The North East Catchment Management Authority (NECMA) manages the integrated planning framework for land, water and biodiversity management in North East Victoria.
North east Victoria is gorgeous and contains some of our most beautiful mountains. While it comprises only 2% of the geographic area of the Murray-Darling Basin it contributes 38% of the total water in the Murray-Darling system. This high-quality water resource supports users across south-eastern Australia and needs to be protected.
NECMA has just released its annual report for 2020/21 (available here) and it has some interesting updates on projects happening across the mountains.
The following excerpts are taken directly from the NECMA report. They detail some of the work carried out through NECMA with a particular focus on the higher mountains.
Over 430,000 ha of land in the north east Victoria, or 22% of the catchment, was affected by bushfires in December 2019 and January 2020. With the support of the Victorian Government, the North East CMA has been able to continue to support affected communities and catchments in 2020-21 through works in the Upper Murray on high priority sites that have the potential to impact on essential public infrastructure including roads and bridges, as well as sites that pose a high risk to river health. 19 sites have been completed with bank stabilisation works to address threats to public infrastructure.
In partnership with the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program many valuable activities were delivered including:
- Following the 2020 bushfires, additional invasive weed treatments were also applied to 148.8 ha of priority peatlands in the Mount Buffalo and Alpine National Parks.
- The Shelly Plantation saw 37 deer removed to protect fire impacted Alpine Peatlands in the Upper Murray.
Alpine Peatland Protection
- Alpine Ecology Workshop brought together 50 participants to communicate the importance of alpine peatlands, how they function, and how to protect and restore them.
- Protection of peatlands from trampling through the follow-up pest animal control of over 144 deer across 29,000 ha of the Alpine National Park.
- Weeds were controlled on 407.5 ha of land to protect alpine peatlands from invasion by transformational weed species including seeding willows and soft rush. A trial commenced to control exotic grasses on Mount Buffalo.
Mountain Pygmy-possum Recovery
- Continued predator control of cats and foxes on 27,000 ha in and around mountain pygmy-possum habitat using baiting, traps and shooting. This resulted in the termination of 8 cats and 20 foxes, and an additional 94 bait takes to protect the mountain pygmy-possum from predation.
- Removal of weeds (Salix spp.) across 537 ha in and around mountain pygmy-possum habitat across the Mt Hotham and Bogong High Plains areas to improve habitat.
- Production and release of three videos highlighting the plight of the mountain pygmy-possum and the collaborative effort to save the species.
- Completion of 20 days of monitoring effort, with a total of 270 trap nights undertaken at 12 trapping sites distributed across 9 mountain pygmy-possum local populations in the Alpine National Park.
Australian Heritage Grant – Mountain Pygmy-Possum
The Australian Heritage Grant provided $64,000 in funding over three years to complement existing work being achieved in mountain pygmy-possum conservation. In 2020-21 the grant has funded a study to investigate the composition of the mountain pygmy-possum diet, by using cutting-edge DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding methods. The study findings include:
- a large proportion of the possum’s diet is composed of Bogong moth (78%)
- the possums consume a wide variety of plants and insects during their breeding season
- the diversity of their diet may be linked to the biodiversity of their surrounding habitat.
The study highlights that long-term diet research across seasons and locations is needed to give a more accurate picture of what the possum’s future is and what we need to do to halt further decline.
There is a report on the Alpine Ecology workshop, held at Dinner Plain in May 2021 available here.