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Private landholders create homes for endangered birds

Private landholders in North East Victoria have raised their hands to help create and improve habitat to help two nationally endangered birds to thrive in the region. 

The Regent Honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia) and the Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolor) face extinction unless the quality of their woodland homes, many located in the North East, are improved by providing suitable nesting and feeding areas. These species were identified as priority species in the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Strategy Action Plan 2015-16

As much suitable habitat for these birds is found on private land, one major activity in the five-year Bush for Birds project aims to encourage private landholders to protect and restore vital habitat through activities funded through a competitive grant application process. 

In the first round of landholders grants run in 2019/20, 37 projects from over 90 applicants were selected for their quality and diversity by an evaluation panel comprising members from North East CMA, the Department of Environment, Lands, Water and Planning, Trust for Nature and The Regent Honeyeater Project, resulting in 24 landholder management agreements. 

In coming months, successful applicants across the region will commence their projects with on-ground actions such as planting suitable native canopy trees, controlling weeds and fencing important habitat areas. 

The combined outputs from these grants will result in over 500 hectares of remnant native vegetation protected and enhanced using 13 kilometres of fencing, including 180 hectares of habitat protected under Trust for Nature Covenants; 74 hectares revegetated with over 26,000 seedlings; 835 new paddocks trees and 246 hectares managed for weed control. 

“Despite delays in project delivery with the recent bushfires and the pandemic, we hope populations of these endangered birds will be boosted by the improved quality and extent of available habitat for years to come,” said Bush for Birds project manager, Mark Cairns. 

“The project will also roll out further opportunities for grants in coming months, as well as field days and events to help improve understanding on how we can manage for better outcomes for these special birds.” 

Other achievements in the project include: 

  • Woody weed control by the Yorta Yorta Nation’s Woka Wolla (works crew) at the 134 ha Barnawartha Scenic Reserve managed by Parks Victoria. This work will assist in restoring diversity of understorey plants and regenerating habitat quality for these endangered birds; and, 

  • restoring habitat on 104 hectares of public land at Baranduda Regional Reserve by Parklands Albury Wodonga by controlling weeds and infilling revegetation areas by planting target canopy tree species. 

Bush for Birds is supported by the North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA) through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. 

For further information on the Bush for Birds project, contact Mark at email  mark.cairns@necma.vic.gov.au  or mobile 0418 764 606, or Will Ford at Trust for Nature at willf@tfn.org.au

Case Study 

The recovery of many endangered species depends on engaging local communities and providing incentives to private landholders to restore habitat on private land.  

Protecting and enhancing remnant vegetation and re-establishing habitat through revegetation on private land is a major outcome for the Bush for Birds program.  

Successful Expression of Interest 1st round grant recipients Wooragee landholders Karen Bowley and Dirk de Zwart, have already commenced work to restore bird habitat. Their site was selected for its strategic proximity to the Chiltern/Mt Pilot National Park, which is one of four core breeding areas remaining for the endangered Regent Honeyeater.  

Work on the large 35-hectare site of Valley Grassy Forest habitat, includes weed control and 23 hectares enhanced by revegetation. Target native trees to be planted that will provide canopy for the Regent Honeyeater include yellow box and red box gums, as well as selected nectar and insect attracting plants such as silver banksia and sweet bursaria.  

These works build on past habitat restoration completed by Karen and Dirk thanks to their own private expense and commitment. These efforts over the past seven years include plantings to restore habitat and almost complete removal of the invasive Patterson’s Curse and St John’s Wort weeds.  

The funding from the Bush for Birds project is a timely and targeted boost to these ongoing works rewarding Karen’s and Dirk’s efforts. These will further contribute to habitat for the Regent Honeyeater and other threatened woodland birds in the future. 

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