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More habitat for native species in central Victoria

Glen Norris (Healthy Landscape Manager)
Published 18 Aug 2021 
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Lawan landscape by Annette Ruzicka.<br/> Lawan landscape by Annette Ruzicka.
Brown Treecreepers are one of the woodland bird species we expect the new block of land will support. Photo by Jeroen van Veen<br/> Brown Treecreepers are one of the woodland bird species we expect the new block of land will support. Photo by Jeroen van Veen
The support of Terry and Caroline Bellair has enabled Bush Heritage to acquire 400 hectares of bushland in central Victoria. Photo by Amelia Caddy<br/> The support of Terry and Caroline Bellair has enabled Bush Heritage to acquire 400 hectares of bushland in central Victoria. Photo by Amelia Caddy
Map showing the location of the new block between our Lawan Reserve and Ngarri.<br/> Map showing the location of the new block between our Lawan Reserve and Ngarri.

Our conservation impact in Victoria continues to grow with the consolidation of a key biolink next to our Lawan Reserve.

Today I’m delighted to announce that Bush Heritage’s network of reserves on Dja Dja Wurrung country in central Victoria has been given a significant boost with the addition of a 346-hectare patch of bush.

Extending habitat protection in this area is a significant step for our Victorian operations. It means we now protect approximately 2600 hectares across this heavily fragmented region, providing much needed connectivity and enabling isolated populations of threatened bird, mammal and reptile species to move more freely across the landscape.

The newly acquired block is nestled between Lawan Reserve, which we’ve owned since 2015, and Mt Egbert or Ngarri. Ngarri is part of the Wychitella Nature Conservation Reserve managed by Parks Victoria and Djandak and is well known for its cultural significance and beautiful rocky outcrops called The Granites. We are working with Dja Dja Wurrung Traditional Owners (Djaara) for an appropriate language name for the new site.

All these protected areas are in our Kara Kara Wedderburn Focal Landscape – the area between the regional town of Wedderburn and the Kara Kara National Park that we have been connecting up for more than a decade. This landscape is home to patches of temperate woodland which are the most threatened wooded ecosystem in Australia, primarily due to land clearing.

One day, we hope the new block of land could be habitat for Malleefowl as it possesses remnant Blue Mallee, Green Mallee and Bull Mallee favoured by this special mound-building bird. (Fun fact: Lawan is the Dja Dja Wurrung word for Malleefowl.)

Sections of intact grassy woodlands will attract threatened woodland birds like the Brown Treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus victoriae) and Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata), while Yellow Box and Grey Box trees found across the block will provide shelter and sustenance for myriad other species.

The block also contains plant species that have declined in the region like Quandong (Santalum acuminatum and Common Eutaxia (Eutaxia microphylla), as well as good native grass cover in some locations.

Some of the property was historically cleared but the previous landowner and good friend of Bush Heritage Paul Dettman from Cassinia Environmental had begun steps towards ecological restoration including extensive revegetation work with 25,000 seedlings and 400km of direct seeding lines. We plan to continue this restoration process in partnership with Djaara.

The acquisition was made possible through the generous support of Bush Heritage donors Caroline and Terry Bellair, who gifted us $1 million to purchase remnant habitat in the Dalyenong region of our Kara Kara Wedderburn Focal Landscape. Caroline and Terry’s generosity led to our 2019 acquisition of Bellair Reserve and their ongoing support means native species will now have even more freedom to move across the landscape unimpeded.

Lawan landscape by Annette Ruzicka.<br/> Lawan landscape by Annette Ruzicka.
Brown Treecreepers are one of the woodland bird species we expect the new block of land will support. Photo by Jeroen van Veen<br/> Brown Treecreepers are one of the woodland bird species we expect the new block of land will support. Photo by Jeroen van Veen
The support of Terry and Caroline Bellair has enabled Bush Heritage to acquire 400 hectares of bushland in central Victoria. Photo by Amelia Caddy<br/> The support of Terry and Caroline Bellair has enabled Bush Heritage to acquire 400 hectares of bushland in central Victoria. Photo by Amelia Caddy
Map showing the location of the new block between our Lawan Reserve and Ngarri.<br/> Map showing the location of the new block between our Lawan Reserve and Ngarri.