Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Volunteer with Connecting Country: nest boxes and climate future plots

Posted on 7 April, 2022 by Jess

We are very excited that we have not one, but two important projects requiring volunteer support over autumn 2022.

One project involves climate future plots and the other involves nest box monitoring. Both projects are close to our hearts, and we believe they will make valuable contributions to the biodiversity conservation into the future.

About our ‘Future-proof our forests’ project

Climate future plots aim to enhance the resilience of natural landscapes to the changing climate. They are areas of revegetated land incorporating plant species that already occur naturally in the area. These plots include both locally-sourced plants, as well as plants of the same species from other provenances that have hotter and drier, or cooler and wetter, climates. The plants from the different provenances breed and produce ‘climate-adapted seed’. Plants grown from this new seed are potentially more resilient to changes to the changing climate. This is a cutting-edge project, and despite consulting widely with experts who are supportive of the project, we are still not sure what the outcome will be – there is a lot to learn! Monitoring these plots provides opportunities to actively inform future restoration and biodiversity conservation management in the Mount Alexander area.

Connecting Country has secured funding through the Ross Trust for our ‘Future-proof our forests’ project to establish two climate future plots of 500 plants right here in Mount Alexander region between 2021-23. We are focusing on two key species from our local area: Silver Banksia (Banksia marginata) and Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa). Both plant species were once much more widespread in our region. Both species provide important resources for wildlife, such as the Eltham Copper Butterfly and the (locally) extremely rare Eastern Pygmy Possum, as well as many native bird species. 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 individual plants and provenances most suited to survive in our changing climatic conditions.

Spotted Pardalote on Silver Banksia (photo by Geoff Park)


To read some interesting commentary about the history of Silver Bankisa in the Mount Alexander area, visit these blog posts by Geoff Park (click here) and Ian Lunt (click here).

We are seeking volunteers to assist with a large and extremely critical task – preparing 1,000 robust plant guards to protect our very precious, carefully-selected baby Silver Banksia and Sweet Bursaria plants from being eaten by rabbits and kangaroos.

The plant guard volunteer role involves:

  • Working outdoors at sites in the Castlemaine and/or Kyneton area.
  • Working as part of a team.
  • Following safety procedures.
  • Carrying star pickets and wire rolls.
  • Cutting wire fencing material.
  • Constructing plant guards.

This work involves working outdoors (in paddocks and/or at the Connecting Country depot in Castlemaine), manual handling of heavy equipment (wire and star pickets) and using tools to cut wire and assemble guards. No special skills are needed, but volunteers need a reasonable level of fitness.

About nest box monitoring

Monitoring our favorite marsupial, the frisky Brush-tailed Phascogale (also known as the Tuan), is one of our core monitoring activities here at Connecting Country. We’re excited to be planning our nest box monitoring for autumn 2022.

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

We are thrilled to have funding from WIRES to support our 2022 nest box monitoring. WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.) is Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organisation.

Our nest boxes will be led by an intrepid team of trained volunteer team leaders.

We are seeking volunteers to assist Volunteer Team Leaders to conduct nest box surveys, with feet planted firmly on the ground (i.e., not climbing ladders).

This nest box volunteer role involves: 

  • Travel within the Mount Alexander region.
  • Following safety procedures.
  • Carrying ladders, replacement nest boxes, 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 need a reasonable level of fitness, and an adventurous spirit!



If you are interested in assisting us, please send a brief email to stating:

  • If would prefer to assist creating plant guards, inspecting nest boxes – or both!
  • Your availability during April and May 2022.
  • Why you are interested in volunteering – we ask this so we can do our best to make your volunteering experience as useful as possible for you!
  • A brief summary of any relevant experience.
  • Any questions you have.

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. We look forward to hearing from you!


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