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Nature Conservation Assistance Program

Helping landholders to restore bushland on private property.

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Nature Conservation Assistance Program - Cathie Hodge

Cathie Hodge

Cathie and her late husband purchased their property in Tallebudgera Valley after a chance inspection made them fall in love with the moist ferny environment nestled amongst an established wet sclerophyll forest. The aspect of the property ensured that their future veggie gardens and fruit trees would be bathed in light, perfect for the avid permaculturist that Cathie is.

Being an active gardener, Cathie was aware of some of the weeds that were present within the property and was keen to start controlling them. With the help of friends, she started removing lantana. Slowly, the lantana was pushed back as the native ferns and subtropical rainforest trees emerged.

A letter box drop in 2012 reminded Cathie that joining the Land for Wildlife (LfW) program was on her ‘to-do’ list. Even though she did not know much about it, she knew the program would be of benefit to her and the battle against the weeds she was trying to control.

After contacting the Conservation Partnerships Program team, Cathie became a LfW member in December of that year. Cathie then received valuable information regarding restoration practices after attending two restoration workshops in 2013. Armed with a complimentary tool kit and the knowledge to carry out restoration, Cathie was further motivated and continued clearing woody weeds, vines and ground covers.

Rehabilitating the habitat

Controlling weeds can be overwhelming. However, after becoming aware of the Nature Conservation Assistance Program (NCAP), Cathie applied for funds to assist her with weed control through an expression of interest in 2015. She is amused that prior to 2015, she did not consider her property to be viable for a grant. She eventually realised that the point of a grant is to provide vital assistance.

Cathie’s property adjoins a conservation estate, is positioned within the Burleigh to Springbrook Critical Corridor, contains Of Concern Regional Ecosystems which support rare and threatened plants, and has a small seasonal creek. Combined with Cathie’s active involvement in restoring natural habitat, her application met NCAP criteria and was successful.

Revegetation of a paddock

The funding helped rehabilitate the habitat present on the property by paying for professional bush regenerators to carry out the work systematically. Like most property owners, Cathie was amazed at how much ground a team of regenerators can cover. Up until then, Cathie had found the prospect of restoring her property a bit daunting.

With the success of the first NCAP funding round, Cathie applied in 2016 and again was successful. This funding allowed for the completion of other zones within the property, ensuring that all the habitat areas have been rehabilitated and open grassed paddocks could be revegetated. The revegetation of one particular paddock will actively improve the ecology of the seasonal creek that runs parallel with this area.

Rehabilitation with native plantings

Plants were selected from the pre-clearing Regional Ecosystem list appropriate for the site and planted. These are already seeding and attracting wildlife. Native groundcovers are moving into the planted areas from the adjoining forest and a canopy will be established in late 2018, reducing the level of maintenance needed.

Cathie is astonished at the success of these plantings and the entire project. Areas that were once covered in lantana and exotic vines are now rehabilitating. Native seedlings are germinating where Singapore daisy once dominated the ground layer. This process might have taken Cathie decades to achieve without help. Securing assistance through the NCAP has dramatically enhanced the progress of nature conservation on her property, which is a source of great inspiration and pleasure for her.

Since joining the LfW program Cathie has been a very active member, attending multiple workshops offered to members and hosting a LfW field trip. Her involvement in the Conservation Partnerships Programs was rewarded in 2016 when she won the LfW member of the year.

Cathie highly recommends the Land for Wildlife program and the Nature Conservation Assistance Program and is enthused by what she has achieved since becoming a member.

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