) KEY PROJECT OBJECTIVES (SHORT TERM)
Ø Restructure (through planting and direct seeding) 1,500 Ha of now unprofitable croplands to integrated perennial fodder, forestry and protected biodiversity systems (75% integrated perennial grazing and forestry systems, 25% strategic cross farm wildlife corridors).
Ø Form effective cross farm wildlife linkages between the terminal lakes of the Tyrrell basin (Tyrrell, Wahpool, Timboram) to support lakes recovery and protection/enhancement of threatened species.
Ø Engage Landcare and the farming community in the journey of planning and implementing change
Ø Development and demonstration of a large scale practical land change model that will attract community interest and allow farmers to make more informed decisions on the use of perennial plants for environmental repair and economic improvement
Ø Introduce farmers to new income concepts including seed sales (native and production plants)
Ø Demonstrate the capacity of Mallee dryland farmers to undertake landscape change with restructure planning and labour support (resources not readily available on modern dryland farms)
Empowering farming communities with the impetus and technical capacity to undertake large scale restructure
KEY PROJECT OBJECTIVES (LONG TERM)
Ø Commence a larger application of integrated revegetation programs for both economic and environmental improvement of low productivity croplands throughout the Tyrrell Basin
Ø Demonstrate a needy shift of public investment closer to the community and closer to on ground outcomes
Ø Rebuilding and empowering Landcare and Mallee communities through sustainable landscape restructure
B) NRM ISSUES ADDRESSED
· The Tyrrell Basin is now recognised as the most threatened landscape for expanding soil salinity under present cropping practices in the Mallee, with an expected 25% of this farmland (50,000 Ha) at risk from salinisation over the next 25 years (Mallee CMA).
· Approximately 50% of farmlands within the Tyrrell Basin are threatened by rising groundwater’s and contain low productivity landsystems (sodic clay based soils which were profitable in the past due to low costs of production and more favourable rainfall events. These lands are now unprofitable to crop and contribute to growing salinisation and farm debt. This is demonstrated by the lowering land prices in the area and the amount of land currently up for sale.
· The Tyrrell lakes system is a nationally recognised terminal wetland system. The lakes contain important remnant flora and fauna species (e.g. carpet python) but their foreshores are fragmented and increasingly degraded. Rising saline groundwater from cropping systems threaten many environmental assets in and around the lakes. Farmers in the area value the environmental and aesthetic values of the lakes.
· These farming families are important to the fabric of local towns including Sea Lake, Manangatang and Waitchie.
· This project will see 200,000 shrubs/trees planted annually (farm forestry, fodder, native overstorey) and 250 Kgs of seed installed (fodder and associated paddock species, native understorey for linkages)
· Liaise with the landholders in the target area (done)
· Target strategic areas in the first instance to achieve linkage outcomes (done)
· Promote the concept and receive farmer support (done, some 2000 Ha proposed by local farmers)
· Develop and acquire agreements
· Carry out 500 Ha of restructure annually through planting and seeding. Farmers to provide land, site preparation support (ripping, weed control, rabbit control). Restructure to consist of 75% integrated grazing (saltbush based) and farm forestry (eucalypt shelterbelts). Site planning, revegetation and fencing programs to be supplied through part time local rural work teams (from small struggling towns close to the farming landscapes) and service providers (local employment, regional capacity building)
· Covenant cross farm linkages (agreed to by farmers)
· Teams (2 teams of 2 people) mentored by experienced local service providers. Team on-job training and accreditation (Modules from Certificate 4 in Conservation and Land Management) through Sunraysia TAFE.
· Farmers to manage restructure (with team support over first year). Farmers will be responsible for internal fencing for controlled grazing of saltbush and forestry systems (750Ha annually), and provision of stockwater infrastructure (agreed to by farmers in area).
· Installation of monitoring programs to assess project success (planting and seeding), productivity (economic assessment of grazing and forestry systems over time) and landscape response (watertable trends, biodiversity enhancement)
· Promote activities through media. Updates and reports to Mallee farmers. On site field days.
· 3 monthly project reports to Landcare groups and associated organisations. Annual and end of project assessment to determine best practice outcomes and sustainability gains/losses.