Bridging the gap between native vegetation and agriculture land

March 17, 2016

North West Local Land Services is working on Travelling Stock Reserves to protect and manage significant roadside vegetation at sites across the region, many of which are now listed as threatened ecological communities and are a habitat for threatened species.

The Roadside Vegetation Protections Sites Project aims to provide safe and healthy ecosystems as habitat for native plants and animals for the long term benefit and health of our region, and at the same time provide visually pleasing roadsides for our towns and rural areas.

According to Reegan Walker, North West Local Land Services’ Senior Lands Services Officer, “Travelling Stock Reserves (TSR) are often listed as threatened ecological communities because they’ve remained uncleared and have generally been subject to low levels of livestock grazing. This means that TSRs are great examples of the type of vegetation that would have been present in large expanses across the landscape prior to widespread native vegetation clearing.

North West Local Land Services is working at multiple TSRs to reduce the number of weeds, improve biodiversity and make them more visually appealing.

“Look out for the Roadside Vegetation Protection sites and learn techniques on how to identify native vegetation, threatened species and some of the vital services that native vegetation provides to agriculture free of charge.

The initial five sites are across Narrabri, Gunnedah, Barraba and Curlewis and are designed to provide important information with tangible examples of native vegetation working for the good of the ecosystem.

Differing works have been undertaken on each of the sites to support and enhance the ecosystem, ranging from the Endangered Ecological Community of the Inland Grey Box Woodland to Weeping Myall Woodland and Box-Gum Grassy Woodland.

According to Phil Sparks from North West Ecological Services, “These sites represent the least disturbed examples of vegetation communities that are poorly conserved in Nature Reserves and are now listed as endangered ecological communities”.

“Their traditional use for travelling stock has allowed numerous grazing sensitive plants to persist that are now rare or threatened, many of those plants no longer occur in fenced grazing paddocks.

They also contain a higher diversity of animals and provide valuable habitat that is a refuge for threatened animals during times of drought and provide major corridors across the landscape that enable the dispersal of plants and animals between other patches of woodland. Those linkages will be crucial for species to move in response to climate change”, he said.

At the Native Vegetation Protection Site in the grassy woodland alongside the Kamilaroi Highway between Gunnedah and Boggabri, grows the endangered ecological community called the Inland Grey Box Woodland. In the past, this community has been heavily cleared with only 15 per cent of the original native vegetation remaining. Two types of eucalypts are found at the site, as well as high numbers of koalas, more than likely as they prefer to feed on eucalypts that grow in fertile soils.

This site is representative of the woodland that would have been present before widespread native vegetation clearing and provides habitat for threatened species as well as shelter for animals to move through the landscapes. The intermittent short term grazing that occurs on most travelling stock reserves ensures the native vegetation remains in high condition.

“This site is indicative of the Roadside Vegetation Protection Sites and the benefits that come from implementing simple measures to preserve and even enrich the native vegetation. The outcomes breed many benefits for the native vegetation on the site which in turn passes on many benefits to the local wildlife, local ecosystem and local community”, he said.

The initial five Roadside Vegetation Protection Sites will be located: 8 km north-west of Gunnedah on Kamilaroi Hwy, 9 km north-west of Gunnedah on Kamilaroi Hwy (in the rest stop), 2 km north of Curlewis on Kamilaroi Hwy, 17km west of Narrabri on Kamilaroi Hwy, and 8.5km north of Barraba on Cobadah Road.