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Gondwana Link - visionary project video
Learn more about another visionary project - the Gondwana Link - from this YouTube video courtesy of Bush Heritage Australia (BHA). BHA are one of Greening Australia's partners in this inspirational project. Click here.
Habitat 141 is a bold project. It seeks to restore the links between major national parks and nature reserves over a 700 km stretch straddling the SA, NSW and Victorian border region.
The project covers an area of 18 million hectares stretching from the Murray River in the west to the Grampians and Mungo in the east; from the coast in the south to Broken Hill and Menindee in the north. Habitat 141 is just a little smaller than the whole of England and Scotland.
This area encompasses a diverse range of ecosystems including rangelands, heath, mallee, red gum forests and floodplains, grassy woodlands through to the limestone rich coastal plain. Some of Australia’s most iconic landscapes are encountered along the way; the floristically diverse Grampians, the magnificent floodplains of the Coorong and the famous River Murray. The Habitat 141 vision extends over the next 50 years.
Habitat 141 already contains large areas of native vegetation. Most of this vegetation is on crown land as reserves and national parks, but much is also on private land. The substantial areas on public land are the foundation of Habitat 141, however most of the rehabilitation work will take place on private land. Connections will be made between patches of native vegetation.
To have any real impact on the landscape, and to markedly improve the resilience of the natural ecosystems, an area of around 2 million hectares will need to be recruited and managed for conservation. Although this will take place over several decades the area recruited each year will need to exceed 40,000 hectares.
The area of Habitat 141 also has numerous landcare groups, landcare networks, field naturalist groups, indigenous groups and individuals who are quietly working to conserve their unique heritage. Habitat 141 is an idea which has come from groups such as Project Hindmarsh and the Portland Field Naturalists.
Greening Australia has forged strong links with government agencies, Natural Resource Management authorities, non-government organisations and philanthropic sponsors to maintain the long term commitment necessary to achieving a vision of this scale. Restoration activities focus on linking patches of existing vegetation through direct seeding and tree planting. These landscape scale works are guided by the latest conservation planning expertise and science, and will build on the work of Project Hindmarsh, a large scale revegetation project led by Greening Australia that has connected 100km of vegetation between Victoria’s Big Desert and Little Desert National Parks.
Below is an excerpt from a paper presented By Andrew Bradey, Habitat 141 coordinator, at the Healthy Parks Healthy People Conference in April 2010
"As a large part of the work to be done in this long-term large-scale project will be done on private land, one of the major challenges for Habitat 141 is to stimulate community involvement. Already there is a core of passionate, effective groups which need no conversion to this cause, but across much of its area no such groups or passion for conservation currently exist.
For these farmers and local communities what is the point in becoming involved in a project like Habitat 141?
- Conservation work on farmland has some potential to increase productivity by providing shelter, shade, reduction of erosion risk, improved water quality and improving the appearance of the farm.
- Stewardship payments may occur, where farmers and other landholders are paid a fee to manage parts of their land for conservation.
- There is some potential for branding opportunities. It may be possible to command a premium for some farm products produced on properties which participate in a large conservation project such as Habitat 141.
- Farms with well managed natural habitat are a good place to work.
- A project such as Habitat 141 will provide numerous job opportunities, especially for young people. In recent sociological surveys of farmers in western Victoria it was found that only 25% were concerned about the state of the natural environment, while 80% were very concerned about the lack of opportunity for young people.
Habitat 141 offers a contrasting brand of conservation. Hand-wringing and guilt are not on the menu. Sure, on the one hand there are problems, but on the other hand we have big, bold solutions. We want all sorts of people with different talents and resources to join in and use their skills and flair to pull off this massive solution.
We are not interested in minimising our footprint, but rather, in maximising it. Every year for decades we need to rehabilitate tens of thousands of hectares across a massive landscape. We can fix the problems and we will.
When people first hear this message, they think they are listening to a madman. But nearly always the incredulity quickly gives way to fascination, and after a while, enthusiasm.
This is a concept which sells.
This is something people want to join."
August 2009 update: Greening Australia's first carbon offset planting under way at Nurcoung
After 18 months of detailed planning and site preparation work, and buoyed by the best winter rains for ten years, GA staff are now overseeing the first H141 significant scale planting, at the Nurcoung Property, near Mt Arapiles in the Wimmera. The development of this exciting key linkage zone property has been made possible by funding for a carbon sink from Simply Energy, with additional investment from the RE Ross Trust and ‘Cool Melbourne’. The planting extends to 130 hectares, in three differing ‘Ecological Vegetation Classes’. A combination of direct seeding and seedling planting is being used to achieve the diverse mix of species and plant forms required.
Meanwhile, some 30km further west, the Kowree Farm Tree Group (KFTG) has completed site preparation for a 90 ha buloke restoration project on the MECU land bank property at Minimay. The Kowree Group is one of the community based groups that has embraced the Habitat 141 vision. GA is proud to be involved with and this active group. The protection and increasing in the extent of Buloke Grassy Woodlands is a key H141 priority.
The KFTG (and Habitat 141) is about more than planting trees. A particularly impressive project they have initiated is a program to provide breeding habitat for the now very rare Bush Stone Curlew. This is being achieved on several members properties via the use of specially designed electric fencing that protects the young chicks of breeding pairs from predation by Foxes. Several chicks have been successfully fledged under this program.
Habitat 141 Alliance Member Organisations:
Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority
Mallee Catchment Management Authority
South Eastern Natural Resources Management Board – South Australia
Victorian Trust for Nature
The Wilderness Society
Victorian National Parks Association
Victoria Naturally Alliance
Bush Heritage Australia
South Australian Murray Darling Basin National Resource Management Board
Department of Environment and Heritage – South Australia
Department of Sustainability and Environment – Victoria
- Greening Australia has developed strong partnerships with a range of agencies, catchment management authorities, conservation groups and philanthropic sponsors to ensure long term support for the project.
- A Conservation Action Planning Workshop has been held to provide the scientific rigour needed to support landscape-scale revegetation activity.
- Works have commenced on reconnecting large nature reserves: over one million trees have been planted and direct seeded.
- Purchase of "Nurcoung' a 186 ha property that forms a vital link between the Little Desert National Park, Nurcoung Flora Reserve and Arapiles-Toan State Park.
View a satellite map of the project area
Greening Australia and the Wilderness Society organised a scientific workshop on Habitat 141.
More than 20 scientists participated and the workshop culminated in a report providing a range of recommendations. This workshop used Habitat 141 as a case study for discussion of seven ecological process themes previously identified by the WildCountry Science Council as important for consideration in large scale conservation projects. To read a full copy of the report click here.