National Parks and reserves such as Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve cannot provide a home for all of our wildlife. Bushland on private land is just as important in making sure that our common wildlife continues to exist and does not end up on the endangered species list.
There are a number of important ways local landholders can help to protect and conserve the Helmeted Honeyeater and all of the wildlife that call this area home.
- Get a free assessment of your property
- Protect habitat for wildlife on your property by protecting bushland remnants
- Permanently conserve the bushland on your property
- Sensitively manage fuel loads in bushland
- Restore habitat for wildlife on your property
- Get financial help to implement conservation works
- Join the Friends and volunteer
- Join your local Landcare Group
Photographer: David Eastham
Protect habitat for wildlife on your property by protecting bushland remnants
The best thing that anyone can do to help wildlife is to keep any bushland and trees that remain in the landscape.
Keeping shrubs, native grasses and wildflowers is so important
The bushland on our properties provides a home for tens of thousands of creatures when you consider all of the ‘little guys’; like the beetles, native bees, moths and butterflies. The ‘little guys’ drive the whole system. They keep soils healthy for plant growth, break down and recycle plant material, pollinate plants and provide food for the creatures we can see – like birds, wallabies and echidnas.
Trees are important habitat too, but most of the critters, large and small, rely on the vegetation that covers the ground and the small and medium shrubs. For example, Helmeted Honeyeaters get food from the trees and require a dense shrub layer for breeding. Echidnas will be found where they get protection from grasses and low growing plants and can feed on ants, termites, beetles and worms where leaf litter is left to accumulate.
The best ways to protect your bushland remnants
- Fence out domestic stock
- Control weeds such as Blackberry
- Keep vehicles and heavy machinery out
- Keep access tracks through bushland to an absolute minimum
- Control pest animals such as deer, rabbits and foxes.
The Landholders Guide to Habitat Protection and Conservation provides excellent further reading and advice. It is available from the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority website, ppwcma.vic.gov.au
Some of the varied, high conservation value habitat on properties in the area that provides a home for 100’s of thousands of plants and creatures. Having the ground covered in plants, leaf litter and logs greatly increases the habitat value of remnant bushland.
Permanently conserve the bushland on your property
All of your good work can be quickly undone by a new landholder. You can protect the conservation values of your property after you have gone with a Trust for Nature covenant.
Images: Motorbike trail creation and clearing of the ground layer and shrub vegetation in an attempt to create pasture to graze cattle are unfortunately quite common practices.
A conservation covenant (deed of covenant) is a voluntary, legal agreement made between a private landowner and Trust for Nature (“the Trust”). Its purpose is to permanently conserve and protect the natural, cultural or scientific values of the land. The Trust’s conservation covenants are entered into under the Victorian Conservation Trust Act 1972, registered on Title and are legally binding forever.
Restore habitat for wildlife on your property
Many landholders undertake revegetation activities to increase habitat available for wildlife on their properties.
Revegetation areas that are close to remnant bushland will often revegetate themselves if domestic stock, weed infestations and activities such as annual slashing are removed. This natural regeneration occurs around farm dams too when stock access is removed.
Revegetation by planting tubestock will be needed in areas that have been pasture for a long time and where little remnant bushland remains.
Advice on planning a revegetation project and what plants to plant is readily available from our experienced staff at the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater nursery, Melbourne Water River Health Incentives Program staff and Yarra Ranges Council, Ribbons of Green Officer.
Images: Natural regeneration after a landholder stopped slashing and an example of a farm dam fenced to exclude stock and revegetated (Gaye Gadsden)
Sensitively manage fuel loads in bushland
Decreasing risk to your buildings and other assets
Defendable space is an area of land around a building where vegetation (fuel) is modified and managed to reduce the effects of bushfire attack. Defendable space breaks up and reduces the amount of fuel available to burn during a bushfire and creates separation between the bushfire hazard/fuel (e.g. vegetation, flammable material) and a building. It is an effective tool that helps create a more fire ready property.
Fuel management directly around your property assets is well documented in the CFA’s Your Guide to Property Preparation available from cfa.vic.gov.au
Fuel reduction activities that will reduce fuel load without destroying the bush
Fine fuels contribute most to the rate of spread of fire. Fine fuels are the kindling; all the sticks, ribbons of bark and small branches that are no thicker than your thumb. One of the best ways to manage your fuel load is to remove these fine fuels from your bushland.
Retain large logs for habitat. Logs do not contribute to the rate of spread of fire.
Avoid the use of large machinery to carry out any fuel reduction activities. Opt for more targeted methods such as brushcutting. Brushcut down to 10cm from ground level but no lower. Avoid exposing bare earth while slashing. It increases erosion and weed invasion. If there are native grasses and wildflowers try not to slash or brushcut them until they have set seed. Wait as late as possible in the bushfire pre-season.
One way to reduce the speed and heat of a fire is to create spaces without any fuel. If you break up fuel the fire can’t spread as easily through your property. Fire access tracks can act as fuel breaks. Brushcutting can create further separation of fuel.
Retain shrubs in small but isolated clumps, away from tree trunks. Shrubs act as ‘ladder fuels’ because they allow the fire to climb trees. You may need to thin out the shrub layer. Removing ladder fuels is a very effective way of reducing the chances of fire getting up into the canopy of the trees. The fire accelerates to a rapid rate of spread when it gets into the canopy.
Pruning tree and shrub branches at least 2 metres above the ground will also help reduce ‘ladder fuel’.
Removing environmental weeds as a first priority will reduce available fuel and benefit the environment.
Bushfire Fuel Management Guide for the Protection of Townships and Settlements (uses Monbulk as a case study) find it at www.safertogether.vic.gov.au
CFA Your Guide to Property Preparation available from cfa.vic.gov.au
Yarra Ranges Council Flora and Fauna Plan 2012: Action Sheet 5 Fire
Get financial help to implement conservation works
Because this area has such high conservation values, funding is available for private land conservation works through several sources. Melbourne Water and Yarra Ranges Council offer ongoing funding programs that provide funding for private land works year after year. Other funding becomes available from time to time through projects that are funded for one to three years.
The Melbourne Water River Health Incentives Program
Private landowners and land managers can access funding through:
- Stream frontage management program – For those properties that share a boundary with a Creek or River. This program funds for works along waterways such as weed control, fencing and indigenous plantings.
- Rural land program – Funds projects in the Woori Yallock Creek catchment area to reduce the amount of sediment and nutrients entering waterways from farmland. A wide variety of works are eligible including funds towards erosion works, revegetation, fencing out dams, establishing off dam/creek watering points, weed control and creating stock cross overs through wet areas. Technical advice, education and support to develop farm plans is also available.
Apply on line via www.melbournewater.com.au/community-and-education/apply-funding or phone 131722 to speak to an Officer.
Yarra Ranges Council Programs
The Ribbons of Green program provides free indigenous plants, guards and stakes to property owners in Yarra Ranges. To apply for the Ribbons of Green program contact Parks and Environment on 1300 368 333. More information is available at www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/Property/Trees-vegetation/Plants-for-properties
Yarra Ranges Council also can provide free tip vouchers to property owners to dispose of eight species of environmental weeds including Agapanthus and English Ivy. You can apply online at www.yarraranges.vic.gov.au/Property/Trees-vegetation/Weeds or contact Parks and Environment on 1300 368 333.
State government funding is currently available to landholders whose properties are within the Birds to Butterfield Project area. Funding for weed control and pest animal control (especially deer) is available through Birds to Butterfield until the end of 2021.
Image: Map of coverage of the Birds to Butterfield Project funding
Join the Friends and volunteer
Join your local Landcare Group
Landcare groups can provide you with ongoing information through their newsletters, opportunities to get involved in activities and connect with other landholders.
Some of the local Landcare groups are:
Macclesfield Landcare Group – contact at MacclesfieldLandcareMembership@gmail.com or via PO Box 189, Emerald VIC 3782
Johns Hill Landcare Group – This Landcare Group works in the Emerald area and within Butterfield Reserve. Contact at email@example.com or via PO Box 426 Emerald VIC 3782
Monbulk Landcare Group – contact at https://www.yarrarangeslandcare.org.au/contact-monbulk.html