Have you checked your hive?

October is American foulbrood (AFB) awareness month. Run by the Department of Primary Industries, the campaign aims to raise awareness of the disease, its impacts and best management practice and to encourage beekeepers to inspect their hives.

AFB is an incurable bacterial disease affecting European honey bee larvae. It is fatal to the brood and heavy infections can wipe out most of the brood, severely weakening, or even killing, the bee colony.

“Beekeepers need to be aware of what’s happening in their hive and this is a great opportunity for them to have a look and ensure they are disease free.” said Sandi Munro, Chairperson and Biosecurity Officer for the Mudgee BeeGroup.

The disease is not highly contagious but can be contracted through poor beekeeping practices. AFB spores can be spread through contaminated honey, apiary products, hive parts and equipment and can remain viable for up to 50 years.

AFB is not stress related and can affect the strongest colonies. As there is no cure, infected colonies and hives must be destroyed or irradiated to prevent potential impacts on a regions apiary industry.

“Pest management and disease control is a must to ensure we protect our industry and the important role bees play in the broader agriculture.” said Ms Munro.

Stay on Top: Beekeepers are encourage to inspect their hives in October to ensure they are disease free.

Want to find out more about beekeeping and having your own hive?

The Mudgee Bee Group provides training, peer support and mentoring to it’s members, both practising and aspiring beekeepers. The group also keeps community bee hives to provide novice beekeepers with an opportunity to gain experience in handling bees and hands-on experience in starting and maintaining a hive.

If you would like more information about the Mudgee Bee Group please contact Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0412 011 064 or claudia.wythes@watershedlandcare.com.au. You can also find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/Mudgeebeegroup.

The Mudgee Bee Group is supported by Watershed Landcare and the Amateur Beekeepers Association and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW. The Mudgee Bee Group and Watershed Landcare would also like to acknowledge support from AREC, for hosting the Mudgee Bee Group hives and providing a venue for meetings.

Locally suited plants project

Whether you are planting paddock tress, windbreaks or just establishing a few natives in the garden, plants grown from seed of local provenance provide the best chance for success.

The reason for this is that local plants are more suited to the local environment. They would have evolved over time to cope with environmental variables such as rainfall patterns, frosts, winter and summer extremes, soil types and landscape position.

Watershed Landcare’s ‘Local Plants for the Local Environment’ project provided our community with locally grown, native tubestock as well as building their knowledge and skills to grow their own by selecting for viable seed, ensuring successful germination and giving seedlings the best start.

The project, funded by Michael King and Landcare Australia, aimed to highlight the importance of plant selection for re-vegetation projects, focusing on the benefits of utilising locally sourced, endemic seed for propagation. Namely, local native plants:

  • are likely to be better adapted to the local environment, including the soil and climatic conditions,
  • are more likely to readily establish and regenerate than those from alternate sources and require less care,
  • provide habitat for beneficial local native fauna, while keeping the unique character of the local landscape,
  • not only look like they belong, but help to maintain the health of the local environment.

Watershed Landcare volunteers identified suitable seed collection sites, conducted seed collection excursions and processed, propagated and grew 1100 plants. Eucalyptus, casuarina and hardenbergia species were grown from locally collected seed and additional acacia, angophora, brachychiton, callistemon, eucalyptus, grevillea, hakea and lomandra seed was obtained from other sources.

The mature tubestock was made available to Watershed Landcare members conducting on-ground re-vegetation projects as well as the wider community at the Mudgee Small Farm Field Days.

A seed collection and propagation workshop was also run as part of the project, providing participans with hands-on experience of basic identification features of some commonly found local plant species; the tools and techniques required to select viable seed; timing, methods, storing collected material; equipment and processing of collected material; methods and materials for propagation and the best time to sow seed.

Seed Collection: Participants learning how to collect and propagate native seed at the Local Plants for the Local Environment workshop.

The emphasis of the workshop was to introduce people to a few tricks to ensuring a good germination, and doing so at low or no cost in terms of equipment. Participants also gained an insight into local plant ecology and had access to seed and material propagated on the day.

Ever wanted to grow your own native plants? Our volunteers are busy growing the next batch of tubestock, contact us to find out how you can get involved: info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

Farming for the land’s future

Drought not only affects the land, crops and livestock but also the outloook, not only of farmers and their families, but entire communities. When the season is tough, sometimes it’s easy to loose sight of the positive.

A one day event, to be held in Bathurst in November, aims to focus on the positive aspects of economic and environmental sustainability of farming in Australia.

Organised by Greening Bathurst, the Our Farming Future conference will center on the themes of working with nature and climate change.

The one day conference will be held from 9am-5pm on Saturday 10 November at the Flannery Centre, 341 Havannah St, Bathurst.

Bruce Pascoe, author of ‘Dark Emu’, and Dr Charles Massy, Cooma grazier and author, will be the keynote speakers.

Charles Massy is a fifth-generation sheep grazier turned ecologist and his most recent book which explores regenerative agriculture in Australia through the stories of it’s innovative practitioners, ‘Call of the Reed Warbler’, has achieved wide acclaim.

Ten farmers from the region will also be sharing their good news stories on the day.

Conference registration is $50 ($25 concession) and includes lunch and web access to outcomes. Attendees are invited to stay for post conference drinks and finger food at an additional $20. To register online visit: www.greeningbathurst.org.au/events.

Watershed Landcare would like to support members of our community to attend the conference and we are offering 3 paid registrations for farmers from our district to attend. Please contact Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, to register your interest: claudia.wythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

Additional scholarships are available through Greening Bathurst. Contact greeningbathurst@gmail.com for more information.

A decade of Green Day

Watershed Landcare’s Green Day celebrated it’s 10th birthday last week. This year’s event was the biggest ever, with over 800 kids from 16 schools attending the environmental expo.

Photo credit: Simone Kurtz courtesy of the Mudgee Guardian.

On September 16, year 5 and 6 students from local schools visited the Mudgee Showground to experience a day centred around the theme Go WoW or Go Make a Difference – War on Waste.

And we even had a celebrity special guest to help us celebrate. This year’s keynote speaker was Craig Reucassel, host of ABC TV’s Logie award winning series War on Waste. Craig’s humorous and entertaining presentation built on the topics explored in the TV series, such as food waste and packaging, and challenged the children to consider their impacts on the environment and consider alternatives.

Students also participated in a range of hands-on and educational workshops centered around the themes of reduce, reuse, recycle and waste impacts. Over 30 presenters from organisations including Oz Harvest, Clean Up Australia, NetWaste and the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW gave the children a broad appreciation of the scale of the waste issue, the associated problems, and importantly, how they can do their bit to tackle the problem.

“The feedback we have received from participating students and their parents has been very positive. There’s real enthusiasm from students, they get a buzz from the day and the take home messages stay with them for quite some time.” said Watershed Landcare Coordinator, Claudia Wythes.

Green Day would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. Watershed Landcare would like to thank Central Tablelands LLS, Mid-Western Regional Council, Moolarben Coal Operations and Peabody Energy for their contribution.

“A huge ammount of man hours, all voluntary, goes into organising Green Day. We would like to extend a huge thank you to all our speakers and volunteers for donating their time and making the event such a success.” said Ms Wythes.

“Also a special thanks to the volunteers from Mudgee High School who chaperoned the school groups to their workshops. Even with a record number of kids, everything ran very smoothly and no one got lost.” she continued.

This event is supported by Watershed Landcare and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

Saving the beautiful small Purple Pea

Did you know that there’s a rare plan growing right on Mudgee’s doorstep?

The Small Purple Pea, Swainsona recta, is a slender, erect perennial herb growing to 30 cm tall. It flowers from spring to summer, with each flower stalk bearing up to 20 bright purple, pea flowers.

Once widespread in grassland and open woodland of south-eastern Australia, the species is now listed as endangered with only a few scattered populations existing in NSW, the ACT and Victoria.

Over the past 60 years it’s know range has been drastically reduced due to loss and degradation of habitat. Increased grazing pressure, land clearing and competition from invasive weeds have all contributed to the decline of the Small Purple Pea.

The Central Tablelands LLS have launched a project to work with community and local government to protect this beautiful endangered plant. And you can get involved.

The project, funded by the Federal Government’s National Landcare Program, will undertake works to assist in the recovery of Small Purple Pea populations in grassland and woodlands around Mandurama, Wellington and Mudgee. Activities will include identification workshops, on-ground surveys to find new populations, weed control and fire management.

“With the Small Purple Pea being endangered we are lucky in Mudgee to have two viable populations on our doorstep. Its exciting to see these populations being looked after and its great to be able to get the community involved in this project.” said Evelyn Nicholson, Central Tablelands LLS Land Services Officer.

“All community members, regardless of skill level are welcome to come and take part in our surveys in the Avisford reserve or over at Wellington which will hopefully identify new populations of the Pea and help protect it further into the future.” she continued.

The project will kick off with a couple of Small Purple Pea identification workshops and members of the community are invited to attend. Come along and learn more about the plant, it’s threats and how you can assist in the recovery of the species.

The Mudgee ID workshop will be held at the Mudgee Common/Flirtation Hill on Sunday 23 September from 10:30am-1:30pm. For more information or to RSVP contact Evelyn Nicholson on 0427 637 907 or email: evelyn.nicholson@lls.nsw.gov.au.

The Wellington ID Workshop will be held at Burrendong Arboretum on Monday 24 September from 10:30am-1:30pm. For more information or to RSVP contact Libby McIntyre on 0429 019 309 or email: libby.mcintyre@lls.nsw.gov.au.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided at the workshops.

Volunteers are also needed to conduct regional surveys between 17 and 28 September. No skills are necessary as all training will be provided. Contact Evelyn Nicholson to register your interest.

Celebrate biodiversity month

September is Biodiversity Month. But what is biodiversity anyway?

Although in common use today, the origin of the term is relatively recent. Wildlife scientist and conservationist Raymond F. Dasmann, first used ‘biological diversity’ in his 1968 book but it was only in the 1980s that it came into common use in science and environmental policy. The term’s contracted form ‘biodiversity’ first appeared in publication in the late 80’s and since then has achieved widespread usage.

‘Biodiversity’ is often used interchangeably with the well defined terms, species diversity and species richness, but it’s also more than that; referring to the variety and variability of life at all levels of biological organisation – from genes to entire ecosystems – encompassing every living thing that exists on our planet.

Biodiversity month is held in September each year and aims to promote the importance of protecting, conserving and improving biodiversity, both local and global.

As humans, we depend on biodiversity for our food, clothing, health, well-being and enjoyment of life and there’s a lot we can all do to help protect and improve biodiversity.

Whether it’s in our towns and cities, bushland or waterways and oceans, reducing our environmental footprint and being conscious of the impact that our every-day actions and consumer choices have, can have an enormous impact on this intricate and interdependent ‘web of life’.

84% of our plant species are unique to Australia.

Australia is home to between 600,000 and 700,000 species, many unique to this continent. More than three quarters of our plants and mammals, and 45 per cent of our birds species are endemic. And if you include the rich variety of marine life, from the cold southern oceans to the tropics, we are the most biodiverse developed country in the world.

So get out there and enjoy it! The Australian landscape, it’s species and ecosystems are pretty special. Take the time this month to appreciate the unique beauty and character of our local environment.

Methods to predicting rain

Whether it’s based on looking at ants nests, turtles going up hill or if their knee hurts, we all know someone who has a foolproof method for predicting rain.

Watershed Landcare caught up with Dr. Andrew Watkins, Supervisor, Climate Prediction Services with the Bureau of Meteorology to find out how the climate scientists do it.

“The bureau model used for long range outlooks is a dynamical model. It’s based on the physics of the atmosphere, physics of the oceans, physics of land processes, how moisture gets into soil and so on, and also the physics of ice and how that moves.” said Dr. Watkins.

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) did not issue long range climate forecasts prior to computers but it was really the arrival of the satellite era in the 1980s, and the vastly increased capacity to collect data, which allowed modelling.

“The physics based models are very complex. Just for the atmosphere we use between 40 and 60 million pieces of data every time we run it.” said Dr. Watkins.

The bulk of the data comes from satellite but also buoys out at sea, weather stations on land, aircraft and ships. The data is put into the models and is then pushed forward with the laws of physics, shuffling the oceans and atmosphere in 3 dimensions.

“We can’t do the physics down to an atomic scale, to see what happens to each individual atom, so at some stage you have to make a compromise at what the physics are on a broad scale.” said Dr. Watkins.

The BOM works in collaboration with CSIRO scientists to determine the important elements within physics to be included, constantly searching for ways to improve the model slightly.

“We just can’t measure the current weather at every single location, we don’t all have a weather station at our front gate. So the models have to make an assumption about what’s going on at a particular location.” said Dr. Watkins.

“If that assumption is even slightly incorrect, the upshot of that is that the small difference between reality and what we’re assuming, over time, will grow and will get to a time where it no longer makes sense.” he continued.

For that reason the seasonal climate outlooks issued by the BOM are probabilistic, which means they state the odds of a given outcome occurring.

“With probabilistic forecasts you always have to remember to turn them the other way, if there is a 60% chance of it being wet that means there is a 40% chance of it being dry. So you have to weigh up the odds there,” said Dr. Watkins, “if a 40% chance of it being dry is a risk you have to take that into account.”

“What we try to do in the BOM is give people odds in their favour, so if you’re using the seasonal outlook over a number of years you’ll be coming out ahead overall. Use it conservatively; look at the odds, look at the money in the bank, look at the current soil moisture conditions, various other things and make decisions based on all those things together.”

Suffocating roadside rubbish

Urban dwellers often take pride in, and some degree of ownership for the nature strip or roadside verge outside their homes. Mowing grass, edging the footpath and rubbish removal are common activities undertaken by the urban community.

Rural landholders view their roadsides in much the same manner. Some even consider the roadsides close to their holdings as an extension of their driveway. The presence of litter amongst the roadside vegetation is no less distasteful to rural dwellers than it is to the urban community. The natural vegetation along our rural roadsides is both beautiful and uniquely Australian. Locals and visitors alike do not wish to see litter on the roadsides, amongst our uniquely Australian landscape.

Roadside litter may also cause injury or death to native animals which use roadside vegetation as habitat. Carelessly discarded containers can trap small mammals or reptiles. The consumption of small plastic items can suffocate any animal. Circular items such as those found on the tamper proof lids of plastic milk bottles can slowly strangle an animal as it grows.

Those driving along our rural roads need to be observant for wildlife or livestock on the roadsides, which may stray onto the road and cause an accident. Rural landholders are often more observant of roadside activity, looking also for damaged fences, escaping livestock, weeds and feral animals. This heightened observational level makes the presence of roadside litter glaringly apparent.

Sometimes rubbish may escape trailers, utes or trucks, but, on inspection, mostly this litter is a result of the disposal of fast food containers, bottles and cans once the contents are consumed. This has become a fact of life in Australia, and will continue to be so until penalties for littering are severe enough to dissuade the activity of casually tossing rubbish out of the car window. Surprisingly 94% of people surveyed identified litter as a major environmental problem!

This pile of rubbish was picked up in 5 minutes along one of our rural roads.

Despite the continued practice of littering there is a lot the community can do. Enjoy the sunshine, get some exercise and clean up our rural roadsides. Take a suitable container, walk one kilometer picking up rubbish as you go, cross the road and continue back to the starting point. Litter attracts litter. The presence of roadside litter gives the impression that the residents do not care about their environment. Therefore, if it bothers you, pick it up. There is no need to wait for Clean Up Australia Day, take action now and show pride in your local area.

Wild dog pests in their sights

Increased levels of damage to livestock have meant pest animal groups are targeting wild dogs as a priority across the region.

There are five pest groups within the Watershed Landcare area, these being the Hargraves Hill End Wild Dog Group, Ilford Running Stream Pest Group, Rylstone District Wild Dog Association, Munghorn Wild Dog Group and the newly formed Piambong Yarrabin Pest Group. These groups are volunteer run and strive to support landholders and residents within their areas to manage wild dogs and other pest animals.

The Groups, and the Mudgee LLS, are the first point of call if landholders have seen wild dogs or suspect they are suffering from livestock attack or losses.

“Communication and reporting are vital.” said Peter Sipek, Chairman of the Munghorn Wild Dog Group.

“We all need to know if our neighbours have seen dogs or they are having problems on their place. If we know where they are we can target our control much more effectively.” he continued.

Coordinated, winter 1080 baiting programs are currently being undertaken. “Again, we encourage all landholders to get involved,” said Peter “the greater the area we cover within a baiting program means fewer pockets where dogs can exist, and it takes longer for them to re-establish in the area. Wild dogs are a community problem and we need everybody to get on board.”

The Munghorn Wild Dog Group’s baiting program will be carried out on Thursday the 30 August and follows on from baiting programs recently carried out in the south and east of the region.

Remote cameras are used extensively across the region, providing a valuable tool pre and post baiting. If dogs continue to be seen on these cameras, or mauled livestock are reported after a landholder has been involved in a baiting program, then sending a trapper to the area can also be considered.

Wild dog detected on a remote camera in the upper Bylong area.

Contact details for the 5 pest groups are:

Hargraves Hill End Wild Dog Group: 0458 733 308

Ilford Running Stream Pest Group: 0427 025 802

Rylstone District Wild Dog Association: 6379 6256

Munghorn Wild Dog Group: 0417 322 436

Piambong Yarrabin Pest Group: 0438 686 369

Watershed Landcare Pest Animal Group Coordinator Beth Greenfield can be contacted for more information on 0438 090 525 or by email beth.greenfield@watershedlandcare.com.au.

It’s a ten year celebration of Green Day

Watershed Landcare has been running Green Day for local school children for 10 years! In this time over five and half thousand children have visited the Mudgee Showground to learn about environmental themes such as biodiversity, energy, waste and water.

On September 16, local schools will again bring their Year 5 and 6 students to experience a day centred around the theme Go WoW or Go Make a Difference War on Waste.

“Our theme is all about taking action. Workshops will provide students with key take-home messages.” said Vivien Howard, Chair of Watershed Landcare.

“We are fortunate to have over 20 speakers and workshop presenters to give children a broad appreciation of the scale of the waste issue, the associated problems and importantly how they can do their bit to tackle the problem.”

“We are excited to have secured Craig Reucassel as our keynote speaker this year, his second series of War on Waste currently airing on ABC TV is a timely backdrop to our event.” she continued.

ABC’s War on Waster presenter, Craig Reucassel, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Green Day.

Green Day takes place on Thursday, 13 September 2018 at Mudgee Showground. This event is supported by Watershed Landcare, Mid-Western Regional Council, Central Tablelands Local Land Services, Moolarben Coal and Wilpinjong Coal and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

To find out more, contact Beth Greenfield on 0438 090 525 or email beth.greenfield@watershedlandcare.com.au.