The diverse ecosystem of Nardoo Hills

Published on 28 September 2017

Nardoo Hills and the extensive work of Bush Heritage Australia’s volunteers are being highlighted as part of this year’s Naturally Loddon Spring Festival.

Supporting a diverse ecosystem, including endangered flora and fauna, Bush Heritage’s Nardoo Hills reserves are home to more than 110 varied bird species. This includes the nationally-endangered Swift Parrot, which travels all the way from Tasmania during winter to feed on the reserve’s flowering eucalypts.

“One major achievement at Nardoo Hills is the recovery of the Robust Greenhood (Pterostylis valida), an orchid species previously listed as extinct,” Bush Heritage’s Nardoo Hills Reserve Manager, Jeroen van Veen, said.

“Not only did Bush Heritage find this species back after extensive rabbit control work, but we have managed to increase its number of individuals substantially. The first discovered populations numbered around 20, but we now have over 100 of the critically-endangered wildflower.

“However, this still means this orchid is the most endangered plant species of the entire Wedderburn district.”

During the winter months, Bush Heritage volunteers take part in weekend working bees. The aim is to restore the landscape to a condition equal, or near to, that which it once was.

“One half of the day we’ll spend doing weed management – helping to eradicate pest species such as Paterson’s Curse and Wheel Cactus,” Mr van Veen said.

“We’re trying to restore the landscape to what it once was, so we mix these tasks with planting of native species – like Drooping Sheoak and Yellow Box.

“Temperate woodlands are the most threatened wooded ecosystem in Australia – just think, since European settlement Victoria has lost 83 per cent of its woodland ecosystems to land clearance. So it’s vital that we take a multi-targeted approach to reconnecting these fragmented habitats.”  

Recently the Nardoo Hills reserves grew by 203 hectares with the purchase of Lawan reserve, made possible through Trust for Nature’s Revolving Fund.

“Lawan [named after the Dja Dja Wurrung word for malleefowl] supports stands of grey box woodland that were once extensive across the goldfields of central Victoria,” Mr van Veen said.

“Revegetation and conservation management across the Nardoo Hills reserves is enhancing local connectivity and re-connecting habitat on adjacent public land (Wychitella Nature Conservation Reserve).”

As well as managing its own reserves, Bush Heritage staff help coordinate conservation efforts in the wider landscape around Wedderburn, Inglewood and St Arnaud.

“We are involved in threatened orchid recovery work, rabbit eradication programs, weed control programs, revegetation projects and erosion control works throughout the district,” Mr van Veen said.
 
“The reason we work away from our reserves so much is that we understand that to prevent further extinctions in central Victoria we can’t limit our efforts to just our own reserves.”

Mr van Veen added that Bush Heritage is a national leader in landscape-scale conservation.

“Using independent and evidence-based practices, we work with others to manage and enhance millions of hectares of ecologically important land across Australia,” he said.

“We work where we’re needed most – in areas of high conservation value with low-level of protection – with the aim to return the bush to good health.”

The Bush Heritage story began more than 25 years ago when former Australian Greens’ leader Bob Brown raised money to secure two untouched blocks of Tasmanian forest that were to be wood chipped.

“Bit by bit, the forest blocks were bought,” Mr van Veen said. “These two blocks of Tasmanian forest in the Liffey Valley became Liffey River and Dry's Bluff Reserves, and in 1991 Bush Heritage was born.

“In a country as vast as Australia, it became obvious that just buying land wasn't enough to safeguard our precious but threatened natural heritage. So in 2006, we started building partnerships with landowners – pastoralists, farmers and Indigenous landowners – to help them manage their land for conservation.

“Now, Bush Heritage provides habitat for at least 235 threatened species across 6.2 million hectares of land nationally.”

The next Nardoo Hills Guided Trip will be taking place as part of the Naturally Loddon Spring Festival on Saturday 14 October from 10.30am to 3.30pm.

The event is booked out, however people wishing to be placed on a waiting list in the event of any cancellations can contact Bush Heritage Australia on 1300 NATURE (1300 628 873)  or email info@bushheritage.org.au.