‘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

Have you seen the Long-nosed Bandicoot?

Did you know that the Whittlesea municipality supports habitat for Long-nosed Bandicoots? This medium-sized nocturnal marsupial (about the size of a rabbit) has grey-brown fur, a short thin tail, pointy ears, and as the name suggests, a long nose.

 

You may never see this shy species but their presence may be detected through characteristic foraging signs- small cone-shaped holes in bushland and sometimes lawns and gardens. These holes are dug with the front feet and the snout is used to reach in and detect insects and other small invertebrate prey and hypogeal fungi.

Long-nosed Bandicoots were once widespread and common in forests, woodlands, and heaths of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria but their range and distribution has greatly reduced and in some areas they are now locally extinct.

This reduction in population abundance is occurring despite their capacity for reproduction (females can produce up to four litters per year and have a gestation period of only 12.5 days, one of the shortest known of any mammal), due to numerous threatening processes including, habitat loss and fragmentation, introduced predators (foxes, cats, and dogs), road kill, wildfires and inappropriate burning regimes. The Victorian population is considered to have declined but it does not have threatened species classification, most likely due to insufficient data.

Long-nosed bandicoots rely on a mosaic of vegetation, using open areas for foraging at night and requiring dense understorey vegetation for nesting during the day. The nest is usually made from grasses and other plant material in shallow depressions on the ground amongst thick vegetation. Maintaining areas of low dense understorey cover is critical for their survival.

Whittlesea has very few records of this species and the state-wide flora and fauna database (the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas) lists only seven records of this species between 1971 and 2013.

Long-nosed Bandicoot VBA records
The seven records of the Long-nosed Bandicoot in Whittlesea

 

Foraging signs have been observed recently in our municipality by Council staff and recent footage was captured by a Kinglake West resident- click here to view the footage.

You can help conserve this species and other native fauna by keeping your pets confined to your domestic area, particularly at night, and by not allowing them to roam into areas of potential habitat. If you’re one of the lucky residents that have them within your property, you could consider setting aside areas that provide habitat for native wildlife and establishing a separate area for your pets.  Undertaking integrated pest animal control (including foxes) across the landscape will also benefit this species and many other wildlife species.

If you see this species (live or dead animals) or indirect signs of its presence, please report the sightings (including the location description with GIS coordinates if possible, date and any other notes) to Ruth Marr, Council’s Biodiversity Planner, on 9217 2025 or ruth.marr@whittlesea.vic.gov.au. Records of this species can be submitted on your behalf to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas.