Re-connecting fragmented Malleefowl habitat

A malleefowl shown in profile, standing on a mound.

Malleefowl (Leipoa ocellata) in Little Desert National Park, Victoria. Photo: Donald Hobern CC-BY-2.0

Over the past five years, Greening Australia has partnered with the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and the Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action to revegetate and enhance priority habitat corridors for Malleefowl in the Victorian Mallee.

Once widespread across the region, Malleefowl numbers have greatly declined due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

Populations of these beautiful birds can be found in several small to medium-sized areas of remnant vegetation adjacent to the bigger population strongholds in the national parks.

Unfortunately, these smaller populations are isolated and unable to move between suitable habitat patches.

Revegetation at Baring Gypsum Wildlife Corridor reconnecting Malleefowl habitat. Photo: DEECA.

This project worked to establish habitat corridors to reconnect isolated remnants with larger reserves. This will allow Malleefowl to roam more freely, increasing the genetic diversity and resilience of populations in the region.

Biodiverse plantings have been undertaken to restore 406 hectares of native ecosystems, with over 75,000 seedlings planted and 264 kg of native seeds sown.

Revegetation works were completed in five priority locations: Berrook, Wathe, Yaapeet and Bronzewing State Forests and a private, covenanted block adjoining Hattah-Kulkyne National Park.

Planting for Malleefowl at Wathe State Forest. Photo: Greening Australia.

The locations were carefully chosen to have the most benefit to small and isolated populations of Malleefowl, based on a study commissioned by the Victorian Malleefowl Recovery Group and in consultation with a range of stakeholders.

It is encouraging to see the plantings beginning to establish with good direct seeding germination, survival of seedlings and significant growth under the favourable environmental conditions of 2022-23.

Revegetation in the hot and dry conditions of the Mallee is a challenging task and ongoing maintenance of the sites has been undertaken to optimise success. Seedlings received follow-up watering and all sites were managed to reduce threats from herbivores.

With time these plantings will ensure Malleefowl are freer to roam!

This article is adapted from one shared via the Mallee CMA’s June 2023 newsletter. This project is supported by the Mallee CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.


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