Aug 16, 2018

Creating More Habitat for Rewilding

One objective of the Rewilding the Desert program is to create more habitat for our local native wildlife. At our wonderful Salvana Conservation Reserve we are working hard to restore and rehabilitate approximately 400 ha of this property that was historically cleared or modified for agricultural use.

The aim of these revegetation projects is to improve the conservation value of the reserve and the region, and to provide biodiversity and climate change resilience for threatened species like the South-eastern Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo (RTBC) (Calyptorhynchus banksii graptogyne) and the Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata). The RTBC has a highly specialised diet, feeding exclusively on seeds of Desert and Brown Stringybark’s (Eucalyptus baxteri and E. arenacea), and the Buloke (Allocasuarina leuhmannii). The National Recovery Plan lists a shortage of food as a key threat to the RTBC’s.

In these projects our revegetation works will:

  • help link the West and Central blocks of the Little Desert National Park to create a 132,000 ha biodiversity corridor by reconnecting fragmented patches of remnant vegetation, benefiting local biodiversity and threatened species alike,
  • plant Desert Stringybarks for the RTBC’s to feed on in the future; and
  • help protect the large old Desert Stringybark tree. These large old trees produce prolific amounts of seed and are therefore a critical feeding resource for the birds locally.

At the reserve we have four major revegetation projects currently underway totalling 171 hectares or 422 acres (see map) to help achieve these objectives. This year we:

  • Targeted 84 ha (208 acres) across three project areas for revegetation. These sites were prepared for planting by slashing and spraying rows between 4m and 10m apart.
  • Direct seeded 67 ha (165 acres) with a mix of native species. This involved towing a specialised machine down the pre-prepared rows that creates a furrow and sows the seed within the furrow.
  • Planted 9,408 trees and shrubs across the sites with the help of our participants contributing 556 hours of volunteering

To our amazing supporters and donors, we would again like to say thank you! Without your support we cannot continue this critical project and help conserve Australia’s weird, wonderful and highly threatened native wildlife.

Volunteers tree planting at Salvana
Volunteers tree planting at Salvana
Salvana revegetation overview map
Salvana revegetation overview map
RTBC flock flies overhead during planting
RTBC flock flies overhead during planting

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Aug 8, 2018

The Great Castor Oil Battle

Our community conservation teams have been out in force in Beeliar Regional Park this year, helping the City of Cockburn plant native species and remove invasive weeds around Bibra Lake.

Carnaby’s Cockatoos breed mainly in the inland agricultural areas of southern Western Australia, but they generally move closer to the coast from early summer to autumn. Their main remaining food source and roosting areas are on the Swan coastal plain in banksia and eucalypt woodlands, with Bibra Lake being an important nesting site for these cockatoos within the metropolitan region.

Invasive weeds are one of the largest threats to important habitat remnants, such as Bibra Lake, with introduced species being responsible for destroying native habitats by outcompeting the native vegetation.

One such invasive species is the Castor Oil, with large groves taking over the lakes banks, which are home to a variety of native mammals, reptiles and is an extremely important site for both native and migratory birds. Over two days in May, volunteers removed an incredible 6,075 square metres of dense Castor Oil, fighting off thorny Spear Thistle and collecting 18 kilograms of litter as they went.

The City’s Environmental Officers and bush crew were delighted with the volunteers’ efforts, commenting on what the large and passionate volunteer team were able complete in one day when it should have taken them a week. The Castor Oil Battle of May 2018 will forever be remembered by our volunteers, who, when asked if they would come back to help in the continuing war on weeds around Bibra Lake said, “Bring it on!”

Your very generous donations continue to allow us to engage the community in local conservation initiatives. We’d like to thank you, and all our supporters and volunteers who are passionate about making a difference for the local environment and our endangered native species. Further donations will allow us to continue this important work – please help us if you can.

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Aug 8, 2018

Drought Impacting Our Bandicoots

It’s been a year of challenges and positives in threatened species recovery at Woodlands Historic Park. The biggest challenge we currently face is the reduction in grasslands habitat at Woodlands, which has come from various fronts.  It has been a very dry year, especially in the last six months, where we’ve only had three decent rainfall events during that period.  This type of grassland is classified as summer growing, so without that extra rain the plants have stagnated.  On top of that, grazing pressure within the site has continued.  Without the rain the kangaroos, possums and rabbits have severely reduced the height of the grasses, which is the preferred nesting area of the bandicoot.

Ultimately this impacts the available habitat for bandicoots and causes a reduction in their numbers.  The Eastern Barred Bandicoot breeds to their conditions, only producing offspring when there is enough food and available nesting areas.  Thankfully we have plenty of food for the bandicoot, but without suitable grasslands, we have seen a population reduction.  This, however, is not seen as a negative as it shows they are naturally adapting to the environment.  On the positive side, during our last monitoring session the animals were all in good health and were caught from all areas across the entire site. As soon as we see an improvement in the habitat the bandicoots will react swiftly and increase their population.

To further assist with the health of the grasslands, our volunteers have been tackling a major weed onsite, the serrated tussock. This is an invasive grass species of significance in Victoria.  Our teams managed to spray over 100 hectares, which frees up space for the native grasses to grow.  They have also mapped and destroyed small rabbit warrens over the same area.  This mapping was then used to follow up with heavy machinery to destroy the larger warren systems, which has made a significant dent in the rabbit population.  Volunteers have also been busy continuing with our regular fence patrols and maintenance, revegetation, monitoring surveys, bait ball making and track maintenance.   

With the recent addition of Philip Island alongside our Woodlands and Hamilton locations, we are working for a common goal through the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Teams plans.  The goal is to have 2,500 bandicoots in total across all sites to secure genetic diversity for the species.  Currently we are half way towards our target with around 1,200 animals across all three sites.  There are more sites being constructed and we hope to achieve our goal by around 2020.  This will be a huge achievement as it will bring the bandicoot down from extinct in the wild to critically endangered. It doesn’t mean our job is done but achieves our first goal on this long road to recovery, and means we are heading in the right direction towards securing a future for the bandicoot.

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