THREE of Victoria’s most endangered species – the helmeted honeyeater, Leadbeater’s possum and southern brown bandicoot – are being given a helping hand by more than 200 Yarra Ranges landowners under a plan to improve their survival rates.The Habitat Protection and Conservation Program has targeted landowners across the shire and helped them manage and improve habitat and waterways and protect the environment for biodiversity.
Project co-ordinator Adam Shalekoff of the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority said about 2000 landowners were contacted about the program in 2010 and more than 200 took it up.
“There’s been a positive shift from the landowners and a strong interest and willingness to be involved.”
“It’s about protecting and retaining the diversity of suitable habitat sites so that if one population goes there are others. We’re building the resilience of the populations.
“The survival of these three target native animal species is important in its own right, but it’s also an indicator of healthy and viable ecosystems for a much wider range of native wildlife.”
The Federal Government this year allocated $1.9 million to the project through a Caring for Our Country environmental program.
Mr Shalekoff said the funding would ensure the project continued until 2013. “We received a similar grant in 2009 but that primarily focused on waterways – this is about managing and improving the habitat for the species’ homes and food.”
He said the project would seek 30per cent cash, or in-kind, donations from participating landholders, but there would be far-reaching benefits, including increased property values.
Fencing, weed and pest control, and revegetation would be co-funded under the project.