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Projects and programs

National Landcare Program (Phase 2)

The Australian Government has released information on the next phase for the National Landcare Program (Phase 2).
The National Landcare Program(2) is a $1.1billion program to with the majority of activities to commence from July 2018 to June 2023.
The investment will primarily be delivered by the Department of the Environment and Energy and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and will include a range of measures to support natural resource management and sustainable agriculture, and to protect Australia’s biodiversity.
With its investment in the next phase of the National Landcare Program, the Australian Government aims to work in partnership with governments, industry, communities and individuals to protect and conserve Australia’s water, soil, plants, animals and ecosystems, as well as support the productive and sustainable use of these valuable resources.
The National Landcare Program is a nationwide effort to address problems such as:
  • loss of vegetation
  • soil degradation
  • the introduction of pest weeds and animals
  • changes in water quality and flows and
  • changes in fire regimes.
Information on the National Landcare Program can be found at
Hunter Local Land Services have submitted projects within the National Landcare Program, under the Smart Farm Program (grant program closed in December 2017).
Our proposed projects include:
  • Confident Dairy Decision via the Cloud to App- Optimising pasture growth efficiency across a variable farming landscape
  • Connecting farmers and science- Beef Producer Community of Practice linking innovation research outcomes and experience for farmers producer networks service providers landcare government
  • Connecting for improved practice-Small Scale Free range poultry egg producers Community Of Practice
  • Hunter region estuary-dependent industries partnership - innovations for improving sustainability, habitats, production and adaptation
  • Advancing floodplain grazing while progressing estuarine health and oyster production using precision positioning technology
Hunter Local Land Services is also in the process of developing a tender proposal to the Regional Land Partnerships program.
The Regional Land Partnerships program is a five year program, with $450 million nationally towards environmental and agricultural outcomes.
Under new program, the requirements are specific and targeted. The Australian Government has identified specific targets in the program including Ramsar wetlands, World Heritage Areas, 30 plants, 20 mammals and 20 bird species listed under the Threatened Species Act, targeted Threatened Ecological Communities and identified priority actions for agricultural outcomes including addressing hillslope and wind erosion, soil acidifcation, soil carbon, vegetation and supporting agricultural systems to adapt to significant change.

Within the Hunter region, specific priorities have been identified by the Australian Government. Read more about them here.

The Cassilis Inspire Biodiversity Project

More than 8,000 trees, shrubs, herbs, lilies and grasses will be planted around Cassilis in the Upper Hunter Valley in autumn 2018, as part of a major revegetation project following 2017’s devastating Sir Ivan bushfire. The project is been run by Merriwa Landcare, with funding from Hunter Local Land Services, through support from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Native tree and shrub woodland and riparian species lists have been put together including donations of seedlings from Cressfield Stud. Properties have been visited by the Landcare team to assess soil type, landscape and vegetation variations, and some planting sites have already been prepared.

There has been wonderful community support for the project, with volunteers from across the region coming together to help with preparation and planting. Merriwa, Denman and Scone Men's Sheds are also making nest boxes as habitat for endangered birds, small mammals and micro-bats displaced by the fire which destroyed many hollow trees and nesting sites.

For more information please contact Maria Cameron in our Merriwa office: 6548 2175 or

Oyster Research and monitoring update

Local Land Services is currently working on a number of projects to improve research and monitoring outcomes for the oyster industry in the Hunter region. The Wallis Lake Estuary Processes and Seafood Production Group helps oyster farmers work with commercial fishermen, Council, government and researchers to develop projects that enable both the oyster and fishing industries adapt to the changing nature of the estuary. Through this partnership, a number of water quality dataloggers have been installed in the lake to monitor salinity, temperature and tidal height. Local Land Services is continuing to work with MidCoast Council and others to improve estuary and catchment health and growers may be interested in the recent Waterways Report Card 2017 released by Council

For more information contact Brian Hughes 6551 8994; or mobile 0428 293 021

National Carp Control Plan

The National Carp Control Plan (NCCP) team is running workshops across multiple states seeking local input on the NCCP.

The NCCP is a $15 million funded planning process over two years run by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC). The NCCP team is investigating options to control carp through biocontrol.

The plan is not finalised, this will happen by December 2018, as the planning approach includes research, consultation, community input, social, environmental and economic assessment, trials and investigations and more. 

Why are carp a problem? Carp make up (in many river systems) up to 80-90% of all aquatic biomass. They muddy waters, displace aquatic vegetation during bottom feeding, compete for food with native fish and other fauna(such as platypus), increase nutrients to waterways that lead to algal blooms and in general reduce water quality. NCCP is investigating the release of the carp herpes virus, which could potentially cause widespread control of Carp.

Hunter Local Land Services and NCCP supported two workshops in Maitland and Muswellbrook, in partnership with DPI Fisheries, to industry and community members. Overall the crowd response was in favour of biocontrol, with the largest concern being how carp cleanup would be managed, and the associated impacts of large number of carp deaths in waterways.

More information on NCCP can be found at
We are keen to have community involved in monitoring carp in our rivers, they can do this via FishFeralScan,

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage training workshop

Hunter Local Land Services would like to Acknowledge the Worimi Nation and their Aboriginal Elders both past and present and future Elders to allow Hunter Local Land Services to undertake the training in Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Identification and Site Assessment within the Forster area.

Some interesting highlights of the course included:
  • Due diligence code of practice - method of reporting the presence of Aboriginal artefacts at a site.
  • Identifying types of sites, artefacts and objects (e.g. shelter, modified tree, fish trap, ceremony, habitat).
During the cultural walkover along an estuary foreshore at Old Bar the students identified:
  • Many different types of stone artefacts including axe heads, many of which were partially completed dating back approximately 300 years.
  • Evidence of large limpets brought in from the ocean was also observed and noted.
  • Management issues including bank erosion, goats, impacting on the cultural heritage landscape. The group learnt how complete a site assessment, map main features and recognise key management issues'.
Hunter Local Land Services would like to thank the Worimi Nation, TIDE Rangers and especially Mick Leon (Traditional Owner Worimi Nation/ Aboriginal Archaeologist).

For more information about upcoming workshops please contact Toby Whaleboat 0429 303 765 or

Nepal lessons help Australia protect against Foot and Mouth Disease

Hunter Local Land Services District Vet Kylie Greentree recently completed real-time Foot and Mouth Disease training in Nepal, as one of 10 participants from Australia. The disease is endemic in Nepal, and Ms Greentree’s group visited and surveyed more than 40 farms in a small village that had had an outbreak in the last two years, to examine the risk factors and impacts of the disease on the community.

“We found the loss of income was very significant along with the social and emotional costs of the disease,” said Ms Greentree.

“Risk factors in these villages include close animal contact, sharing of equipment, co-grazing, small ruminants and spread of the virus on farmers.

“An outbreak of FMD in Australia would be absolutely devastating! In the case of an outbreak we need to ensure early detection of the disease occurs in order to stop the spread and return Australia to a FMD free status as soon as possible.”

It has been estimated that direct costs over the 10 years following a FMD outbreak could be $6 billion (for a small outbreak) rising to over $51 billion for a large, multi-state outbreak.

The biggest risks to Australia include illegal importation of products for example, meat products, contaminated soil, poorly treated skins, boats with food products on board or international travellers with contaminated clothes, shoes or amazingly the virus can even remain viable in the respiratory tract of people that have had contact with FMD positive animals.

The training was supported by the Federal Government and Local Land Services.

“To undergo this real-time training in Nepal was such an invaluable experience, and I am so thankful to have been given this opportunity and in the unfortunate event of an FMD outbreak in Australia all the vets and agricultural staff that have undergone this training will be a wonderful resource,” said Ms Greentree.

See some photos of Kylie's trip here on our Facebook page.

Mid-Coast Adaptable Dairy Farming Systems Project

The Mid-Coast Adaptable Dairy Farming Systems Project is an initiative of the Mid-Coast Dairy Advancement Group (MCDAG) and Hunter Local Land Services, supported by funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

The project aims to challenge farmer decision making and practice change on the whole farm system, and explore the outcomes of these on the triple bottom line of the farm. It provides an opportunity for farmers and industry service providers to learn through discussion, debate and by challenging one another through the real life scenario of the local farm.

Read more:

Throsby Creek Litter Management Project

Newcastle City Council's Waste Management Team has embarked on the Throsby Creek Litter Management Project to help reduce the problem via regular clean-ups.

Hunter Local Land Services is supporting this project with an education campaign targeting local high schools in the Throsby catchment area.

Read more:

Environmentally Friendly Moorings Project

Hunter Local Land Service (LLS) has been successful in obtaining funding from the Department of Primary Industries Habitat Action Grants to Upgrade boat moorings to rehabilitate fish habituate in Lake Macquarie.

This project aims to improve the protection and condition of seagrass in Lake Macquarie by increasing seagrass awareness and improving the cooperation between stakeholders. This project will also introduce a rebate program for the upgrade of boat moorings to an environmentally friendly mooring (EFM) design.

Read more:

Hexham Swamp/Kooragang Wetland Rehabilitation Projects

Hunter Local Land Services manage two wetland rehabilitation projects in the lower Hunter - Hexham Swamp and Kooragang Wetlands. The projects are managed by a joint steering committee that provides advice and assistance to the LLS Board in relation to the two projects and acts as a conduit for the exchange of information between LLS and local communities.

Juncus acutus

Hunter Local Land Services and the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service are working together to eradicate Juncus acutus from the valuable saltmarsh habitat on Ash Island in the Hunter Wetlands national park.

Download the factsheet:

Hunter Region Marine Debris Monitoring Program

The Marine Debris Monitoring Program (MDMP) provides a framework to support the design and implementation of monitoring by individuals and community organisations in the Hunter region and has the following features:

  • Monitoring which facilitates prevention and early interception of litter
  • Monitoring opportunities which promote community initiative and ownership
  • The integration of removal, mitigation and prevention activities into the monitoring process
  • A model which enables the program to be replicated in other regions

The ultimate aim of the program is to reduce the impact of marine debris on our environment, especially the death and injury of vertebrate marine life. Individuals and organisations are very welcome to participate in the program.

Further information:

Brian Hughes
Estuary and Marine Officer
(02) 6551 8994 x222