Continuing to improve our awareness

Local landcare group, Watershed Landcare, continues to be strong and active with this year’s activities focusing on working with it’s members and the community to improve knowledge and awareness, and to increase the uptake of sustainable land management practices.

Watershed Landcare held it’s Annual General Meeting on Friday 24 November. The meeting was well attended and gave members an overview of Watershed’s activities over the past year as well as an opportunity to mingle and chat at the supper afterwards.

Watershed Landcare continues to have strong support from our members, sponsors and partners and Landcare membership remains strong and enthusiastic.

“2017 has been a really busy year again, we have had lots of activity happening.” said Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator.

“We have hosted a range of events including grazing tours, soil health workshops, spider monitoring, and beekeeping workshops just to name a few, plus developing our strategic plan.”

“We have partnered with a number of organisations including Central Tablelands LLS, Mid-Western Regional Council, the Australian Rural Education Centre, University of Sydney and the Rare and Heritage Fruit Tree Network to deliver events in our region.” she continued.

The election of office bearers for 2018 was overseen by returning officer, Bruce Christie.

Viviene Howard accepted the nomination for the position of Chairperson. Sonia Christie, Christine McRae and Hunter White retain positions as Vice-chair, Secretary and Treasurer, respectively.

The number of nomination received for positions on the executive indicate that members are keen to be involved in Watershed Landcare’s operation and 2018 will see the committee grow by one. Christine Corner and Graeme Anderson return to the executive and will be joined by new comers Rosemary Hadaway and Jane Young.

“We are able to do so much, thanks to the fabulous commitment and dedication of our volunteer management committee.” said Ms Wythes.

“It has been a busy year, and we have some exciting things planned for 2018.” she continued.

We’re actively seeking funding from various sources to continue to deliver training, workshops, seminars, field days, on-ground works and projects to protect and enhance the environment and sustainability of our region.

The new Executive Committee will hold it’s first meeting in February 2018. All Watershed Landcare members are welcome to attend.

Workshop to help our landholders team up

The success of environmental management actions can be greatly improved when such projects are implemented across property boundaries. But starting and maintaining the momentum of a local group can be daunting and hard work. It helps to draw insight from others and receive good guidance along the way.

As part of the Landholder Collaboration Project, a workshop on ‘Everything you need to know about Local Collaboration’ will be held in Mudgee in December.

“Knowing about how to collaborate effectively can benefit all types of groups, whether they are informal or legally incorporated organisations.” said project researcher Dr Peter Ampt, Sydney Institute of Agriculture, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney.

Project researchers will share some key project insights, mapping information and guides, and cover some aspects that local groups need to consider in different circumstances and will be there to answer any questions you might have.

Come along and be part of a facilitated discussion on:

• Learning from local experiences: get inspired by the progress, achievements and aspirations of local groups in your area

• Demystifying legal frameworks: invited legal experts will help you figure out what is right for you

• Sharing monitoring data for landscape benefits: using the revamped Landcare Gateway group sites, and how GIS mapping info can help

Legal experts from the Australian Earth Laws Alliance will also be there to answer any questions about group governance, and will present their new handy guide which will be provided for free. It covers the advantages and disadvantages of incorporated and unincorporated structures, principles for successful collaboration, and what groups need to set up and think about at different stages of their collaboration.

The workshop will be held on Monday 11 December, 5:30-7:30pm, at the CWA Hall, 14 Market St, Mudgee. Attendance is free with light refreshments provided.

For more information contact Emily Berry on 0432 174 850 or e.berry@unsw.edu.au, or Alex Baumber on 02 9514 4671 or alex.baumber@uts.edu.au.

Please RSVP by 4 December to Emily Berry on 0432 174 850 or e.berry@unsw.edu.au.

This event is supported by the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales and is a part of the Landholder Collaboration Project funded by the NSW Environmental Trust.

More information on the project is available on their website: https://landholdercollab.org/

Have your say on carp control

The feeding habits of the European carp, Cyprinus carpio, have a detrimental effect on water quality and create an unfavourable environment for other species. Carp are benthivorous fish that feed in and on sediment; this is destructive to aquatic plants, which provide critical feeding, spawning and nursery habitat for native fish, increases turbidity by suspending sediments, and mobilises sediment bound phosphorus.

A new biocontrol agent to control this aquatic pest, which is now ubiquitous in all but the uppermost reaches of NSW waterways, is currently under investigation. Australia’s history of biological control hasn’t been unblemished and the public are being invited to have their say on the possible use of the use of a species-specific virus, Cyprinid herpesvirus 3.

Central Tablelands residents are invited to attend a community briefing session to find out more about the National Carp Control Plan (NCCP), the research underpinning the biocontrol agent and how potential risks are being identified and mitigated, and to provide their feedback.

The community briefing session will be hosted by the NCCP and Central Tablelands Local Land Services on Monday 27 November from 6-8pm at Bathurst Panthers Club.

NCCP National Coordinator Matt Barwick says waterways are the lifeblood of many rural and regional communities and they need to be rehabilitated.

“While these community briefing sessions are important for us to share the background, context and desired outcomes of the NCCP, they also provide an opportunity to hear from community members about how the prevalence of carp impact on them, their lifestyle or their business,” Mr Barwick said.

“We want to work collaboratively with the local community – as healthy river systems and waterways result in healthier communities.”

“We value the opinions and beliefs of people in the Central Tablelands region and we want to understand the ecological values of affected river systems and waterways and any likely direct or indirect impacts, be they social, environmental, economic or cultural, that may eventuate,” Mr Barwick said.

Central Tablelands Local Land Services is working with the NCCP to ensure local issues are considered in the National Carp Control Plan.

“We encourage all members of the community to participate in this briefing session and ask any questions they may have in relation the plan. The NCCP is a process, not a foregone conclusion so we encourage residents to share their thoughts and opinions and help shape the recommendations to government,” said Senior Land Services Officer, Casey Proctor.

This event is one of more than 40 community briefing sessions which will be held in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, the ACT, Queensland and Western Australia in coming months.

To find out more about the NCCP visit www.carp.gov.au.

For further details about the Bathurst Community Briefing Session contact Casey Proctor at Central Tablelands Local Land Services on 0429 110 072.

The importance of marking pollinators

November 12 to 19 marks Australian Pollinator week, which acknowledges our important and unique insect pollinators. To raise awareness of the essential role of pollinators in our environment and what you can do to support their needs, Watershed Landcare hosted a Native Bee Motel workshop.

Presenter Liz Davis, Central Tablelands LLS Regional Landcare Facilitator, guided participants through the building of their own bee motel to take home, as well as highlighting the function of native pollinators to ecosystem services and our environment.

Eighteen participants, including 5 children, attended the 2 hour workshop held at the Australian Rural Education Centre (AREC) last Sunday.

“It’s great to see children getting involved and learning about the important role native pollinators make to our plants.” said Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator.

“It’s such an easy thing for anyone to make and put in their back yard to provide a home for the native bees.” she continued.

The Lucknow Men’s Shed made the boxes for the motels for a series of workshops held across the Central West as part of National Pollinator week activities. Workshop participants used common materials such as dock, carrot weed stems, hemlock and old thistle to fill the boxes and provide lots of nooks and crannies for the native bees to nest in.

“Anything that has a hollow core makes a great home for native bees, it’s just a matter of using your imagination and being creative. Such a small thing makes a big difference to the population of native bees.” said Ms Wythes.

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.

Missed out on the workshop? It’s not too late for you to get involved in National Pollinator week.

Despite there being around 2,000 native bee species, as well as a couple of thousand butterfly, wasp, fly, moth, beetle, thrips and ant species, some of which are documented pollinators, very little is known about their ecology, where they are found or what plants they pollinate.

By simply watching any flowering plant for just ten minutes you can help to build a picture of wild pollinators in your local environment and help to build a database on wild pollinator activity.

To contribute to this citizen Science project visit: wildpollinatorcount.com.

Mudgee community to provide bid input

The Federal Government has announced the next funding round of the National Landcare Program. From July 2018, the Regional Land Partnerships component of the National Landcare Program will invest $450 million over five years to deliver national priorities at a regional and local level.

Central Tablelands Local Land Services is working with Landcare networks across the region to develop partnerships and projects as a basis for a regional bid.

As part of the process Central Tablelands staff, Watershed Landcare members, community representatives and landholders, both large and small, will meet on Monday to scope and develop the priorities that are important to us within our region.

The consultation session will seek input from our community to identify regionally relevant priority areas, both current and emerging, explore opportunities to address the issues raised, including what solutions may look like and who could be involved, and road test project ideas from participants.

Watershed Landcare is always looking for new ideas and opportunities, no matter how small.

Do you have any great ideas for ways to innovate, events or projects? Let us know. We’re open to new ideas and things that landcare may not have traditionally done in the past.

Want to find out more about Watershed Landcare?

Watershed Landcare would like to invite all members and the community to our Annual General Meeting and dinner.

The AGM will be held on Friday 24 November at the Straw Bale Shed at the Australian Rural Education Centre (AREC), 6pm for a 6:30pm start.

Come along and meet other Watershed Landcare members, find out what we do and how you can get involved.

All welcome, but please RSVP by Monday 20 November for catering purposes to Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0412 011 064 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

These events are supported by Watershed Landcare and are a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

Help protect native pollinators

Pollinators are vital to keep plant species flowering and re-producing. But did you know that many of our food crops such as fruit, wine grapes and vegetables rely on native insects for this service?

Australia has about 1,600 species of native bees, with around 250 to 300 species being found within a 100 kilometre radius of any given area.

Many native pollinators are also predators, feeding on other pest insects. Wasps, hoverflies and shield bugs can reduce the numbers of insect pests in orchards, vineyards and other agricultural crops as well as your ornamental or veggie garden.

Many native pollinators are under threat; land clearing and the extensive use of pesticide and fungicide sprays have removed their food source and their habitat.

With over 75% of flowering plants relying on insect pollinators for reproduction, the decline of their populations is bad news for biodiversity, ecosystems and the security of many of our food sources.

To celebrate National Pollinator Week, which runs from 12 to 19 November, Watershed Landcare have invited Liz Davis, Regional Landcare Facilitator Central Tablelands LLS, to run a Native Bee Motel workshop.

Come along and build your own native bee motel and learn how you can attract these fascinating little creatures to your own backyard, whether it’s a farm, bushland, suburban block or a balcony.

Native bee hotels or motels not only provide plenty of nooks and crannies for these beneficial insects to nest in but can be very decorative as well. These can be made in all shapes and sizes, the only limit is your creativity!

The workshop will be held from 9:30 – 11:30am on Sunday 12 November at at the Straw Bale Shed, Australian Rural Education Centre (AREC).

The workshop is free to attend for Landcare members and $15 for non members. Booking are essential as places are limited, register your interest by 9 November.

All welcome but children must be accompanied by an adult.

For more information or to RSVP contact Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0412 011 064 or claudia.wythes@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.

Keep an eye out for swarms

The bees have been busy this spring, with a large number of swarms appearing across our district they have also been keeping members of the Mudgee Bee Group busy.

“Mudgee has been the hot spot this spring; the Mudgee Bee Group has collected at least 8 swarms around town, as well as a couple at Gulgong.” said Mudgee Bee Group swarm co-ordinator, Sandi Munro.

“The public have alerted us to several swarms, via our Facebook page and through the Amateur Beekeepers Association swarm collectors list.” she continued.

The Mudgee Bee Group removing a large swarm from a grapefruit tree in Gulgong.

Swarming is the way bees increase their population. Swarms can be spectacular when you see them flying over and settling to rest somewhere. Usually bees are at their calmest when swarming, but not always!

“Swarms are exciting to see, and usually easy to remove, from a branch or letter box, but if they move into your chimney or eaves of the house, they are a lot more difficult to remove, so let us know as soon as you spot them, the sooner the better!” said Ms Munro.

Mudgee Bee Group have a swarm co-ordinator that can assist with information or removal of a swarm, contact Sandi Munro on 0487 898 404.

Spring is when the bees do their most important work; pollinating trees, crops and flowers and, of course, making honey!

To help the bees this spring there are a few things you can do.

Bees use up to 5 litres of water a day per hive during hot weather to quench their thirst, and to keep the hive at a constant temperature for the brood to be healthy. In dry times you can help by putting water out for them. Bees can’t swim, so add some sticks, pebbles or corks to the bird bath to help them get out if they fall in.

Don’t use chemical sprays, especially on blooms. Spraying blooming flowers, trees, shrubs and lawns can kill bees! Even some deemed safe for humans are detrimental to bees. Even ‘safe’ sprays leave a residue that is picked up by bees in both nectar and pollen and can then end up in your honey.

Plant a bee garden – bees need food and most flowering plants give some benefit to bees by way of pollen and nectar. Borage, lavender and rosemary are easy to grow and very popular with bees. Annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs can all be planted to benefit bees.

If you would like to learn more about bees, come along to a Mudgee Bee Group meeting or find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Mudgeebeegroup). For more information contact Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0412 011 064 or claudiawythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

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.

Keep rain on your farm for longer

Australian is a land of climatic extremes. Farmers and land managers contend with cycles of flood and drought punctuated by the odd ‘good’ year. While we rarely complain about there being too much water, we do spend a lot of time wishing for rain.

But what if you could capture that water and keep it in the landscape, and on your farm, for longer?

Watershed Landcare will be hosting a Rehydrating the Landscape workshop in November.

The workshop will be presented by Dan and Nicki Power who have constructed a system of dams and swales on their farm to rehydrate the landscape, and regenerate degraded soils and create an edible landscape at the same time.

Dan and Nicki will discuss what our farms would look like if they were rehydrated, what influence we have as land managers in the amount of water that stays on our farm, and what interventions we can make, from small to large, to increase our influence.

They will cover the principles of rehydrating the landscape as well as showing examples of successful rehydration interventions.

Sign of things to come: Construction of a dam which, together with a system of swales, will rehydrate the landscape.

We will also go for a walk around the farm to see what’s been achieved, the particular issues faced and discuss the next steps. Adon Bender, the farm rehydration adviser, and Mark Anderson, the dam builder, will also be on hand to provide explanations and answer questions.

The workshop will be held on on Saturday, 4 November from 9am to 4pm at Hazelcombe Farm, Totnes Valley (40 mins from Mudgee). Attendance is free for Watershed Landcare members and $10 for non-members. Please wear work clothes and covered footwear and bring hats, sunscreen and drinking water.

For further information or to RSVP contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0435 055 493 or by email: 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.

Dangerous application in dry times

The ongoing dry conditions experienced over much of the state are cause for concern amongst land managers and gardeners for several reasons. The primary, and most obvious, concern is for the provision of adequate water and forage for the health and productivity of livestock.

Rain Return: Will your ground cover absorb a ‘gully raker’ when the drought breaks? When prolonged dry conditions break it is often with heavy a downpour.

Another cause for concern may be the disruption in the annual spray programmes to reduce weed species.

When plants are moisture stressed translocation and respiration slow dramatically, restricting the movement of herbicides to their sites of action. Plants experiencing high temperature, low humidity and low soil moisture conditions tend to have a thicker cuticle (the protective cover of the leaf) with more waxy deposits on the surface. This reduces the absorption of foliar herbicides.

The timing and amount of rainfall not only determines the moisture status of the plant but also removes dust from the leaves and modifies the leaf cuticle. Recent rainfall will therefore improve herbicide uptake.

Soil moisture influences soil microbial activity which assists in the breakdown of herbicides in the soil. Dry soil conditions prevent the biological and chemical processes that degrade herbicides, making them more likely to persist and injure subsequent germinations of perennial pasture plants.

When weeds are growing under extreme moisture stress it may be best to wait to apply herbicide until conditions improve.

Maintaining adequate groundcover is very important at all times of the year. Good groundcover protects the soil from extreme climatic conditions, supports biological activity within the soil, and reduces weed seed germination and growth through competition.

When prolonged dry conditions break it is often with heavy a downpour, especially if this occurs within the summer months. These ‘gully rakers’ can cause much damage to farm infrastructure if there is no groundcover to absorb the moisture or to slow the flow of water across the landscape. There would be many in the district who can remember when drought breaking rains have reduced farm dams to a stinking crust of animal manure and other organic matter.

Alternative methods of weed control might be looked for in prolonged dry periods. Annual plants can be slashed or mown before their flowers mature and perennials can be chipped, pulled up if numbers are small, or slashed several times. These methods are labour intensive and therefore more costly, however perennial pastures will be protected and persistent herbicide residue in the soil will not be an issue. An added benefit will be the mulch of slashed, chipped or mown weeds covering the soil, protecting it from extreme climatic conditions and providing soil organisms with a food source.

Attract birds to your garden

Native plants are a great way to attract birds to your garden, but the type of native you plant can greatly affect the types of birds it will attract.

The species you select will influence whether you favour seed-eaters, honeyeaters or insect-eaters, but they all like thick vegetation to nest, shelter and forage in, so density is key.

Aim for a multi-layered habitat, with lots of plants at different heights, and trees and shrubs that will provide year round food and shelter for many species.

“Plant selection is an important thing to consider when planting a garden if you want habitat for the smaller birds.” said botanist, Christine McRae.

“What you plant can shift the species diversity of birds.” she continued.

Larger birds like the wattle bird, which prefers nectar rich flowers such as the grevillea, can be very territorial and displace smaller bird species.

“To attract smaller birds plant less nectar rich and more small, spiky flowered plants” said Christine.

Small birds like finches rely on dense vegetation to provide protection from predators.

During dry conditions don’t forget to provide the birds with a drink. A bird bath or a dish regularly topped up with water can also help to attract birds to your garden.

Spring is the season when birds are most lively and visible and getting involved in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count is a great way to learn more about the feathered inhabitants of your neighbourhood.

BirdLife Australia and it’s Birds in Backyards program have created the Aussie Backyard Bird Count initiative to provide an important snapshot of the birds that live where people live.

The event was launched in 2014 and last year over 61,000 people participated and 1.4 million bird records were submitted.

The 2017 Aussie Backyard Bird Count runs from 23-29 October.

It’s easy to get involved, just head to the website to register as a Counter: http://aussiebirdcount.org.au/ (the website also contains some handy tips for designing a bird friendly garden).

It only takes 20 minutes and it’s a great activity to do with the family or a group of friends.

So register as a counter, grab a Field Guide and head out into the backyard, local park or your favourite green space and see how many of the 800 bird species present in Australia you can identify.