Victorian Volcanic Plains Conservation Management Network

Raising awareness about the value and use of native grasslands, seasonal wetlands, grassy woodlands & other ecosystems on the Victorian Volcanic Plains

Restoring Grasslands to Mt Elephant

This article is taken from the Corangamite Lakes Landcare Area March 2017 Newsletter.

If you drive past Mt Elephant you may have noticed that what was a few years ago a big brown bare area on the northern and western slope, is now predominantly covered with grass. Funded by the Victorian Government’s “Communities for Nature” program, four solid years of rabbit control and spraying of Pattersons Curse and other broadleaf weeds such as Twiggy Mullein, Wild Mustard and Capeweed, has allowed the reestablishment of a mix of both native and introduced grasses. Over time, it is expected that the native wallaby (danthonia) and kangaroo (themeda) grasses will thicken up further and out compete the introduced annual grasses.

Western Slope Mt elephant Oct 2012

Western Slope Nov 2015

On some rocky areas where rabbit grazing was the harshest, only danthonia grass has returned, with no introduced grasses. The reduction in rabbits is reflected in the amount of carrots used for baiting, with approximately 150 kilograms of carrots used in 2013 whereas in 2016 less than 20 kilograms were used, and this year it is likely to be less than 5 kilograms.

Most or all of the 130 ha area has been sprayed by helicopter in June each year to pick up the heavy infestations of broadleaf weeds and any smaller outlier infestations or individual plants. “The earlier June spraying achieves the best result as there is less grass cover and the broadleaf weeds are young and easy to kill with softer herbicides and reduced rates” said Rob Millard. “However given the difficulty of the site and even with very gentle winds, it is unrealistic to expect a 100% success rate with the June spraying, although 80% or better is regularly achieved. So we have been following up with the helicopter again in Spring, often on a much smaller area to clean up any misses. Any summer weeds are spot sprayed by hand, which this year will only take 20 hours or so, compared to about 80 hours or more a couple of years ago”.

The results show that weeds and rabbits can be beaten but it takes persistence, and that to succeed both must be controlled together.  To continue the works, this year the weed control will be funded by $8960 from the Corangamite CMA Victorian Landcare grants, while a $2000 Corangamite Shire Environmental Grant will help fund rabbit and weed control.

 

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