December 2023 Newsletter

There has been some welcome rains to freshen up our properties. The vegetation is responding well and will hopefully maintain its growth through what was expected to be a hot, dry summer. Fortunately the weather was fine for the Annual General Meeting at our Tothill Ranges property on 14 October. There was a good turn out from members and friends and all business was successfully concluded.
The major property activities of the company were again focused on Rockleigh. The exclusion fence has now been completed with pleasing results. Mowing and spraying of the veldt grass dominated areas within the exclosure have also been completed, and the tube stock plants are growing well in preparation for the 2024 planting season. Elsewhere, Andrew Wurst has had some success with his reptile project at the Tothills property (see below).

Property News
NVHA Grant Re-vegetation Project
The key infrastructure component of the project has now been completed with the construction of the 1.54 km fence, enclosing an area of 13 hectares. Our fencing contractors, Ron and Fiona Dunstan, have done an excellent job and the exclosure should be secure from herbivore pests for many years to come.

Mowing and spraying of substantial areas of veldt grass within the exclosure have also been completed, although it will probably take several years of persistent action to get this weed under control. Two thousand plants are now being grown ready for the 2024 planting season using seeds collected locally and Banksia seedlings harvested from the property.
In addition to the 10,000 plants being planted as part of the 3 year grant programme, it will be interesting to see how the existing native vegetation within the exclosure responds, without the substantial pressure from pest herbivores. There will still be plenty of opportunity for volunteers to participate in the project through planting, weed control and watering activities over the next 3 years.

Biodiversity Links Project Monarto to Tungkillo

Further to the October 2023 Newsletter, the 1000 plants being grown by Bushland Conservation on contract to Second Nature Conservancy (previously GWLAP) are also coming on well. These will be planted at Rockleigh, outside of the exclosure, in the 2024 planting season.

Revegetation from 1990s
Bushland Conservation had a successful direct seeding re-vegetation program in the 1990s on what was a paddock at the entrance to the Rockleigh property. It is heartening to see the prolific bird-life making use of the flowering eucalyptus and under-storey, including honeyeaters, parrots, thornbills and wrens as well as a family of nesting choughs and extensive echidna scratchings. Interestingly, a recent article in Australian Birdlife indicated that the White Winged Chough is closely related to Birds-of-Paradise. Choughs are an entertaining bird and well worth taking the time to observe. The new habitat is a testament to the foresight and efforts of those involved in this re-vegetation project.

Swamp Wallaby and Koala
Ron and Fiona found a swamp wallaby on the property, the first record, while constructing the fence. This is probably a long term escapee but an interesting visitor nevertheless. And Graham White, on one of his many working days on Rockleigh, recently heard the unmistakable grunting of a koala, an infrequent visitor to the property.

Feral Pests
Ron Dunstan is also our contract shooter for the Tothills property. While at Rockleigh he installed a camerato check on deer numbers based on significant evidence of their presence. Unfortunately the camera has confirmed large numbers, with 7 deer in one photo. As a landholder, Bushland Conservation has a responsibility under the Landscape South Australia Act to destroy feral deer on its properties. Ron has now been engaged to reduce pest numbers, including foxes and cats.

Tothill Ranges
The property welcomed an influx of members and friends for the AGM, with some taking the opportunity to camp and explore the area. Andrew Wurst continues to be active with the camera surveillance (unfortunately confirming the continued presence of deer, see below) and with his Worm Lizard project. No Worm Lizards yet but he did find 4 species of reptiles on a recent inspection including, Boulenger’s Morethias (Morethia boulengeri), Tawny dragons (Ctenophorus decresii), Bougainville’s Slider ( Lerista bougainvillii) and Mallee Black-headed Snake (Parasuta spectabilis). In addition, he also managed to find a Marbled Gecko (Christinus marmoratus) sheltering in a possum box.

Kangaroo Island
The Kangaroo Island property is in good condition and continues to be essentially self-managed under the watchful eye of our Kangaroo Island based members. The feral cat eradication program is continuing to achieve results and the occasional weed infestations are being treated.

Company News
2023 AGM
The AGM was well attended by nearly 30 members and friends. After a welcome from the chair, attendees listened to an interesting talk by our guest speaker Matt Heard, an ecologist with the NPWS. All business was successfully concluded including member approval of the resolution for the board to negotiate with the Talyala owners on the transfer of this property to Bushland Conservation.
A substantial number of members took the opportunity to camp on the property and explore the area.
David Smyth led a visit to the nearby Hester’s Heritage Scrub exclosure to inspect the fence design and to view the significant impact on the native vegetation by excluding herbivore pests.

2024 AGM
The 2024 Annual General Meeting will be held on our Kangaroo Island Property on Saturday 5 October.
Members are reminded to book the ferry early. More details will be provided closer to the time.

Annual Fees
Thank you to those that have already paid the annual fee and particularly to those who have given additional donations. The fees are essential to the running of Bushland Conservation.
The annual fee is now overdue and there are still a substantial number of members yet to pay. Can
you please pay your fee now.

Best wishes,
Peter Vincent

July 2023 Newsletter

The company has been active over the last 2 months, with a successful planting programme at Rockleigh and being awarded a substantial grant to fund a 3 year re-vegetation project, also at Rockleigh. Bushland conservation is fortunate to have an active membership group prepared to volunteer their time to support the management and conservation work on its properties. The board would like to thank the membership
for its ongoing support, which continues to build on the legacy that has been created since the formation of the company in 1975.

The AGM in October will provide members with the opportunity to hear more about the management of our properties on Kangaroo Island, in the Tothill Ranges and at Rockleigh and the plans for the future.

Property News

Planting June 2023
We had another successful planting season thanks to the many volunteer growers and planters. The work was carried out mainly over two weekends, the first to prepare the area by mowing and scalping to control the weeds (primarily veldt grass) and the second for planting. A total of 2200 plants were planted, including over 900 native grasses in the exclosure which is being developed as a natuve grass seed nursery.

Special thanks to Angela and Nic who, once again, were major contributors, growing over 1800 plants, Ian White for supplying the water and helping out on the day, and to Graham White for overseeing the overall effort. Thanks also to Bren, for the use of his mower and mowing expertise and plant growing, and to our other growers, Tom Reeves, Ian Roberts, the Bullocks, Julie Turner and Barbara Bansemer. Twelve
people attended the first weekend from 10 memberships with 22 people on the second, representing 11 memberships. All board members participated along with our 2 youngest planters, Rita (7) and Frank (4).

Grant Award
Bushland Conservation has been awarded significant funding for a re-vegetation project on Rockleigh through the Native Vegetation Heritage Agreement Large Grant programme. This project will be carried out over 3 years and will result in the planting of over 12,000 local provenance native plants. The initial phase of the work involves weed control and erecting a 1.54 km feral proof fence to enclose an area of 13 hectares. Once again, Bushland Conservation will be engaging Goolwa Wellington Local Action Planning Group (GWLAP) to work with us on this project but there will still be plenty of opportunity for volunteers to participate.

The company will purchase a ride-on mower through the grant funding and will undertake slashing and spraying of the site when the weather dries up. A fencing contractor has now been engaged to erect the fence and this work will be undertaken in October this year.

The award of this substantial grant recognises the capability of Bushland Conservation to manage a conservation project of this scale, based on the re-vegetation work that has been undertaken at Rockleigh over many years and on the experience, expertise and motivation of its members. The company is fortunate to receive this funding and is committed to delivering a successful project that will add substantially to the conservation value of Rockleigh.

Tothill Ranges

Worm Lizard Research Project
Andrew Wurst has set up a research project to investigate the presence of worm lizards in the Tothill Ranges. This involves setting up a pattern of tiles across a part of the property and then checking them at regular intervals. This species is listed as vulnerable under the EPBC act but there is a record of it occurring in the Tothill Ranges. Andrew came up with this idea while supporting a similar project in a conservation reserves to the east of Mt. Bryan, run by a NWPS ecologist Matthew Heard. Matt will be our guest speaker at our AGM in the Tothill Ranges and he will discuss the worm lizard amongst other conservation and ecology related matters.

Property Visit

The Tothills property was visited by the U3A Nature Photography Group as part of the student studies and kindly provide a donation to the company.

Kangaroo Island

Feral Cat Eradication Programme

The Feral Cat Eradication team has reported that the Bushland Conservation property is largely cleared of feral cats and the focus is now on preventing re-enter and doubling back as the programme moves progressively west. In excess of 45 cats have been removed from the vicinity of our property through a combination of techniques. The Felixer device has proved particularly useful, including 12 cats removed from a location near our AGM site. The use of cameras has also been critical to the success of the programme. The Feral Cat Eradication team has been grateful for the support received from Bushland Conservation, including the provision of cameras.

Goanna Research Project

The initial phase of the research project on the Rosenbergs Goanna has now been concluded. The study area included Bushland Conservation’s KI property and the work on the property was carried out with the support of some of our Kangaroo Island members. This study has found that these goanna play an important role as scavengers in controlling agriculturally harmful blowfly populations, highlighting the significance of reptiles in the ecosystem

Remembering Robert (Bob) Seamark

Robert (Bob) Seamark died on 31 May 2023 after a short illness. He was on country in Central Australia when he got sick. He is survived by his loving wife Kay Hannaford and his three children Anna, Tom, Ben and his grandchildren.
Bob was one of the earliest shareholders in the company acquiring his initial shareholding on 17/12/76. He was one of the company’s earliest directors being appointed in 17/12/76 and serving on the board until 31/10/95. Bushland Conservation has been fortunate to have had people like Bob to support its conservation aims and to build the legacy that we have today.
Bushland Conservation Board extends its sympathies to his family and hopes that they are able to continue an involvement in the company.

Talyara Property

Further to the May 2023 Newsletter, the owners of the Talyara Heritage Agreement property, located approximately 10 km NW of Laura, on the eastern flanks of the southern Flinders Ranges and extending over an area of 486 hectares, have now offered to gift this property to Bushland Conservation. This is a generous proposal on an attractive, well vegetated property with significant conservation value.

The Talyara owners have identified Bushland Conservation as a credible, like minded organisation with the capability to take over the responsibility for managing the conservation of this property. The board recognises that accepting this offer does come with additional obligations on Bushland Conservation and its members. The implications of taking on the Talyara property are being reviewed by the directors but a recommendation has not yet been finalised. The plan is to provide the membership with a proposal prior to the AGM, summarising the pros and cons and implications, including financial, for a discussion and a vote at the meeting.

Best wishes

Peter Vincent
Mobile 0419500597