Biodiversity Fund - Progress Report Card
We are fast approaching the final year of one of the Australian Government’s 6 year long Biodiversity Fund Projects which has been based in the Macintyre Catchment around Inverell. While government funded projects do not normally span more than 1-2yrs, the Biodiversity Fund has been an exception and Gwymac was fortunate to be awarded a revegetation project that began in 2012 and has seen native seedlings planted across 3 seasons to date with the final planting season of Spring 2016 fast approaching.
Altogether, upon completion, the project will see 40,000 native seedlings planted not only in shelter belt corridors but also as individual trees in groupings to create groves on a variety of properties looking to connect areas of isolated or scattered vegetation with larger stands of existing vegetation. To date 30,000 seedlings have been planted across 40 properties with the final 10,000 seedlings on 15 properties targeted for planting in October-November 2016. Along with the seedlings, landholders have received a fencing subsidy in order to protect these seedlings from livestock grazing pressure which will see 41km of fencing established.
Incorporated in the project has been an element of vertebrate pest control whereby landholders have engaged in autumn baiting programs targeting pigs, foxes and wild dogs – with a focus on pigs. 20 innovatively designed mobile pig traps have been constructed and have been on loan to landholders since 2014 with positive feedback from everyone regarding the advantages of having an easily movable trap to quickly target those areas on your property which are being subject to predation and damage to ground cover.
Extension activities whereby landholders have the opportunity to extend their knowledge have been held throughout the project where 8 field days and workshops connecting with over 150 landholders have been held with a few more to be squeezed in before the project’s completion in 2017. Project participants have been involved in the selection of topics in many of the workshops as they have been tailored to address issues raised by the participants as a result of what they have encountered throughout the project.
The longevity of this particular project has meant that we have had flexibility to adapt to seasonal challenges as our district has experienced some unusually dry spring periods and the survival rates of the seedlings would have been seriously affected if we hadn’t been able to extend some spring plantings to the following autumn. If anyone has seen particularly bright pink tree guards in someone’s paddock as they drive by, then you know they have been planted as a result of this project, as we have also been trialling these guards to compare them with the traditional ‘cardboard milk carton’ that has been used for many years, and feedback to date is that more effort is required in their installation so it can be quite time consuming, but the seedlings would appear to be showing faster growth rates than those in the smaller cartons without so much protection. Look out for the Final Report Card upon the project’s completion in June 2017!