We have partnered with the Upper Barwon Landcare Network (UBLN) on a joint project L.E.A.F. - Linking Environment and Farms.
The long term vision of the project is to link existing patches of remnant vegetation forming a network of corridors which will eventually join the Otways to the Brisbane Ranges and ultimately to the Great Dividing Range.
The aim is to build on work already completed or underway in the Upper Barwon Catchment using a combination of Landcare plantings with multipurpose productive trees and other forest products in order to optimize a sustainable, productive, diverse and innovative agricultural, ecological and social landscape. The project will build resilience and adaptability in the landscape enabling it, among other things, to better meet the challenges of a changing climate.
The project has received an initial amount of $30,000 in funding from the Norman Wettenhall Foundation to complete a planning and community engagement process. Planning will include the compilation of existing information on remnant vegetation, the quality of remnant vegetation, endangered flora and fauna, existing Landcare and Catchment Management Authority (CMA) plantings, as well as planned plantings and private biodiversity protection and enhancement. A feature of the partnership with the Norman Wettenhall Foundation is a web based mapping system enabling individuals to record their own remnant protection and planting and sightings of flora and fauna. This will allow community members to help significantly increase the information currently available.
The community engagement part of the planning process will take place through existing groups such as local Landcare groups, existing and new Focus Farm groups in order to access people not currently involved. Information will be used from this process to assist groups to establish their own links.
The project will involve a range of partners including CCMA, DSE, DPI, Barwon Water, Local Government, Greening Australia and Trust for Nature.
The first stage of the project will concentrate on the upper Barwon catchment between the Otways along the Barwon River, possibly as far as Inverleigh, by:
- Completing multipurpose corridors (where possible and only with landholder support) down each of the catchment creeks including Wormbete, Retreat, Brickmakers, Yan Yan Gurt, Deans Marsh, Pennyroyal, Matthews, Gosling, Dewings, Callahans and the Barwon River Itself.
- Developing links between the creeks and patches of remnant vegetation thus forming a web of biodiversity. This will be dependent on local group and farmer input.
- Using the Barwon River as a major east west link and the link to Inverleigh.
- Using the Bambra wetlands re-vegetation site as an educational hub for the project with interpretation walks, signage outlining the significance of the broader project and picnic facilities. This is being managed by the East Otway Landcare Group.
Anticipated outcomes of the project include:
Reduced sediment and nutrient input leading to an improvement in water quality and habitat for aquatic biodiversity including breeding platypus. Salinity and weed infestation will be decreased.
Connected remnant vegetation
The project aims to enable a greater capacity for birds, plants and animals to move and adapt to changing conditions and use a larger area than previous. This will allow fauna and flora to migrate and increase population sizes, reduce inbreeding and escape from hazards such as fire, drought and climate change.
The project will provide many productive benefits on farms such as:
- Increased shade and shelter for stock as well as shelter for pasture and crops
- An increase in beneficial parasitic insects, birds and bats resulting in natural pest control
- Improved soil health by increasing organic matter (carbon) and biology such as fungi, bacteria and mieofauna in the system
- Increased pollination in crops via the pollinator insects
- Diversified products such as timber, native or indigenous food plants, honey, indigenous seed, indigenous flowers
- Offsets to farm greenhouse gas emissions
- More effective use of fertilizers - by keeping nutrients on the property rather than losing them down drainage lines
- More sheltered working conditions with enhanced aesthetics for humans.
- Increased property values
People and communities
Local communities will be strengthened as a result of the communication and interaction required for the project. The connection between local communities and urban areas via their involvement in the project will be improved.