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News

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Landholders Help Reverse the Decline of Koalas on the Central Tablelands

Mick Callan

Central Tablelands Local Land Services is working with landholders to reverse the decline of our local koala population through replanting, enhancing and protecting koala habitat.

The Central Tablelands Koala Project is providing funding and assistance to landholders willing to revegetate, repair and protect bushland in areas where koalas colonies can be found. The project also works with people whose land provides links to core koala habitat to ensure these connecting corridors are preserved.

Since February this year, Central Tablelands Local Land Services has funded 10 hectares of revegetation to restore koala feed trees, along with 30 hectares of vital blackberry control.

“Koalas are at their most vulnerable when they are on the ground, and blackberry can create an additional barrier which makes it harder for them to move to the next tree,” explained Clare Kerr, Senior Land Services Officer.

“Spraying and removal of the weed is very important in core habitat to help reduce the time koalas spend on the ground, as that’s when they are exposed to predators such as wild and domestic dogs.”

As well as revegetation work and blackberry control, Central Tablelands Local Land Services has helped landholders across four properties to protect and improve the quality of a further 156 hectares of bushland that is used by koalas. Additionally work has been done to create 10 hectares of buffer vegetation to encourage natural regeneration. 

“Habitat loss remains one of the biggest threats to Koalas across the state. By expanding and protecting existing habitat we are doing our part to help reverse the decline of the koala in NSW,” said Clare. 

“Another issue we are facing is that while koalas are frequently seen across the region, very few sightings have been officially recorded in the past decade. This makes it hard to justify and attract funding to continue conservation work”.

“If you have seen koalas on your property or when travelling around the region you can help by recording sightings on the NSW BioNet website,” urged Clare.

Adding records to the NSW BioNet database (bionet.nsw.gov.au) is a simple process which will help ensure the Central Tablelands region is recognised as an important area for Koalas in the NSW Koala Strategy being developed by the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage. 

Funding for the Central Tablelands Koala Project has been provided through the National Landcare Programme via the regional Targeted Ecosystems Project.

If you have koalas on your property and are interested in a project to improve or increase habitat please contact Colleen Farrow, Targeted Ecosystem Project Manager, on 02 6363 7874.

Image courtesy of DJM Australia Photography

Celebrate National Tree Day in Bathurst

Mick Callan

Bathurst Regional Council and Planet Ark are inviting Bathurst and surrounding residents to take part in a local National Tree Day event on Saturday, 29 July.

This year’s event will take place at O’Keefe Park located along Eglinton
Road, Abercrombie. The aim of the event is to assist with rehabilitating
the Macquarie River by planting native riparian plants along the banks of
the river.

Mayor Graeme Hanger OAM said this year’s theme “Be Inspired: It’s in Our
Nature” highlights how nature ignites our inspiration, creativity and
purpose, as well as offering significant health and wellbeing benefits.

“National Tree Day is a fulfilling opportunity to connect with our local
community, to do something good for our environment and experience the many
benefits that come from spending time in nature,” he said.

Over the last three years, Council and volunteers have been revegetating
this section of the river as part of the “Restoring Regent Honeyeater
Habitat in the Bathurst Region” project.

To date, over 4000 plants from the Casuarina Gallery Forest community have
been planted to replace the weeds that were removed. This year’s National
Tree Day site is the last section along the riverbank in O’Keefe Park to be
revegetated with native plants.

Date:           Saturday 29 July 2017
Time:           9.00am to 12.00pm. Arrive anytime throughout the morning.
Location:       O’Keefe Park, 230 Eglinton Road, Abercrombie

To find the location, use the park gate on Eglinton Road, next to the grid
of gum trees, and walk towards the river.

Please bring drinking water, wear a hat, covered shoes and clothing, and
bring drinking water. Council will provide volunteers with equipment for
planting and training - so no prior experience is required. Gloves will be
provided, however if you have your own please bring them.

Trial Native Blackthorn burn aims to enhance habitat for the Purple Copper Butterfly

Mick Callan

Deliberate burning of rare native habitat may provide a critical key to reviving the fortunes of the endangered Purple Copper Butterfly (Paralucia spinifera).

With that end in mind an experimental ‘cool burn’ of Native Blackthorn (Bursaria spinose ssp. Lasiophylla) has just been coordinated by Central Tablelands Local Land Services on a property at Mount David, between Black Springs and Burraga, south of Bathurst.

According to the Office of Environment & Heritage, the Purple Copper Butterfly has been found on just 29 isolated sites of remnant native vegetation over a total area of less than 30 hectares.

Researchers are hoping the use of low temperature burning (conducted under the provisions of an S91 Permit issued through the Office of Environment and Heritage) will promote new growth of Native Blackthorn bush, which is the primary food source for butterfly larvae.

“We have conducted ten trial burns, each over a patch of just 5 metres by 5 metres, in an area of Native Blackthorn on property owned by Rod and Alexandra Tuson,” explained Allan Wray from Central Tablelands Local Land Services.

“We have started with quite small burns as we want to make sure we have solid evidence the technique is beneficial before we use fire over a wider area.”

Rod and Alexandra Tuson discovered the rare Purple Copper Butterfly on their property in 2002. They now have a Voluntary Conservation Agreement in place over almost 69 hectares to protect butterfly habitat.

“In a farming landscape that has been cleared and fertilised for food production, it is important that some areas are set aside to generate the environmental services provided by native vegetation, and for the joy of wild places,” said Alexandra.

After a period of drought the Tusons noticed the population size of the butterflies had diminished and there was little new growth on the Native Blackthorn bushes.

“A very snowy winter in 2015 followed by a very wet winter in 2016 showed a further steep decline in the numbers of butterflies sighted,” said Alexandra.

“Caterpillar counts confirmed this so a project to rejuvenate Native Blackthorn was set in motion with a research design by Dr Milton Lewis from Local Land Services.”

The aim of the cool ecological burning technique is to promote the regrowth of Native Blackthorn and to reduce competition from grasses and weeds.

The low temperature fire burns singe the mature bush without destroying the plant, prompting new soft leaf growth which is particularly appealing to the young caterpillars.

“A secondary benefit of controlled prescribed burns is a reduction in the threat of unmanaged hot fires,” said Allan Wray. “Burning in winter at low temperatures also ensures that the caterpillar pupae are safely underground protected from the heat.”

“However during this trial phase we have avoided burning any clumps of Native Blackthorn where the butterfly larvae have been recorded over the previous season.”

Central Tablelands Local Land Services greatly appreciates the generous cooperation of the Tuson family for allowing the trial burn to take place on their property.  

“We would also like to thank the Glanmire and Burraga Rural Fire Service crews who were on hand to ensure the burns were kept safely under control,” said Allan.

Post burn monitoring will now be undertaken on the trial sites in addition to the regular caterpillar count monitoring that takes place in December when the caterpillars hatch and begin feeding on bursaria.

For more information about the Purple Copper Butterfly and advice on how to enhance native vegetation and remnant habitat, contact Allan Wray at Central Tablelands Local Land Services on 02 6333 2318.