Victorian Landcare Magazine - Summer 2023-24, Issue 86

Regional snapshot - Protecting the Wimmera wind-harp

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Flora, fauna and biodiversity

C383 p22 23 small b

Above A drone photograph showing the Slaty Creek site where St Arnaud Secondary College students assisted in replanting critical buloke woodland habitat.

The Buloke and Northern Grampians Landcare Network (BNGLN) wants to raise the profile of an important native tree in the regional landscape – the buloke. Known colloquially as the Wimmera wind-harp due to the sound its sparse foliage makes in the breeze, buloke (Allocasuarina luehmannii) is listed as threatened under Victoria’s Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.

Buloke is in sharp decline mainly due to historical clearing for agriculture. The hardness of its wood and its straggly appearance had also seen it targeted as a fencepost and firewood species. Added to this the slow growth rate of the tree means it has often been omitted from revegetation projects.

Buloke woodlands are highly biodiverse – providing habitat for a great variety of plants, birds and other animals. Some of these species, including the red-tailed black cockatoo, are endangered.

BNGLN has been successful in obtaining funding under the 2021 Victorian Landcare Grants for a project to improve community knowledge of buloke.

The first stage of Project Windharp involved mapping larger concentrations of remnant buloke. An educational campaign followed with presentations on the importance of buloke woodlands at Landcare meetings, articles in local newspapers and on social media and the development of a citizen science training package to help locals identify and record significant remnant patches of buloke.

Landholders are being encouraged to preserve existing species on their land with stock proof fencing and to establish new buloke plantings in suitable areas.

Since the Project began, more than 6000 trees have now been planted. These include 3000 buloke, the rest being allied species of acacias and sheoaks. In September 2022 students from St Arnaud Secondary College planted almost 1300 buloke seedlings over two days at Slaty Creek. More recently, 1700 buloke were planted at Callawadda.

BNGLN President, Ken Coates believes the project has been a great success and that it will continue to provide a focus for BNGLN volunteers for years to come.

“It has also provided an opportunity to build on several existing partnerships with local landholders, the St Arnaud Resource Centre who provided a venue for the initial training and printed out materials, and the enthusiastic revegetation crew at St Arnaud Secondary College.

“It was terrific to see the students interacting with the landowners, our Landcare Facilitator Andrew Borg, and volunteers, to not only get the seedlings into the ground, but to aid in fixing an erosion gully, and learning a bit about biodiversity and regenerative agriculture along the way,” Ken said.

Andrew Borg is Landcare Facilitator of BNGLN. His position is funded by the Victorian Landcare Facilitator Program.

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