8 December 2021 | Landcarers are planting thousands of trees to boost wildlife corridors and safeguard the future of threatened birds and wildlife in the community of Luskintyre, near Maitland in NSW’s Hunter Valley.
The initiative is possible thanks to a $38,000 grant from the Landcare Led Bushfires Recovery Grants Program and is guided by the recently formed Luskintyre Landcare group.
More than 10,000 trees and native shrubs are being planted by 30 volunteers to increase habitat and food resources for all native species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects that have been displaced by land clearing or bushfires and who depend on the diverse vegetation structure. To date, the landcarers have spent 300 hours planting trees.
“The project site closely borders habitat that is used by the threatened Regent Honeyeater and Swift Parrot. Further plantings of suitable species will give more habitat to help the survival of these birds and other wildlife,” said John Schultz, Luskintyre Landcare president.
“When early explorers arrived in this part of the Hunter Valley, it was richly timbered. But then the Luskintyre area was logged and cleared for agricultural use. It is now largely bare of trees and shrubs, and ephemeral waterways are also devoid of natural species because of grazing management,” he explained.
“Increased urbanisation in the Maitland City Council area, one of the fastest-growing in the state, hasn’t helped either, pushing wildlife to its limits with reduced habitat and food sources,” he added.
But the trees should make a difference. Already, 6,000 have been planted, including local species such as Spotted Gum, Ironbarks, Hakeas and Wattles.
The grant will help extend two existing wildlife corridors, revegetating two areas of the Hunter River and create stepping stones across nine farms, covering approximately 15 hectares. Trees will also help make soils richer and more productive for the participating farms.
“Because of the coronavirus pandemic, each property owner has been planting out their own trees with no outside help. As restrictions have lifted, more volunteers have been able to get involved,” said Mr Schultz.
He said the project has really brought the community together and has been good for peoples’ wellbeing. “In the 18 months since forming our group, our numbers have doubled, with new members joining each month.”
The Hunter Region Landcare Network www.hunterlandcare.org.au provided support in establishing the group, sourcing funding, and getting projects off the ground. They provided landholders with volunteer teams to help plant the trees.
Funded by the Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Program for Wildlife and their Habitat, the $14 million Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants are supporting projects in regions affected by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20.
The grants project is jointly managed by Landcare Australia and the National Landcare Network and delivered by Landcare NSW, Queensland Water and Land Carers, Landcare ACT, Landcare Victoria and the Landcare Association of South Australia to build capacity and support Landcare and community groups, land owners and others for improved delivery of bushfire recovery actions. More info here: https://landcareledbushfiregrants.org.au/