Safeguarding critically endangered birds a win-win for north east farmers
Bangerang Elder Uncle Dozer Atkinson hosting a cultural knowledge walk on Michael’s property during a local Landcare meeting.
Farmers in north east Victoria are ensuring the survival of critically endangered Swift Parrots and Regent Honeyeaters by restoring habitat on their land.
Trust for Nature, in partnership with the North East Catchment Management Authority, have worked with 64 landholders to plant 44,000 bird-friendly trees and shrubs as part of Bush for Birds, a $5 million landscape-scale project restoring habitat for the critically endangered Regent Honeyeater and Swift Parrot.
With both birds threatened with extinction due to loss of habitat, there are now thought to be only around 300-400 Regent Honeyeaters and 1500-2000 Swift Parrots remaining in the wild.
Farmer Michael Schultz, near Springhurst, said participating in the project has been a win-win on his property, both for productivity and the environment.
“The project hasn’t affected productivity on our farm at all, like some people would expect. Instead, the project is enhancing our productivity. By planting areas with low-density trees and shrubs next to dams and thinning 5 hectares of existing bushland with unnaturally dense eucalypt regrowth, we’re improving water quality for stock and lowering the risk of damage in the event of a bushfire.”
Trust for Nature Conservation Officer Blake Hose said farming areas are becoming increasingly important for conservation.
“As our native plants and animals adapt to the increasing pressure of climate change, suitable refuges amongst the landscape are vital to their persistence,” he said.
“The area where the ecological thinning was carried out didn’t have much value for grazing. Over time, we’re expecting to see more biodiversity in the area, particularly birds. This will help improve our pastoral areas, because with more birds they’ll eat more insects, and so we’ll get better pest control outcomes. It’ll showcase how productivity and ecological sustainability can benefit one another,” Michael said.
Through the Bush for Birds Project, Trust for Nature has established and protected 200 ha of woodland bird habitat. A covenant is a voluntary, legally binding and permanent agreement that restricts activities that might damage the environment.
The project has also provided opportunities for sharing of knowledge between First Nations people and landholders.
Trust for Nature’s Cultural Liaison Officer, Bangerang woman Jiarra Atkinson, said, “Michael’s property was a great opportunity to conduct a cultural walk and share knowledge with our local Landcare group members during a field day in which Trust for Nature participated alongside Bangerang Elder Uncle Dozer Atkinson”.
“Understanding and respecting our cultural landscape is vitally important,” Michael said.
Trust for Nature is one of Australia’s oldest conservation organisations, established to protect habitat on private land. It is a non-profit organisation that relies on the generosity of supporters to help protect Victoria’s biodiversity.
The Bush for Birds Project is supported by Trust for Nature and the North East Catchment Management Authority, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.
James Whitmore, Communications Coordinator Manager, Trust for Nature, 0450 653 811, firstname.lastname@example.org