Flora and Fauna
1 May 2013
(Story reproduced from the AEGN newsletter)In 2002, The R E Ross Trust partnered with Trust for Nature to purchase Neds Corner, now the state's biggest privately held conservation property, and return it to its natural state after 153 years of pastoral enterprise. The Trust’s commitment was in to form of a cash contribution of $225,000 to assist with the deposit for the land and a three-year interest repayment commitment on the loan Trust for Nature held with the bank, making the Ross Trust’s overall commitment a total of $1m. Earlier this year, the regeneration of Ned’s Corner was profiled on the front page of The Age, the below article is an adaptation of that article. The R E Ross Trust and AEGN wanted to share this story with members as a testament to the need for risk-taking and long-term focus in environmental grant making:
“In 2002, the property was, in parts, a red dust bowl where nothing held the terracotta earth down. The saltbush and bluebush were patchy. Many of the belah and Murray pines were gone. Foxes and feral cats had wiped out native marsupials. Sheep had trampled the property to the brink.
But 10 years later - in a testament to the bush's resilience and the hard work of volunteers and managers - Neds is staging a remarkable and beautiful recovery. Led by property manager Peter Barnes and his wife, the effort to revive Neds has involved the destruction of 10,200 rabbit warrens, the annual culling of 30 wild pigs, 200 feral cats and 40 hares, and the planting of 60,000 trees. Seventy kilometres of fences have been torn down. But 42 kilometres have gone up to help native plants regenerate.
A 600-hectare block is now feral animal proof. ''The last rabbit in there took us a week to get,'' says Mr Barnes, pointing to one paddock from the wheel of his ute. ''It was very cunning.''
Most changes at Neds are not obvious to the untrained eye. The property runs along a spectacular part of the Murray River and its red gum forests, but most of it is a huge, flat saltbush plain, stretching across 27-kilometres to the heat-shimmering horizon.
Several new species have been discovered on Neds, including a new type of native truffle, named Agaricus colpeteus in honour of Colleen and Peter Barnes. A scientific audit found one of the largest huntsman spiders seen in Australia (20 centimetres wide) and 17 species of spiders new to Victoria, as well as new moths.
About 150 plant species were recorded on the property for the first time. In 2011, Mr Barnes also spotted a southern hairy-nosed wombat ambling along, the only time the species has ever been seen in Victoria.
The Neds Corner earth yields other things, too: old boots, tin, glass and wood from its long pastoral history. From its 13,000-year Aboriginal heritage, the bones of those who lived off the Murray's bounty are found throughout the property and carefully protected. There are also middens and, in the more ancient soils, the bones of Australian megafauna that once roamed these parts.”
You can read the full story here.