Funds for farmers...every little bit helps
Perhaps you have a Property Management Plan or have recently completed a FarmPlan21 program and would like to plant a shelterbelt, or fence out and protect some timber. Or maybe you have an unproductive patch of land you'd like to try planting some saltbush on.
Competitive tender programs
Wimmera CMA also invites farmers in priority areas of the catchment to be part of its competitive tender programs such as Habitat Tender, River Tender, Catchment Tender and Buloke Tender. These programs are offered at certain times of the year for activities such as enhancing or protecting remnant vegetation and restoring indigenous local vegetation. If you are eligible to apply, Wimmera CMA will notify you with a personal letter.
A resonating message from west Wimmera landholders about how much they value their wetlands has Wimmera CMA consistenly receiving a keen response to its market-based incentive program for wetlands. The authority contacts eligible landholders in the region’s south-west to be part of the Habitat Tender for Wetlands. The program offers landholders an opportunity to nominate the price they would like to be paid to protect, maintain or improve the health of wetlands on their properties. Tender bids providing the best conservation value for money are awarded.
Wimmera CMA’s Glenn Dixon said many landholders already involved in the program had spoken strongly about how much they cared about their wetlands. For example, when Apsley farmers Don and Jo Murdoch arrived at the remote Knoydart in Scotland – known as Britain’s last wilderness – they felt they had arrived at the most amazing place in the world. So when they had a chance to buy a 20-hectare wetland near their south west Wimmera property – a large expanse of water with a staggering amount of birdlife including black-winged stilts – they described it as finding their own ‘Knoydart’.
The Wimmera is home to more than 3000 wetlands, which equates to 25% of wetlands in Victoria. The region is broadly recognised as a wetland hot-spot because there are a large number of all wetland types. Many regional and migratory birds, animals and plants rely on these wetlands for survival including some listed on Australia and Victoria’s endangered lists such as the growling grass frog, brolga, blue-billed duck, golden-rayed blue butterfly, red-necked avocet, salt paperbark and swamp sheoak.
Mr Dixon said that the Australian and Victorian governments had invested a significant amount of dollars for onground work in the west Wimmera area since the Habitat Tender program started in 2006. By the end of 2011, this would equate to an investment of over $3-million for red-tailed black cockatoo, wetland and threatened buloke woodland conservation.
He said landholders such as Tim and Rosie Rokebrand, who farm at ‘Pankina’ about 10 minutes west of Edenhope, summed up the value of wetlands perfectly. The Rokebrands are managing one of their largest wetlands through the Habitat Tender program to increase its environmental value and provide habitat for birds, wildlife and native plants. They had previously fenced part of their four-hectare Plains Grassy Wetland to exclude stock, and the tender program allows them to completely fence off the area. They will also plant trees indigenous to the area and control weeds. Other plans are to increase the cover and diversity of understorey plants and control pest animals such as rabbits.
Tim says he is hoping to see redgums regenerate, as well as see more small birds at the wetland. Another part of his five-year management plan is to increase woody debris – something that he has done for many years because he believes he doesn’t gain anything from ‘cleaning and burning up’. “When big logs do fall over, they provide good shelter for stock, as well as great habitat for birds and small animals,” Tim says. “I’ve found a fat-tailed dunnart in recent months and there’s a lot of nesting birds at this wetland such as common wood duck, teal, shell ducks, parrots, rosellas, swamp harriers and hawks.”