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This page has some of the biodiversity information and resources for the Holbrook region, as well as information about current projects 

In 2014 we were able to get support from the Wettenhall Trust to assist in the production of the information on this page and raise awareness about the wildlife of the Eastern Billabong and Upper Murray.

Refreshing the Upper Billabong is part of the Refreshing Rivers project, a collaboration between government, industry, research, and community organisations, led by Murray Local Land Services. This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.

The project aims to deliver:

  • Local waterway management plans that identify the values, issues and potential solutions around waterway management;
  • Outcomes supported by market-based stewardship and sustainability schemes related to “waterway friendly” farming practices;
  • Case studies of innovations and technology that enable river-friendly farming practices;
  • Communication campaigns to encourage community, industry and land managers’ behaviours related to waterway-friendly farming;
  • Deliver on-ground works that directly address impacts to waterway health (e.g. riparian rehabilitation, erosion management, barrier removal, pest exclusion etc.).

It is an opportunity to look at the achievements and changes since the Upper Billabong Land and Water Management Plan was done as a 30 years plan in 2001.

The first stage has commenced with consultants Watertech undertaking a Waterway Management Plan,  and the formation of an Upper Billabong Advisory Group formed to provide feedback to us during its development.

In June/July 2022 we are undertaking a community survey into values and issues in the Upper Billabong. The survey is in development and will be coming soon.

View the Original Upper Billabong Land and Water Management Plan here and the supporting documents here.

Refreshing the Upper Billabong is part of the Refreshing Rivers project, a collaboration between government, industry, research, and community organisations, led by Murray Local Land Services. This project has been assisted by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.

Knowing what you are looking at is the first step!

The southwest slopes revegetation guide is a great start for working out what plant species you may be looking at in your particular catchment, and an identification guide

Here are some identification guides and biodiversity information that have been produced for our area:

  • Large Native Trees of the S2S region ID guide (click on image below)
  • Fungi of the SWS and Upper Murray (click on image below)
  • Mammals of the SWS and Upper Murray (click on image below)
  • Pollinators of SWS and Upper Murray (click on image below)
  • Wildlife of the Eastern Billabong Brochure

 

Holbrook area has lots of places you can go and see birds, including many threatened species.

Superb Parrots feeding on the side of Ralvona Lane, Holbrook

At the northern end of town is the Pony Club TSR reserve with its Yellow Box Grassy Woodland environment. Superb parrots can often be seen here. Out the western side of Holbrook (access behind the cemetery or from Enterprise Drive) is the Holbrook Town Common which has been reserved for conservation. Superb Parrots and the Grey Crowned Babbler are regular visitors

In town is the Ian Geddes Bush reserve – in the summer time Kingfishers and Dollar Birds are a common occurrence

Click here to download a Holbrook-Bird-List

In 2018, a number of Australian Bustards were seen in the district

HOLBROOK FROG SPECIES LIST

Common frog species in the Holbrook area

Plains Froglet – Crinia parinsignifera

Common Eastern Froglet – Crinia signifera

Spotted Marsh Frog – Limnodynastes tasmaniensis

Striped Marsh Frog – Limnodynastes peroni

Eastern Banjo Frog – Limnodynastes dumerilli

Giant Banjo Frog – Limnodynastes interioris

Painted Burrowing Frog – Neobatrachus sudelli

Broad palmed Frog – Litoria latopalmato

Peron’s Tree Frog – Litoria peronei

Other frogs potentially occurring in the Holbrook area

Sloane’s Froglet – Crinia sloanei

Bibron’s Toadlet – Uperoleia bibronii

Smooth Toadlet – Uperoleia laevigata

Wrinkled Toadlet – Uperoleia rugosa

Booroolong Frog – Litoria booroolongensis

Green Tree Frog – Litoria caerula

Brown Tree Frog – Litoria ewingii

Southern Bell Frog – Litoria raniformis

Verreaux’s Tree Frog – Litoria verreauxii


Click here for a link to the Frog Monitoring report 2012

Pictures and information about the most common species can be found here Mammals Guide_5 (2)

Unfortunately here in the Southwest Slopes we lost many of our small ground dwelling mammals to hunting, foxes, land clearing and agriculture not long after first settlement. Yellow-footed Antechinus are still to be found in our grassy woodlands in places and the Agile Antechinus is still common in the Dry Sclerophyll  Forests remnants east of the Hume Highway.

Our arboreal mammals have fared better with Brush tailed Possums, Ring Tailed Possums and Squirrel Gliders still common in the Holbrook area. East of the Hume Highway Sugar Gliders, Feather-tailed Gliders and Greater Gliders are also found, adding to the more common species. Around Tumbarumba, Yellow-bellied Gliders are also found. 

Holbrook Landcare has Trail Camera for loan to members – contact the office on 0260363181

Fox caught on one of the HLN camera by a member A. Hawkins

Platypus are not often found around Holbrook, but they are still found in many streams of the Upper Murray . It is common however to see Rakali (Water Rats) in the Billabong and larger farm dams. We would love to hear about any sightings of Platypus and Rakali! Watch this information video..

Pest animals are unfortunately very common – foxes are probably the most abundant predator on many of our smaller mammals. 

HOLBROOK REGIONAL REPTILE SPECIES LIST

Species

Eastern Snake-necked Turtle (Chelodina longicollis)

Jacky Lizard (Amphibolurus muricatus)

 Eastern Bearded Dragon (Pogona barbata)

Pink-tailed Worm-lizard (Aprasia parapulchella)

Olive Legless Lizard (Delma inornata)

Southern Marbled Gecko (Christinus marmoratus)

Eastern Stone Gecko (Diplodactylus vittatus)

Southern Rainbow Skink (Carlia tetradactyla)

Ragged Snake-eyed Skink (Cryptoblepharus pannosus)

Large Striped Skink (Ctenotus robustus)

Copper-tailed Skink (Ctenotus taeniolatus)

Cunningham’s Skink (Egernia cunninghami)

Tree Skink (Egernia striolata)

Three-toed Earless Skink (Hermiergis talbingoensis)

Delicate Skink (Lampropholis delicata)

Garden Skink (Lampropholis guichenoti)

South-eastern Slider (Lerista bougainvilii)

Dwarf Skink (Menetia greyii)

Boulenger’s Skink (Morethia boulengeri)

Eastern Blue-tongue (Tiliqua scincoides)

Dwyer’s Snake (Parasuta dwyeri)

Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis)

Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus)

Woodland Blind Snake (Ramphotyphlops proximus)

Blackish Blind Snake (Ramphotyphlops nigrescens)

Lace Monitor (Varanus varius)

Inland Carpet Python (Morelia spilota metcalfei)

REPTILE HABITATS

 Riparian areas – border between a waterway and the land, also characterised by the bank of rivers, creeks and streams

Species: Eastern Snake-necked Turtle, Red-belled Black Snake, Inland Carpet Python

 

Fallen timber

Species: Jacky Lizard, Eastern Bearded Dragon, Olive Legless Lizard, Southern Rainbow Skink, Ragged Snake-eyed Skink, Large Striped Skink, Cunningham’s Skink, Three-toed Earless Skink, Delicate Skink, Garden Skink, Boulenger’s Skink, Dwyer’s Snake, Eastern Blue tongue, Woodland Blind Snake, Blackish Blind Snake

 

Remnant woodlands – small patches of existing bushland in the landscape

Species: Jacky Lizard, Lace Monitor, Inland Carpet Python

 

Native grasslands

Species: Pink-tailed Worm-lizard, Olive Legless Lizard, Large Stiped Skink, Dwarf Skink, Eastern Blue-tongue, Eastern Brown Snake

 

Leaf litter

Species: Southern Rainbow Skink, Delicate Skink, Garden Skink, Dwarf Skink

 

Surface rocks

Species: Pink-tailed Worm-lizard, Eastern Stone Gecko, Copper-tailed Skink, South-eastern Slider, Boulenger’s Skink, Dwyer’s Snake, Woodland Blind Snake, Blackish Blind Snake

 

Rocky outcrops – a rock formation that is above the surface of the surrounding land

Species: Southern Marbled Gecko, Ragged Snake-eyed Skink, Cunningham’s Skink, Tree Skink, Inland Carpet Python

 

Large trees or hollow-bearing trees

Species: Southern Marbled Gecko, Ragged Snake-eyed Skink, Tree Skink, Lace Monitor, Inland Carpet Python

 

The key recommendations to improving reptile habitat are:

  1. Fence out rocky outcrops from livestock to protect exfoliated rock, prevent soil erosion and overgrazing
  2. Modify grazing regimes to improve native ground cover to improve connectivity and tussock habitat
  3. Avoid cleaning up fallen timber to maintain shelter, foraging and nesting places
  4. Avoid cleaning up bush rock to maintain shelter, foraging and nesting sites
  5. Protect isolated paddock trees to maintain habitat for arboreal (tree) geckos

(Note this content in progress)

The Upper Billabong creek catchments experienced a one-in-one hundred year flood event in 2010. After the floods, landholders reported seeing many native fish that they had not seen before. NSW DPI Fisheries had done drought refuge surveys the year before and detected an endangered Southern Pygmy Perch (Nannoperca australis) in the Little Billabong Creek near Yarra Yarra Ck junction. This lead to more extensive monitoring which found populations of this fish in several creeks in the Upper Billabong (Wantagong Valley), Woomargama Ck and the Coppabella Ck at Jingellic. 

A male Southern Pygmy Perch in breeding colours

These populations are two of the three extant populations in the Murray Catchment.

Holbrook Landcare has been working to

  • Reduce erosion in these catchments to protect stream water quality and refuge habitats
  • Create and maintain instream refuge habitats for fish
  • Continue to encourage fencing and revegetation to control grazing in these systems

Links to reports

  • Wantagong Ck Project
  • Woomargama Station Project
  • Ten Mile Ck project

We are lucky to be in the southwest slopes bioregion of NSW . To the west of the Great Dividing Range, the dominant vegetation is the Grassy Box Woodlands – an endangered ecological community in NSW and nation-wide. To the east we have the foothills of the Great Dividing Range and the transition from western slopes Woodlands Woodlands up to the dry and wet sclerophyll forests. 

Dry Sclerophyll Forest, Woomargama National Park

Grassy Woodlands (dominated by the Yellow Box, Grey Box, Redgum and White Box species) occur in the fertile farming landscapes. Sadly, the Grassy Woodlands are around 95% cleared and few good quality remnants remain. Holbrook Landcare has focused on protecting those remnants that do exist and undertaking revegetation to increase the amount in the landscape.

White Box Woodland , 2 Mile TSR Holbrook

In the foothills, the dry sclerophyll forests are better protected in National Parks and reserves because they are on the less productive lands. They are however impacted from past grazing, harvesting and changed fire regimes and are not pristine areas.

Dry Sclerophyll Forest Benambra National Park

The Slopes to Summit (S2S) Partnership is group of organizations and agencies that share information and resources aims to improve landscape scale connectivity, functionality and resilience of native ecosystems within a 200-2200m altitudinal gradient from the box gum woodlands of the South West Slopes bioregion north of Albury to the foothill forests of Kosciusko NP. We are a regional Partnership of the Great Eastern Ranges Initiative (https://ger.org.au/partners/slopes-to-summit/)

The S2S Partnership has been successful in many on ground projects delivered through the partners that contribute to the aims of the organization.  Holbrook Landcare is currently the facilitator organization for this partnership.

What is Landscape Connectivity?

Slopes2Summit Partnership Case Study – achievements and direction 

Birds on Farms – Saving the Nectar lovers 2019-2021

Our high-production farming landscapes are not only productive for pastures and crops – the grassy woodlands that used to grow on them were also the key foraging habitat for many migratory honeyeaters and parrots. The big old Yellow Box, Red-gum, White Box and Grey Box trees growing in the deep, fertile soils of the southwest slopes are the “refuelling” stops for these species on their way to larger remnant areas of Ironbark and coastal resources.

In a new project partnership with the NSW Saving our Species (SOS) Program and Foundation for National Parks and Wildlife (FNPWS) we have joined with BirdLife Australia to establish some Birds on Farms (http://birdlife.org.au/documents/OTHPUB-BirdsOnFarms.pdf) monitoring sites across our area to gain a better understanding of how, what, and when they are using as resources here, and undertake some on-ground plantings for the Nectar-lovers.

Focus species for us are the Little Lorikeet, Black Chinned Honeyeaters and the Dusky Woodswallow.

Project Officer Ben Humphries is with BirdLife based in Albury – he has come down with his family from 20 years in the Top End as a bird and eco-guide. He will be looking for farms & volunteers to establish some monitoring sites in the new year – surveys are done 4 times a year and contribute to Birdlife Australia’s database of birds across Australia. This is an important scientific resource that informs us about how our bird populations are going over time and how they use the landscape.

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Grassy woodlands Restoration  2019-current

Grassy woodlands is a partnership project with the Murray Local Land Services and is a revegetation and restoration for Grassy Box Woodlands. It is jointly delivered by Holbrook landcare, West Hume Landcare and Corowa Landcare.

The guidelines and information can be found here 

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Slopes2Summit BushConnect 2016-current

The Slopes2Summit (S2S) BushConnect project, supported by the NSW Environmental Trust, has opportunities for farmers in two priority local landscapes

  • Woomargama – Woomargama National Park to Tabletop/Benambra Nature Reserve
  • Holbrook Landscape Morgans ridge to the Billabong creek
  • Holbrook – Morgans Ridge to Nest Hill Nature Reserve

In the past 5 years we have achieved over 200 ha of on-farm revegetation and remnant protection in priority areas that have contributed to the landscape connectivity.

Revegetation corridor now 5 years old

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S2S Bushlinks 2012-2017

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The project has worked with over 90 landholders in the S2S region to undertake on-ground activities at 189 sites to protect and increase vegetation in the region. Just over 1220ha of vegetation was protected and restored with final work to be completed in May 2017. This Biodiversity Fund project, funded by the Australian Government, has invested $1.4 million dollars in fencing and revegetation on farms in the region over 5 years, which has been matched by landholder contributions.

The outcomes for biodiversity in the regions are an increase in vegetation cover of 1200 ha and an improvement of connectivity for some species in local landscapes. The next six months will analyse data collected and revisit all sites to assess the condition change and the potential impact on species.

S2S Bushlinks Summary Poster

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Our links with science is so important to make sure we are using the best information to get the best biodiversity outcomes.

The Southwest Slopes Study by the Australian National University Fenner School is a long term monitoring project that informs our actions. Read more about it here

The ANU Sustainable Farms Initiative has grown from this monitoring concept and is a key science partner for us. 

Charles Sturt University Institute of Land, Water and Society is also a key partner – involved in the Slopes2Summit Partnership and has strong regional research-practice links.

There is never enough funding or enough resources to collect all the information we need to inform how we manage our landscapes and wildlife – in the digital age, citizen Science Tools have proliferated. Getting the public to contribute information to scientists is the way of the future. By using some of the tools available, we can compile a large amount of information and if there is  control over the quality of the information through apps and other tools, scientist can use it in their studies. We would encourage people to explore the options but some key ones that help HLN are:

The ERF will support Australian landholders and farmers to take practical, direct action to reduce emissions and improve the environment. Through the ERF, the Government can purchase carbon credits (ACCUs), providing incentives for landholders to proactively reduce their GHG emissions by adopting new carbon farming practices on farm.

To participate in the ERF you must develop a project that follows the rules set out in an approved method, to measure the abatement it delivers. Projects are awarded one ACCU for each tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent of sequestered carbon or avoided emissions.

For more information on approved methods and how to participate visit the Clean Energy Regulator website www.cleanenergyregulator.gov.au

Agriculture is responsible for 16% of Australia’s GHG emissions, with livestock and agricultural soils being the largest sources of the potent GHGs methane and nitrous oxide.

Agriculture contributes to GHG emissions through:

  • Cultivating soils can increase the breakdown of soil organic matter, resulting in higher emissions of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
  • Applying nitrogen fertiliser results in emissions of nitrous oxide, a strong GHG; while alternatively growing legumes can assist with storing both atmospheric nitrogen and carbon in the soil.
  • Grazing livestock releases emissions of methane from rumen digestion, and both methane and nitrous oxide from manure.

Our agricultural landscape also has the ability to capture and store carbon by:

  • Planting trees which store carbon dioxide through growth. Carbon is stored in the living parts of plants (stems, branches, leaves & roots), in leaf litter, woody debris and in soil organic matter.
  • Increasing soil organic carbon not only removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but it improves soil health. Although there is a limit on the amount of organic carbon that can be stored in soils, the large losses in the past means that many Australian agricultural soils have the potential for large increases. Many management practices that are effective in increasing soil organic carbon are also effective in improving crop and pasture yields.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Fact Sheet Series:

In the aftermath of COP26 and Australian Government Net Zero 2050 announcement, there is a lot in the media about the role of agriculture and the move towards CN30 championed by MLA.

The carbon and environmental accounting space is very busy and confusing at the moment. Some HLN members have recently been through a Carbon assessment as part of a Landcare Farming Project, and some have been introduced to a method of biodiversity accounting – Accounting for Nature that is in early development.

Here is what we have learned from the 10 enterprises so far:

  • Being a high rainfall, highly productive region with med-high stocking rates, most enterprises will have a net positive emissions account
  • Current recommendations for lowering emissions are already being implemented widely in our region:
    • practices related to efficiencies in herd management, including lowering intensity of emissions by lowering weaning age, turning off stock quickly, culling unproductive stock etc
    • Practices relating to improving soil carbon like implementing rotational grazing and maximizing groundcover
  • The ‘magic bullet’ of feed supplements to reduce emissions are not yet commercial but may contribute down the track
  • For the same reasons as emissions are high, vegetation is the most effective tool to ‘offset’ those emissions with sequestration. However, the type and age of vegetation on a farm does matter and the opportunity for vegetation needs to be balanced with production goals.

See the Summary report for the ten producers here

Next steps

For Carbon, there are a number of online tools that can help you get an overall picture of your emissions profile. The one we have most experience in so far for livestock producers, is the University of Melbourne’s “Greenhouse Accounting Frameworks (GAF).” Note there are several tools designed for different enterprises which can be found at: https://www.piccc.org.au/resources/Tools

Carbon Neutral Accreditation

After an initial assessment using the tools mentioned, there are  few pathways for farmers to ‘accredit’ as Carbon Neutral at the moment, but they will develop. The Australian Government certification method which can be seen at: https://www.climateactive.org.au/be-climate-active/certification

There are opportunities through private commercial providers too – it’s unclear of the actual methods and systems for some of them, but generally they relate back to the Australian Government standard. They may be brokers who offer “carbon neutral’ but are really wanting to buy credits you may generate.  Its very likely that there will be other mechanisms available in the near future as industry invests in it.

If you are looking to produce carbon credits, through the establishment of a carbon project on farm, then that is a different thing and another set of pathways again. You must baseline according to the relevant methodology before you undertake the works.

It is worth mentioning that some producers that have gone down a carbon neutral pathway are not necessarily carbon neutral through their own practice changes – some of them are buying carbon credits from elsewhere for their account as they transition their enterprises. So don’t beat yourself up!

Our key message to producers at the moment is:

  1. Consider investing in a preliminary assessment (hopefully Landcare may be able to help you with that soon). Benchmarking yourself now before any changes to your enterprise are considered is recommended.

 

  1. Once you know where you sit, to take it any further, you need to think about the longer-term goals for your business.

For example, are you thinking of Carbon as a future income stream? Do you just want to know your status for your own peace of mind and to contribute to the industry target?  Are you likely to need to be meeting a requirement for marketing accreditation?   The pathways forward will be different depending on what you want to do.

 

  1. Recognize that there will be a myriad of new tools and programs coming online in the next few years. Early adopters lead the way and may realize some early (maybe bigger?) benefits from that, but if that’s not your appetite it is unlikely that you will miss out completely by waiting for the situation to be clearer.

 

What Holbrook Landcare Network is doing

We are looking at organising some training for using the Greenhouse Accounting Framework tools in the new year and if this is something that interests you, please get in touch.

 More information about carbon accounting and getting started can be found at:

https://www.mla.com.au/news-and-events/industry-news/creating-a-carbon-account-for-your-business/#

The Farmers for Climate Action ran a webinar recently and the second speaker provided a really clear and succinct summary for what this means for farmers – recommend a watch.

https://youtu.be/Fq_DRWMJxg0

Everyone can make a contribution to reducing GHG emissions through the management choices they make. For individual farm businesses there is a two-stage process involved when embarking on an assessment of a farm’s carbon footprint:

  1. Estimate what your emissions are (it is recommended you use a GHG emissions calculator)
  2. Investigate opportunities to reduce and/or offset those emissions

HLN carried out on-farm GHG snapshots on eight farming properties across the Holbrook region, with the aim of establishing a GHG emissions baseline for each farm business.

The case studies were developed using the Greenhouse Gas Accounting Framework (GAF) calculator for Australian Dairy, Sheep, Beef or Grains farms. The calculator was developed by the University of Melbourne and uses the Australian National Greenhouse Gas Inventory method to estimate the source and scale or GHG emissions from agricultural enterprises. The calculator was used to determine the current GHG emissions on the property and scenarios were modelled to determine emission reduction options.

The three gases carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) were accounted for and expressed as tonnes of CO2 equivalent (t CO2-e). Carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) is a term for describing different GHGs in a common unit, with regards to their global warming potential. For any quantity and type of GHG, CO2-e signifies the amount of CO2 which would have the equivalent global warming impact.

These three gases are emitted in the normal course of agricultural production, including livestock enteric fermentation, wastes, diesel machinery and fertilisers. Importantly the amount produced is influenced by farm management decisions.

HLN is currently updating the Case Studies and factsheets produced under the Carbon farming for Your Business Project to include revisions of the calculator.

Revised information will be available soon.

Carbon Videos


This tool was developed as part of the ‘Carbon Farming and your business’ project to enable farmers to calculate the rate of phosphorus required for their property based on stocking rate, current phosphorus levels and production goals.

Phosphorus Budget Tool | Excel Doc

User guidelines