Landcare Tasmania officially launched the Coal Valley Project: Improving the Natural and Productive Landscape, with a field day on the 21st of April.
During the day, speakers highlighted a number of agricultural and environmental issues around which the project is increasing knowledge and skills with the local community. This will create an impact that will last beyond the life of the project, and will get more members of the community involved.
The Coal Valley Project is part of the State Government’s $2m Landcare Action Grants. Landcare Tasmania is delivering a significant proportion of this grant through targeted landscape scale projects across the State. With their large network of Landcare groups and supporting properties, Landcare Tasmania’s projects will contribute to improved productivity and biodiversity. All supported through the funding from the State Government. The Landcare Action Grants aim to: Improve landscape and riverine health, stability and resilience; Support enhanced land management practices to reduce erosion and sedimentation; and Assist the community to holistically manage natural and productive land and waterways across the landscape.
In the Coal Valley Project, Landcare Tasmania is collaborating with 16 local businesses and properties, and 11 community groups, organisations and individuals. 9100 trees, shrubs and grasses will be planted in windbreaks and along creeks and dams. There will be workshops and on-ground activities targeting local issues such as feral cat management, seed collection, integrated pest management on vineyards and dung beetles.
Oliver Strutt from Eco Works Tasmania showed how to identify serrated tussock and Chilean needle grass that are both unpalatable to livestock, and if not managed, can take over large areas. John Bowden, who works as a contractor in feral cat management for Latrobe Council, demonstrated what kind of cat trap works well and how to use it properly. There was some good discussion about recent changes in feral cat legislation and also animal welfare questions and how we can all work together on this ongoing issue.
In the afternoon, dung beetle specialist Andrew Doube spoke about how dung beetles dig tunnels up to 1m deep into the ground. When they bury dung this not only brings nutrients into the soil and stops them from being washed into creeks and rivers, but it also enables the soil to hold more moisture.
Andrew Doube said: “Healthy dung beetle populations are fantastic for the productivity of pastures. Through burying dung, they put the nutrients where the plants need them: underground in the root zone and without invasive means. Their tunnels also aerate the soil, and make more water soak in when it rains."
He continued: "Most of Tasmania currently doesn't have agricultural dung beetles active in winter or spring. At these times of year, the beetles we have are underground and inactive. Hopefully in the coming years new species will be introduced and these gaps will be filled, making sure the manure gets buried all year round!
At the moment, Landcare Tasmania is helping to make this happen by supporting the Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineers project in rearing and hopefully eventually distributing a spring active dung beetle called Onthophagus vacca."
Participants of the field day had lots of fun searching for the beetles in a bit of dung that Andrew had brought, and having the little critters crawl around in their hands.
Landcare Tasmania will be organizing events and on-ground activities across the Coal River Valley throughout 2021 and 2022. Anyone who is interested in being involved is welcome to contact the Landcare Tasmania office for further information.Peter Stronach, Acting CEO of Landcare Tasmania said: “It has been exciting to help the local Landcare communities throughout the Coal Valley to address local issues. We have pooled together a number of their project proposals and been able to source funding, donations and expert knowledge that will support the catchment for the long term.”