__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

Tiny bird find has big impact

secruoser larutan s’noiger ruo gnicnahne dna gnitcetorP

9102 yaM

cradle to coastlines


cradle to coastlines May 2019

in this issue Page 4 Endangered birds found on King Island Page 6 Surveying the region’s reefs Page 8 Planting time is here! 

06

04

18

Page 9 Where? Where? Wedgie! Update Page 10 Trees on farms provide a range of benefits Page 12 Hagley farm school demonstrates precision agriculture Page 13 Tracking the monotremes' journey

14

09

Page 14 Sea Spurge removal at South Burnie Beach Page 15 Update on Stanley cat management project   Page 16 Ecofest at Ulverstone Wharf Page 18 Landcare Action Grants Page 18 Conservation Landholders Field Day Page 19 World Oceans Day 2019 Page 20 What's on

13 50 13

15

cradle coast nrm 1-3 Spring St Burnie Tasmania 7320 6433 8400

www.cradlecoast.com/nrm www.facebook.com/CradleCoastNRM/

69


WE FOUND A POPULATION OF BIRDS WE CAN PROTECT, MANY MORE THAN HAD BEEN EXPECTED Dr Matt Webb, Australian National University

p. 03


Endangered birds found on KI A joint project between Cradle Coast NRM, the Tasmanian Government and BirdLife Australia, with the aim to learn more about two King Island threatened birds, has had a reassuring discovery.

The expansion of the known range of the thornbill is a breakthrough, as it had been assumed the birds were confined to one forest patch. “We are very excited to hear that thornbills occur in more than one place” said Anna Wind, Coastal Coordinator, Cradle Coast NRM. “We can now work with landowners to protect and enhance habitat to preserve these important species”. “These birds are part of King Island’s unique natural heritage, and we are thrilled we’ve discovered a new, efficient way to find them,” said Dr Jenny Lau from BirdLife Australia. “In June, the King Island community will host a workshop to plan for these birds’ recovery and the results of this survey will ensure conservation efforts can be targeted at the right places.” Tasmanian Environment Minister Elise Archer has welcomed the discoveries. “We are delighted to have funded such important research and I look forward to receiving the full report in the coming months,” Ms Archer said.

A new study has found two endangered bird species feared to be near extinction on King Island are not only still alive, but their populations are larger than previously thought. Previous attempts to study the King Island Scrubtit and King Island Brown Thornbill have been hindered by the challenging, leech-infested terrain on King Island. Scientists from the Australian National University (ANU) were supported by Cradle Coast NRM, BirdLife Australia and the Tasmanian Government, to conduct the first large-scale survey of the island’s swamps and forests for the tiny birds. The scientists conducted more than 600 bird surveys over a three-week period. Using a new survey method, the researchers, led by Dr Matt Webb, were able to gather detailed information about where both species live. “Across the island, we found scrubtits at more than 60 different sites, and thornbills at more than 20, including private land. We found a  population of birds we can protect, many more than had been expected,” Dr Webb said.

p. 04


Bird surveyors from ANU on King Island. The tiny birds among the trees. Photos: David JamesÂ


Surveying the region’s reefs A long-term monitoring project has discovered changes in reef ecosystems, believed to be due to fishing pressure, climate change, and improvement in water quality .

However, the signs of recovery were not as great as expected. To continue monitoring the health of the Cradle Coast region’s rocky reefs, the citizen science organisation, Reef Life Survey (RLS), has established survey sites at Rocky Cape. Specially trained divers volunteer their time for RLS, and together, they have so far surveyed 3,300 sites across 54 countries. RLS has just logged survey number 12,000, which is equivalent to more than 60,000 hours of volunteered time! This March, Rocky Cape RLS volunteers gathered for their fourth annual monitoring trip. Over four days, and despite some stormy weather, the survey team completed 11 surveys at 8 sites, and recorded 3,971 individual animals of 61 species. Read the full report on the CCNRM website

Over the past 25 years, scientists from UTAS have regularly surveyed 30 shallow rocky reef sites along the Cradle Coast region’s coastline. Led by Dr Neville Barrett, the team detected changes in reef ecosystems which they believe are due to fishing pressure, climate change, and improvement in water quality (because of reduced industrial emissions near Burnie). Increases were observed in species that prefer warm water, mirroring the 0.4°C rise in average sea surface temperature. These included Herring Cale, Zebra Fish, Horseshoe Leatherjacket and Victorian Scalyfin. There were declines in the size and abundance of commonly harvested fish species like Banded Morwong, Bastard Trumpeter, Black-lip Abalone and Rock Lobster. Giant Kelp has been completely lost from the study sites, as it has been across much of Tasmania. Other algae species have increased their cover slightly, probably because of reduced water pollution. 

You can read an excellent trip report by Ella Clausius at https://reeflifesurvey.com/rockycape-2019/.

p. 06


Reef divers, underwater creatures, including: Parma victoriae (Victorian Scalyfin); Rocky Cape Lighthouse, a Heteroclinus tristis at Rocky Cape. Photos: Millie Banner & Rick Stuart-Smith


Planting time is here! If you have plants ordered or propagated to plant this season, and you are in need of revegetation supplies, we can help!

Planting tips • Start planning 12 months in advance • Develop a plan to control weeds • Observe which native plants grow well in your area • Select a variety of local plant types (grasses, shrubs and trees) to increase diversity • Place your order with a nursery 6-8 months prior to planting • The best months to plant are from May to August (after a good rainfall) • Coordinate a working bee date, invite volunteers, gather tools and start planting • Suppress weeds using weed mats • Protect plants with plant guards to prevent browsing by animals • Ensure you undertake regular maintenance of plants and guards If you are assisting Council or PWS to look after a coastal or bush area, check with the land manager to discuss your plan and ensure you have permission and support.

Does your community group have a revegetation project planned? If you have plants ordered or propagated to plant this season, and you are in need of revegetation supplies, we can help! Cradle Coast NRM has left-over stakes, guards and weed mats from previous projects that we can provide to Landcare, Coastcare and Friends of Groups, free of charge.

If you have plants ordered or propagated to plant this season, and you are in need of revegetation supplies, we can help!

p. 08

Contact Cradle Coast NRM Biodiversity Coordinator, Jay Rowley, on 0447 346 755 or email jrowley@cradlecoast.com to organise collection.


Where? Where? Wedgie! Update The Where? Where? Wedgie! team is changing methodologies  to get a better spread of observations; it’s difficult to work out the population of a species if we don’t survey consistently across Tasmania.

Last year, many of you were involved in an exciting State-wide Citizen Science initiative, the first Where? Where? Wedgie! (WWW) count. The aim was to estimate the population of Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagles and some other selected species. The results are available to view on the Nature Trackers website now. In 2018, 280 teams surveyed 224 4 km x 4 km squares over three survey days, which has given the scientists at WWW lots of data to analyse. The WWW team is changing the methodology this year to get a better spread of observations; it’s difficult to work out the population of a species if we don’t survey consistently across Tasmania. Log in to the Nature Trackers website to book a priority golden square. You can survey at your chosen square on up to three of the six survey dates: 10, 11, 12, 24, 25 or 26 May, 2019. Go for gold and get your eyes to the sky!

Clare Hawkins and Nick Mooney, from Nature Trackers, and Cradle Coast NRM's Iona Flett after a workshop about this year’s Where? Where? Wedgie! surveys.

p. 09

For more information, contact Clare at Nature Trackers on info@naturetrackers.com.au


Trees on farms provide a range of benefits Two outstanding farm-forestry field days, coordinated by Private Forests Tasmania, were held recently in northern Tasmania, showcasing the opportunities timber reserves can provide.

These benefits have been long recognised; the German naturalist Alexander Von Humbolt documented landscape-scale change from extensive deforestation in Argentina during the early 1800s: “The wooded region acts in a threefold manner in diminishing the temperature; by cooling shade, by evaporation and by radiation�. Participants at the Private Forests Tasmania events heard from speakers including Dr Martin Moroni, who demonstrated that up to 30% more pasture could be produced in a sheltered paddock than an unsheltered one. This effectively improved the gross margin by 15%, translating to an increase of $63 per hectare. This calculation did not include other benefits, such as timber production, carbon sequestration, amenity, integrated pest management, and habitat value, that trees on farms can provide. Treed shelter reduces windspeeds by half and can reduce evaporation by gigalitres.

Strategically placed trees on farms provide benefits for landholders and the environment. Trees improve livestock productivity, diversify farm income, improve soil protection and create habitat for native species. While the benefits of trees have been recognised for centuries, studies in Tasmania have provided compelling numbers demonstrating increased productivity. Two outstanding farm-forestry field days, coordinated by Private Forests Tasmania, were held recently in northern Tasmania, showcasing the opportunities timber reserves can provide. Timber lots can be managed to produce sawlogs or woodchips, or to provide on-farm resources for building materials and fuel. A plantation may be a longer-term proposition than a crop in rotation, but it can add significant capital value to a property before harvesting. Production benefits can be realised through reduced animal energy requirements for livestock, as shelter is provided during winter, and shade in summer.

p. 10


Dr Moroni explained: “At one farm, lucerne hay yields were 300% higher behind shelter, increasing farmer returns by $147 per hectare. When the benefits of increased agricultural production and wood cheques are considered, rates of return around 10% are possible to farmers that add trees to their properties.” Some sites visited during the field days were modest in size, occupying less than a hectare of steep, stony ground (unsuitable for other agriculture) with speciality species including the Californian Coastal Redwood. Others were larger.  One site inspected was an 11-hectare Radiata Pine plantation.

Recently harvested after 23 years, a total of 6,554 tonnes of sawlogs returned $36,700 per hectare to the land owner, yielding a gross margin of $404,000. At the moment, the markets for softwood and hardwood are strong and owners of these resources are encouraged to explore market opportunities. For more information on the field days in this article and agroforestry, go to Private Forestry Tasmania’s website at https://www.pft.tas.gov.au/publications/agr oforestry 

Strategically placed trees on farms provide benefits for landholders and the environment.

p. 11


Demonstration of precision agriculture Insights into where technology is taking agriculture in Tasmania were on display at The Hagley Farm School recently, when the Tasmanian Agriculture Productivity Group held their precision agriculture expo event. This annual expo showcases practical uses of precision agriculture, with experts on-hand to discuss how such applications can be utilised in different farming systems.

This year’s expo featured displays and demonstrations highlighting the benefits of mixed cover cropping, managing soil biology, managing drainage with precision contour mapping, improving pasture utilisation by livestock with “virtual fencing” cow collars, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones) being used to produce precision maps for variable rate fertiliser applications. Most exciting was the demonstration of how drones are now used (particularly in China) in groups or “swarms” to apply chemicals and fertilisers. The benefits of using drones for agriculture are numerous: operator contact with pesticides is reduced, precisely targeted application means smaller quantities of chemicals are required, soil structure will be protected as heavy machinery is not required, and one operator can control multiple drones, increasing efficiency. One day soon we may see spray contractors arriving at farms with a swarm of drones instead of large tractors and huge boom-spray rigs!

A drone captured in flight at the Hagley Farm School.

p. 12


How do platypuses spend their evenings? With the help of in-stream microchip readers, Ulverstone Vet, James Macgregor is able to monitor the activity of the Inglis-Flowerdale catchment’s monotreme residents. 

Ulverstone Vet, James Macgregor, doesn’t just microchip domestic animals. Over 15 years, Dr Macgregor and his team have has captured nearly 200 platypuses in the InglisFlowerdale catchment, and inserted microchips under their skins. With the help of in-stream microchip readers, he is able to monitor the activity of the catchment’s monotreme residents. Microchipped platypuses are recorded every time they pass a reader, so Dr Macgregor has observed some platypuses roaming huge distances – up to 25 km in one instance! On average, female platypuses move between sites about 500 m apart, while males travel 1650 m.

The natural mortality rate appears to be up to 16 per cent, but several of the micro-chipped individuals have lived 15 years after they were first captured. Platypuses mate, incubate eggs and look after young between November and April, so if you live on a platypus waterway, please avoid doing earthworks during their breeding season. And what do they do at night? Well, that depends. Some sleep and some head out for quiet night-time feeding. The greatest platypus activity occurs two hours before sunrise, and two hours after sunset. Dr Macgregor is also researching platypus health and genetics.

James Macgregor gets some assistance as he lowers a platypus into a bag for micro-chipping. 

p. 13


Sea Spurge removal at South Burnie Beach This year, 14 students from St Patrick’s College, Launceston, helped to remove Sea Spurge (Euphorbia paralias) from South Burnie Beach. This is the fourth year the school has visited and undertaken a beach clean-up. The students learned about Sea Spurge and why it’s a problem, before working in groups to  

remove it from the western end of the beach. Teacher, Elizabeth Steven, said that there is significantly less Sea Spurge at the site now and that it’s great to see a result for the work the group has been putting in. A big thank you goes out to all those who participated in making Burnie’s beaches better.

Cradle Coast NRM's biodiversity coordinator Jay Rowley (far left) and students from St Patrick's College during the Sea Spurge removal day.

p. 14


Update on Stanley cat management project   Cradle Coast NRM, as part of the Tasmanian Cat Management Project,  and in partnership with Circular Head Council, is working to reduce the impacts of stray and feral cats to native wildlife on The Nut State Reserve. On March 16, we held a community meeting to discuss the management of cats on The Nut and in Stanley. The meeting was attended by a number of Stanley residents who are concerned about the welfare of wildlife and cats.   Importantly, we identified the need to address the sources of cats in the environment – illegal abandonment of cats, the prevalence of un-desexed roaming cats, and irresponsible feeding of stray cats.  

The project team is assessing the abundance of cats on The Nut using wildlife cameras. Cats have already been recorded at three locations on the reserve, along with a variety of native animals, including Tasmanian Devils, and Eastern Barred Bandicoots. Cat trapping will begin on The Nut in May, and other cat management activities are being discussed for the town.  The Tasmanian Cat Management Project is a joint initiative to implement the Tasmanian Cat Management Plan funded from the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.

Haylee Kaplan, Regional Coordinator, Cat Management (far left) hosts community members at the Stanley Town Hall meeting.  A Tassie Devil photographed with a camera trap on The Nut.

p. 15


Ecofest at Ulverstone Wharf The North West Environment Centre (NWEC) recently held the Ecofest event at Ulverstone. The focus of the festival was “Back to the future”, shining a light on regenerative agriculture, permaculture design, edible native plants, traditional skills and wisdom from the past.

design, edible native plants, traditional skills and wisdom from the past. The Cradle Coast Authority’s Natural Resource Management (NRM) team attended as a stallholder, providing a range of sustainable land management information including earthworm and dung beetle related-resources for landholders keen to achieve a more biological approach to farming. Cradle Coast NRM also demonstrated their brand-new online Property Management Planning (PMP) module package for landholders. More than 1000 people attended the event, and were delighted by an array of live music, practical workshops, demonstrations and guest speakers. Ecofest coordinator, Anne Williams, who completed a property management plan with Cradle Coast NRM three years ago, said this year’s event had been the most successful held to date.

Interest in a more regenerative approach to agriculture has seen a resurgence in recent years in Tasmania, with heightened interest in certified organic production, reduced tillage, soil conservation and biological farming. A rise in organic dairying has seen numerous conventional dairy farms convert to certified organic production, facilitated by an increased capacity to process larger quantities of organic milk in Tasmania and Victoria. New farm discussion groups have formed, determining the suitability of utilising different cover cropping regimes and minimising soil tillage, as well as considering whether certified organic or biological production would benefit their own farming system. Echoing this theme, The North West Environment Centre (NWEC) recently held the Ecofest event at Ulverstone. The focus of the festival was “Back to the future”, shining a light on regenerative agriculture, permaculture

p. 16


Cradle Coast NRM's Tom O'Malley mans the stand at last month's Ecofest.Â


Conservation Landholders Field Day 

Landcare Action Grants The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA) is administering a new $1.8m competitive grants program funded by DPIPWE. The program has been established to provide opportunities for farmers, Landcare and community organisations to carry out on-ground works. The focus of the works should be on: - Improving landscape and riverine health, stability and resilience - Supporting enhanced land management practices to reduce erosion and sedimentation - Assisting the community to manage natural and productive land and waterways. Individuals, community groups, and primary producers are all eligible to apply for grants of between $1000 and $5000. Up to $175,000 is available in the 2018-19 round. Look up the guidelines and application form on the TFGA website: https://www.tfga.com.au/environment/landcare and apply by 31 May, 2019.

p. 18

Conservation Landholders Tasmania’s field day at Forth provided property owners with information on revegetation and weed management. Rob MacKay gave an insightful landholder’s perspective, talking about his “green change” to Tasmania, and the realisation that extensive weed infestation was a daunting hurdle. Acquiring expert assistance proved a great benefit in gaining perspective and direction. Matt Rose from Natural State presented information on property planning, using the example of Rob’s property. The property was divided into zones representing different vegetation types. Vegetation surveys were carried out, and weed locations mapped. Considering connectivity to the wider region provided additional reasons for undertaking the project. A staged approach was used for weed control and revegetation. The end result is a more manageable property and improved habitat for native species. Herb Staubman from Habitat Plants revealed some of the secrets of building a nursery. Herb’s nursery is located close to bush, and has sides of poly-tunnels partly open, to allow biological control of pest insects by birds, as well as good air flow while keeping frosts off. Herb emphasised the importance of using seed from local provenance, and planning ahead to allow time for seed collection and propagation.


World Oceans Day 2019

Together we can protect and restore our ocean! This year’s conservation focus is to demonstrate leadership in preventing plastic pollution and share solutions that inspire and activate the global community. The World Oceans Day website has lots of fantastic event ideas and a variety of resources to download, including resources for youth. You are encouraged to spend the day helping your local patch of ocean by hosting or taking

part in a beach, river, lake, wetland, or underwater clean-up! Don't forget to register any events your group or school is planning. Join Cradle Coast NRM and a local environment group in a beach clean-up to help promote World Ocean’s Day and protect penguins and other marine life from being harmed by mistaking plastic for food or getting entangled in plastics. We’ll post event details on Facebook soon. 

p. 19


what's on what

where & who

when

Where? Where? Wedgie!

Sites available to survey all around Tasmania. See article on Page 9

May 24-26

Landcare Action Grants

See article on Page 18

Applications for first round close: May 31

Tasmanian Landcare Fund

See Landcare Tas website: www.landcaretas.org.au/

Expressions of Interest due: May 19  

Introduction to Permaculture with guest appearance by David Holmgren. Learn how to become more self-sufficient by adopting Permaculture principles

RESEED Centre, 30 King Edward St, Penguin Contact Nick Towle on nj_towle@iinet.net.au

May 18-19

Australian Ethical Community Grants - $10,000 to $20,000 available for community groups benefiting people, the planet and/or animals.

More info: www.australianethical.com.au/co mmunity-grants/

Closing date: May 31

Powerful Engagement for Successful Livestock Businesses Workshop

To request further Program details, please call 1800 1900 11 or info@therightmind.com.au

June 19-20

King Island Scrubtit and King Island Brown Thornbill Community Forum &  Conservation Action Planning workshop

Currie, King Island Contact Jenny Lau on jenny.lau@birdlife.org.au

Wednesday, June 12, Thursday June 13 & Friday, June 14

April 23

May 18

June 21

contact us Spencer Gibbs, Regional NRM Manager  sgibbs@cradlecoast.com Iona Flett, NRM Planning & MERI Coordinator   iflett@cradlecoast.com  Tom O’Malley, Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator   tomalley@cradlecoast.com Haylee Kaplan, Regional Coordinator, Cat Management   hkaplan@cradlecoast.com Anna Wind, Coastal Coordinator   awind@cradlecoast.com Jay Rowley, Biodiversity Coordinator   jrowley@cradlecoast.com

cradle coast nrm 1-3 Spring St Burnie Tasmania 7320 6433 8400 www.cradlecoast.com/nrm www.facebook.com/CradleCoastNRM/

Profile for Cradle Coast Authority

Cradle to Coastlines May 2019  

The bi-monthly magazine/newsletter about Cradle Coast NRM's work protecting and enhancing our region’s natural resources

Cradle to Coastlines May 2019  

The bi-monthly magazine/newsletter about Cradle Coast NRM's work protecting and enhancing our region’s natural resources