Seeding aims to bring fragile sandhills back to life

Sixty hectares of sandhill country in the Koondrook-Perricoota Forest is now seeded with native vegetation as part of Murray Local Land Services’ Central Murray Ramsar enhancement project.

In a plan to return groundcover and biodiversity to these three major sandhills, almost 50 kg of seeds from nine native tree and shrub species were planted in 130 km of direct seeding.

Project lead, Jamie Hearn, said the sandhills had become denuded and eroded over many years.

“This initiative aims to bring these fragile sites back to life,” he said.

“The sandhills once had a covering of native grasses, along with yellow box, white cypress pine, ruby saltbush and other native shrubs.

“These sites are also significant to the Aboriginal community and were historically a feed source and habitat to a range of terrestrial birds including the endangered swift parrot, and vulnerable Gilbert’s whistler and diamond firetail.”

The project has the support of the local Aboriginal community, with the Moama Local Aboriginal Land Council performing weed and rabbit control at the sites in the lead-up to the seeding.

The LALC also installed over 2km of stock exclusion fencing around approximately half the area to reduce grazing pressure and will maintain the fences into the future, along with ongoing rabbit control.

Monitoring at the site will measure germination and plant survival rates.

Moama LALC CEO, John Kerr, said direct seeding the sandhills was an important initiative to the local Aboriginal community.

“This is a great opportunity to get stability on the sandhills, given that they are protected sites with a huge cultural value for our people,” he said.

“The project has also provided another opportunity for employment for members of our community.”

Mr Hearn said the site manager, Forestry Corporation NSW, had also supported the project from the beginning, helping to clear rabbit warren sites for fumigation and providing additional work crew supervision.

The Central Murray Ramsar site enhancement project is being carried out by Murray Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

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