The ‘Paddocks for Plains-wanderers’ project has been allocated further funding in 2019 from the National Landcare Program.
It will enable more work to be done with local landholders who have primary habitat for Plains-wanderer and recognises the critically endangered status of the Plainswanderer and the challenges it faces as the drought deepens in the western Riverina.
The funds will be used to continue the landscape-scale fox baiting program and expansion of the landholder incentive program.
Plains-wanderer project officer Megan Purvis said the support from landholders in the first year of the project had been encouraging with 25 paddocks, covering 4,655 hectares, signed up for the project in the first 12 months.
‘‘It was a great milestone to get eight landholders on board in 2018 with incentives such as stock proof fencing, watering points and saltbush plantings that will take some pressure off these patches of Plains-wanderer habitat, at the same time benefiting stock.
‘‘With this additional funding, we are now looking for more landholders to come on board in 2019 to build on the great start made on the project. This is even more important with the increasingly dry conditions.
‘‘By joining the project we can help landholders make improvements for their stock management at the same time keeping sufficient cover in the Plains-wanderer paddocks to help the birds survive the dry conditions.
‘‘We work with the landholder on a package of actions that suit their particular circumstances. These may include watering points, saltbush planting, stock management areas, lick feeders, boxthorn control and pest animal control.
‘‘It’s a ground-up approach that has the flexibility to find ways of supporting these iconic birds, at the same time helping with livestock production.’’
Darren O’Loughlin, who manages ‘Cooinbil’ at Darlington Point for Paraway Pastoral, has recently joined the project.
He will undertake weed and pest control over 1000ha of Plains-wanderer habitat.
‘‘We will not only be improving conditions for the Plains-wanderer, but improving our soil and pasture management. Reducing foxes will benefit our sheep production and help the survival of the Plains-wanderers,’’ he said.
Mr O’Loughlin also says by joining the ‘Paddocks for Plains-wanderers’ project, he now understands how his habitat paddocks should look.
‘‘Ideally I’ll be aiming to keep those paddocks with clumps of grasses and sparse shrubs that are a bit more densely covered than other paddocks, particularly in dry times. This suits the sheep as well,’’ he said.
Jock Campbell, manager of Paraway Pastoral’s property Mungadal also signed up paddocks to the program.
“It will give me increased capacity for pest and weed control to improve sustainable land management and help to conserve Plains-wanderers”, he said.
Paul McDougall, the Land and Environment Officer for Paraway Pastoral has added his support to the project.
“Being involved in the conservation of Plains-wanderers has given us a good news story to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and the triple bottom line”.
Plains-wanderer project officer Megan Purvis and Darren O’Loughlin at ‘Cooinbil’, Darlington Point.