Arawata – connecting the landscape

Many Landcare projects are sites within a landholder’s property and work to repair the landscape, provide shelter to stock and a refuge for wildlife.

They can sit, like steppingstones in a waterway. Islands, isolated and separate.

The Arawata Landcare Group has been working to build a bridge between those steppingstones to create a corridor linking distinct separate projects into one connected, living, growing habitat.

Focussed around an area between north of Leongatha, east of Korumburra and south of Halston-Allambee.  Arawata Landcare Group  draws its members from areas such as Kardella, Arawata, Fairbank, Mt Eccles and Wild Dog Valley. The  Group’s Biotic Concatenation in the Arawata Biome project involves diverse landscapes including bush blocks as well as commercial  farming properties.

At this early stage the group is working to develop the individual sites rather than the corridor itself but as secretary of the Arawata Landcare Group Vince Philpott says, “We’re looking at following this thinking through so that the properties aren’t too isolated and can be connected so that we can progress what we’re trying to do.”

“Some years ago a ‘green corridor’ was mapped….that needs to be revisited as it will be a very significant project having to work with a lot of different landholders to gain access to their property and for some ‘locking out’ a portion of land is not particularly palatable… Whatever we are doing now aligns with that broader principle,” adds Vince.

Currently the Arawata Group is working to rehabilitate waterway areas, stabilise and revegetate land while also playing a longer game with an eye on building the connecting corridors when possible.

The most recent activity has been assisted by a Victorian Landcare Grant which helped the group plant 6,500 trees over two properties.

Like so many groups across the country, the Arawata Landcare Group has been hampered by the restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we’ve done in the past is hire a bus and drive group members from site to site so we can all see what’s going on. We’ve also had community planting days, which are always popular. But this past 12 months we’ve had to suspend those type of activities,” says Vince.

“We were in lockdown when we were planting in spring. So, there was a bit of a supply issue with seedlings and then we had to work in very small groups, socially distanced as well, so that changed the way we would normally operate.”

Looking to a post-COVID landscape Vince says there is an optimistic and enthusiastic feeling in the Arawata group assisted by an influx of new members as well as the extraordinary environment it covers.

“We’ve had about a dozen new members over the last six months or so and they are keen to get projects started on their properties, which is great to see and keeps the broader membership engaged,” says Vince.

“One thing that keeps people enthused here is that we get almost 100% strike rate when we plant these seedlings and the rate of growth in this locale is incredible. I was at a site we planted out two or three years ago and some of those seedlings are now approaching two metres tall. It’s just astounding,”

Hopefully those young  trees will one day be a part of a connected landscape in the area providing habitat for wildlife and a nursery for further growth.

The next round of Victorian Landcare Grants open on 30 April, visit www.wgcma.vic.gov.au for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Members of the Arawata Landcare Group