‘Checking Biodiversity Matters’

We’d like to thank Mark for sending in this inspiring account of trials and tribulations of land management over nearly two decades in Beveridge..

“After building our house approximately 17 years ago we finally moved to our piece of paradise in East Beveridge hills on 21 Acres of mainly cleared land with north & east facing slopes 400m up in the winds….

We set about organizing the areas around the house &  fencing off areas in the paddock, got some cattle to hopefully keep the pastures in check & help pay the rates. It seemed like it should work even though we both had “real” day jobs…..

10 years later of drought, depleting pastures (to almost looking like desert in summer), trees falling over, growing kangaroo populations, the day jobs taking all our time (including travel ling away)  we realized if we wanted to live by the motto of “leave the land better than when you found it” we had to do something a lot better. We got rid of the cattle to start with.

Approximately 6 years ago we set about communicating with the council & learning their thoughts on what best to do to get the land repaired & back on track & perhaps even establish some agribusiness eventually. One step at a time & first things first.

We attended various landcare & council workshops/field days & applied for the EWG (Environmental Works Grant) to help revegetate remnant areas to provide flora & fauna pathways & shelterbelts also to connect gullies from neighbouring properties & repair the entire property.

We know it’s been proven building biodiversity helps the whole property to recover & build health again. We have planted around 2000 plants, fenced areas off revegetation to discourage kangaroos camping & encourage other flora fauna etc, repaired erosion & pastures.

EasternGrey
Eastern Grey Kangaroo

After the daily mob of 100 kangaroos or so got used to things & stopped killing every plant we put in we saw some progress & noticed an increase in small lizards & birdlife numbers. Then we saw more echidnas & unfortunately wombats. We hadn’t seen jacky lizards for years especially after back Saturday & suddenly one day there was 3 of them sitting on the old fallen tree amongst our reveg area.

All of this got us interested on how we can measure the new growth in total biodiversity. We needed to benchmark from this point & monitor how things are going to see we are on the right track. After many a discussion with the council sustainability guys, other landholders & spotting the odd phascogale & sugar gliders we agreed for council to install their cameras for a couple of weeks to see what we could find. Much to everyone’s delight phascogales were photographed proving the new environment is supporting rare species & helping grow the balance needed for all to succeed.

Glider
Sugar Glider

We have monitored reveg areas growth with drone camera & are now monitoring areas with our own wildlife camera & it’s opened our eyes to exactly how much more wildlife other than wombats & kangaroos are around. We knew they were there but how many?

We have seen significant growth in both vegetation & wildlife mainly in the past 2-3 years after areas finally got established & have also seen pastures next to these areas improve as well with no application of lime or chemicals yet. We have discovered more critters are out there than we imagined & will now continue to monitor all areas of interest including installing nesting boxes (also available through EWG) for the phascogales & gliders, bats etc.

Thanks to the councils team who have been inspiring & encouraging all the way during this time.

The pests are still about…”

Fox
European Fox

All photos courtesy of M. Traynor

Upcoming Events: July/August

There’s something for everyone! See below link to four upcoming events in July/ August.

Sunday 30 July-  National Tree Day: A great day out for the whole family to celebrate National Tree Day. Click here for more details.

Sunday 6 August-   FREE Pest Animal Control Workshop: Hosted by the Friends of Toorourrong, join as at Toorourrong Reservoir Park to learn more about the impacts and management of feral animals. Click here for more information and details to register.

Tuesday 15 August-   Eden Park Bushfire Mitigation Plan: A Stakeholder Engagement Workshop to help shape the Plan by building upon local knowledge, click here for more information and details on how to register your interest.

Saturday 26 August-   The Annual Agribusiness Dinner. An event not to be missed, click on the below Eventbrite link to purchase your ticket or click here for the flyer.

Eventbrite: Agribusiness Dinner

 

 

It’s Tussock Termination Time!

STplants

The state government is currently running their annual Serrated Tussock compliance program. Approximately 60 properties within the municipality are a part of the program and will shortly receive notices from the regional biosecurity officer. For larger properties with significant infestations, a site inspection followed by control is required to be undertaken by mid-August. For smaller properties, particularly in the residential areas of Whittlesea-township, notices will be sent out in August reminding landowners that it’s time to do their work.

Councils Land Management Team will be assisting the regional biosecurity officer in efforts to engage landowners and to register reports received from community members. Our annual roadside management program for Serrated Tussock will also be undertaken between July and August. If you’d like to report Serrated Tussock you’ve noticed on a property or the roadside, contact Katherine Whittaker on 9217-2147 or Katherine.whittaker@whittlesea.vic.gov.au

 

Whittlesea’s Koala’s: Where Are They?

 

The Koala is an iconic species, and compared to northern Australia, the population in Southern Victoria is doing relatively well. Despite their perceived security in Victoria, there is mounting evidence that while some populations are increasing, others are in decline. Koala’s across Australia are threatened by habitat destruction, fragmentation, disease (Chlamydia), drought/climate change, mortality from vehicles and dogs and prescribed burns and wildfire. For those populations with high densities, over-browsing resulting in the defoliation of their favourite food trees is a major concern and one of the issues addressed in the Victorian Government’s Koala Management Strategy. In these circumstances, translocation of animals may be necessary. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Parks Victoria recently coordinated a translocation of 435 Koala’s from French Island to Kinglake National Park (see photos). French Island is recognised as an important source of disease free Koala’s to bolster mainland populations. The translocated animals can be identified by their coloured ear tags and may enter our municipality where suitable habitat exists.

In Whittlesea, Koala records are sparse and the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas (http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/environment-and-wildlife/biodiversity/victorian-biodiversity-atlas) contains only 13 records of this species within the municipality.  Council staff recently recorded a koala via a remote-sensing camera near Toorourrong Reservoir, a significant sighting given the rarity of this species in Whittlesea. If you record this species, please contact Council’s Biodiversity Officer (Ruth Marr) on 9217 2025 or ruth.marr@whittlesea.vic.gov.au.  Detailed information including, location description, GIS co-ordinates, tree species koala recorded within and presence of ear tags would be very useful.

 

Koala translocation photos courtesy Vivian Amenta (DELWP).

Farm Chemical Users Course: Register now!

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Want to gain industry standard training in farm chemical use?

The City of Whittlesea is subsidising the cost  for rural residents to update or become accredited farm chemical users. The course and permit usually costs around $250 but is available here, for just $50.

In this two-day course join a network of local rural landowners and learn about:

  • Storage and handling
  • Pest identification
  • Modes of action
  • Label interpretation
  • Issues associated with chemical use
  • Formulation types
  • Weed and pest control application
  • Animal health
  • Transport and disposal
  • Preparation and clean up procedures
  • Recording procedures

By the completion of this course you will have the required Industry Quality Assurance Programs Training, necessary when applying for the Victorian Agriculture Chemical Users Permit (an ACUP is required for users of Schedule 7 and other Restricted Use Chemical Products).

Places are limited, so make sure to register via Eventbrite today!

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/farm-chemical-users-course-17th-24-june-tickets-34946130818

Terms & Conditions: This course is only available to City of Whittlesea residents. Attendees may be asked to provide proof of residency upon entry.

Full catering provided

For more information please contact Katherine Whittaker on (03) 9217 2147 or email Katherine.Whittaker@whittlesea.vic.gov.au

World Environment Day Event

Saturday 3 June, 10:30am  – 2:30pm

Location: Westfield Plenty Valley,  415 McDonalds Rd, Mill Park

Celebrate World Environment Day and join in on some fun family activities on offer at Westfield Shopping Centre. While you shop, learn about the environmental gems of Whittlesea. During this event there will be:

  • An interactive native animal show
  • Information and resources about how our beautiful native flora can bring birds to your garden and protect it from pests
  • Face painting: after you pat them, become a tawny frogmouth or blue tongue lizard
  • Information on where to see local highlights of our region and contacts for special interest groups
  • Giveaways

And much more!

For further information about this free event contact Nicola Vaughan on 9217 2560

“Farma El Divo” Fungi Finds by Beveridge landowner Jess Hayward

After falling in love with our Kinglake view and our rolling hills sunset, embarking on revegetation grants and hosting many a “land warming” BBQ, I’ve taken my eyes to the ground. And there, underneath fallen trees and within hidden fairy gardens I’ve found the amazing array of fungi on our 50 acre Beveridge property. With my trusty phone camera in hand, clever hashtags ready and a not too precious wardrobe to get down and dirty with these precious porcini, these photos have made the cut, both here for this blog post and some for our Instagram page @farmaeldivo.

Further still, after joining in the Fungi Foray with Whittlesea Council a few weekends ago, I’m even more excited to seek, find, share and perhaps even identify some of these spore producing gems.

My favourite’s are the tiny little fairy houses in bright yellows and oranges nestled amongst the blades of grass, starkly contrasted with the giant “sourdough” loaf as we named it, and the clam shell shaped beauties against the trees.

There is something really special about fungi that seems to ignite the inner child looking for fairies at the bottom of the garden.

I’m looking forward to finding more and more types to share, now with some extra knowledge, as the seasons change and the property flourishes.

 Jess Hayward

Land Owner Beverdige

You can follow Jess’ Instagram at @farmaeldivo

Upcoming Event: FUNGI FORAY

You are invited to join Geoff Lay from the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria for a guided walk and talk on the fascinating world of fungi.

Fungi are one of the most diverse biological groups on earth. They are critical for the growth of most Australian plants by forming relationships with plants and making nutrients more readily available to the plants. They also play a crucial ecosystem role in breaking down organic matter and returning nutrients to the soil.

We’ll learn about the vast range of fungi that exists in Whittlesea, from the large and easy to observe, to the tiny and delicate, and maybe ones you’ve never noticed before.

This will be an outdoor event so dress appropriately. Light morning tea will be provided.

Date:  Sunday 7 May 2017

Time:  9:30am – 12pm

LocationWhittlesea Community Activity Centre (57 Laurel St, Whittlesea)

RSVP  Fungi Foray – Eventbrite

For further information contact Council’s Sustainable Land Management Officer, Mark Williams, on 9217 2471 or email mark.williams@whittlesea.vic.gov.au.

An event flyer is available here