Update: Whittlesea Pest Animal Management (PAM) Program

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Welcome back to the Land Management and Biodiversity site for the first blog post of 2020. Many thanks to those of you that have been in touch over the Christmas and New Year Period to report pest animal sightings and to talk about the great work that continues on your properties to manage invasive species.

It’s great to have finally commenced on-ground works for the project. Please see below key updates and links to additional reading of interest:

  • A professional vermin control contractor was approved prior to Christmas for the private property rabbit program. The contractor will be working directly with landowners from February to April to assist them with monitoring and control. Landowners that expressed interest and were visited in September 2019 for warren mapping will be contacted by the contractor in the next few weeks.
  • To learn more about the components of a successful integrated rabbit control program (including the importance of seasonal timing), visit the PestSmart Rabbit page HERE.
  • Surveys for deer and fox along the private property/public boundary of Kinglake National Park and Mount Disappointment State Forest were completed by Wurundjeri Narrap Rangers in November.
  • Professional contractors commenced meeting with landowners (including a community drop-in session) and undertook some control works in the deer target area in November for two weeks. Six properties were a part of the initial program, and this number has now increased to 15 holdings.  Contractors will return in May to continue control at the time of year when the greatest numbers are observed along the National Park and State Forest interface.
  • A professional vermin control contractor was approved just prior to Christmas for the fox control program and will commence work next week, liaising directly with landowners within the target areas. Further reading on fox management is available HERE .
  • Fox control on private properties near Toorourrong reservoir was undertaken in early January as part of the State government funded Conservation Futures program. This is the third and final year of funding for this program. The contractor removed 12 adult foxes, 3 juveniles and 3 feral cats. This number was considered to be quite low compared to previous years, with the contractor suggesting that the drought conditions may have contributed to a higher juvenile mortality rate.
  • The project working group consists of representatives from all project partners and stakeholders, being City of Whittlesea, DELWP Mount Disappointment staff, Parks Victoria Kinglake National Park Rangers, Melbourne Water, Wurundjeri Narrap Team, Friends of Toorourrong, Whittlesea & Surrounds Blackberry Action group and community member representatives. The working group meets quarterly and will hold the first meeting for 2020 in two weeks time.

Neighbouring landowners are encouraged to work together, continuing their annual pest animal monitoring and control programs to ensure that assistance from the PAM project results in the most effective, landscape-wide reduction in pest animal impacts. For more information, contact the PAM project lead Katherine Whittaker

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.

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Free Event: Land Management Forum

You’re invited to a free Sustainable Land Management Forum, hosted by the City of Whittlesea, Mitchell Shire Council and Hume City Council. This years’ forum will see a collection of presentations (and a couple of demonstrations) covering the topics you asked for. Including:

  • Land Management Planning: Healthy Hectares (presented by Euroa Arboretum)
  • Serrated Tussock Identification & Management (Victorian Serrated Tussock Working Party)
  • Gardens for Wildlife: Natives over weeds (presented by Hume Council)
  • The Granite Creek Project, Euroa: Community-led & Managed Integrated Rabbit Action (presented by Gecko cLan Network)
  • Chilean Needle Grass Identification and Vehicle Hygiene
  • Organic Weed Control: BioWeed, Benefits and Efficacy
  • Lobed Needle Grass: Identification and Management
  • Victorian Blackberry Taskforce

So rally your neighbours and join us for a day of learning and sharing (Morning Tea and Lunch provided). There are limited tickets available so register quick, more details on the Land Management Forum Flyer

Get your ticket HERE

 See you there

Local Opportunities and Information

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Please find below some local land management and biodiversity opportunities and information that may be of interest, courtesy of Jane Juliff (Landcare Facilitator). As always, please share with your networks and if you have anything you would like to promote to other local groups/community, please feel free to forward to landcare@whittlesea.vic.gov.au.

Managing Serrated Tussock (and other needle grasses) and Artichoke Thistle

At this field day, local research agronomist Charles Grech from Paddock Solutions, will discuss how to control Serrated Tussock and other needle grasses using chemicals and management methods across small and broad scale applications.  He will also give advice on broadleaf weed management with specific advice about the control of artichoke thistle.

Saturday 19 October, 10am-2pm, Darraweit Guim

Further information: Refer to PPWCMA website here

Use of Nest Boxes in Victoria – Arthur Rylah Institute survey results and guides

Increasing our understanding of the number and distribution of nest boxes, use by animals and the level of monitoring.

Further information: refer to website here

Birdlife Australia October E-news

Spring is the time when Australia’s birds are on the move or settling down to nest, so now’s a great time to get out and enjoy our fascinating birdlife, especially by taking part in one of our activities during Bird Week (21–27 October).

Further information: to access the e-news click here

 Grants and Incentive Programs

City of Whittlesea’s Cultural Heritage Grants

Cultural Heritage Grants provide funding of up to $2000 to groups, organisations and individuals to assist in developing projects that promote the local history and cultural heritage of the City of Whittlesea and its residents.

Submissions invited from community groups and organisations who wish to participate in the diverse expression of ‘living heritage’ through events that celebrate, inform and engage the broader community with local history, culture, heritage and traditions.

Applications open – Friday 20 September 2019

Applications close – Monday 21 October 2019

Further information: for information on eligibility and how to apply click here

Melbourne Water Community Grants

Applications for this year’s round of community grants will be open from 2 September to 26 September 2019. Melbourne Water offer grants annually to volunteer community groups to support them to deliver waterway improvements on public land. Community groups can apply for support grants – up to $1,000 and project grants – up to $20,000.

Further information: for information on eligibility and how to apply click here

City of Whittlesea’s Community Development Grants Program 2019/20 Round Two

Grants of up to $5,000 are available to a broad range of not-for-profit community groups to run projects which directly benefit the City of Whittlesea community. Closes Sunday 29 September 2019.

Further information: for information on eligibility and how to apply click here

Sustainable Land Management Rebate Scheme

Applications are now open for the City of Whittlesea’s Sustainable Land Management Rebate Scheme (SLMRS) for the 2019-2021 rating periods.

Properties in the City of Whittlesea in Green Wedge, Green Wedge A and Rural Conservation zones that are at least 8 hectares in size may apply to participate in the scheme. Properties between 8 hectares and 50 hectares can receive a rebate of 20% off the general or farm rate and properties over 50 hectares can receive a rebate of 30%.

Further information: for information on eligibility and how to apply click here

 Environmental Works Grant

City of Whittlesea’s Environmental Works Grant Program is open for applications from 1 September to 30 November 2019. If your property is greater than 2 hectares and zoned for rural land use you are eligible to apply.

Further information: for information on eligibility and how to apply see the attached flyer EWGP2020 or click here

Invitation: Help shape the future of water in Whittlesea

The City of Whittlesea is currently putting together a Community Panel for the Future of Water in Whittlesea. The Community Panel will bring together 15-20 community members with a range of backgrounds and interests, who are interested in helping to shape the future of water use in Whittlesea.  As food production and land management are an essential part of our future, it would be great to have representatives with knowledge and experience in the use of water in agriculture and land management to join the panel.

Whittlesea Community Panel Dates and Times:

  • Workshop 1: Wednesday 24 July, 6-9pm
  • Workshop 2: Wednesday 18 September, 6-9pm
  • Workshop 3: Wednesday 6 November, 6-9pm
  • Workshop 4: Wednesday 5 February, 6-9pm

Location: 25 Ferres Boulevard, City of Whittlesea Civic Centre, South Morang (Fountain View Room)
A light dinner will be served at 5:30pm for each of the workshops.

Community panellists will be provided all of the information they need to make an informed decision during the workshops.  Findings from the Community Panel will help shape the future strategy and action plan for water in Whittlesea.

If you are interested in joining the Whittlesea Community Panel for Water, please contact Stephanie Kuisma on 03 9217 2001 or email Stephanie.kuisma@whittlesea.vic.gov.au by Friday 19 July.

Have Your say

Integrated water management is an approach that uses our water resources more creatively and efficiently to become a water sensitive, liveable and future-proofed city.

Complete our water and community priorities survey and help us create our sustainable water future.

Results from the survey will guide the design of our neighbourhoods, inform our planning decisions and improve our water management assets and practices.

Participants can enter a draw to win one of five $100 Coles vouchers. View the terms and conditions.

Complete the survey

The survey closes at 12pm on Sunday 18 August 2019.

For more information, phone 9217 2212 or email fleur.anderson@whittlesea.vic.gov.au.

Landowners are putting the spotlight on rabbits

We’re excited to be receiving rabbit monitoring data from landowners who have signed up for the Whittlesea Pest Animal Management (PAM) Program. At the fox and rabbit control workshop back in March, landowners were given spreadsheets and instructions on how to undertake a spotlight count. This data will help direct control works and measure success of the 2019/20 summer rabbit control program. Contactors will be liaising with landholders directly between July and September to map and mark warrens across each of the properties.

Thanks to this landholder in Whittlesea who provided an accurate and detailed spotlight monitoring record sheet and perfect property map, which can be used to revisit the exercise after the control program is complete.

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For more information on standard best practice in rabbit control, click on the below image and watch this brief video put together by experts from the Victorian Rabbit Action Network (VRAN):

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For more information about PAM, contact Katherine.whittaker@whittlesea.vic.gov.au or jane.juliff@whittlesea.vic.gov.au

The Whittlesea PAM 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.

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Junior Landcare Grants: Now Open

Junior Landcare Grants – for schools, kinders, youth groups and more

The Victorian Department of Environment, Land Water & Planning (DELWP), in partnership with Landcare Australia, is giving schools, kindergartens, childcare centres, Scouts, Girl Guides and youth groups the opportunity to apply for a grant of up to $5,000 through the 2019 Victorian Junior Landcare and Biodiversity Grants. These grants offer funding for projects that seek to involve and educate young Victorians in valuing and actively caring for our natural environment.

Applications close: 3pm on Friday 21 June 2019
Type of projects supported by this program include:

·         On-ground projects that restore, protect, enhance, or develop habitat for native flora and fauna, and/or address threats to biodiversity e.g. weed invasion, habitat loss etc., and/or

·         Projects that increase opportunities for children to connect with their natural environment e.g. a school excursion to Healesville Sanctuary; and/or

·         Projects that educate and raise awareness, among young people, of the benefits and importance of biodiversity and a healthy environment, and/or how they can contribute to environmental improvement.

Click here for more information or contact Whittlesea’s Landcare Facilitator, Jane Juliff on  0417 127 841 or Landcare@whittlesea.vic.gov.au to discuss your project idea.

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New Deer Mapping Resource in FeralScan

Many of our rural landholders have expressed interest in monitoring Deer impacts on their properties which will assist with upcoming targeted Deer control programs in the north east of the municipality. Read more about Councils Pest Animal Management Program in Rural News here and in a November blog post here. Please see below updates from the FeralScan team:

FeralScan can now be used to record deer in your local area.

Throughout 2018, we received feedback from many community-groups and landholders about deer populations and the problems they are causing, including browsing damage to orchards, damage to vineyards and gardens, grazing pressure on farms, damage to revegetation programs, damage to fences and farm infrastructure, and motor vehicle collisions (a serious risk to human safety).

In response to this, we have recently developed the DeerScan community resource (available within FeralScan, and via https://hes32-ctp.trendmicro.com:443/wis/clicktime/v1/query?url=https%3a%2f%2fwww.deerscan.org.au&umid=2168678b-1ba7-4889-bbbe-85226593faf1&auth=5c8878f5a6627512371ed70e7aaa571aa249563a-bc2b11732742cab31b417a99d2902d6fab8f7e58 to provide you with a method to easily report sighting and problems with deer. You can record information about any of the 6 deer species currently in Australia, and this information can be supplied to local biosecurity authorities to help with deer management. If you would like to report deer problems, please use the FeralScan website (https://www.feralscan.org.au/), or download the updated App onto your smartphone. Information you record about deer in your local area will be managed securely and discretely. Please visit the website to find out more.

Lastly, on behalf of the FeralScan team, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy new year. It has been a great pleasure working with you throughout 2018. Thank you for your ongoing support and contribution to FeralScan – which now contains over 125,000 records and photographs of pest animals. This information is helping communities and local organisations to reduce the problems caused by pest animals through coordinated best-practice pest management.

Best wishes 

Peter West and the FeralScan Team

Any information you can contribute will help to manage this species.