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Projects and programs

National Landcare Program (Phase 2) - Regional Land Partnerships

Updated February 2019

The Australian Government National Landcare Program, 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(NLP) 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.

Regional Land Partnerships, through the NLP will focus on recovering vulnerable ecological communities, protecting threatened species, and reducing threats to our globally significant wetlands.

Additionally, the Regional Land Partnerships include sustainable agricultural projects to improve soil quality, assist farmers adapt to climate change, and respond to evolving market demands.

Information on the National Landcare Program can be found at www.nrm.gov.au

Hunter Local Land Services  have been successful, and contracted to deliver projects under the program, from 17 July 2018 until 30 June 2023.

More information on Hunter LLS Incentive programs and our priority areas through this programs can be found here.

NLP2 Program Contact: Lyndel Wilson, NRM Team Leader Lyndel.wilson@lls.nsw.gov.au

Hunter LLS current projects  through the Regional Land Partnerships program include:

Protecting the wonders of the Myall Lakes Wetlands through catchment based partnerships

This project will address actions in the Myall Lakes Ramsar Site - Ecological Character Description, 2012. The key threats to the ecological character of the Ramsar site are land uses, introduced species and knowledge gaps on species and pests. This project will work with farmers to develop property plans to support improved management practices, supported by landholder incentives to implement changed practice (changed fertiliser practices, chicken litter/ manure management and grazing).

The project will increase knowledge for Eastern Curlew, associated migratory and resident shorebirds, and reduce threats to shorebirds(including Little Tern), seabirds(including Goulds Petrel)s and marine turtles.

We will work with Landcare groups to control feral pig, fox and wild dogs, to reduce impacts on threatened species. A partnership coastal weed program will reduce weed impacts across 50km of coastline & survey aquatic weeds on farms adjacent to unique Myall wetlands. The project will also promote values for the Ramsar site to community and visitors.

This  project will end in June 30 2019.

In good hands: Landcare and Farmers restoring Box Gum and Grey Box Grassy Woodlands

The project ‘In good hands’ will address key threats and implement recovery activities as identified in the National Recovery Plan for White Box - Yellow Box - Blakely's Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland, and pockets of Grey Box Woodlands.

The main aim for this project is to improve the condition of Box-Gum Grassy Woodland vegetation within the Upper Hunter. Farmers and Landcare members will increase their knowledge on recovery and restoration methods for Box-Gum Grassy Woodland.

Incentives will be provided to stakeholders to deliver on ground works such as fencing to manage grazing impacts of stock and weed control, to protect and improve the condition of at least 82 hectares of Box-Gum Grassy Woodland, and changed grazing practices for Box Woodland recovery in 110ha within the Upper Hunter (20km buffer of the Goulburn NP and in the Murrurundi region).

Community members will also survey for Fairy Bells (Homoranthus darwinioides) to increase the known records for this species and increase the amount of seed stored in the National Seed Bank.

This project will continue until 30 June 2023.

Project Contact: Adam Bush adam.bush@lls.nsw.gov.au

Bringing back the Regent honeyeater, a flagship species for our forests, farms, rivers and woodland birds

We will implement recovery actions for the Regent Honeyeater (Swift Parrot & woodland birds) in priority breeding and foraging habitats of the Lower, Central and Upper Hunter, as Key National Recovery Plan actions for Regent Honeyeater are to;

  • improve the extent and quality of habitat,
  • increase knowledge of wild populations and,
  • maintain and increase community awareness and involvement in recovery activities.

We will work with landholders, Landcare, BirdLife, OEH, farmers, Aboriginal communities and schools through community engagement and on ground restoration through our Incentives program, and through direct engagement in priority areas. The project will target recovery of key habitats Central Hunter Valley Eucalypt forest, White Box - Yellow Box - Blakely's Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland, and River Oak (Upper Goulburn river) through grazing and stock management and bush regeneration (weed control), revegetation, and deer monitoring (Cessnock Forests) on private property and public lands.

A schools education program in partnership with Hunter Region Landcare Network will raise community awareness, and encourage participation. The project will also establish new formal surveys in the Upper Hunter with LALCs and landholders, to monitor species movement, nesting and behaviour.

This project will continue until 30 June 2023.

Climate Ready Aquaculture

The Climate Ready Aquaculture Project will help oyster and fishing industries adapt to climate change, by optimising farming methods. The project will support oyster farmers in the Wallis, Port Stephens and Manning estuaries, to transition to more sustainable and productive growing methods, reducing waste generation and improving estuarine habitats and fisheries production.

Oyster farmers will be supported to develop individual oyster farm profiles that map and describe oyster infrastructure types and condition. Farm profiles enable oyster farmers to adapt to climate change whilst improving productivity, profitability and sustainability. Assistance for implementing priority actions identified in oyster farm profiles will be provided through small incentive grants.

These core project activities will be enhanced by research and monitoring to provide information on methods that maximise the resilience of oyster growers. The project will also identify opportunities for habitat augmentation to offset any reduced fisheries production as a result of climate change or changing oyster infrastructure and practices.

This project will continue until 30 June 2023.

Project contact: Brian Hughes brian.hughes@lls.nsw.gov.au

New projects from 1 July 2019 will include:(more details coming soon for new projects)

Understanding the Australasian Bittern to improve and protect important habitats for their survival

This project will commence 1 July and continue until 30 June 2023.

Improving saltmarsh habitats and reducing threats to Eastern Curlew

This project will commence 1 July and continue until 30 June 2023.

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 maria.cameron@lls.nsw.gov.au

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 http://www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/Council/Works-and-Projects/Council-Projects/Waterways-Report-Card-2017.

For more information contact Brian Hughes 6551 8994; or mobile 0428 293 021 brian.hughes@lls.nsw.gov.au

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 www.carp.gov.au
We are keen to have community involved in monitoring carp in our rivers, they can do this via FishFeralScan,

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
brian.hughes@lls.nsw.gov.au