Nurturing the riverside and its helpers

October 17, 2021 BY

Low canopy: Napoleons-Enfield Landcare members including Jenny Ryle planted five patches of ground-cover species this winter which will complement habitat logs. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

SEVEN years ago, the banks of the Yarrowee River at Scotchmans Lead, and surrounding paddocks, were full of gorse and blackberries.

But thanks to the work of Napoleons-Enfield Landcare Group’s passionate committee and volunteers, two kilometres of riverside reserve downstream from Franklin’s Bridge is now a corridor of 50 species of native plants and wildlife.

The organisation recently received a Community Volunteer Action Grant from the State Government worth just over $20,000 to further boost their conservation and education efforts on site.

Secretary Jenny Ryle the funds are covering various initiatives, some of which are already well underway.

“In winter we planted five patches of grasses, ground covers and small, flowering herbaceous plants to contribute to the lower canopy layer which you need in a good ecosystem,” she said.

“We have plants including golden everlasting and native pelargonium, and are hoping they grow big enough to produce seeds we can collect and then spread them in bare patches to compete with pasture grass, which is not native.”

With an aim to “bring back the diversity,” all of these plants have been sourced from the community nursery at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.

Sections of chopped-down trees from the nearby highway have been placed around the reserve as habitat logs to complement the developing low canopy.

Another part of the State grant is funding three elements of volunteer training including learning to plant and understand the area’s species, using those skills, and recording data about water, plants and native animals.

The funding will also cover an open day next year that’ll include guided walks of the reserve, a smoking ceremony, and demonstrations and information.

“We’re encouraging people to come and enjoy this space, understand what we’re doing for conservation and biology, and make this into a place of learning,” Ms Ryle said.

“We’ve had volunteers between the ages of three and 83, people with disabilities, schools and community groups. Helping people learn how to best volunteer and look after wildlife is the next step.”

The Landcare Group is currently working with local governments and catchment management to construct a footbridge over the river where it meets with the Union Jack Creek.

Earlier in the year, the Landcare group received another COVID recovery grant from the Golden Plains Shire worth $4000.

With these funds, the group was able to create and plant up some wetland areas with species purchased from Ballarat Wild Plants.

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