Australian Government Biodiversity Fund grant for Southern Highlands
The task of protecting and enhancing the Shire’s unique biodiversity has received a welcome boost with the region being awarded a major grant under the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future Biodiversity Fund.
Efforts to protect and enhance remnant patches of Endangered Regional Ecosystems in Wingecarribee Shire have been hampered by the limited availability of ‘local provenance’ plants, that is, plants grown from seed collected from local remnant vegetation according to stringent criteria which preserves genetic diversity.
Wingecarribee Community Nursery, located at the Moss Vale works depot, has played an important role growing and supplying local provenance plants for re-vegetation. However, space restrictions have limited the production capacity to just 6,000 plants a year, which is far below current requirements.
An application to the Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future Biodiversity Fund was successful in gaining a grant of $349,200 over four years to enable the relocation of the Community Nursery to a bigger, more open site, where the production of local provenance plants can be increased to 40,000 a year. The nursery will continue to operate on a not-for-profit basis, although plants will be sold to recoup operating costs.
Volunteers will continue to provide most of the labour to propagate and care for the plants, but a nursery manager will be employed to increase the volunteer base and ensure that the volunteer experience in the nursery continues to be both rewarding and educational.
Council is also exploring a number of options for where the new Community Nursery might be located. Key criteria for those sites being assessed include adequate space that is mainly flat and sunny, and has long-term security of tenure; a site that is easily accessible by the volunteers, and has the required power, water and toilet facilities.
Wingecarribee Shire General Manager, Jason Gordon said, “This grant from the Australian Government will enhance our capacity to protect our unique natural environment, and aid in working with the community to protect and enhance our Shire’s Endangered Ecological Communities.
“There is no doubt that volunteers make an important contribution and this expansion of the Community Nursery will enable many more volunteers to participate in this important work,” he added. “Council is committed to finding a suitable site for the Community Nursery that will secure its future and allow it to produce the necessary volume of local provenance plants for years to come”, Mr Gordon said.
Further information on the Biodiversity Fund can be found on their website at: http://www.environment.gov.au/cleanenergyfuture/ or by contacting Council’s Natural Resource Officer Community Support on phone 4868 0772.