Land for Wildlife is Branching Out

Our “Trees for Wildlife Program” got into the local news, with more tree plantings happening all the time through the monsoons with the Green Army helping with plantings….we will continue the program next year if more landholders would like to get involved. See the “Trees For Wildlife” Tab

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Enhancing Habitat- a project for landholders for the new year

There are many fauna species that are declining in number in the Top End region, often the reason is not completely understood or can be several reasons. As well as feral animal issues (including the Cane Toad invasion and feral cats) often the lack of hollows in trees and mid story fruiting trees cause animals to decline in number. One of the main reasons that hollows and the mid storey fruiting layer of the woodland landscapes disappear is fire (and of course land clearing). Fire that is too frequent, wide spread and late in the season drastically changes the composition of our woodland landscapes in the longer term as well as the more immediate death of wildlife such as young birds, lizards, in sects and some mammals.  Hollows which many nocturnal species depend on during the day are lost and although larger trees can recover after a hot fire, many of the mid story fruiting trees that many animals rely on as a food source do not survive.

In addition to having a good fire (and weed) management plan to avoid hot fires landholders can install nest boxes and enhance plant with food plants for wildlife. It takes many years for trees hollows to form and for mid story fruiting trees to mature, so in the interim shelter can be created by making and installing nest boxes which are created to house specifics species.

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To join the project landholders should be Land for Wildlife members.

  • The first step is to take part in a simple survey to count the tree hollows, canopy cover and presence of fruiting trees on the property, and recall the fire history, assistance will be given to do this.
  • Secondly there will be a chance to take part in a fire workshop, which is also open to others, to understand the effects of fire on wildlife.
  • Then comes the most exciting part, landholders and their families will be invited to attend a habitat creation day run in collaboration with Territory Wildlife Park to build their nest boxes (late wet/ early dry season). The nest boxes will be designed to a certain size and shape in the hope to house endangered species, but that can also be used by a variety of creatures and each property can receive up to 5 nest boxes. The templates will already be cut out and then just need assembling. Coming along will let participants know how to make nest boxes in the future and the best places to install them.
    Not only will the nest boxes be assembled in the workshop, but the team from Remote Area Tree Services will also give a demonstration of how to create habitat hollows from old dead trees with some chainsaw skills. There will be the chance to learn about and meet some of the creatures that will be housed.
  • Those involved can receive up to 50 habitat enhancing plants targeted towards their targeted fauna species.
  • The landholders will need to install the nest boxes and monitor them for uptake.

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TO REGISTER FOR THE PROGRAM PLEASE EMAIL_ elupin@greenignaustralia.org.au 
(there are limited spaces)

The date of the habitat creation workshop will be announced in the next couple of weeks.

This project is at no financial cost for the landholder as we are very thankful to have received funding from Territory NRM Threatened Species and Community Capacity Grants.

(Photo credit L. Mcmillian, Nest Box and E. Lupin Planchonia flower)

Festive flora- Top End pine trees

pine-treeCypress pine trees of the species Callitris intratropica are another native nod to the festive season. Historically, conifers were used during the winter festivities in the northern hemisphere by pagans and Christians alike. Pagans would decorate their homes with the evergreen branches as a reminder of the spring to come. Christian legend has it that in the 16th century, the Protestant reformer Martin Luther was on a winters walk, when he looked up and was amazed by the beauty of the stars twinkling amongst the evergreens. He decided to take one home and added candles to replicate the sight for his family.

The Cypress pine can grow up to 24m high and live for over 200 years. It is sparsely distributed throughout the Territory, but is perhaps more well-known from the Howard Springs pine plantations. The tree has many Aboriginal medicinal and structural uses including infusing the inner bark to create a drink to relieve stomach cramps, burning bark and leaves as a mosquito repellent, ashes to soothe body pain and wood for fighting sticks, paddles, spears, fire-torches and firewood (Brock & Dunlop 1993). The tree is more widely used these days for the production of timber and essential oil known as ‘Australian Blue Cypress’ which is used in perfumes, cosmetics and aromatherapy.

As beautiful as this tree is, just remember that this pine should be left out of a pot and is best left alone in the environment as a habitat for wildlife.

(Photo credit: Brett Murphy) Written by Emma Barrett, LFW volunteer

Reference: Brock, John & Dunlop, Adi 1993, Native plants of Northern Australia, Revised ed, Reed New Holland, 1993, Frenchs Forest, N.S.W

Our Festive Flora- Mistletoe

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This festive time of year is a busy time not only for us, but also for the beautiful flowers that are in bloom during the holiday season. It always seems a bit obscure when you see snow covered cards, northern pine trees and log fires decorating shops and houses as we are either sweating it out or in the middle of a Tropical down pour here in the Top End. We do have some more appropriate and surprisingly parallel flora of those stemming from European traditions.

We are lucky enough to have our own native species of mistletoe (Amyema sanguineum var. pulchrum) that has stunning yellow-orange to red flowers and adds a burst of festive colour to the landscape. Australia has 90 species of mistletoe, the large majority of which are native. The arid-zone of the Northern Territory is home to 17 species, with 11 occurring in the Alice Springs region. Surprisingly, in Britain and Europe where the image of mistletoe was made iconic to that of Christmas, there is only one species! This semi-parasitic plant can be found in the canopy of several Eucalyptus host species and their flowers, fruit and nectar provide an important source of food for wildlife such as gliders, possums, insects and birds. The fire-breasted Mistletoe bird has evolved alongside this plant, feeding and digesting the berries while distributing the unharmed seed. The mistletoe’s distribution includes the Victoria River, Katherine and Gulf regions, Arnhem Land, Barkley Tablelands and Central Northern and Southern regions.

 (Photo credit: Craig Nieminski) Written by Land for Wildlife volunteer, Emma Barrett

Land for Wildlife in Katherine

We are very excited to announce that this year our “Land for Wildlife Top End” program welcomed an 888 Hectare property just outside of Katherine into the program. The property is on Gorge Road and is managed by Mick Jerram for the owners who recently acquired the property. Mick is a very knowledgeable tour guide in the area who operates “Gecko Canoeing and Tours”.

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The beautiful property is now our largest Land for Wildlife property in private ownership and includes the Maude Creek. The landholders have appointed Mick to be their land manager and would like to manage the land as a wildlife refuge and possibly run an eco-tourism enterprise that would support the upkeep.

Land for Wildlife coordinator and botanist (and former coordinator) Greg Leach headed down to Katherine to assess the property and look at its wildlife habitat assets. This was done over 2 days and being such a large property only some of it was visited on the accessible tracks, which is why we ended up down there in the steamy build up- trying to catch as much of the property before it was too boggy!

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The property includes rocky sloping hills with open Eucalypt woodland and a variety of stunning Bloodwoods, hosting many birds and lizards and further diversity of creatures within the rock crevices and floodplain areas. Maude Creek keeps water in it all year with lush riverine plants along its banks, and there are additional wet season creeks and overflows throughout the property.

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There is a likelihood that the Gouldian Finch could populate the area, with its grassy lower areas and rocky hills, and Mick is looking for assistance to try and document what fauna species are definitely found within the properties. Major priorities include the eradication of wild Buffallo and cows.

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The fabulous tract of land joins surrounding properties which are intact and vast in size, including the Nitmiluk National Park, which is managed and protected under conservation legislation; it is also actively managed. All of the above set the property as a very significant area for wildlife conservation and an important tract of land which connects and creates large scale conservation corridors.

There are a couple of LFW registered properties in the Katherine area, from the days when Greening Australia had an office in the town. With this most recent membership LFW has a significant representation, so we have set about to see how we can get more Land for Wildlife involvement in the area and held an information session for interested others.

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Mick would love to have management based training on the newly joined property and many landholders and the Landcare group were interested in getting involved. There was a call out for information on native plant propagation, fauna likely to be found and fire management information. At this stage we hope to host workshops next dry season and team up with the Landcare group to carry out new assessments, the idea is to set up a Katherine interest group made of community members..… so watch this space.

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A Brilliant Bird Week

Bird week is such a great way to show case our feathered friends that are so abundant in the Top End; we put together a couple of small events for members and friends of Land for Wildlife, back in October. A hot and in one case wet time of year, we still had a great group of people along at both events.

The best things always come with collaboration and a guided walk of Fogg Dam was hosted for Land for Wildlife members and friends of in association with Parks and Wildlife at Fogg Dam. After low rainfalls last wet season the dam was at low levels, but started filling up as we were talking our guided walk- with some of the first rains of the year. We were joined by ‘Friends of Fogg Dam’ members Mary and Janis who talked about their work, the birds and take stunning photos of the birdlife.

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After a drive across the dam wall, a talk on looking after bird habitat and a good soaking we went into the very wonderful woodland walk to see what else we could spot. We ended up with a great list of wetland and woodland birds. I would love to thank Jo Scott, who helped organise the event and sadly has since left the role of Community engagement Officer at PWC.

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We held a small “Landholder’s walk and talk” with Denise Lawungkurr Goodfellow who has written ‘Birds of Australia’s Top End’ and ‘Birds of Palmerston’ with her partner Michael. They have a 20 acre (8 hectare) property with some wonderful flooded Sandsheet and wet season creek areas in Darwin River. Denise tells some great stories and emphasises that watching birds is about sitting with country and watching behaviour, not just ticking them from a checklist; it is about getting to know them and their habitat.

Thanks Denise and Michael for your great contribution to wildlife education.

Bird Week Competition

It’s  bird week (17-23rd Oct) and to celebrate we have a great prize to give away for Land for Wildlife members and friends of..
The prize is a “Counting with Birds”- a beautiful book by  by Jasmine Jan featuring her wonderful paintings, a notecard pack of incredible Top End bird cards by Jasmine Jan (http://www.jasminejan.com.au/)
Also a backyard biodiversity pack of 6 bird attracting plants from Greening Australia.
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To enter
1) Let us know your favourite Top End bird species and why you love them (under our Facebook competition post )
2) Bonus points for a photo or drawing or extra info
3) LIKE THE FACEBOOK POST (and page) AND SHARE…….
 COMPETITION ENDS Monday 26TH October
If you  are a non face-booker, you can enter by emailing in your response (to elupin@greeningaustralia.org.au)
Good luck and don’t forget to get involved with the Backyard bird count and events in the area https://landforwildlifetopend.com/2016/10/13/bird-week-events-coming-up/
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Voluntary Conservation for Top End Native landscapes