Repairing Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
The Meander Valley Project focuses on repairing the loss and reductions to biodiversity corridors and other ecosystem services in an area of prime agricultural land.
The Meander Valley from Kimberley through Dunorlan, to Westbury and Meander is a significant area of prime agriculture land where the landscape has been heavily cleared for agriculture.
Landcare Tasmania is partnering with the Tasmanian Government through the Landcare Action Grants (LAG) Program and the JM Roberts trust to support Landcare sites in the Meander Valley. The Meander Valley Project focuses on repairing the loss and reductions to biodiversity corridors and other ecosystem services, providing stock shelter and natural filtration, contributing to the maintenance of a healthy catchment, and upholding the objectives of the Landcare Action Grants (LAG) Program.
The objectives of the LAG Program are 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
The project will achieve this through a variety of activities including weed management, native vegetation restoration, connection of native vegetation areas, and community engagement and skill-sharing.
Using the Landcare network
Making use of the existing network of community Landcare groups is a key feature of this project that will ensure long term success.
Landcare Tasmania has engaged with the strong, existing network in the Meander catchment to identify opportunities for enhancing biodiversity values, improving catchment health and contributing to improved production values. There are seventeen active community Landcare groups in this area and we have drawn on existing activities from our Project Bank to contribute to the sites in this project.
Our initial assessments attracted four new landholders to existing groups and two new community Landcare groups have formed.
Making use of these networks is a key feature of the project design and will facilitate management activities extending beyond the life of the project. This will be achieved by:
- Utilising our network of community Landcare members;
- Increasing capacity and local knowledge sharing of the general community and new landholders by establishing links with existing member groups;
- Providing resource sharing opportunities such as mound ploughs, Hamilton planters and spray rigs;
- Delivering workshops on best practice;
- Involving the general community and other group members leading to better knowledge sharing and value-adding outside of the 14 sites; and
- Engaging Landcare groups that have been active in the area for over 30 years as key participants.
Sites in the Project Area
Each potential site was assessed in April-June 2020 by a qualified restoration professional. The sites have been chosen with the aim of delivering long term sustainability of biodiversity and production values in this prime agricultural area.
Map 1 - Greater Meander Project Sites LAG Round 2 Landcare Tasmania
Sites have been chosen based on 4 main activities addressing issues across the Greater Meander Valley Productive Zone:
- Riparian restoration and removal of threats to aquatic systems;
- Connecting and enhancing existing remnants to enhance biodiversity conservation;
- Providing shelterbelts in production areas that will provide benefits to stock, pastures and soils; and
- Running community workshops and information sessions to facilitate greater uptake of these activities across the landscape, and also to build skills to maintain and expand activities into the future.
Riparian Restoration and Removal of Threats
Both groups are committed and have a proven track record of successfully completing on-ground weed control projects and have existing Rivercare and weed management plans. There is also downstream follow-up work for the Lower Meander Valley Landcare Group adjoining this Rivercare Plan area. There will also be fencing undertaken in other riparian areas in this project with plans to restore areas with unrestricted stock access.
Connecting and Enhancing Existing Remnants
This landscape has experienced large scale native vegetation loss and remaining remnants are heavily fragmented. The project aims at re-establishing corridors as an important function for existing remnant vegetation.
The main activities to achieve this include fencing off and revegetating around remnant patches and incorporate existing paddock trees where possible. Several disconnected remnants have been identified and will be connected through this project. Stock benefits include lambing benefits and decreased wind impacts on both stock and soil erosion. Where remnants are small or degraded, they will be fenced and infill planting may be required. These activities will be undertaken at sites 4,5,6,7,8,9.
Corridors in a Productive Landscape
Several areas have been identified as having exposed paddocks that would benefit from shelterbelts. Native shelterbelts provide additional ecosystem services required in these highly altered parts of the landscape. The project addresses wind erosion, stock impacts, sedimentation and nutrient runoff by installing native shelterbelts at sites 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14.
A large part of this project involves training and skill-sharing with landholders and community members. The seed collection/propagation and shelterbelt and revegetation workshops are a great way to upskill participants, increase community involvement and ensure best-practice. The workshops have been designed and delivered by professionals and provide participants with the skills they need to successfully undertake the project activities.
Training includes on-site demonstration of best practice shelterbelt design and construction, and prepares participants for the substantial amount of native vegetation planting required for the project.
These workshops were a direct response from participants who anticipated a need for skills development around restoration activities including seed collection, species selection, site preparation and shelterbelt establishment. Training and upskilling participants through these workshops and activities will contribute to the long-term management of the area beyond this project.
Launch of the project
Landcare Tasmania visited all project sites with our expert Herbert Staubmann from Habitat Plants to select suitable plant species specific to each site, and design shelterbelts that maximise biodiversity and farming benefits.
The project was launched with the Meander Valley Revegetation Training Workshop on Tuesday 3rd November 2020 for participants of the project.
Herbert Staubmann gave an incredibly useful presentation, in which he shared learnings and secrets from over 25 years of experience in growing Tasmanian plants. The training day provided essential information about site preparation, revegetation methods, and ongoing site management, all necessary skills for a successful project. The workshop left everyone energised and ready to start preparing the ground for planting next spring.
Grant recipients have completed the required site preparation, which includes spraying of pasture grasses and soil preparation on suitable sites with a mound plough and smudge.
Below is an example of some good site preparation by one of our grant recipients.
Image: Andrew Pedley's site preparation in March 2021
Our first planting event will be held on the 17th of June.
On the 3rd and 4th of July, we will be visited by a school class from Queensland, who will plant trees on one site.
On the 7th and 8th of August, the UTAS Landcare Society will be planting at two different project sites.
Keeping an eye on conditions, there will be more planting events to follow.
This project is supported by the State Government's Landcare Action Grants, Landcare Tasmania's Tasmanian Landcare Fund and the JM Roberts Trust. Habitat Plants are providing substantial technical and nursery support for this project and Waratah Wholesale with discounted support for revegetation supplies.
Waratah Wholesale are supporting us by sponsoring biodegradable tree guards, and a trial of Bactivate which puts beneficial bacteria in the ground.