The Bushlinks 500 project aimed to re-create and restore 500 ha of grassy woodland within and adjacent to the Midlands Biodiversity Hotspot. The project used the Regional Ecosystem Model (REM) to target priority areas and design on-ground works with high biodiversity and landscape function outcomes. Working across 11 properties, this Biodiversity Fund project was led by Southern Midlands Council delivered in partnership with Natural Resource Planning and NRM South.
This ambitious project over achieved on targets, with overall environmental outcomes including:
- 68 hectares of farmland and degraded woodland revegetated with biodiverse plantings of 18,919 native trees and shrubs (32 species) and 54,320 native grass seedlings (6 species);
- 58 hectares of pasture/grassland rehabilitated through direct seeding and altered grazing management; and
- 431 hectares of biologically important remnants protected through strategic fencing, stock management and weed control.
Throughout October/November 2015, the project team has been visiting sites to monitor the success of the plantings and restoration works.
Last week we looked at two properties in the Derwent Valley where silver peppermint woodland has been severally impacted by two wildfires in quick succession. Prior to project works, regeneration in these remnants was limited due to the intensity and frequency of these fires and browsing pressure from stock and native herbivores.
On-ground works involved fencing these remnants, connecting them with biodiverse plantings primarily along drainage lines, and planting small biodiverse ‘copses’ into cleared areas and severely degraded remnants to act as a seed source for regeneration of native vegetation.
One year on, the hard work has paid off with planting survival rates on two Derwent Valley properties greater than 90%. High survival rates are attributed to the use of best practice revegetation techniques including site prep, planting, protection and follow-up watering where necessary. Along with information from the REM, revegetation and restoration methods where selected to suit site conditions (i.e. soil and aspect), with a number of innovations trialled during the project. Some of the most successful were the use of tiny native grass plugs to plant alternate rows of native grasses into revegetation areas and planting biodiverse copses with multiple layers of protection from stock and native herbivores.