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Corangamite – Natives make a remarkable comeback

After 40 years under pines, a section of a reserve near Ballarat is bouncing back to its former glory, increasing habitat for threatened birds.

The woodland reclamation project at Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary in Linton is a great example of how resilient nature is. The 535-hectare Sanctuary was originally generously donated to Trust for Nature, BirdLife Australia, and Parks Victoria by Gordon Clarke. Fifty hectares of the Sanctuary was a pine plantation established in the 1960s and harvested in 2015.

After it was cleared, pine seedlings threatened to revert the site to a plantation; however since native woodland also surrounds the site eucalypts, shrubs, sedges and grasses were also happily colonising the area with no encouragement.

What to do about the pine seedlings? The older they got, the more expensive it would be to remove them. The solution was labour intensive but simple: brush cutters. Cutting the pines off at ground level stopped them from sprouting. It was delicate work as the contractors manoeuvred around young native trees, including eucalypts and wattles. The work was possible thanks to a grant from the Victorian Government’s Biodiversity On-ground Action program which enabled Trust for Nature to employ local contractors who specialised in plantation management.

The technique has been extremely successful and the site is returning to its former glory days when it was home to threatened birds including Painted Honeyeater, Powerful Owl, Spotted Quail-thrush, Black-eared Cuckoo, Diamond Firetail, and Grey Goshawk (white morph) which live in the rest of the Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary.

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Tips for rehabilitating a former pine plantation

  • Control emerging woody weeds before they are large, expensive and difficult to treat.
  • Encourage and support the natural regeneration of native plants back onto a cleared site. These plants will often be stronger and grow faster than plants grown in the nursery.
  • Be patient… the recovery of a site is progressive and can be slow; species richness and individual species abundance change over time, especially as tree canopies form and soil moisture and nutrient levels change.
  • Collect seed for propagation close to the re-vegetation site if possible. Local species are well  adapted to the local soil type and climate, and will stand a greater chance of living and thriving.

Support our work

Help us protect homes for threatened birds including Painted Honeyeater, Powerful Owl, Spotted Quail-thrush, Black-eared Cuckoo, Diamond Firetail, and Grey Goshawk (white morph) which live in the Clarkesdale Bird Sanctuary.

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