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Protecting the Malleefowl

through Red Fox control

The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) was introduced to Australia in 1855, and has since become a major predator of reptiles, medium-sized mammals and ground-nesting birds such as the Malleefowl. To assist in Malleefowl protection, since 2004 the Wedderburn CMN has been undertaking a successful fox baiting program at Wychitella Nature Conservation Reserve (NCR). The Wedderburn CMN fox baiting program is continuous, targeting all periods of the fox breeding season and offering protection for breeding Malleefowl and emerging chick survival. Parks Victoria 

Recently, there have been several reported sightings of juvenile Malleefowl which the Wedderburn CMN believes is the result of this ongoing fox control. Single adults have also been sighted in areas where they have not been seen for many years, including land revegetated by the Wedderburn CMN. The continued survival of the Malleefowl at Wedderburn now depends on human intervention led by the Wedderburn CMN and supported by the Department of Sustainability and Environment.

Improving vegetation quality through weed control

Since its inception in 2003, the Wedderburn CMN has targeted Bridal Creeper (Asparagus asparagoides) and Wheel Cactus (Optunia robusta) infestations in the district. Both species are recognised as Weeds of National Significance (WoNS) and have flourished in the granitic and sandstone vegetation types found within the Wedderburn CMN area of interest. Many volunteer and contractor hours have been spent injecting and spraying these weeds.

Gazania (Gazania linearis) is also emerging as a major environmental weed in the Wedderburn district. This species is sold as an ornamental plant by nurseries around Victoria - it then escapes from private gardens to invade roadsides and nearby remnant native vegetation. Gazania will be a target of future Wedderburn CMN weed control works.

The Wedderburn CMN weed control program is funded through a Caring for our Country (CFOC) grant.

Box Gum Grassy Woodlands Revegetation Project

The Woodlands Revegetation Project is working to restore our Box Gum Grassy Woodlands (PDF 2.49MB), which is listed as critically endangered under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This vegetation community typically has White Box (Eucalyptus albens), Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) or Blakely's Red Gum (Eucalyptus blakelyii) as the dominant canopy species. Other species of note in this community include Red Box (Eucalyptus polyanthemos), Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa), White Cypress Pine (Callitris glaucophylla) and Buloke (Allocasuarina luehmannii).

These revegetation projects usually involve planting tubestock or direct seeding previously cleared land with indigenous canopy and understorey species. This program is also funded through a CFOC grant.

Fencing native woodlands

The Wedderburn CMN works with landholders to erect fences around existing Box Gum Grassy Woodland remnant vegetation. Under this program, which is also funded by CFOC, fences are erected to exlude stock. Reduced grazing pressure within these parcels of remnant vegetation allows natural regeneration of important woodland species to take place. The resulting improvements in vegetation stucture and diversity provide valuable habitat for native flora and fauna. In recent years the Wedderburn CMN has been able to exceed its area targets for fencing works thanks to interested and engaged landholders in the district.

Facilitating connection of remnant vegetation

In 2004, the Wedderburn CMN Facilitator approached Bush Heritage Australia about purchasing a 245 ha block of remnant vegetation adjacent to Wychitella NCR. The property, which had been well managed and was in excellent condition, became known as the Judith Eardley Reserve. Since then, Bush Heritage Australia has acquired several neighbouring properties - the Nardoo Hill Reserve now covers more than 700 ha and incorporates the Judith Eardley Reserve.

Greenhouse Balanced, a private carbon emissions offset company, came to the Wedderburn district in 2007. In keeping with the Wedderburn CMN's targets and principles, Greenhouse Balanced has revegetated large areas of land in key connective areas around Mt Korong and south of the Nardoo Hills Reserve. To date, approximately 3000 ha of private land has been added to the conservation estate.

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