Tackling weeds with biocontrol

First introduced into the country in 1875, St John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is now a declared noxious weed in many parts of south eastern Australia. It has become widely established in the Central Tablelands, being particularly suited to the hill and high-country pastures.

Good results for the control of St Johns’ wort in the Mid Western Regional Council area have been

obtained using the Chrysolina beetle as part of an integrated pest management strategy. The 6 mm long, shiny metallic beetle is most effective when used in conjunction with other strategies; with the greatest reductions seen where areas of St Johns’ wort have been grazed at the end of winter for a number of years in a row.

The beetle larvae which emerge in early spring feed on the developing shoots of St Johns’ wort and can severely damage the plant. Adults attack the spring growth. Where large numbers of beetles breed up the damage they cause to St Johns’ wort can be spectacular, with complete defoliation of the plants occurring.

Chrysolina beetles were introduced to the central west in the 1980s and are becoming well established in the area.

Chrysolina beetles can completely defoliate St Johns’ wort

Want to find out more about weed biocontrol?

Central Tablelands LLS will be hosting a workshop to explore local biocontrol on Monday, 23 September in Bathurst.

Senior Research Scientist in the Weeds Research Unit, NSW DPI, Dr Andrew Mcconnachie, will present an informative session exploring the what, when and how for weed biocontrol options available in the Central Tablelands.

Dr Mcconnachie’s presentation will cover current research and local biocontrol agents available, how best to breed up or assist in the spread of biocontrol agents and how to monitor for your local biocontrol agents in the field.

Participants will have an opportunity to put their new biological control agents skills into practice during an afternoon field trip. They will also be on the list to receive a copy of the soon to be released “NSW Weed Biocontrol Handbook”.

This workshop will be a valuable learning experience for everyone from council weed officers to

landholders or anyone interested in local weed biocontrol options in the Central Tablelands.

The workshop is hosted in collaboration with the Central Tablelands Regional Weed Committee, the Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Program, the Landcare NSW MEPAAWs project and the NSW Weed Biocontrol Taskforce.

The Local Biocontrol Options workshop will be held from 10am to 4pm on Monday, 23 September.

The morning presentation will be held in Bathurst and will be followed by a field trip to Sunny Corner after lunch.

For further information and to RSVP contact Marita Sydes on 0439 334 282 or marita.sydes@lls.nsw.gov.au or Liz Davis on 0427 452 662 or liz.davis@lls.nsw.gov.au.

Birds in the bar with Sean Dooley

Have you ever wondered how to break the Australian birdwatching record? Did you even know we had a national twitching ‘Big Year’ championship for counting the most Australian bird species in one year? Watershed Landcare would like to invite you to join us for an evening of fun at Roth’s Wine Bar with Australia’s biggest bird nerd, Sean Dooley, to find out how he blew his inheritance on seeing more than 700 bird species in one year.

Sean is a writer, conservationist and birdwatcher. He is the editor of Birdlife Australia, the author of “The Big Twitch”, and former holder of the Australian Big Year twitching record. Sean is a sought after and entertaining public speaker, with experience presenting across a broad range of age and interest groups.

Birds in the Bar will be held on Wednesday, 4 September 2019 at 6:30pm at Roth’s Wine Bar, 30 Market St, Mudgee. All welcome.

Tickets are $30 plus booking fee and include an evening with Sean Dooley, a grazing table on arrival and Roth’s wood fired pizzas later in the evening. Drinks will be available for purchase from the bar. To book visit our website: watershedlandcare.com.au/wslc-events/birds-in-the-bar-with-sean-dooley/

Sean Dooley will also be the keynote speaker at this year’s Green Day. Now in it’s 11th year, this annual event is a fixture on the calendars of regional schools. This year, over 700 students will attend for a day of environmental education at Mudgee Showground on Thursday 5 September.

The theme for 2019 is ‘Birds, Bats and Biodiversity’. As well as attending a presentation from our keynote speaker, Sean Dooley, students and teachers will hear from some of the 21 volunteer presenters, covering a range of topics. Presenters include Central Tablelands Local Land Services, Botanical Gardens and Centennial Parklands, Mid Western Regional Council, Birds in Backyards, National Parks and Wildlife Service, NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Central West Councils Environment and Waterways Alliance, Red Hill Environmental Education Centre and many others.

A feature again this year will be a workshop run by Kay Norton-Knight, where students will create large sculptures related to biodiversity for inclusion in the annual Rosby Sculptures in the Gardens children’s section, SIG for Kids. They will be on display at Rosby on 12 and 13 October 2019.

This day could not run without the generous support of our sponsors, so a big thanks goes to Yancoal (Moolarben), Peabody Energy (Wilpinjong), Midwestern Regional Council and Central Tablelands Local Land Services. Watershed Landcare would also like to thank thank Barbara Duff (Chabara Cottage) for accommodating Sean Dooley, and of course all our presenters and volunteers.

Bringing the experts in the lab to the experts in the paddock to address climate adaptation

Farmers in our region have an opportunity to learn from the experts how to effectively manage the risks, and reap the rewards, posed by increasing temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and higher frequency severe weather events.

The Risks and Rewards of Farming in a Changing Climate conference, hosted by Farmers for Climate Action, will be held in Orange on Tuesday 10 September. The conference aims to increase resilience and the adoption of climate smart agricultural practices among primary producers in NSW Central West region.

The conference will cover topics such as changing biosecurity risks, increasing heat stress on crops and livestock, reduced water security, disruption to supply chains and the erosion of natural and social capital and will bring together experts from various fields to provide evidence based information on how to address these risks and take advantage of opportunities.

Guardian journalist, Gabrielle Chan, will be MC and the speaker line-up includes: Dr Lynette Bettio, Bureau of Meteorology; Dr Steve Crimp, Australian National University; Associate Professor Jacki Schirmer, University of Canberra; Doug McNicholl, Meat and Livestock Australia; Ben Keogh, Australian Carbon Farmers; Lorraine Gordon, Regenerative Agriculture Alliance; Cathy Waters, NSW Department of Primary Industries; Ryan Gale, MinterEllison; John Angus, CSIRO; Charlie Prell, Farmers for Climate Action; Dr Peter Ampt, Sydney University; Paul Ryan, Australian Resilience Centre; and Guy Webb – SoilCQuest 2031.

The conference keynote speakers will be Richard Heath, Australian Farm Institute Executive Director and Richard Bull, former Nationals NSW MP and NSW Local Land Services Board Chair of Chairs.

There will also be panel discussions covering managing carbon in the landscape, technology and innovation as well as farming systems and resilience.

The Risks and Rewards of Farming in a Changing Climate conference will be held at the Orange Ex-Services Club on Tuesday 10 September from 8am to 7:30pm. Tickets are $60 per person and can be purchased from: www.farmersforclimateaction.org.au/orange_conference.

For more information contact Peter Holding: Peter@farmersforclimateaction.org.au.

Have you seen this bird? The Honeyeater

Last weekend 1000 volunteers ventured out across NSW and Victoria in search of the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater. The survey, coordinated by BirdLife Australia’s Woodland Birds for Biodiversity team, is one of two annual targeted survey periods which rely on volunteer efforts to monitor priority locations.

With an estimated wild population of only 350 mature individuals, survey results provide valuable information for the recovery and conservation efforts for the species.

While these scheduled surveys provide a snapshot of populations in May and August, data from other times of the year is also valuable and BirdLife Australia encourages people to look for these critically endangered birds at any time and particularily as the weather warms up in spring and we move into Regent Honeyeater breeding and nesting time.

If you are lucky enough to see one please record the date, a precise location, the number of birds and any colour leg band details. Other information such as what type of tree they were in and details of any other birds species that were around is also useful. A photo for confirmation is also helpful where possible. Sightings can be reported to BirdLife Australia using Freecall number 1800 621 056 or by email woodlandbirds@birdlife.org.au.

Did you know that we have a Regent Honeyeater hotspot right in our region? The Capertee Valley is one of the most important breeding locations in the country and vital for the survival of the species.

Photo credit: Mick Roderick

As part of the national recovery plan for this species, a release of captive-bred Regent Honeyeaters will take place in the Capertee Valley in August. Post release surveys of the release site and surrounding areas will be essential to monitor and evaluate the success of this project.

Pending favourable conditions, 40 Regent Honeyeaters will be released into the Capertee Valley National Park and volunteers will be crucial in measuring short-term survival and breeding success. BirdLife Australia will be releasing a mobile phone-based app to facilitate reporting of Regent Honeyeater sightings during the project and will be seeking volunteers to assist with monitoring.

If you would like to find out more about the project and how you can get involved, BirdLife Australia will be holding an information session on the Proposed Release of Critically Endangered Regent Honeyeaters and BBQ on Sunday 25 August at Glen Alice Hall from 1pm to 3pm.

Volunteers are also required to assist with tree planting in the Capertee Valley from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 August. The planting is part of on-going efforts to enhance and restore habitat for the Regent Honeyeater and other woodland birds.

For more details, or if you are able to assist, please contact Wendy Fox on 9647 1033 or by email: southernnsw@birdlife.org.au.

Incentives to assist private land managers to improve the extent, condition and connectivity of remnant vegetation and riparian areas on the land they manage

Central Tablelands LLS have launched incentive funding for two projects to improve landscape health and habitat values focusing on restoring the extent and quality of native vegetation. Private landholders within priority areas within the Central Tablelands region are invited to apply.

The Healthy Landscapes project, funded through Catchment Action NSW, provides incentives to assist private land managers to improve the extent, condition and connectivity of remnant vegetation and riparian areas on the land they manage.

Eligible work for stream protection and bushland protection includes installation of stock proof fencing and alternative stock watering points, and planting native trees and shrubs. Activities to control exotic plants and pest animals may also be eligible for one off stewardship payments.

Funding of up to $2500/ha is available for stream protection and $1000/ha for bushland protection. Project areas must be greater than 2 ha and on-ground works need to be completed by 31 May 2020. Completion of planting works may be negotiated, depending on seasonal conditions.

For more information about the Healthy Landscapes project please contact Allan Wray, Senior Land Services Officer, on 6333 2318 or by email: allan.wray@lls.nsw.gov.au.

Healthy Landscape: Incentives are available to landholders to conduct works such as installation of stock proof fencing and planting native vegetation for habitat improvement.

The second incentive round, funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, focuses on Woodland Birds on Farms and the protection and improvement of their habitat.

Woodland birds were once widespread throughout eastern Australia, however extensive clearing of woodland habitat has seen their numbers decline and the range of their distribution contract. One in five species of woodland birds is now at risk.

The Woodland Birds on Farms project aims to reverse this decline by allowing habitat to regenerate and recover by conducting activities to exclude livestock and improve vegetation quality with in-fill planting in key biodiversity areas.

Funding of up to $2500/ha is available for stream protection and $1000/ha for bushland protection, with priority given to projects that provide the greatest environmental benefit for the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater and other woodland birds. Completion time frames will be negotiated for successful projects.

For more information about the Woodland Birds on Farms project please contact Huw Evans, Senior Land Services Officer, on 0429 764 069 or by email: huw.evans@lls.nsw.gov.au.

Applications for both these incentive rounds close at 5pm on Monday 2 September 2019. Expressions Of Interest (EOI) can be be completed online or in person at your nearest Central Tablelands LLS office.

For further information, project fact sheets, key priority area maps or to complete an EOI visit: http://centraltablelands.lls.nsw.gov.au/our-region/financial-assistance.