Grant from Australian Government’s Caring for our Country
2009 - 2013
Protecting and Enhancing Biodiversity across the Giffard Plains
The “Protecting and Enhancing Biodiversity across the Giffard Plains – Mullungdung to the Coast” project was made possible through a partnership between WGCMA, Yarram Yarram Landcare Network and the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country initiative.
The project area is between the Mullungdung state forest to the west, the coast line to the east, Bruthen creek to the south and Merrimans creek to the north. Properties south of Bruthen Creek or north of Merrimans creek will only be considered for work sites adjacent to these creeks (refer to map below). This project aims to enhance the connections between the scattered vegetation remnants on private land and remnants bordering the project area on public land. Public land areas bordering the project area include: Mullungdung State Forest to the west and Jack Smith Lake state game reserve, Lake Denison Wildlife Reserve and the McLoughlins Beach-Seaspray Coastal Reserve along the coastline to the east. The priorities for works within the project area are: • protection of remnant vegetation • protection of endangered vegetation communities • improving connectivity through revegetation activities.
The project was developed as part of the Biodiversity Local Area Plan (The Giffard Plain – Mullungdung to the Coast 2009). This opportunity is offered by Yarram Yarram Landcare Network through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country initiative. The project is supported by the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority.
Biodiversity and Cultural Values
The Giffard Plains were originally inhabited by the people of the Bratowoloong clan of the Gunaikurnai Nation. They lived in the area for many thousands of years gathering seasonal food as it became available. Evidence of their presence in the area during this time has been found in numerous locations throughout the project area. During this time the area was covered in open grassy forests, heath lands, wetlands, herb-rich woodlands, grassy woodlands and open grasslands.
The Giffard Plains were settled by European settlers in the mid 1800’s. Much of the land has since been cleared for various farming activities including beef, dairy, sheep and cropping. Due to these clearing activities native vegetation cover on private land is currently only around 12% of its previous extent. Very little of the open grassy forests, grasslands, grassy woodlands and herb-rich woodlands remain due to their suitability to grazing and consequent intensive management for farming purposes over the last 170 years. The remaining vegetation is mainly in the form of small isolated pockets.
There are still some significant patches of remnant vegetation remaining on private land that support a diverse range of plants and animals. These include possible occurrences of one of the 43 rare or threatened fauna species or 25 rare or threatened flora species known to be in the project area. Rare or threatened species that may be found in the area include: the Powerful Owl, Growling Grass Frog, Lace Monitor, Orange Bellied Parrot, Strzelecki Gum, Coast Grey Box, Green Scentbark, Sticky Wattle and Veined Spear-Grass.
Project Completion Report - November 2014
The Mullungdung to the Coast project is now officially complete. We planted over 30,000 seedlings in the ground along with 55 kg of directly sown seed. Landholders and contractors constructed 34 km of fencing to create 104 ha of wildlife corridors and protected remnant vegetation. We conducted 9 workshops and 4 field days attended by nearly 200 people. These are the facts of the matter. But the heart and soul of a project is always more interesting. Protecting and enhancing Biodiversity Conservation across the Giffard Plains.
Mullungdung to the Coast began in 2009 with Landcare groups deciding what was important to them in their landscape and what they could do to further protect it. From this, a Local Area Plan (LAP) was developed by the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority and released in 2009. Paul Martin, then co-ordinator of YYLN, spent a great deal of time developing an application based on the LAP and landholder input. The Australian Government’s Caring for Our Country has been funding this project since 2010 through the WGCMA.
The objectives were straightforward.
The project covered over 67,000ha of the Giffard Plain. I think what has struck me most is the spirit with which landholders have approached this project. They have persisted when the ground was too hard to ram fence posts, when the ground was too wet to get the tractor on site, waited patiently for seed to germinate and attended workshops whenever they could find the time. If things didn't work as planned, new plans were formulated. Always there was optimism. This was no better exemplified than with the unexpected illness and sudden passing of Charles Meckiff. His neighbour and long time friend Libby Balderstone stepped in and assisted his family in completing his projects in the spirit which Charles had intended as her way of honouring his memory and commitment to Landcare. This was my first job as a project officer so I had a lot to learn. I’d like to thank all the people who had the patience to teach me. Paul Martin, Dan Garlick and Sally-Ann Henderson as Network Co-ordinators have all trained, nudged and enlightened me in so many ways. Chris Chambers, Shayne Haywood and Alan Hill at the WGCMA have done a brilliant job of negotiating the paperwork so that I can get on with the ground work. But the font of all knowledge would have to be Samantha Monks. She knows procedures and people, tricks of the trade, where everything is and how to laugh. I’ve discovered that these are all essential skills when navigating the practical end of a project. So, thank you Sam, and thank you to all the landholders, contractors and staff who have worked so conscientiously on this project over the last three years.
Project Officer Bronwyn Johnson