Bullio and Joadja Valley landholders tackle four decades of bush recovery

Southern Highlands neighbours to the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (WHA) are tackling head on the risks of weeds and pest animals.

The 43 land managers with properties adjoining Nattai National Park in the Wingecarribee Shire are helping to eradicate invasive species on private and public lands covering 40,000ha.

While the four-year Landcare-funded project initially battled weeds, deer and feral pigs, it morphed into bushfire recovery after the 2019-2020 Green Wattle Creek blaze which destroyed 278,722ha in the Southern Highlands and around Wombeyan Caves near Taralga.

South East Local Land Services (South East LLS) partnered with Wingecarribee Shire Council and National Parks Wildlife Service to deliver the ‘Protecting the Greater Blue Mountains WHA’ project, providing landholders with the tools and knowledge to overcome weed and vertebrate pests.

Almost 1800ha of woody weeds across 4300ha of private land have now been treated and the land owners are implementing management plans for feral animals across 15 properties.

Landholder David Feetham said: “It was fantastic having the team understand our vision of bringing the valley back to what it must have been like in its heyday. Unfortunately, 40 years of neglect has left a lot to undo, but we have made a solid start. The active help of the LLS in eliminating the weeds and reducing the feral population is really appreciated.”

Craig Thomas, Senior Biosecurity Officer with South East LLS said: “The reason for the project was two-fold. It sought to reduce threats to the region’s natural assets by actively managing pest animals and weeds across private land within a 10km buffer of the WHA. It also built the capacity and skills of landowners to continue to manage these issues into the future.”

The program has also complemented a feral pig campaign in partnership with landholders in the Wollondilly River region.

The project leaders boosted community engagement by hiring contractors to undertake control work initially. Landholders were encouraged to undertake fauna audits on their properties, monitoring for native and introduced species.

“We provided landholders with the advice and resources and they took up the initiative,” said Craig.

“It is heartening that a diverse group of landholders have continued these vital weed and pest control efforts on a broad scale and at their own expense.”

The initiative was part of the $250,000 Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area (GBMWHA) project, part of the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

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