Ban has been declared for the day. Please check your email and/or Facebook on the evening before a walk, in case the event has been cancelled.

For more information, please email castlemaine@birdlife.org.au or call/text Jane Rusden (0448 900 896), Judy Hopley (0425 768 559) or Bob Dawson (0417 621 691). Please also note that walks or other activities will need to follow all Victorian Government Covid-19 restrictions and recommendations and will only go ahead if the restrictions permit.

To download BirdLife Castlemaine’s 2021 calendar – click here

 

Healthy dams for habitat 2021 – more tickets now available

Posted on 4 March, 2021 by Ivan

Sold out in a week! We did not expect the 100 tickets for our ‘Healthy dams for habitat’ event to book out so quickly, but they did. So we have upgraded our Zoom account and now have another few hundred tickets available.

To book – click here

Healthy dams for habitat‘ is hosted by local leading naturalist and wetland expert, Damien Cook. The free online event will feature a presentation by Damien on how to create and improve dams to supply clean water and habitat for a variety of native plants and animals. The event is part of our ‘Healthy Landscapes’ project, funded through the Australian Government’s Smart Farms program.

The event will aim to help our local farmers and other landholders to manage their land sustainably for the benefit of wildlife, primary production and the broader landscape. We will also develop a Healthy Landscapes guide book, especially targeted to the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria, and deliver two further educational workshops for landholders on sustainable land management.

The online event will be held on Thursday 18 March 2021 from 7-8 pm. It’s sure to be popular and tickets are limited. To book – click here 

Damien Cook

Damien has been a keen naturalist for 30 years and has developed a sound knowledge of flora and fauna identification, ecology and habitat requirements. He is a recognised expert in wetland, riparian and terrestrial ecology, particularly in the factors affecting the establishment and management of aquatic and wetland plants, and also the revegetation of terrestrial ecosystems. Damien is also Co-director of Rakali Ecological Consulting, a company based in central Victoria that specialise in ecological assessment (flora and fauna), mapping and land management planning for a variety of ecosystems, including wetland and terrestrial vegetation in south-eastern Australia. Damien’s roles include ecological consulting, project planning, client liaison and delivering training. Damien is also a shareholder in Australian Ecosystems Pty Ltd, an ecological restoration company with its own large scale indigenous plant nursery.

There are excellent examples of healthy dams in our region (photo by Bonnie Humphreys)

 

Bird monitoring 2020 results are in!

Posted on 4 March, 2021 by Jess

Connecting Country’s long-term bird monitoring program was established to investigate the relationship between habitat restoration and woodland bird populations across the Mount Alexander region in central Victoria. In 2020 sites were monitored by our team of tenacious volunteers, who managed to survey most of our sites, despite challenges associated with COVID-19 and lockdowns. The 2020 monitoring season was supported by the Australian Government’s Communities Environment Program. This was the second time our monitoring was 100% completed by volunteers.

The adorable Jackie Winter, a tiny but stunning bird of our region (photo by Peter Turner)

We are excited to present the following short report summarising the results of our 2020 bird monitoring program. We’re always on the lookout for more volunteer bird monitors! If you have bird identification skills and are interested in joining our bird monitoring program, please email our Monitoring Coordinator, Jess Lawton (jess@connectingcountry.org.au).


To hear more about our woodland birds monitoring program, and why we set up the program please watch the following video.

 

Landcare video updates – Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare

Posted on 4 March, 2021 by Asha

To complement the February 2021 Landcare Link-up, we asked each Landcare and Friends group in the Mount Alexander region (Central Victoria) to film a short video update to share their achievements with the community. As usual, Landcarers rose to the occasion! We will be sharing these videos through a series of blog posts, as well as screening them at the Landcare Link-up and uploading them to our Landcare page.

This video from Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare is a wonderful snapshot of their work. It showcases some of the many biodiversity values of the creek (including platypus!) and highlights the incredible improvements to creek-side habitat achieved by the group over the years. The historical photos highlight the impressive changes in the landscape and biodiversity. To watch the video click on the image below or – click here

Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare is a group of local residents and volunteers who work to protect and improve the environment in the Campbells Creek catchment.  The group is committed to celebrating and encouraging the use of the creek and creek-side land by the community. Their vision is to make the creek and creek-side lands a community asset – a healthy, restored environment, linked with nearby habitat, actively used and cared for by the community and visitors.

They do weed control, plant indigenous species, encourage regeneration and work to improve access to the creek for everyone’s enjoyment, recreation and education.

To learn more or get involved with Friends of Campbells Creek Landcare, visit www.focc.org.au or contact them via email (info@focc.org.au).

 

Landcare video updates – North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare

Posted on 4 March, 2021 by Asha

To complement the February 2021 Landcare Link-up, we asked each Landcare and Friends group in the Mount Alexander region (Central Victoria) to film a short video update to share their achievements with the community. As usual, Landcarers rose to the occasion! We will be sharing these videos through a series of blog posts, as well as screening them at the Landcare Link-up and uploading them to our Landcare page.

The next video from North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare details their fantastic ‘Pledge to Plant’ project during 2020. They explain how they went about the project and the overwhelming response they received from their community. To watch the video click on the image below or – click here

North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare Group focuses on community and shared learning. Their revival in recent years has seen them become a thriving and active group with strong community participation and support. Their current projects include running nature walks, building nest boxes, and providing property advice for local residents.

To learn more or get involved with North Harcourt & Sedgwick Landcare, contact them via email (nhselandcare@gmail.com) or visit their Facebook page – click here

 

Healthy dams as habitat event on 18 March 2021 – book now!

Posted on 25 February, 2021 by Ivan

Connecting Country is excited to announce that tickets are now available for the first of our 2021 autumn workshop series. ‘Healthy dams for habitat‘ is hosted by local leading naturalist and wetland expert, Damien Cook. The free online event will feature a presentation by Damien on how to create and improve dams to supply clean water and habitat for a variety of native plants and animals. The event is part of our ‘Healthy Landscapes’ project, funded through the Australian Government’s Smart Farms program.

The event will aim to help our local farmers and other landholders to manage their land sustainably for the benefit of wildlife, primary production and the broader landscape. We will also develop a Healthy Landscapes guide book, especially targeted to the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria, and deliver two further educational workshops for landholders on sustainable land management.

The online event will be held on Thursday 18 March 2021 from 7-8 pm. It’s sure to be popular and tickets are limited. To book please- click here 

Damien Cook

Damien has been a keen naturalist for 30 years and has developed a sound knowledge of flora and fauna identification, ecology and habitat requirements. He is a recognised expert in wetland, riparian and terrestrial ecology, particularly in the factors affecting the establishment and management of aquatic and wetland plants, and also the revegetation of terrestrial ecosystems. Damien is also Co-director of Rakali Ecological Consulting, a company based in central Victoria that specialise in ecological assessment (flora and fauna), mapping and land management planning for a variety of ecosystems, including wetland and terrestrial vegetation in south-eastern Australia. Damien’s roles include ecological consulting, project planning, client liaison and delivering training. Damien is also a shareholder in Australian Ecosystems Pty Ltd, an ecological restoration company with its own large scale indigenous plant nursery.

There are excellent examples of healthy dams in our region (photo: Bonnie Humphreys)

 

Bird of the month: Fuscous Honeyeater

Posted on 25 February, 2021 by Ivan

Welcome to our twelfth Bird of the month, a partnership between Connecting Country and BirdLife Castlemaine District. Each month we’re taking a close look at one special local bird species. We’re excited to join forces to deliver you a different bird each month, seasonally adjusted, and welcome suggestions from the community. We are lucky to have the talented and charismatic Jane Rusden from BirdLife Castlemaine District writing about our next bird of the month, with assistance from the brilliant Damian Kelly and Ash Vigus.

Fuscous Honeyeater (Lichenostomus fuscus)

Since we’ve all been in lockdown and spending most of our days at home, I thought the ever constant, interactive communities of Fuscous Honeyeater a good place to start this month. Partly because their endearing daily antics are the very opposite of what COVID-19 restrictions do to our own lives.

Visually the Fuscous Honeyeater is nothing to rave about, much like us living through lockdown in our PJ’s. In fact, I tell those new to bird watching, if they see a honeyeater but can’t quite work out what species it is, it’s probably a Fuscous. The small yellow tuft of feathers below the eye, on the jawline, can be very difficult to see, and otherwise they are a nondescript, mid olive-brown bird.

Their habit of foraging for insects on the wing, and lerp, honeydew and nectar in the treetops, makes them difficult to see as they flit about in the foliage. There is nothing to indicate which are male and female, although the male is very slightly larger than the female. Immature and non-breeding birds have a yellow gape, whereas breeding birds have an all-black bill (see photo comparison).

Fuscous Honeyeater with a yellow gape, indicating an immature or non-breeding individual (photo: Jane Rusden)

I find the best way to observe this species is at my birdbaths, which they absolutely love – not surprising as they are known to be drawn to water sources. I’ll often see about five birds gathering in a circle like they are at a noisy party, where they shout at each other all at once, then fly off one after the other in quick succession. There have been some long-term studies that indicate the Fuscous Honeyeater is a semi-colonial species, although they breed in monogamous pairs. They lay 1-3 eggs in a cup shaped nest that appear to be quite flimsy. However, they must be successful breeders and their densities can be up to five birds per hectare in highly suitable habitat.

If you find yourself somewhere on the east coast, between South Australia and Queensland, in a dryer forest, straining to looking at an olive-brown honeyeater that you can’t quite identify, but it’s vigorously chasing other birds through the canopy or shouting at it’s friends … you might be looking at a Fuscous Honeyeater.

Fuscous Honeyeater with a black bill indicating it’s a breeding adult (photo: Jane Rusden)

To listen to the call of the Fuscous Honeyeater, please  visit Graeme Chapman’s website – click here

A big thank you to contributors to this edition of Bird of the Month – Jane Rusden and Damian Kelly – for their amazing knowledge and skills.

 

 

Clean Up Australia Day – Sunday 7 March 2021

Posted on 25 February, 2021 by Asha

Clean Up Australia is happening this Sunday 7 March 2021, including eight locations across the Mount Alexander region. Clean Up Australia inspires and empowers communities to clean up, fix up and conserve our environment. What was started 30 years ago, by an ‘average Australian bloke’ who had a simple idea to make a difference in his own backyard, has now become the nation’s largest community-based environmental event.

Local Clean Up Australia Day working bees include:

To view a map of Clean Up Australia Day working bees across the country, allowing you to search via postcodes and townships, please click here

Rubbish dumped at Muckleford Bushland Reserve (photo by Muckleford Catchment Landcare Group)

 

Landcare video updates – Sutton Grange Landcare Group

Posted on 25 February, 2021 by Asha

To complement the February 2021 Landcare Link-up, we asked each Landcare and Friends group in the Mount Alexander region (Central Victoria) to film a short video update to share their achievements with the community. As usual, Landcarers rose to the occasion! We will be sharing these videos through a series of blog posts, as well as screening them at the Landcare Link-up and uploading them to our Landcare page.

The Sutton Grange Landcare Group video features committee member Zane, as he takes us on an inspiring and entertaining tour of some of the group’s recent projects. To watch their excellent video, scroll down to the image below or – click here

With an active and diverse committee, Sutton Grange Landcare Group has many landscape restoration projects on the go, as well as ongoing connections with their community through their engaging and informative newsletter, and meetings that often feature fabulous guest speakers.

Zane explains some of the impacts the pandemic has had on their group, and the ways that they are still carrying on and thriving.

To learn more or get involved with Sutton Grange Landcare Group, contact them via email at

 

Weed management after fire – resources from WESI

Posted on 18 February, 2021 by Jacqui

After wildfire, our ecosystems are extremely vulnerable to weed invasion. The blank canvas created by wildfire is often a perfect platform for invasive species, with little competition to prevent a blanket of weeds from returning to the landscape, at the expense of many vulnerable native species.

The Weeds at the Early Stage of Invasion (WESI) team recently uploaded four webinars from their recent online forum on weed management after fire. This forum featured four separate webinars with a variety of topics and guest speakers from all over the state, and was very popular with the community and stakeholders. The list of guest speakers and presenters is staggering and the events were very well put together.

Invasive species management, including weed management, is an integral component of any landscape or reserve scale conservation program. The benefits of a preventative and early intervention approach has been adopted in many parts of the world with great success. The WESI Project was created to promote these benefits and enable Victoria to adopt this approach, with a focus on high-risk invasive weeds that are in the early stage of invasion and threaten biodiversity. They work with public land and biodiversity managers all over Victoria. The WESI Project, and several other weed management projects, are funded by the Victorian Government through the Weeds and Pests on Public Land program.

Whether you are managing weeds in fire impacted areas or other areas, we are sure much of the content will be relevant. We highly recommend having a look.

To view the webinar recordings, please click on the following links:

To view the complete webinar series directly on YouTube series – click here

Alternatively, to access the recordings of the four webinars, along with the links posted in the online chat function during each event – click here

Weed Management After fire Webinar Image Cape Conran: Andrew Geschke

Cape Conran regeneration after a devastating fire in 2020 (photo by Andrew Geschke)

 

 

Landcare video updates – Golden Point Landcare

Posted on 18 February, 2021 by Asha

To complement the February 2021 Landcare Link-up, we asked each Landcare and Friends group in the Mount Alexander region (Central Victoria) to film a short video update to share their achievements with the community. As usual, Landcarers rose to the occasion! We will be sharing these videos through a series of blog posts, as well as screening them at the Landcare Link-up and uploading them to our Landcare page.

This Landcare video update from Golden Point Landcare is a lovely conversation between executive committee members Marie and Jennifer. To watch the video click on the image below or – click here

Learn about some of the long history of the group and some of their upcoming activities, such as the Clean Up Australia Day working bee around Expedition Pass Reservoir. Also discussed are challenges the group faces, some positive local changes, and new engagement with community members.

If you would like to learn more or get involved with Golden Point Landcare, contact Jennifer via email at j.pryce@bigpond.com

 

Landcare video updates – Maldon Urban Landcare Group (MULGA)

Posted on 18 February, 2021 by Asha

To complement the February 2021 Landcare Link-up, we invited each Landcare and Friends group in the Mount Alexander region (Central Victoria) to film a short video update to share their achievements with the community. As usual, Landcarers rose to the occasion! We will be sharing these videos through a series of blog posts, as well as screening them at the Landcare Link-up and uploading them to our Landcare page.

Maldon Urban Landcare Group (MULGA) provided a video update that takes us on a visual journey through some of their amazing work. To view the video click on the image below or – click here

MULGA’s video includes footage of a beautiful large old eucalypt as a snapshot of their ‘Living Treasures’ project. They aim to obtain detailed records for eucalypts that are estimated as growing before 1852 (pre-European settlement) in Maldon, and to achieve long-term protection for these trees.

To read more about MULGA and their work – click here
If you would like to get involved, contact Bev via email at maldonurbanlandcare@gmail.com

 

Healthy dams as habitat: 18 March 2021

Posted on 18 February, 2021 by Ivan

Save the date! We have booked our first event for 2021 and it is sure to be a big one, hosted by local leading naturalist and wetland expert, Damien Cook. The online event will feature a presentation by Damien on how to create and improve dams to supply clean water and habitat for a variety of native plants and animals. The event is part of our ‘Healthy Landscapes’ project, funded through the Australian Government’s Smart Farms program.

Our project is about helping our local farmers and other landholders to manage their land sustainably for the benefit of wildlife, themselves and the broader landscape. We will also develop a Healthy Landscapes guide book, especially targeted to the Mount Alexander region of central Victoria, and deliver a series of educational workshops for landholders on sustainable land management.

The online event will be held on 18 March 2021 at 7 pm, with online booking available in the coming weeks. It’s sure to be very popular.

With the good rains over summer 2020-21, our dams, waterways and wetlands are looking healthier in terms of water flow, but good management of these assets is a vital step for long-term improvements in water quality and biodiversity health.

Damien Cook

Damien has been a keen naturalist for 30 years and has developed a sound knowledge of flora and fauna identification, ecology and habitat requirements. He is a recognised expert in wetland, riparian and terrestrial ecology, particularly in the factors affecting the establishment and management of aquatic and wetland plants, and also the revegetation of terrestrial ecosystems. Damien is also Co-director of Rakali Ecological Consulting, a company based in central Victoria that specialise in ecological assessment (flora and fauna), mapping and land management planning for a variety of ecosystems, including wetland and terrestrial vegetation in south-eastern Australia. Damien’s roles include ecological consulting, project planning, client liaison and delivering training. Damien is also a shareholder in Australian Ecosystems Pty Ltd, an ecological restoration company with its own large scale indigenous plant nursery.

Stay tuned for further details in the coming weeks!

 

There are some excellent examples of healthy dams in our region (photo by Gen Kay)

 

Landcare video updates – Tarrangower Cactus Control Group

Posted on 11 February, 2021 by Asha

To complement the February 2021 Landcare Link-up, each Landcare/Friends group in the Mount Alexander region was invited to film a short video update to share their achievements with the community. As usual, Landcarers rose to the occasion! We will be sharing these videos through a series of blog posts, as well as screening them at the Landcare Link-up and uploading them to our Landcare page.

Our second video update is from the Tarrangower Cactus Control Group (aka Cactus Warriors!). Click here or scroll down to view their video, which tells us about their group and captures the fun and hard work of a typical cactus control field day. It certainly is inspiring and well put together.

The Tarrangower Cactus Control Group (TCCG) consists of Landcare volunteers dedicated to the eradication of Wheel Cactus (Opuntia robusta). TCCG, in conjunction with Parks Victoria, holds friendly and informal Wheel Cactus Control community field days to inform and demonstrate control techniques. These field days always end with a free BBQ lunch, cuppa and cake, as well as the opportunity to chat, exchange ideas and make contacts. It is a great opportunity to spend a rewarding morning outdoors, meeting neighbours and others who are concerned about preserving and improving our unique environment. Everyone is welcome, no previous experience is required and all equipment is supplied.

TCCG volunteers also provide advice and practical assistance to landholders, conduct trials of control methods and network with other Landcare and weed control groups, locally and nationally. TCCG raises awareness of the extent of the Wheel Cactus problem and its status as a Weed of National Significance through networking, regular articles in local newspapers and other media, pamphlets and participation in local community events.

If you would like to learn more about the Tarrangower Cactus Control Group or to get involved, visit their website at www.cactuswarriors.org or email info@cactuswarriors.org

 

Feral photo and video competition: now open

Posted on 11 February, 2021 by Ivan

Here is a call out to the photographers in our region, who might be interested in snapping some invasive plants and animals for the Centre of Invasive Species Solutions, who are running a photo and video competition. The Centre for Invasive Species Solutions is Australia’s collaborative research, development and extension organisation formed to tackle the ongoing threat from invasive vertebrate pests, and weeds. They concentrate on developing smarter tools to prevent and detect new invasions, advanced and tactical tools to strengthen integrated management strategies and knowledge.

The competition entries will be published on their website, and will feature some pretty amazing prizes for the lucky winners. Please see the full provided details below, from their website.

The popular Feral Photo and Video Competition is being reignited by the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions with some amazing prizes on offer thanks to our competition collaborators Animal Trap SolutionsCSIRO Publishing and Outdoor Cameras Australia.

Submit your images and video footage which showcase invasive species in Australia. This might include pest animals, weed infestations, exotic insects and/or the damage these species cause. Remote camera images and footage is allowed.

Entry is free and you can enter as many times as you’d like, noting each time you enter you will have to fill out the complete form.

The winning entries will be completely decided by you, the audience, through a popular vote (details on how to vote below). The entries with the most votes will be notified by phone to receive one of the four major prizes listed below.

So share your entry far and wide via social media or email, to get as many votes as possible.

You can list a list of the entries so far, by clicking here. Below is our favourite entry to date, from Sandy Horne.

Squabble in the stubble. Sandy Horne entry to the feral photo competition.

Key dates:

Entries open: Tuesday February 2nd, 2021 – 6am AEDT

Entries close: Friday April 30th, 2021 – 12pm AEST

Voting open: Tuesday February 2nd, 2021 – 6am AEDT

Voting closes: Friday May 14th, 12pm AEST

Prize winners notified: Week beginning May 17th 2021

For more details, please click here