Restoring Native Vegetation For Malleefowl Habitat

Malleefowl are set to benefit from the Yarra Yarra project in Western Australia. Photo: Keith Lightbody Birdlife Australia

Greening Australia and our partners the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council (NACC) are excited to announce the addition of a new project to our existing national landscape restoration program – Restoring Native Vegetation to Enhance Malleefowl Neighbourhoods in the Yarra Yarra Catchment, Western Australia.

As service providers for the Australian Government’s 20 Million Trees Programme, we will support farmers from the Yarra Yarra Catchment to restore native vegetation on 300 ha of cleared land over the next three years.

The Yarra Yarra Catchment, in the Northern Agricultural Region, covers 1.8 million ha and boasts a unique and diverse range of plants and animals, including endangered plants such as Fitzgerald’s Mulla Mulla and Prostrate Flame Flower as well as the enigmatic Malleefowl.

Malleefowl are large, ground-dwelling birds once common throughout the southern third of Australia but their numbers have declined substantially, especially within agricultural landscapes where much of their habitat has been removed. Malleefowl are listed as Vulnerable under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Rather than sitting on its eggs, the Malleefowl has a unique nesting process including building and maintaining a large mound into which eggs are laid and buried to be incubated by heat generated from decomposing leaf material and solar radiation.

Although land clearing has largely ceased within W.A., other threats to the Malleefowl (eg. feral cat and fox predation, grazing by introduced herbivores) are now exacerbated by the lack of remnant habitat remaining in the landscape. One way to address this is to restore vegetation within key areas of the species’ range.

Through this project, we will work with the local  community to undertake strategic restoration of 300 ha of cleared farmland to increase native vegetation cover, buffer remnant vegetation, improve connectivity and enhance habitat for the Malleefowl and other key plant and animal species.

Federal Member for Durack, Melissa Price said the native vegetation restoration project was an important local project which is vital to the Mid West.

Native fauna and flora are key tourist attractions to our beautiful and diverse region,” Ms Price said.

Projects like this one, will ensure we protect and preserve the future of our native wildlife.”

Where applicable, planting design will be informed by current research into habitat requirements and connectivity and an emphasis will be given to plant species known to support the Malleefowl and other co-occurring fauna.

Local community participation is at the heart of this project and the Yarra Yarra Catchment Management Group, North Central Malleefowl Preservation Group, Central Wheatbelt Declared Species Group, and Perenjori Farming Forward, together with many local farmers are all supportive of the project. The project team will spend time over the coming months meeting other stakeholders and building strong local support to ensure the best chance of landscape-scale conservation.

This project, Restoring Native Vegetation to Enhance Malleefowl Neighbourhoods in the Yarra Yarra Catchment, Western Australia is supported by the Australian Government’s 20 Million Trees Programme (part of the National Landcare Programme) and Greening Australia.

Read more about Greening Australia and the 20 million Trees Programme.