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The ‘Corridor Links and Carbon Sinks: Biodiversity for Carbon and Corridors’ (B4CC) project is supported through funding from the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future Biodiversity Fund.

The Upper Shoalhaven Landcare Council was one of 317 projects across Australia won funding in the first round of the Biodiversity fund.  Applicants were asked to design projects within the following themes:

    •      Biodiverse plantings
    •      Protecting and enhancing existing vegetation
    •      Managing threats to Biodiversity 

                                                                                                                  

- Program Summary –

STAGE 1 (between now and the 1st of July 2013) will involve in research and communication, field days and workshops, development of a regional biodiversity advisory board, mapping, development of a biodiversity module for primary schools, monitoring and evaluation plans etc and preparing for stage 2 of the project.

STAGE 2 (from July 2013-June 2016) will continue the work of stage 1 but will also partner with local landholders & community groups to create biodiverse revegetation projects in corridor zones, protecting and enhancing existing vegetation in corridor zones and developing management plans and undertaking invasive species control in and around these areas.

In broad terms - this project aims to help build landscape resilience to climate change.  While this sounds like another buzz word - 'landscape resilience' is based on the application of a broad range of interesting science.

Resilience can be defined as the ability to bounce back - or being able to adapt and respond to a broad range of situations without being thrown off balance.  Even without 'climate change' as a justification - building resilience is in no way a whimsical thing to do.  It is common sense.  The way we build resilience into a landscape needs to be based on good science and associated case studies and sometimes, the results gained by daring people who experiment using big ideas and common sense before the science catches up. Building landscape resilience means acting in a way that considers the big picture and all the stakeholders, not just your own pet project or patch.

It is important to note that Biodiversity refers to the diversity of all plants and animals on farm and off farm. It is the diversity that is important - which is nature's way of managing risk - just as it is in business.  It can be argued that it is far more risk averse (therefore more resilient) to support diversity/biodiversity and manage the threats (like noxious weeds and ferals) than is is to annihilate the threats to one part of an enterprise or ecosystem and expect that they will stay under control. Often the 'weeds' come back, bigger and better than last time, if you leave an empty space for them.  Perhaps thinking about evolution will lead to more manageable solutions to the way we see and manage our productive landscapes (everywhere) Evolution is change and it chooses its course through a banquet of biodiversity.

Corridor links are areas that are intentionally linked by the way they are managed. They can be woodlands, grasslands, wetlands, stepping stones (like trees on rocky knobs), farmlands, rivers and creeks etc - you get the idea. The important thing about corridors is knowing where they are and managing them in a way that includes their value as a corridor for wildlife and plants as well as other values.

Being part of a landscape corridor simply means that there is someone connecting all the dots on a bigger scale so that what money or effort is spent on a smaller scale is part of the bigger picture and thus has a greater impact. The areas targeted to be part of a landscape corridor, and able to get financial support to implement 'corridor management plans', need to be meaningful to the species that live in them as well as to the productive and non-productive land managers (and their neighbours) on farms and elsewhere in the catchment.

The areas identified will be eligible to apply for financial support through this project for revegetation activities, restoration activities and invasive species monitoring and management. The impact of invasive species in and around corridor plantings and zones is also an important part of the approach.

An example of a large landscape scale corridor would be a corridor running from Kosciuszko to the Coast.  An even bigger one would be all along the Great Dividing Range.  A more local (and achieveable) example would be along the banks of the Shoalhaven River or Monkittee Creek, or from the Gourock range to the Budawangs.  Corridors are as much about offering a migration route to plants and animals adapting to changing climates or just adapting to a world that always changes, as they are about reducing the number of 'islands' of plant and animals, where small isolated areas of biodiversity become like a landlocked island with a small gene pool making them less diverse and therefore more vulnerable to the threats than the possibilities of change.

Carbon sinks. There is a great deal of  research about the links between Carbon and productivity.  However, there also seems to be a great deal of spin about how you can make money out of a 'carbon economy'. Separating the known facts from the potential facts is difficult to say the least.

There are levels of Carbon in the atmosphere that are affecting our climatic patterns, for better or worse. There are some known ways of getting carbon out of the atmosphere - but they rely on coordinated effort. Any area that is part of a landscape corridor and can be shown to be storing Carbon and not releasing it for a certain period of time will be eligible for funding through this project.  The eligibility of revegetation projects to be part of the Carbon Farming Initiative or any other carbon trading scheme is a possibility but a different and more complex matter entirely.

Managing the risk associated with corridors (such as housing invasive species or farm pests) is an important part of corridor management. There will be money available in coming years for pest and weed control as well as consideration given to fire issues.  Corridors will provide habitat for pest species as much as for the ones we like. The involvement of landholders, Southern Rivers CMA, Rural Fire Brigades, LHPA and local councils and others will help manage the risks so that the outcomes are positive.

The partnership between biodiversity and farming is completely inter-meshed. This project is not about creating areas that become 'non-productive' for human purposes and end up a haven for pigs and serrated tussock.  It is about focusing on the happy balance between farming and conservation and managing the risks by employing local people to carry out restoration (weed management/grazing management) and vertebrate pest control as well as helping land managers and who participate, and their neighbours to develop workable plans to get the most out of the vegetation assets. Added to the mix is the idea that carbon stored via tree planting and changes in farm management practices may become a saleable asset.

There are a number of upcoming events as part of this project.

In the very near future, there will be a series of workshops on community based fauna species survey techniques. A very knowledgeable ecologist Steve Sass, who has spent thousands of hours in the field doing fauna surveys, will be coming to the Upper Shoalhaven and Upper Deua to do 3 days and 2 night of surveys. He will be teaching people the appropriate techniques to spot different animals - and the best way to record the sightings so it can become part of a local and/or state and national database. The first day & night will be in the south, the second in and around Braidwood, and the third in the North. Please get in touch if you are interested in attending or if you think your place is the perfect spot to host the surveys. These surveys will run again in March next year. Steve will also be at the Biodiversity & Farming Fair giving a presentation on reptiles.

The Biodiversity and Farming Fair preparations are in full swing for Friday the 30th of November in Ryrie Park in Braidwood. There will be more media surrounding this event soon. A big range of community, government and industry stallholders are invited (if you would like to be a part of it please contact me) as well as an excellent range of speakers on Sustainable Farming and Biodiversity awareness topics. The Upper Shoalhaven Landcare Council is partnering with the organisation called ‘Kosciuszko to Coast’ for this event.

Revegetation, fencing, regeneration and restoration workshops are all on the horizon.

For more information about the Biodiversity fund go to: http://www.environment.gov.au/cleanenergyfuture/biodiversity-fund/projects/round1.html

 

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