Christmas Hills Landcare email news - 9th May, 2010

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Greetings Christmas Hills Landcarers

This newsletter is to update you with news and events related to Christmas Hills Landcare.

Included in this newsletter:

  1. Community Nursery
  2. Christmas Hills Landcare rabbit control program update
  3. Tool trailer
  4. Watsons Creek Biolink Project
  5. Christmas Hills Community newsletter - May edition

1. Community Nursery
St Andrews Landcare Group recently submitted an application for funds to support the development of a community nursery to initially propagate local indigenous plants to supply to fire-affected properties in St Andrews, Strathewen and Christmas Hills, and then more broadly to develop volunteer opportunities for community involvement in propagation, encouraging the use of such plants in gardens and on properties, and education sessions around propagation, biodiversity etc.  The application was successful to the tune of $30,000.

The proposal included the establishment of a Steering Committee to oversee the more detailed planning and delivery of the project. Sue Aldred (President, St Andrews Landcare) is keen to hold an initial meeting to kick off the project including such aspects as a location for the nursery, the budget (they applied for $45,000 but got $30,000), the construction and how to work towards achieving the level of commitment and community involvement needed to make the nursery successful.

It would be great to have at least one person on that committee to represent Christmas Hills. If you would be interested in guiding this exciting project, please let me know asap.  If you could also indicate what day/time is best for you towards the end of May, that would help Sue in setting a date for the initial meeting which will be at St Andrews in the Community Centre.

2. Christmas Hills Landcare rabbit control program update


The rabbit control program targets an area of 560 hectares. Currently 32 properties covering 342 hectares are participating.


On the 13th April, we conducted a spotlight count of rabbit numbers seen along a transect route 10.3 kilometres long in total. With a total count of 651 rabbits, the transect count came out at 63 rabbits per kilometre, which according to one bit of literature I have come across equates to over 6000 rabbits in our target area alone. We will conduct the spotlight count again about the same time next year to see what impact the program may have had on rabbit numbers.


We have had two local environmental contractors spraying blackberry on the participating properties - the spraying is now almost complete and you may notice plenty of blackberry yellowing off as it dies. As blackberry provides shelter from weather and predators, its removal is an important step in preventing rabbit numbers from building up after we have reduced them through ferreting and baiting.


We have purchased enough steel mesh to construct 80 bait stations, and Peter and Gad have made a start on their construction. There is still more to be done, so expect to hear about a working bee or two in the near future to finish them off.


Ian, the ferreter will start his rounds of participating properties this week, and will also be helping us with recording the location of each warren he finds to make it easier to later relocate the warrens to collapse them.


Once the ferreter has been through and made the initial reduction in rabbit numbers, we will commence the baiting program to take the numbers down further. We will then follow this up with the warren collapsing to make it very difficult for any remaining rabbits to breed and therefore build up their numbers again.


The next Landcare event (probably in early July) will focus on demonstrating different rabbit control methods, including ferreting, warren destruction, and construction and use of the bait stations.


3. Tool trailer


The Nillumbik Shire Council, via its Natural Environment Recovery Working Group, earlier this year presented the Christmas Hills Landcare Group with an opportunity to apply for a small bushfire grant for community involvement in environmental recovery. Given that we had previously been unsuccessful with an application for funding from a

separate source for a tool trailer, this became the basis for this application.


We have recently heard that this application was successful, and that the funds will initially be provided to Nillumbik.


This grant will enable us to purchase a lockable covered trailer, and equip it with backpack sprayers, bush regenerator kits, weed flamers, weed wands, loppers, mattocks, shovels, tree planters, gloves, knee pads, etc. The trailer can then be used for community projects, and can also be made available for Christmas Hills landholders to help them with environmental works on their own properties. The grant also included a component that will enable up to 10 people to get formal training in the safe handling of chemicals.



4. Watsons Creek Biolink Project

The Watsons Creek Biolink Project is part of the Parks Victoria Fire Recovery Program and is focussed on an area of land that Parks Victoria acquired in 2006.


The Biolink project aims to reinforce a section of vital habitat link for wildlife between the Kinglake and Warrandyte Parks by revegetating with native seedlings a largely cleared piece of land in Christmas Hills south of Marshalls Road.


The project aims to plant around 50,000 seedlings, and Parks Victoria are offering volunteers the opportunity to plant many of these seedlings  between the 1st May and the 13th June. At our last event members suggested that we should try book a day (preferably a Sunday in early June) for Landcare and other Christmas Hills people to do some planting.


I will see if I can book the 6th June. To meet supervision requirements, numbers need to be limited to 30 people per day, but if the level of interest is high we might see if we can do morning and afternoon shifts.


The site has no facilities, so participants will be required to bring all their own food and water requirements for the day.  They will also need hat, sunscreen, gloves, raincoat etc.  A portable toilet will be provided on site for participants.


5. Christmas Hills Community newsletter - May edition


For a write up of the Rednex vs Greenies cricket match, and other Christmas Hills community news check out the latest edition of Christmas Hills News at: