Category Archives: Biodiversity

Biodiversity

Muckleford Forest: Engaging with DELWP’s new program

The Victorian Government has initiated a major program to “modernise” the State’s Regional Forest Agreements (RFAs) and the forest management system they accredit, through comprehensive engagement with Victorian communities. Read more here.

There are many views about the success or otherwise of the RFAs – but that’s for another post!

DELWP has identified a number of goals including: “Comprehensive engagement with Victorian communities about what they value in forests”, “A Vision for the future management of our forests” and “Refreshing forest management planning, including greater integration with fire planning”. All sounding worthy, but what will they mean in practice?

There is an online survey currently running to 31 March that enables you to mark on a map your favourite place and say why as well as answer a series of questions about forest management priorities and your vision. Please contribute!

Burning in the Muckleford killed trees and burnt out hollows

The other ways to get involved are:

  • Roundtables – there is a report on these Roundtables here – lots to read! was one held in our region (news to us if one was!).
  • Drop-ins – for the Loddon Mallee region the only one on their website is 23 Feb: Lancefield Farmers Market (perhaps there have been some elsewhere?)
  • Contact form to be kept in the DELWP information loop – contact form

Read more about what DELWP is doing in their Future of our Forests (RFA modernisation program) newsletter – here is the first one.

One of the processes that DELWP has underway is a state-wide program of data collection to inform renewal of the RFAs and improved management of Victoria’s forests. Interesting! One of the issues we are currently bemused about is that DELWP does not draw upon the Birdlife data for its own database … why not? We are following this up!

Please share this post and information. Hoping Muckleford friends can take the time to get involved – our forest really needs a positive vision and active conservation.

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Biodiversity and planned burns – DELWP Meeting – Thurs 18 Oct, Castlemaine

DELWP is holding a Joint Fuel Management Program meeting (what was called the FOP) in Castlemaine at the Ray Bradfield rooms on Thursday 18 October between 4:00 and 7:00 pm.  Invitations have been sent to various groups and individuals, so please feel free to attend this forum.

We are keen to have more discussion about the proposed Bruce’s Track burn in the Muckleford Forest. Hearing that the burn was about to happen this spring (not 2019 as scheduled), got us in action, sharing our concerns with DELWP about biodiversity impacts.

The Bruces Track planned burn is located in the bushfire moderation zone (BMZ) which has a fuel management objective of reducing bushfire speed and intensity with the focus on reducing impacts on life and property. The zoning scheme was developed as part of the former West Central Bushfire Risk Landscape and was subject of engagement including a meeting in Daylesford in 2016 that Muckleford Forest Friends and FOBIF were involved in. As a result the BMZ (then called NEW03) in the Bruces Track area was reduced in size.

That’s good news – but what about the mitigation measures for specific species – especially during spring breading and nesting? The ‘sudden’ outset of the burn was a serious worry. Based on our advocacy about known bird species active in the area, the DELWP biodiversity assessment staff have been asked to consider our advice and make recommendations on what DELWP should do reduce impacts. Their initial advice is to delay the burn until autumn, minimise canopy scorch and leave unburnt patches in the burn unit. The burn will now be  postponed until autumn 2019.

We have been asked to add our records to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas (VBA) – which really highlights the poor state of knowledge that DELWP have about species present in the Muckleford Forest (and other areas too of course).  As readers would know from earlier posts, we have a series of 20 minute, 2 ha bird transects set up in the forest which we are monitoring quarterly and importing our data via BirdData.

Much of the data for the Bruce’s Track area has been collected through other forms of observation. Any volunteers out there who could help enter this data into VBA or BirdData?

 

 

Yellow Robins

(from the Connecting Country website)

Eastern yellow robins. A common woodland species. Not endangered. No fancy breeding displays. Easy to spot. So why is Monash University putting so much effort into following every move of these birds?

Well, it turns out they are more remarkable than once thought.

Recently we discovered two unexpected genetic lineages in our familiar robins. These lineages lie neatly to the east and west of the Great Dividing Range. While they are genetically distinct, even with the best pair of Swarovski binoculars the two lineages look exactly the same to the human eye.

Here’s where it gets really interesting. Along the east and west boundary there are sites where the two genetic lineages coexist (e.g., Muckleford State Forest, Crusoe Reservoir, Bendigo). So, they are hanging out together but maintaining ‘genetic purity’. This means that while we can’t see the difference, the birds can.

We are witnessing the Eastern yellow robins split into two species!

This raises some interesting questions. How do the robins know that a potential mate is the same genetic lineage? What happens when they mate with a different lineage? Would they prefer to mate with a different lineage, or not at all? How successful are the hybrid offspring?

Later in May (date being finalised), Lana will be giving  a presentation  as she unpacks what is known (and not known) about the Eastern yellow robin. Volunteers are most welcome to join the field team from the 5-10 May on their colour banding project. Email lana.austin@monash.edu for more information.

For info on the Eastern Yellow Robin Project website click here 

 

Birds in the Muckleford Forest

We’ve just started ten bird survey transects in the Muckleford Forest!

There is a new page on our website with all the details. Let us know if you want to join in! We’ll report on results via the website and posts.

Good ‘swiftie’ news from Tassie too – Birdlife Australia is reporting that the Tasmanian Upper House has voted down the proposal to allow logging in 356,000 hectares of forests including 12,000 ha of Critically Endangered Swift Parrot habitat.

 

 

 

Maldon, Newstead and places in between – Talking Fire

bushwalk-dry-diggings-2015-035

Join us in a conversation to better understand fire in our landscape at the Newstead Community Centre over the weekend of 12/13 November.

‘Talking Fire’ will discuss what fire means for our local communities and the environment. The aim is to bring local expertise and knowledge together with outside experts in the field of fire behaviour and fire ecology, so that the community can talk about and better understand, plan, and live with fire.

Some of the questions driving our conversation are:

  • What is the history of fire in our area?
  • How have the landscape, community & fire policies changed?
  • How can we protect what we value?
  • How can we respond to fire risk, now & in the future?

You may have other questions, ideas or solutions.

We are also seeking local knowledge and stories. Do you have a “fire experience”, direct or indirect, to share? As a part of the weekend Gordon Dowell will be recording the stories and histories of locals. The Newstead CFA Auxiliary are amongst those we will be keen to hear from.

We hope that from the weekend our local landscape can be seen anew, through the eyes of scientists, fire experts and long lived locals alike, and through a wider, “landscape lens”, not just from a household or property viewpoint.

Whether you live in Newstead or Maldon town, or the bush and farmland surrounds, we invite you along to ‘talk fire’. Come to any or all sessions. The event is free, but we need bookings to help our caterers, the Newstead Preschool and Mens’ Shed, provide enough for all.

Thanks to Mount Alexander Shire, Maldon & District Community Bank and Norman Wettenhall Foundation for supporting the event. Many more supporters are contributing in non-financial ways. See our website http://www.talkingfire.org and to book.

Please download and share our flier too, and look for Talking Fire on Facebook.

Talking Fire: A Community Conversation (12-13 November, Newstead)

Our Community Conversation will explore many questions. For example: Will bush regeneration change fire risk?

Our Community Conversation will explore many questions. For example: Will bush regeneration change fire risk?

Muckleford Forest Friends Group has received a grant through the Mount Alexander Shire Council 2016 Community Grants Program to present a Community Conversation on Understanding fire in our landscape.

The idea comes from the Newstead Community Plan, and reflects a concern about the way that prescribed burning has targeted public land without a landscape-wide consideration of risk and risk reduction. The new approach adopted by the State Government – Safer Together – suggests that new approaches are possible, and that it is a good time to open up a community-wide conversation.

During the weekend we will explore the history of fire in the Newstead-Maldon landscape, looking back to land and fire management practices of the Jaara people, reflecting on landscape changes, mapping what we value, and building an understanding of risk and different ways to we can respond to risk.

This event is being designed for in Newstead, Maldon and everywhere in between and close by!

Planning is underway for the weekend and we’d welcome your input – ideas, possible speakers, helping planning walks and site visits, sourcing maps and resources – and of course coming along and being part of the Community Conversation. Able to help? Please email mucklefordffg@bigpond.com

This project is supported through the Mount Alexander Shire Council 2016 Community Grants Program, auspiced by MULGA (Maldon Urban Landcare Group), and supported by local groups including Newstead Landcare, Muckleford Catchment Landcare, Newstead 2021, Connecting Country, Newstead CFA Brigade.

You can download a summary of the grant application here and also look at page 42 of the Newstead Community Plan.

 

Take 2 – Box-Ironbark Experimental Mosaic Burning Project

PBBIFApologies dear readers – the link on the last post to the report didn’t work – here is the correct link – https://mucklefordforest.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/box-ironbark-booklet.pdf