Enhancing Biodiversity Fox and Rabbit Project
The South Gippsland Landcare Network is undertaking in conjunction with the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority a pest animal eradication project.
The project area runs from Venus Bay to Waratah Bay, between the Walkerville Road and the coast. It includes a narrow coastal strip of public land (the Cape Liptrap Coastal Park) and the surrounding private rural land.
The project is delivering pest animal control activities for foxes and rabbits. This will reduce production losses, and will reduce predatory pressure on key threatened species that are known to occur across the project area in particular:
- 30 species of threatened fauna (including species listed under both the FFG Act and EPBC Act)
- 17 species of migratory birds (listed under JAMBA and CAMBA agreements)
- 10 species of threatened flora (listed under the FFG Act).
The main methods of pest control are:
- Fox control – predominantly baiting, along with trapping in the township areas
- Rabbit control – via a release of calicivirus
We have called for expressions of interest for landholders interested in getting involved in this project. Examples include, having bait stations on your property to attending seminars and training courses and logging sightings of pest animals in the area.
A recent community awareness event was conducted at Tarwin Lower where Peter Homan – wildlife ecologist, shared photos and videos of the amazing wildlife species that live in this area.
The rest of the team presented information on the methods and plans for works throughout the three year program.
Invasive plants & animals biosecurity officers from Agriculture Victoria were present on integrated rabbit management, focusing on calici virus.
This project has been funded by the Victorian Government’s Biodiversity Response Planning program and is helping to ensure that Victoria’s natural environment is healthy, valued and actively cared for.
Corner Inlet Citizen Science Water Quality Improvement project
This project ‘Corner Inlet Citizen Science Water Quality Improvement project’ will support volunteers to test water to get a snapshot of what’s happening in 4 creeks near Foster that flow into Corner Inlet, over the next 12 months. Eight volunteers have signed up to do water quality testing. They will collect samples which will be sent to laboratory in Melbourne to test Nitrogen and will use turbidity tubes to check sediment. Students from Foster Secondary College will also be involved in monitoring one of the sites.
The project will also deliver two information seminars to share information about water quality with the wider community. The first seminar ‘Connecting our Creeks to Corner Inlet’ was held in Foster on Saturday 13th of July, with 39 people attending.
Dr John Ford (marine and fisheries ecologist) talked about the importance of the seagrass in corner inlet; it provides habitat for a wide range of other marine species, and can store 83,000 Tonnes of carbon a hectare, twice as much as forests. Seagrass is also worth up to $31,000 a year to fisheries production.
He also explained that the health of the seagrass ecosystem, and in fact the whole biodiversity and productivity of Corner Inlet – depends on having good water quality. That means everything we do in the catchment will make a difference to the health of our marine local environment.
Seagrass is threatened by algal blooms, and 60% of the nutrients feeding this algae come from the catchment. The main threat is water quality, in the form of excess sediment and excess nutrients. We need to improve water quality coming into the Inlet.
Michael Hobson (who runs the Wildfish restaurant at Port Albert, and is chair of the Jack and Albert River restoration project through Yarram Yarram Landcare Network) talked about the seagrass restoration project Yarram Yarram Landcare Network is doing, aiming to restore seagrass over 200Ha
Belinda Brennan from WGCMA talked about role Corner Inlet Partner Group is playing, working with agencies, community and farmers, to look after the catchment and help improve water quality. This has included 87% of farmers doing Fertsmart program, with average saving $22,600 – via improved management practices and retaining nutrients on farm.
Tom Holman and Jane Oram from Friends of Stockyard creek took us for a walk along Stockyard Creek to share what they are doing there.
This project is delivered by South Gippsland Landcare Network and funded by Coastcare and the Victorian Government, and supported by South Gippsland Water.
Landscape-scale conservation of threatened invertebrates of the Western Strzeleckis
South Gippsland Landcare Network (SGLN) is working with neighbouring Latrobe Catchment Landcare Network (LCLN) and the Natural Environment Program of DELWP on a project to protect Giant Gippsland Earthworms and three species of burrowing crayfish (Warragul, Strzelecki, and Narracan).
This involves monitoring two demonstration sites that were set up in 2014, to trial a new revegetation technique. Standard revegetation techniques aren’t always suitable for Giant Gippsland Earthworms as the growing trees reduce soil moisture which is critical for earthworm survival. These sites were monitored in 2019, looking at groundwater, and at the presence of Giant Gippsland Earthworms (by Dr Beverly Van Praagh). The GGE’s were found to be thriving at the sites, indicating the modified revegetation method is working well.
SGLN and LCLN also have funding available to assist landholders with Giant Gippsland Earthworms or Warragul, Narracan or Strzelecki Burrowing Crayfish on their properties to protect the habitat of these threatened species.
A field day was held on the 9th of October in Poowong North, with terrestrial invertebrate expert Dr Beverley Van Praagh presenting on the biology and habitat of these cryptic species, and how landholders can identify and protect earthworm habitat on their properties.
Participants visited the two farms where revegetation, designed to conserve earthworm habitat, was trialled five years ago and heard how it has worked.
Landholders who think they have Giant Gippsland Earthworms or Warragul, Narracan or Strzelecki Burrowing Crayfish on their properties have also been invited to submit an expression of interest for funding for on-ground works such as fencing or modified revegetation to protect these species. Contact Cassie from SGLN at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0448 739 559, or John from LCLN at email@example.com or 0429 803 631.
This project was funded with the support of the Victorian Government.
Enhancing Soil Biology
Enhancing Soil Biology project will run for the next two years across South Gippsland.
Activities include three forums and four on-farm field days on soil biology.
Thirty participating farmers will receive further training and will set up demonstration sites, trialling three treatments to enhance soil biology – aeration, seaweed and mycorrhizal fungi.
After the project they will share the results with their Landcare groups and farming networks.
Assisting with the project is Dr Mary Cole. Mary is a soil microbiologist, fungal taxonomist and plant pathologist with over 40 years experience with biological farming, university lecturing and running a microbiology laboratory.
On Sunday 20th October a free presentation on Soil Biology and launch of the Enhancing Soil Biology project will be held in Leongatha. Dr Mary Cole will be presenting on:
- The amazing world of soil biology including fungi, bacteria, macro and micro fauna and the soil food web
- Why healthy soil biology is important
- The role it plays in farming – including improving the health and quality of plants and grazing animals, and storing carbon in the soil
This project is supported by South Gippsland Landcare Network, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.
Smart Farming in WesternPort
This sustainable agriculture project (lead by Westernport Catchment Landcare Network over the Western Port, Port Phillip and Yarra catchments) includes 5 on-farm demonstration sites, with a focus on building soil carbon. It also involves farmer discussion groups and field days.
SGLN is supporting Bob and Robyn Gray’s agroforestry demonstration site, a 15 ha forestry plantation targeting sawlog production. The property is located on steeper Strzelecki hills which are subject to slipping, tunnel erosion and pugging damage especially by cattle. The sites are monitored to measure tree growth, providing objective information to compare economics of sawlog production versus traditional grazing enterprises.
In 2019 Smart Farming for Westernport brought Charles Massy (author of ‘Call of the Reed Warbler’) to Southern Gippsland to talk about Regenerative Agriculture, with 5 sold out presentations. SGLN assisted with the Poowong workshop, where 80 participants attended. There is a podcast of his presentation available here http://www.wpcln.org.au/podcasts/.
SGLN also hosted a dung beetle workshop on Saturday 29th of June in Kernot, with world renowned dung beetle expert, John Feehan presenting to over 70 people on how dung beetles can make soil healthier and more productive by interrupting parasite life cycles, aerating soil, cleaning paddocks and reducing fertilizer requirements.
Dung beetles dig tunnels up to 30cm deep which they line with dung, fertilizing the paddock and enabling water to percolate into the soil, and grass roots to access nutrients. It also improves habitat for earthworms.
Mr Feehan spoke to the audience about how to look after beetles on their property through measures such as the best practice management of pesticides and herbicides:
“It is very important that farmers ensure the chemicals (particularly drenches) they use don’t harm beetles, as the wrong drench can kill eggs and juvenile beetles, decimating colonies which then take years to recover” he said.
“Research reveals that Moxidectin is the molecule that is friendliest for beetles.”
Following a soup lunch at the hall, attendees of the workshop moved to landholder Adam Tran’s farm in the hills south of Loch to release a winter-active colony of dung beetles.
Keen participants helped place handfuls of beetles in fresh cow dung, where the beetles will feed and then pair off, dig a tunnel and breed.
In three years’ time the colony should be well established and will start to spread to neighbouring properties. Adam Tran was a supportive participant of the day, having seen the success of dung beetles first hand:
“I had success with my old farm introducing dung beetles and allowing them to bury all waste where it’s needed a foot underground. This was done for environmental and production reasons” he said.
“I highlight the production aspect because the average cow produces nearly 20kg of manure a day and 25kg for dairy animals.”
“On my property this equates to 1 tonne of manure left behind daily by the 50 mature cows, not counting the 50 calves.”
“Dung beetles will bury the dung before bush flies can breed which will reduce pink eye, feed the pasture at the root zone, increase aeration/water infiltration and reduce intestinal worm burden.”
ABC Gippsland Breakfast with Mim Cook
Growing Southern Gippsland (climate change adaptation)
This two year project (lead by Bass Coast Landcare Network and working with RMIT and Federation University) is developing 12 detailed case studies of farmers who are innovating and diversifying in a time of climate change. These will be available on a web portal, which will also include a decision-making tool to help landholders make decisions taking relevant information about climate change into account. Five field days will also be held across the BCLN and SGLN network areas. The first ‘Pathogens, Parasites and Pesky Pests in a Changing Climate’ will be held on Wednesday 23rd of October. The second ‘Carbon Farming in a Changing Climate’ will be on Thursday 28th November.
The web portal is due to be launched in May 2020.