BIODIVERSITY: Bob Smeunix from Bushland Restoration Services (far right) with Project Officer James Mayson (with shovel) and Federal Landcare members at Keys Bridge swimming hole.
BIODIVERSITY: Bob Smeunix from Bushland Restoration Services (far right) with Project Officer James Mayson (with shovel) and Federal Landcare members at Keys Bridge swimming hole.

High conservation value vegetation to be restored with grant

A $98,000 Federal Government Biodiversity Fund grant obtained by a local landowner will help restore and revegetate three kilometres of Wilsons Creek identified by Byron Shire Council as containing high conservation value vegetation.

Environmentalist James Mayson said he was "ecstatic" when informed his five-year project involving ten properties in Coorabell and Federal would go ahead.

"The funny thing with grants - and I have built up a solid collection of failed ones - is that you never know which one will strike the right chord," he said. "This is the 4th or 5th time I've put in a grant application for this section of Wilsons Creek, so I guess persistence pays off."

Project activities include targetting noxious and environmental weeds in order to encourage a return of native wildlife, a number of which are threatened species.

"Creeks and riparian zones are often the crucible of local biodiversity and crucial to the general health of the entire ecosystem," said Mr Mayson. "However they are also the most susceptible to poor land management practices, excessive run off and weed infestation."

This not only affects aquatic biota but can also have a cascading effect through the food chain, he said.

"Most farmers now understand the importance of fencing off stock from the creek, however the biggest problem are the invasive noxious and environmental weeds that are crowding out traditional food and habitat sources," Mr Mayson said. "We can't return to a pristine environment, however we can reset the trajectory towards more local species to help encourage a return of our native wildlife."

While the majority of environmental funding goes to preserving remote reserves, this grant will engage the local community with a highly visible and utilised site such as the Keys Bridge swimming hole.

"Maintaining and improving ecological connectivity to facilitate flora and fauna movement between areas of native habitat is vital to conservation of local biodiversity," he said. "To get involved, connect to our blog http://www.keysbridge.wordpress.com and come along to our next planting day."


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