A works program recently carried out through Murray Local Land Services has produced more than just poisoned blackberries and a lot of dead foxes.
The Ramsar project provides a unique opportunity for state agencies, landholders and Indigenous groups to work together to manage internationally recognised wetlands (Ramsar sites) within the Werai, Millewa and Koondrook-Perricoota Forests to enhance biodiversity values and address key threats.
One of these key threats is blackberry, which is considered one of the worst weeds in Australia. It has been declared a Weed of National Significance, grows vigorously and can infest large areas quickly. The weed impacts on natural environments by displacing native plants and reducing habitat for native animals. It also provides harbour for vermin such as rabbits, feral pigs and foxes.
A number of blackberry ‘hot spots’ were recently targeted in the Millewa Forest. These dense thickets are adjacent to the Murray River and require targeted chemical treatment to minimise off target impacts and reduce soil disturbance. A contractor was engaged to undertake the initial chemical control of the identified sites in January 2018 with positive results. A follow up treatment was done in April to identify any plants missed and ensure the chemical uptake from the first action was successful.
An area of approximately 30 ha has been treated to date with excellent results. It was felt that using available funds to target smaller areas twice, rather than larger areas only once, would achieve better long term control of this invasive weed.
Turtles benefit from fox removal:
Targeted fox baiting by the Moama Local Aboriginal Land Council (LALC) in the Koondrook-Perricoota forest has achieved a remarkable reduction in the numbers of turtle nests predated by foxes over the term of the project. The Land Council’s turtle crew supervisor, Phil Hudson, said:
…the reduction in destroyed nests was immediate after we switched to the poison baits. The number of baits taken dropped to around 10 % and this resulted in almost no nests being destroyed from then on. It was also great to get some of our young people out into the bush again and to see their enthusiasm for the project.
The works program has also had a positive effect on the crew members involved, with Moama LALC board members suggesting the benefits to the community were just as important as the benefits to the forest. Moama Board member John Kerr Snr said:
I have seen a real positive change in the boys involved and it’s flowed through into their home lives. They are keen to get up and go to work in the mornings. These changes are because they are returning to the work force and getting out on country.
Board member Felicia Morgan echoed these words saying:
…working on country is part of the healing process for us, it helps us reconnect with the land. Some of our kids have done it pretty tough and it’s good to see them out there working in the bush.
Crew member Stephen Miller added that it was great to get some new skills and to learn about the turtle nests by baiting the foxes, as the group felt like they were really doing something worthwhile.
For more information please contact Jamie Hearn – Murray Local Land Services, Senior Land Services Officer M.0447 420789 or email Jamie.Hearn@lls.nsw.gov.au