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Project bolsters bottom line for farmers and the environment The ...
Project bolsters bottom line for farmers and the environment The disastrous impact of feral animals on pastoral land and the environment in South Australia is being remedied through a project involving agreements with landholders across more than half the state. Feral goats, rabbits and foxes have wrought havoc on the environment and productive pastoral land, particularly across an area of some 538,000 square kilometres in the northern arid and semi-arid region of the state known as the Arid Lands. A project to support the removal of these threats and rehabilitate the landscape, however, is producing outstanding results across more than 100 private properties. Funding Over six years since it began in 2001, the Rangelands Action Project through the South Australian Arid Lands Natural Resources Management Board received nearly $1.3 million from the Australian Government’s Natural Heritage Trust. Funding was given to landholders who agreed to carry out activities such as fencing, vermin and weed control and tree planting to restore health to their land. All successful applicants matched the project funding received with their own cash and in-kind contributions. This project concluded in September 2006 however the important work this project started is now being capitalised on through new projects. This will ensure that the benefits will continue into the future. The Board is looking to add to the great results achieved so far, and how other projects currently underway in the region may support an extension of the Rangelands Action Project’s objectives’ Sandy said. Activities Programs Manager for the South Australian Arid Lands Natural Resources Management Board, Sandy Gunter, said the project had been particularly successful throughout the Flinders Ranges. “About half the funding set aside for feral animals is targeted at rabbits, which place enormous grazing pressure on the land and are to blame for a huge loss in native plant and animal biodiversity. There’s really no difference between rabbits and bulldozers or chainsaws in terms of how efficiently they clear the land of vegetation,” Sandy said. “In the early years only a few properties took part in rabbit control but as the project became more widely known and neighbours started to see the results, more people got on board, resulting in far less grazing pressure throughout the Flinders Ranges.” Thousands of rabbit warrens have been destroyed across the central and southern Flinders Ranges, with landholders employing contractors to ‘rip’ the burrows with a bulldozer. This complements previous ripping work in the northern Flinders around Leigh Creek and the Gammon Ranges and inside the Flinders Ranges National Park, leaving a large tract of the state nearly rabbit-free. Landholders were provided with the much-needed technical assistance and expertise needed to successfully undertake rehabilitation activities. Many workshops were also held to improve the community’s ability to more effectively manage the area’s natural resources. Achievements Sandy said that with the removal of rabbits and other feral animals such as goats and foxes, large areas of the state now stand a chance of recovering. “Many landholders have noticed that the bare patches that used to surround the burrows have gone, and the native bush and grasses are regenerating,” Sandy said. “They’re tackling the erosion caused by pest animals through activities such as replanting and seeing benefits such as lower farm-running costs and increases in crop yields and land values.” More information Sandy Gunter, Programs Manager, SA Arid Lands NRM Board: (08) 8648 5982 or firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.saalnrm.sa.gov.au
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