Progress against planned activities for 2014
Despite some delay in receipt of funding in late 2013, the project is currently on schedule and delivering against the activities and outputs intended in 2014. Major emphasis during the period has been on:
1. Delivery of available funds to landholders to support individual habitat restoration and weed/pest animal control works in priority corridor connections – a total of $528,809 has been committed for works under thirty-four (34) agreements commencing in 2014 and due for completion by mid 2015;
2. Development of an integrated package of invasive species management activities, bringing together community capacity-building, cross-tenure project coordination, revegetation and invasive species suppression in priority areas – $150,000 has been allocated to nine (9) projects commenced in 2014 with outcomes due in 2015);
3. Development of an Aboriginal engagement program to incorporate traditional ecological knowledge in corridor restoration and provide opportunities for greater involvement in Stage 5 and beyond – development of the K2W Link Cultural Connections package will underpin activities valued at $120,000 over the remainder of the project to exceed the original proposed target for Aboriginal involvement including through development of five (5) property management plans on lands owned by Pejar and Orange LALCs;
4. Delivery of grants to support community group participation through nine (9) local habitat restoration, capacity building and educational projects – a total of $122,000 has been distributed for projects commenced and due for completion by mid 2015;
5. Development of tools and a strategic program to enable streamlined data gathering to support future activities reporting, and commence preparations for mid-project reporting on outputs and predicted condition change outcomes after June 2015;
6. Engaging a wider network of project partners though involvement in the’K2W Link Project Reference Group’; and
7. Project administration and coordination. All activities have been completed, or have commenced and are on track for delivery in accordance with the original project plan. One activity is recommended for cancellation as the new MERIT reporting system would require unnecessary duplication of the outputs reported by the project based on how the original plan would be reported.
Environmental outcomes of the project in 2014
During the period, the project has delivered substantial contributions towards delivery of the overall project targets, including:
1. Revegetation commencing to re-establish 202 hectare of high priority connecting or buffering habitat;
2. Management of pest animals (goats, pigs, carp) over 3,220 ha and weeds over a further 3,662 ha
3. Delivery of a spectrum of private land conservation options, leading to improved protection / conservation of 141.5 ha with a further 1,550 ha now managed under Land For Wildlife property registration; and
4. Construction of 39.6 kilometres of fencing, in priority locations where exclusion of stock and/or pest animals will ensure successful restoration outcomes.
Implementation in 2014
Major activities have involved:
1. Delivery of two rounds of expressions of interest for landholder and group projects – proposed projects/works were called for which expressly target priorities agreed by project partners during 2013. Assessment and validation of proposed works relative to investment priorities in both rounds of EoI were delivered by OEH (promotions and priority setting), Central Tablelands LLS (landholder liaison and site assessment) and the Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife (grant administration)
2. Integrated delivery model for invasive species management – Activities undertaken to deliver coordinated cross tenure outcomes have involved:
(a) Expansion of existing ‘shovel-ready’ projects by LLS, NPWS and others
(b) Delivery of workshops and field days to promote the K2W Link project, raise awareness of invasive species impacts on biodiversity, outline investment priorities and stimulate collaborative involvement;
(c) Establish remote camera monitoring points on public and private lands to establish baseline information on presence of invasive species and as a means of promoting the importance of invasive species on connectivity values
(d) Advertise and provide material support (chemicals, baits, staff time and logistical coordination) Commencement of targeted revegetation as a management follow-up following suppression (intended to enhance regeneration)
3. Cultural Connections – an integrated package of delivery projects has commenced, involving:
(a) Consultation on values, knowledge and priorities to encourage knowledge sharing with landholders
(b) Active collaboration with related projects (eg with Orange LALC and Cowra Traditional Ecological Knowledge group members) to promote training and skills development opportunities through works commenced in the period
4. Community grants – a total of 13 community group project proposals received – 9 projects with combined value of $122,000 were funded to deliver outputs during 2015:
(a) Planning for community restoration of the K2W Link, Fullerton Hadley Landcare Group – Fullerton
(b) Community planning for Limerick Tuena Landcare, Limerick Tuena Landcare – Limerick, Peelwood and Tuena
(c) Restoring natural and cultural values of the Stonequarry Cemetery, International Volunteers for Peace – Stonequarry Cemetery Taralga
(d) Survey and planning for the restoration of Pejar values in the K2W Link, Pejar Aboriginal Land Council – Tuena, Wombeyan and Binda
(e) Survey and planning for the restoration of natural and cultural values in the K2W Link, Orange Aboriginal Land Council – Orange
(f) Cultural burning and awareness at The CORRIDOR Project, “Riverslea” – Darby’s Falls
(g) Healthy habitats: farm dams and wetlands, Upper Lachlan Landcare Coordinating Committee – Binda and Crookwell
(h) Threatened species review for the K2W Link, Hovells Creek Landcare – Hovells Creek
(i) Who’s Living On My Land’ in the K2W Link, National Parks Association of NSW – Abercrombie River and Neville
5. Streamlined data gathering – Work is almost complete with the Atlas of Living Australia on the development of a ‘GER Atlas’ to enable ongoing activity reporting by project partners in a format that will synchronise with both the MERIT reporting system and GER monitoring program.
Social outcomes of the project in 2014
Delivery of funds through both the individual and group grants streams purposefully encouraged landholders to propose works developed in conjunction with neighbours. This has strengthened the communications and coordination capacity of Landcare and other local community networks.
Through feedback received, local communities have been empowered to help refine priorities for project investment, increasing levels of commitment to the project and its outcomes;
1. Delivery of the ‘Who’s Living On My Land’ program (a capacity-building exercise to encourage cross-tenure collaboration on pest management) has increased community awareness of the extent of feral animal problems, and has resulted in cooperative and self-organising networks of landholders establishing to work with national parks and Local Land Services staff to deliver coordinated management activities.
2. Significant progress has been made in engaging the Aboriginal community, bringing together four groups/organisations that do not otherwise collaborate to develop and agree a package of activities that will support the application of traditional knowledge, and ensure the project far exceeds the original targets for Aboriginal participation.
3. Social cohesion has been further enhanced through the reinvigoration of community groups which have expanded their membership to engage absentee landholders and small-holding residents. Communications networks and general awareness of a sense of community has followed, and will likely continue throughout the remainder of the project and beyond.
Successes, challenges and adaptations
Significant achievements have been made in relation to all aspects of the K2W Link project:
1. The project is widely understood and supported by the local community and stakeholder organisations, resulting in oversubscription of both rounds of grant funding made available for onground works.
2. Development of an integrated model for habitat restoration and invasive species management which ensures the most important corridor connections are restored, and risks associated with increased connectivity (specifically, transmission of weeds and feral pests) is avoided;
3. Development of a complementary program to involve Aboriginal people in accessing and applying traditional ecological knowledge, through development of the K2W Cultural Connections program;
4. Commencement of scheduled works to improve the security of remnant areas, restore degraded habitat linkages, and manage threats to biodiversity in the landscape.
The project was challenged by receipt of funding for 2013-14 quite late in 2013. The call for expressions of interest under both the landholder and ‘group’ rounds of agreement funding were delayed until January and March respectively. However, through expedited program of site visits and assessment panel deliberations, the full allocation of funds for both rounds (approximately $650,000) was committed under agreements with landholders or incorporated bodies.
Lessons Learned and Improvements
The need for increasingly streamlined ‘real time’ data recording has been noted as a key area where improvements can be made. Activation of the ‘GER Atlas’ in Stage 5 will enable grantees and project partners to record details of works undertaken during the course of that period and beyond, enabling streamlined and accurate reporting against the large number of project sites where investment is made throughout the K2W Link corridor.
The growing interest in the K2W project, growing participation and value-adding by community groups and interest in the project as an example of integrated pest control and habitat restoration, and burgeoning catalogue of onground achievements highlights the need for an effective communications program. The communications activities planned originally will be refined and tailored to better accommodate internal and external communications, ensuring even greater community understanding of the project, and willingness to support its continued delivery beyond the term of the funded program.