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Sowing the seeds to restore the Mallee woodlands

Friday 2 August, 2013

Parks Victoria and Trust for Nature are working together on a direct seeding project to re-vegetate Mallee woodlands at Murray Sunset National Park and Neds Corner Station.

Parks Victoria Project Manager Brendan Rodgers said the team recently seeded about 100 hectares of land in the national park and on the neighbouring conservation property.

“We’re growing native tree and shrub species such as Pine, Sugarwood, Umbrella bush, Cattle bush, Emu bush, Grey mulga, Quandong, Saltbush and Bluebush,” said Mr Rodgers.

“We expect to see new trees and understory species established over the next 4-5 years to help regenerate the Mallee woodlands and create a habitat for wildlife.

“When fully grown the tree canopies will provide habitat for threatened species such as Major Mitchell Cockatoos and White-browed Treecreepers,” he said.

These works will help grow 200,000 trees over five years as part of a broader plan to restore 80,000 hectares of degraded woodlands across public and private land in the Mallee as part of a $3 million project supported through funding from the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future Biodiversity Fund.

The project Restoring and reconnecting Australia’s threatened woodlands in Mallee Rangelands of Victoriawill deliver broad-scale pest animal control of rabbits and goats, in addition to re-vegetation of 1300 hectares in Mallee parks and at Neds Corner with native non-Eucalypt woodland species.

“These semi-arid woodland areas have seen little regeneration over the last 100 years due to clearing and over grazing by stock, rabbits, goats and kangaroos,” said Mr Rodgers.

“This is the first time a revegetation project of this scale has been attempted since the Mallee parks were declared in the early 1990’s.”

Under the Mallee Bounceback recovery program, funded by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), Parks Victoria has worked with program partners to achieve a high standard of rabbit control across the Mallee parks.

“As a result of low grazing pressure, combined with a record rainfall over the region in 2010 and 2011, we’ve seen up to 40 percent of degraded woodland areas showing good signs of regeneration.

“However, the recovery process is slow and tree planting will assist growth in priority areas,” he said.

According to Peter Barnes, Neds Corner Station Manager, Trust for Nature, the direct seeding program protocol meets best practice standards and could not have been conducted at a better time.

“We have received more than 100mm rain since the seeds were sown on the property and that will really help with germination,” said Mr Barnes.

Trust for Nature has also planted over 1400 hectares of semi-arid species on their property over the last two years under the Commonwealth Government’s Caring for Country program.

“The new growth will enhance, buffer and connect the Mallee woodland and semi-arid woodlands which are an important link between foraging and breeding areas for fauna,” said Mr Barnes.

Parks Victoria also seeded 100 hectares of land with native plant species at Pine Plains in Wyperfeld National Park in Autumn this year as part of the Mallee Biodiversity Fund project.

Parks Victoria is working with a range of partners in delivery including Trust for Nature, Greenfleet, Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, Greening Australia, DEPI, Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, the Mallee CMA, the Mallee farming community and rabbit control contractors.

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