Mikla Lewis: Increasing Biodiversity, Grenfell

Author: Centroc User
Date: May 13, 2010
Category: Community Groups, Sustainable Living

2010 is the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity and one of Central NSW’s leading advocates for our threatened species is the Weddin Shire’s Mikla Lewis. She and her partner Wayne Lavers have been demonstrating how both commercial farming and biodiversity protection can exist in partnership on rural properties and how farmers can negotiate a range of support programmes like Greening Australia’s WOPR Programme (Whole of Paddock Regeneration Programme) to help them do this (click on the image below to view an interview with Mikla).

Mikla also presents a fortnightly programme for WIRES on ABC’s Regional Radio.

In 2002, Mikla and Wayne Lavers bought the Grenfell property Rosemont, with the aim of restoring its vegetation and improving habitat for wildlife. In 2005 they started the Weddin-Lachlan Branch of WIRES and since purchasing their property they’ve recorded 90 species of birds, including ten species of raptor, as well as the superb parrot and grey-crowned babbler, both of which are threatened. Nine mammal species have been observed on the property including the echidna, yellow-footed antechinus, eastern grey kangaroo, red-necked wallaby and swamp wallaby, and fourteen reptile species including the long-necked tortoise, brown snake, lace monitor, bearded dragon, and numerous skinks and snake-lizards.

The removal of livestock from the hills and foot slopes saw the regeneration of trees, shrubs, grasses and forbs (herbaceous flowering plants), while the additional planting of over 4,000 endemic trees and shrubs has further improved the quality of the landscape. There are now about 170 species of native plants growing on Rosemont.

The discovery of a young female Sugar Glider dead in a barbed-wire fence shortly after they bought the property provided the catalyst for the removal of barbed wire from all the internal fences on Rosemont. Some old fences have been removed altogether, whilst new fences built to protect recent plantings from stock are ‘wildlife friendly’.

Other features designed to improve wildlife habitat include a constructed island in their largest dam, nest boxes, and the placing of logs and branches amongst the new plantings, which double up as protection for the young plants.

As WIRES (Wildlife Information and Rescue Service) members they care for and release native animals on Rosemont and through the Conservation Partners Programme they have also taken out a Voluntary Conservation Agreement with National Parks and Wildlife, which means that their private property will now be included in the National Reserve System.

If 2/3 of your property is under a Voluntary Conservation Agreement, an added incentive is that there is also a 2/3 reduction in council rates!

The Conservation Partners Program supports landholders in voluntarily protecting and managing native vegetation, wildlife habitat, geological features, historic heritage and Aboriginal cultural heritage on their properties.

Grants are available for landholders with Conservation Agreements to acknowledge their efforts in managing their land for conservation. The grants are made available through a collaborative program involving DECCW (Department of Environment, Climate Change & Water), the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife, the Paddy Pallin Foundation,  the Wildlife Land Trust, the Diversicon Environmental Foundation and the Nature Conservation Trust.  The 21 landholders who were successful in the last round of applications have been announced and can be found on the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife website. The next funding round will open in May 2010.

Landholders can choose from a range of protection options which recognise and formalise their commitment to conservation on their properties. In turn, DECWW provides support matched to the level of protection for the land. Visite the DECWW website for more information.

Mikla and Wayne have also registered their property with the Humane Society of Australia’s  Wildlife Land Trust which is a non-binding agreement to protect ecosystems essential for the survival of all wildlife.

Rosemont is a 105 hectare property on the outskirts of Grenfell. The property straddles a ridge of bushland dominated by Mugga Ironbark, Red Stringybark and Cypress Pine. The foot slopes are scattered with Grey and White Box, Currawang, Varnish Wattle and Peach Heath, while below lies cleared pastoral land and some remnant White Box Yellow Box Blakely’s Red Gum Woodland, an Endangered Ecological Community.

White box on Rosemont

Rosemont commands some of the most spectacular views of the surrounding Grenfell district, including the Weddin Mountains National Park, which provides a stunning backdrop to the property.

View over Grenfell from Rosemont

Tell us what you’re doing to help build resilience in the comments section below, and for each entry you make we’ll plant a tree for you in Central NSW. Indicate in which local government area you’d like your tree planted (view list of Centroc members in left hand bar to see which councils are eligible).

3 Responses to “Mikla Lewis: Increasing Biodiversity, Grenfell”

  1. "I had no idea that wattle seed would be healthy for sheep. Will look into WOPR paddocks. "

  2. "Very inspirational and very beautiful. Weddin should be proud."

  3. "All looking lovely on Rosemont. Our school native garden is growing well and I think nesting boxes will be a project for the garden club in the near future."

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