Vital habitat links need protection, say landcarers

Ecologist Karl Just explains to Federal MP Lisa Chesters, landcare member Alice Aird and State MP Mary-Anne Thomas how areas of remnant roadside vegetation in the Newham area contain endangered vegetation communities and threatened species, some of which are protected under federal legislation. Landcare groups are concerned that it is not receiving adequate protection. Photo: Sandy Scheltema

Ecologist Karl Just explains to Federal MP Lisa Chesters, landcare member Alice Aird and State MP Mary-Anne Thomas how areas of remnant roadside vegetation in the Newham area contain endangered vegetation communities and threatened species, some of which are protected under federal legislation. Landcare groups are concerned that it is not receiving adequate protection. Photo: Sandy Scheltema

Local landcare groups are concerned that indiscriminate clearing of roadside vegetation poses a real threat to vital habitat links.

Newham Landcare recently invited Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters and Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas to view remnant roadside vegetation in the region and listen to their concerns. They were joined by Woodend and Ashbourne Landcare and other environmental groups operating in the Macedon Ranges.

In 2015, Newham Landcare spent $10,000 conducting flora surveys along 20 kilometres of significant roadside. 

Consultant ecologist Karl Just, who conducted the survey, said roadsides often serve as vital habitat links that enable flora and fauna to move across otherwise cleared landscapes. "The Newham area contains some outstanding roadside remnants. These areas urgently require greater recognition, protection and management as they are major repositories for our local biodiversity," he said.

The landcare groups are calling for better protection of the remnant roadside vegetation. The area holds important remnants of rare plant communities such as the alpine shaggy pea and some protected under federal legislation such as the flax lily, as well as threatened animal species.

They are concerned that inappropriate mowing, slashing, weeds, dumping of waste material and planting exotics are destroying these ecological assets.

Ashbourne Landcare president Robin Allen said she was delighted to hear Ms Thomas' comments stating that she would ask Macedon Ranges Shire Council to consult with landcare groups on the conservation value of roadside vegetation prior to contractors conducting any work.

The groups are asking that the medium and high-conservation value roadsides are protected by specific shire roadside management plans. They are concerned fire risk is being used to justify clearing more native roadside vegetation while highly flammable exotic weeds are not being controlled adequately by the shire or landowners.

The landcarers are calling for the completion and endorsement of the Macedon Ranges Roadside Management Strategy for council-managed roads, with specific actions to protect high and medium-quality roadside remnant vegetation from further damage from contractors and landowners.