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Nature Conservation Assistance Program

Helping landholders to restore bushland on private property.

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Nature Conservation Assistance Program - Wal and Heather Mayr

Click to enlarge Nature Conservation Assistance Program – Wal and Heather Mayr

Wal and Heather Mayr

Disturbed rainforest gully prior to primary weed control

Disturbed rainforest gully prior to primary
weed control

The same section of gully after primary weed control

The same section of gully after primary
weed control

Another section of the gully naturally regenerating after primary and follow-up weed control

Another section of the gully naturally regenerating
after primary and follow-up weed control

37 years ago Wal and Heather Mayr bought their property in the then remote Austinville valley.  They were attracted by the wild feel of the landscape and the beautiful creek that ran through the property.

In the early years it was just weekend visits and a bit of brush cutting and no real understanding of the flora and fauna.  It was only as they slowly learned more about their environment did they realise that the property had been logged and farmed, and then left to be taken over by weeds.  In 1999 they became early members of the newly formed Land for Wildlife scheme.  They worked closely with Land for Wildlife officer, Darryl Larsen and their new neighbour Dave Blomfield, and slowly developed a better understanding of their environment.  It was at this time that they fully realised the extent of the massive weed problem over their 25 hectare property.

The property was surrounded by State Forest and farmland (later to become National Park and Council Conservation Reserve), with ecosystems ranging from rainforest to eucalypt forest. It contained small pockets of remnant bushland which included many rare and endangered plants.  However, while having great potential, this steep and rugged property was fundamentally degraded.

'Bush restoration in those days was very new and we were all really learning together' Wal recalls.  They slowly improved their skills by working together with Land for Wildlife, neighbours and Council’s Natural Areas Management Unit.  Heather and Wal gradually learnt the best techniques to help the bush to naturally restore itself and with that their productivity improved dramatically.

However even though they were becoming faster, the restoration of 25 steep hectares remained a mammoth task and they were excited by the opportunity of receiving assistance from the Nature Conservation Assistance Program (NCAP).  In 2014 Wal and Heather were awarded a grant to pay environmental contractor Graeme Field to help in the restoration of a 10 hectare section of their property.

'This grant is a real morale booster in that it gives us the reasonable prospect of restoring the whole property in our lifetime' says Heather who is hands on with Wal  in the strenuous work of bush restoration in this steep and rocky country.  Wal and Heather work many hours each week on restoration thereby easily complying with the in-kind requirements of the grant. Their inspiration comes from seeing the native forest gradually establish. 'It is so rewarding to see the beautiful native grasses, groundcovers, shrubs and trees tentatively emerge, and then with our careful and consistent removal of weed competition, start to thrive and eventually dominate. We also get a buzz seeing the corresponding increase in birds, butterflies and other wildlife.'

The Mayrs and Council Land for Wildlife officers have been long term partners in the evolution of the property from a degraded logging site and banana farm to a landscape that is well on its way to becoming a functioning ecosystem and regaining its original natural values.

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