Paddock trees linking our landscape

The Central Tablelands region is one of the most highly cleared areas of woodland in NSW. Watershed Landcare have been running a project aiming to enhance areas of highly cleared ecosystems by improving linkages between remnant native vegetation.

The Paddock Trees project, supported by Central Tablelands Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government, provided financial assistance to landholders to increase the extent of paddock trees and clusters on the land they manage. Individual landholders were eligible to apply for up to $2,750 in funding for materials or labour to conduct on-ground works that improve vegetation extent and quality.

Six landholders from Lue, Rylstone, Gulgong, Stoney Creek and Mudgee participated in the project, conducting on-ground works to protect existing remnant vegetation and establish new corner, cluster and single paddock tree plantings.

Participating landholders worked with Watershed Landcare’s botanist to select suitable, endemic species to meet their desired project outcomes. At one project site, the planting was designed specifically to aid with the remediation of a heavily eroded, saline area.

As part of the project 8 ha were re-vegetated with over 1000 trees. When mature, these plantings will not only provide connectivity to existing remnant vegetation and act as wildlife corridors but will also provide other valuable ecosystem services such as habitat for pollinators as well as birds and bats beneficial for pest control and maintain and improve soil structure and fertility.

A Paddock Trees and Farm Vegetation Management workshop was also held in April as part of the project. Watershed Landcare invited Dhyan Blore, Principal Consultant at Native Biota Rural Ecology, to share her extensive knowledge in rural vegetation management and the establishment and care of native plants.

The workshop focused on providing landholders with knowledge and practical information to enable them to establish and mange their own native vegetation plantings, covering topics such as species selection for various sites and purposes, tree planting techniques, short term follow up and later management, including thinning and grazing.

Want to find out more about our projects and what we do? Visit our website, www.watershedlandcare.com.au, or contact one of our Coordinators, Claudia Wythes on 0412 011 064 or Agness Knapik on 0435 055 493 or email: info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This project is supported by Watershed Landcare and Central Tablelands LLS through funding from the Australian Government and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

What species live in your backyard?

Did you know you can explore the plant, reptile, bird and mammal species, not only on your patch but all over Australia, with just the click of a button?

The Atlas of Living Australia is a national biodiversity database founded on the principle of data sharing. The collaborative, national project provides free, online access to millions of flora and fauna occurrence records.

To find out what’s living in your area simply visit the Atlas of Living Australia website at http://www.ala.org.au, click on ‘explore by location’ and type in your postcode or location.

By aggregating biodiversity data from multiple sources, the Atlas provides the most comprehensive and accessible data set on Australia’s biodiversity ever produced. The database supports research, environmental monitoring, conservation planning, education, and citizen science projects and provides tools for users to search and analyse data.

How much do you know about the other creatures which share our backyard? For instance, did you know that 9 kola, 13 platypus, 1 feathertail glider, and over 2000 swamp wallaby sightings have been recorded within a 10 km radius of the Mudgee township?

Want to contribute? The Atlas of Living Australia relies on collaboration, users capturing and freely sharing data, and you can also get involved. If you find something interesting while you’re out and about you can submit data of your sightings to the Atlas.

Or you can get involved in one of hundreds of citizen science projects currently running all over the country and contribute to research which will help us learn more about our unique biodiversity.

New monitoring toxic algae

Are you interested in monitoring algal blooms in your dams, waterways or stock water supply?

Identifying potentially toxic blue-green algae can be difficult, as they are often confused with other prolifically growing macrophytes (water plants). But a new Algal Resource Kit and phone app make it possible for individuals to identify potentially toxic algal blooms that may occur in local creeks, rivers, farm dams and other water bodies, without the need for expensive laboratory tests.

The kit, developed by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) through the Environmental Trust and in collaboration with government, aims to fill the gap between professional water quality personnel and the community by providing a rapid self-assessment tool.

The phone app called AlageScumID (reached by going to app store on your phone) provides step-by-step instructions to help you distinguish between toxic algae and other water plants commonly found in our waterways.

Watershed Landcare have invited Associate Professor Simon Mitrovic from UTS to run a workshop about algal blooms and to provide training in sampling, detection, and confirmation of blooms using the Algal Resource Kit.

Whether you’re a landholder wanting to keep an eye on livestock water supplies or a professional involved in the monitoring of waterways, we invite you to come along.

Professor Mitrovic’s presentation will provide an introduction to algae – the good and the bad, causes of algal blooms, remediation activities and where to go for further information and help. There will also be a practical component to the workshop where participants will get hands-on experience in using the Algal Resource Kit and phone app.

The ‘Scum School’ Algae workshop will be held from 10am-1pm on Thursday 31 May at the Lecture Room, Australian Rural Education Centre (AREC). The workshop is free to attend with lunch provided.

All welcome but RSVP is essential for catering purposes. For more information or to book your spot please contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0435 055 493 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

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.

How do you pick a good seed?

 Did you know you can grow your own native plants without expensive, specialist equipment? But to ensure success it’s important to start with healthy, viable seed. So how do you pick a good seed from a dud?

To get the best quality seed, start with a healthy, natural population of parent plants. Collect seed locally if possible, environmental conditions should be considered, but collecting seed from a large and genetically diverse population is much more important. Avoid neighbouring plants as they are most probably related and instead collect seed from widely spaced healthy plants. Isolated plants should also be avoided as they may not be able to cross-pollinate so are likely to carry inbred, unhealthy seed.

Want to find out more? Come along to our seed collection and propagation workshop on Sunday 6 May and gain knowledge and skills to select for viable seed, ensure successful germination and give your seedlings the best start.

Seed Success: Start with healthy, viable seed.

The workshop will be run by local ecologist, David Allworth, and local botanist, Christine McRae, and will cover basic identification features of some commonly found local plant species; why collecting locally is best; safety, permission, timing, methods, storing collected material; equipment and processing of collected material; methods and materials for propagation and the best time to sow seed.

The hands-on workshop will take participants through the tools and techniques required to select viable seed and provide plenty of actual experience in seed sieving, preparing potting mix, sowing seed and handling seedlings. The emphasis of the workshop will be introducing people to a few tricks to ensuring a good germination, and doing so at low or no cost in terms of equipment; generally most the things required to germinate plants can be found in the domestic garbage bin or in the shed.

Participants will also gain an insight into local plant ecology and have access to seed and material propagated on the day.

The seed collection and propagation workshop will be held from 9am to 12 noon on Sunday 6 May at the Straw Bale Shed, AREC. The workshop is free to attend with morning tea and lunch provided.

All welcome but RSVP is essential for catering purposes. For more information or to book your spot please contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0435 055 493 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This event is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from Michael King and Landcare Australia.

Growing your own natives

Ever wanted to grow your own native plants? Do you know how to tell a healthy, viable seed from an unhealthy one, when is the best time to sow, and how to give your newly emerged seedlings the best conditions to ensure success?

Watershed Landcare will be hosting a seed collection and propagation workshop on Sunday 6 May and have invited local ecologist, David Allworth, and local botanist, Christine McRae, to share their extensive knowledge on the subject.

“Collecting your own seed and growing the plants yourself for either re-vegetation projects, farm windbreaks and shade trees, or the home garden can be extremely satisfying. The ultimate DIY project that will outlast a lifetime.” said Ms McRae.

“The purchase of seed to grow native plants is relatively low cost. However, collecting your own seed from close proximity to where it will be used can add to the survival rate of the plants.” she continued.

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. Provenance is a term meant to describe the origin of a seed source. Local provenance equates to genetic adaptation to local environmental conditions.

“Another good reason to collect your own seeds is that there are many native plant species out there and commercial suppliers will not be able to supply everything when required, if at all. Growing your own local native species is the best way to aid their survival.” said Ms McRae.

The workshop will cover basic identification features of some commonly found local plant species; why collecting locally is best; safety, permission, timing, methods, storing collected material; equipment and processing of collected material; methods and materials for propagation and the best time to sow seed.

Workshop participants with gain knowledge and skills to select for viable seed, ensure successful germination and give seedlings the best start.

The seed collection and propagation workshop will be held from 9am to 12 noon on Sunday 6 May at the Straw Bale Shed, AREC. The workshop is free to attend with morning tea and lunch provided.

All welcome. For more information or to book your spot please contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0435 055 493 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This event is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from Michael King and Landcare Australia.

Are we going to drown in waste or plan for the future?

Over the last three decades the bin with the yellow lid has become a common sight in the streets of our towns and suburbs. After the introduction of kerbside recycling in the 80’s and 90’s, it took some training but Australian households have become pretty good at separating trash from recoverable materials.

According to the latest national waste report, we generated 64 million tonnes of waste in 2014-15, that’s 2.7 tonnes each! But we did recycle 60% of that.

That means waste streams such as paper, various types of plastic, glass, aluminium and steel aren’t ending up in landfill and recycling produces less greenhouse gas emissions and uses less raw resources.

With the decline of manufacturing and reprocessing industries in Australia, we have been relying more and more on exporting our recyclable material overseas.

Up until last year China was the world’s largest importer of recyclable material, and for the last 10-15 years we have been shipping our recyclable waste there for sorting and reprocessing. In mid 2017 China announced a ban on 24 categories of solid waste to protect their environment and public health.

This has had major repercussions for the recycling industry globally, with prices paid for recyclable material greatly reduced and access to markets diminished. Cheap prices for virgin plastics and metals have also shrunk the margin out of recycling and reprocessing, with the cost of obtaining recyclables often more expensive than buying virgin materials. Some waste streams are even being stockpiled as they are currently unsaleable.

With China no longer buying our reusable material, picking up recycling bins from the roadside is no longer the profitable business it once was.

At this stage there’s no sign of the yellow lidded bin disappearing from our kerbsides but the Australian recycling industry is certainly facing some challenges. But there is also an opportunity here, not only to close the recycling loop by establishing new onshore recycling facilities and developing novel, innovative uses for these waste streams but also to have a national discussion about the waste we generate and how we deal with it.

For more information on what your council does with your recycling and how they plan to limit the landfill visit http://www.midwestern.nsw.gov.au/resident-services/Wastemanagement/.

Helping to tackle Serrated Tussock

As part of the Nasty Nassella Serrated Tussock project, which is working on a new approach to serrated tussock, Watershed Landcare is inviting local landholders to a workshop to help them get the upper hand on this weed of national significance.

Serrated tussock

Watershed Landcare has partnered with Central Tablelands Local Land Services (CT LLS) and Mid-Western Regional Council (MWRC) to deliver the Nasty Nasella Workshop on Monday, 5 March.

The workshop will feature presentations from Clare Edwards, CTLLS Senior Land Services Officer (Pastures), who will discuss proactive whole-farm strategies to manage serrated tussock; Aaron Simmons, NSW Department of Primary Industries, will speak about the practicalities of serrated tussock management strategies from his perspective as a landholder and researcher; Matt Anderton, MWRC, will discuss landholder responsibilities and the new biosecurity legislation.

The Nasty Nasella workshop will be held from 9am-12:30pm, 5 March at The Stables, Market Street, Mudgee. This event is free to attend with lunch provided, but please RSVP to assist with catering by Friday, 2 March.

The Nasty Nassella Serrated Tussock project is also looking for farmers interested in developing a serrated tussock management plan for their farm.

“The project is capturing and building on the knowledge of experienced landholders as well as supporting those who have had limited experience with serrated tussock,” said Watershed Landcare Coordinator, Claudia Wythes.

“Rather than focusing only on chemical control, this project will deliver a broad range of practical management options that cater to landholders with different experience levels in dealing with the problem.”

Pasture species, alternative control strategies and the scale of the problem all need to be considered,” she continued.

Whether you are actively managing serrated tussock on your property, you have just spotted a few isolated plants, or you would like some help with identification, we want to hear from you,” said Ms Wythes.

To RSVP to the workshop or for more information about the Nasty Nassella project, contact Watershed Landcare Coordinator Claudia Wythes on 0412 011 064 or email: claudia.wythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This project is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from the Central Tablelands LLS from NSW Catchment Action and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

Improve your land

Do you want to increase productivity, reduce operating costs and improve the land value of your farm?

Landholders can achieve all this by encouraging native vegetation on their farms:

  • Farms with shade trees and shelter belts are more aesthetically appealing and attract a premium over average land values. A survey conducted in the Central West indicated that farms with good quality native vegetation have a 15% increase on capital value compared to those without.
  • Crop and pasture productivity is increased by remnant native vegetation and established shelter belts. Native trees and shrubs provide habitat for birds, lizards and bats, the natural enemies of pasture pests.
  • Pastures and crops with some tree cover experience less soil moisture loss than those exposed to the full force of the wind.
  • Cold and heat stress in livestock can significantly reduce farm income by reducing stock fertility, weight gain, wool growth, milk production, and increasing the mortality rate of calves and lambs and the susceptibility of stock to disease.

Paddock Trees Project: Providing funding to landholders to enhance and protect farm vegetation. Individual landholders able to apply for up to $2,750 in funding.

Scattered paddock trees also serve an important function for native wildlife, providing a food source and nesting sites. They also act as stepping stones for animal movement between other patches of vegetation and water sources.

Many existing mature trees on agricultural land in temperate Australia are in decline. This is not isolated to paddock trees, mature trees in larger stands of vegetation are also disappearing, but often the effects are more pronounced in isolated trees.

There are a number of things landholders can do to help protect paddock trees and help their regeneration. Fencing around selected trees will help to protect them from stock and limit detrimental agricultural practices such as applying fertilizer in the root zone and reducing herbicide spray drift. Planting additional shade trees for stock can also take the pressure off the old giants.

Watershed Landcare is currently running a Paddock Trees project which aims to enhance areas of highly cleared ecosystems in the Central Tablelands Local Land Services region by increasing the extent of paddock trees and clusters.

We are seeking expressions of interest for funding from landholders in our region to conduct on-ground works to improve linkages between remnant native vegetation on the land they mange. Funding is available for materials or labour for protection of existing remnant vegetation and/or new plantings.

The project is supported by Watershed Landcare and Central Tablelands LLS through funding from the Australian Government. Total funding of $16,500 is available, with individual landholders able to apply for up to $2,750 in funding.

For further details visit our website.

Applications close 23 February 2018. Please contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator on 0435 055 493 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au for further information or to discuss your project idea.

Workshop for your livestock in dry times

There’s been some patchy rain over the district with some areas receiving greater falls than others, but overall the season hasn’t been great. The dry conditions are presenting a challenge to producers with livestock nutrition and management.

The Central Tablelands LLS will be running an interactive information session for producers of the Central Tablelands in Rylstone next Tuesday, 13 February focusing on the current seasonal conditions and livestock management in dry times.

“It’s been a hot and pretty dry summer around the Peel and Rylstone districts and we’re getting a lot of inquiries from landholders about livestock management and feeding,” said Senior Land Services Officer (Livestock), Brett Littler.

“Local Land Services is holding these meetings so we can get together with farmers and share information on the best options for working with these dry conditions.” he continued.

The Seasonal conditions: Feeding & weaning workshop will cover early weaning, creep feeding, supplementary feeding and animal health problems in dry times, as well as pasture management and fodder options.

A lot of landholders have been seeking advice about managing weaners so Brett Littler’s presentation will target this specifically.

Central Tablelands Local Land Services Team Leader for Animal Biosecurity and Welfare Bruce Watt and Senior Land Services Officer (Pastures) Clare Edwards will also be on hand at the interactive session, and farmers are encouraged to come with questions.

“It really is just a chance for us to catch up with farmers and help them with their decisions, to look at health issues and let them know what we have found that works.” said Mr Littler.

The evening will conclude with a question and answer session and attendees will have an opportunity for one on one discussions with the LLS staff over supper and drinks.

The Seasonal conditions: Feeding & weaning workshop will be held from 4-6pm on Tuesday 13 February at the Rylstone Club, finishing with drinks and supper. Attendance is free but please RSVP for catering purposes.

For further information or to RSVP please contact Brett Littler on 0427 007 398 or brett.littler@lls.nsw.gov.au.

Planning in paddock planting

Have you got a succession plan for your paddock trees?

Paddock trees have many production benefits but many of these majestic giants are reaching the end of their life span, with some estimates predicting that in 40 years all the paddock trees could be gone.

Standing Tall: Paddock trees have many production benefits including providing shade and shelter to livestock.

Paddock trees supply production benefits by providing shelter for stock and crops, habitat for pollinators as well as birds and bats beneficial for pest control, improve soil structure and fertility as well as aiding in the management of salinity. Farms with shade trees and shelter belts also attract a premium over average land values.

There are a couple of funding rounds currently open providing a great opportunity for local landholders to help protect existing paddock trees and help their regeneration on their patch.

Watershed Landcare have launched our Paddock Trees project which aims to enhance areas of highly cleared ecosystems in the Central Tablelands Local Land Services region by increasing the extent of paddock trees and clusters.

We are seeking expressions of interest for funding from landholders in our region to conduct on-ground works to to improve linkages between remnant native vegetation on the land they mange. Funding is available for materials or labour for protection of existing remnant vegetation and/or new plantings.

The project is supported by Watershed Landcare and Central Tablelands LLS through funding from the Australian Government. Total funding of $16,500 is available, with individual landholders able to apply for up to $2,750 in funding.

For further details visit our website.

Applications close 23 February 2018. Please contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator on 0435 055 493 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au for further information or to discuss your project idea.

Applications are also open for Mid-Western Regional Council’s Roadside Reserve Extension Grants which aim to plant 4,000 tubestock trees along areas of high conservation value roadsides or roadsides with habitat characteristics for threatened species.

Eligible property owners in the Mid-Western Region who wish to create wind breaks along their boundary fences can apply for free native tree plantings.

Applications close 16 February 2018. Application forms can be downloaded from Council’s website.