Southern Incentives 1 & 2 (2002-2003)
EARLY rounds of funding commenced in 2002 and focused on three broad categories: innovation for change, bolstering biodiversity and more capable communities. These activities were located in areas that were shown to be at greatest risk or would reap the greatest long term benefit from the activity. One area was the Stirling to Corackerup macro-corridor, a link between two world-renowned biodiversity hotspots - the Stirling Range and the Fitzgerald Biosphere. Numerous wetland suites throughout the region were also identified as priority areas. During these early stages of Southern Incentives, 1440 ha of perennial pastures were created, 36.5 ha of revegetation planted , 51.3 km of surface drainage constructed and 95.5 km of fencing was erected to protect remnant vegetation and waterways.
Innovation and change
FARMERS and landowners were assisted to adopt new management practices. Salinity, caused by rising water tables as a result of broad scale clearing of native vegetation, was identified as a major threat. One initiative was the trialling of perennial pastures to draw down water tables. Another was revegetating with local native tree species with a commercial value or a potential commercial value such as sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) and the flat-topped yate (Eucalyptus occidentalis). Surface water earthworks on private land were also funded where the outcome was the protection of public assets.
This assisted landholders to protect and increase biodiversity by fencing fragmented remnants of native bushland on private property and linking them to public reserves. Land adjoining the Stirling Range National Park and the privately owned Corackerup Nature Reserve was targeted, as well as areas located between the two to enable the creation of a vegetation macro-corridor.
More capable communities
This equipped small community groups to adequately handle grant funding by training them in record keeping and acquittal processes and approving the purchase of small equipment.
Southern Incentives 3 (2006-2009)
THIS grant scheme, closely aligned to the priorities set out in Southern Prospects 2004-2009, the South Coast Strategy for NRM, proved to be extremely popular and applications were far in excess of the funds available. Funding was allocated under the themes of biodiversity, water, soil health, perennials, invasive species and coastal and marine all aimed at achieving regionally important on-ground works. Applications were assessed on merit, ability to fulfil regional goals and impact on the local area and region.
Biodiversity - remnant protection fencing and revegetation
AREAS of remnant vegetation were protected by installing stock exclusion fencing, while other areas were fenced and revegetated with locally native and site specific species. This complemented previous on-ground works by strengthening the connectivity of bushland through protecting privately-owned bush, which bolsters the public reserve system. All fenced areas were protected by a 10-year agreement. The exclusion of stock from areas of remnant vegetation allowed significant regeneration of native vegetation. Dry-land salinity and wind erosion were addressed by this work while native flora and fauna were afforded further refuges.
Water - riparian and waterway protection and revegetation, stock crossings and off stream watering points
AS with the biodiversity theme, the majority of works undertaken were associated with the fencing of existing vegetation, revegetating connecting corridors and the exclusion of stock to protect these precious remnants. In this case all works were in association with watercourses and wetlands with the aim of protecting and reinstating vital riparian vegetation. This aimed to preserve and protect water resources and to assist the regional struggle against salinity, as well as boosting the native vegetation with its associated benefit to wildlife. Stock crossings and off-stream watering points were also funded with the aim of protecting stream-banks from erosion and riparian vegetation from damage by unrestricted stock access.
Soil health - liming, claying, deep ripping, soil testing, soil carbon monitoring and biodynamic trials
THIS initiative funded a range of project types over several thousand hectares to improve the health of soil in productive land.
These included the more traditional activities of liming to raise pH and claying to improve a sandy soils capacity to hold water and nutrients. Other activities included deep ripping to allow moisture and root penetration into the subsoil and soil testing to give farmers a more comprehensive understanding of their soil chemistry.
Some important trials were undertaken as part of this program, including a soil carbon monitoring trial conducted on 19 sites across 300 ha. This trial gathered baseline data to understand the capacity of local soil to sequester carbon - important for future efforts at soil carbon sequestration.
Interest in alternative fertilisers has increased, due to many farmers realising their soils are being depleted by current farming regimes. After recognising that biodynamic approaches had received good reports of benefits to soil health in relatively short timeframes, a scientific trial conducted over eight farms covering 77 ha. This showed that very small amounts of biodynamic fertilisers applied at the correct time, were effective and considerably cheaper than standard fertilisers.
Perennial pastures - exotic and innovative
THIS program implemented several thousand hectares of perennial pastures, building on earlier trials that had proven the success of certain pasture varieties. Perennial pastures are used to maintain or increase productivity while tackling the problems of rising water tables and salinity, as well as combating water and wind erosion. Established exotic perennial pastures included kikuyu, tall wheat grass, resolute fescue, lucerne, orion medic, santorini and avila serradella, banquet and magnum perennial rye and chicory. An innovative perennials program - Native Species of Perennial Grasses was also trialled. This program addressed the use of native perennial grasses for revegetation and restoration, addressing the production of seed for these types of projects. Some of the native grasses targeted for trial and development were kangaroo, wallaby and weeping rice grasses. This led to farmers conducting further trials to select the best varieties and allowed for more locally grown seed to become available.
Invasive species - African boxthorn, bridal creeper, Sydney golden wattle, Victorian tea tree, pittosporum and polygala
UNFORTUNATELY many invasive species are established in the region and have become a pest, impacting on the integrity of local bushland and out-competing native species. Some pests are exotic while others are simply Australian natives established out of their natural range such as Victorian tea tree and the Sydney golden wattle.
These species have thrived in southern WA due to a similar natural environment and few predators. This program tackled almost 200ha of weed infestations, with much of the work conducted on public land by a range of dedicated community organisations.
This program also provided funds to run workshops and raise community awareness to identify and control pests. Other initiatives involved the purchase of equipment to facilitate weed eradication.
Coastal and marine
ALTHOUGH the region has an expansive coastline, the majority of the population live near it, which can have a negative impact on the natural environment. This particular program was designed to protect and enhance the coastal environment, attracting successful applicants from a range of community organisations, councils and user groups. Funding was provided for a diverse range of projects including on-ground works, education, purchasing equipment and monitoring programs. Highlights included:
- Fencing to prevent unrestricted foot traffic through fragile dune systems and follow-up stabilisation and revegetation using local provenance species.
- The construction and installation of paths and other access ways to popular locations.
- The delineation of parking areas with bollards or fencing.
- The construction of shelters to minimise the impact of campers and day visitors using vegetation for shade and improvements to composting toilet facilities.
- Barriers to prevent weed encroachment.
Educational included the erection of signs, the purchase of a marine education trailer, and the Albany Senior High School Marine Science Project, which collects real data for use by the Department of Fisheries. Equipment was also purchased for a sea-bird rescue centre.
Southern Incentives Round 3 achievements
Activity Approved Achieved Success rate
Biodiversity fencing 142 km 127 km 89 per cent
Biodiversity planting 108 ha 58 ha 53 per cent
Water/riparian fencing 200 km 172.5 km 86 per cent
Waterway/riparian planting 200 ha 113 ha 56 per cent
Invasive species 197 ha 185 ha 94 per cent
Soil health 4,072 ha 3,971 ha 97.5 per cent
Perennials 4,325 ha 3,202 ha 74 per cent
Coastal area protected by fencing 9 ha 9 ha 100 per cent