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Growling Grass Frog sets habitat project in motion

With a decades long dream to run a project to convert farm dams into areas of significant habitat, the Panyyabyr Landcare Group finally got the opportunity in 2022, thanks to the Growling Grass Frog.

Panyyabyr Landcare Group have been in action since 1993, working primarily with farmers and smaller landholders, as well as the wider community.

Landcare Facilitator Lisa McIntyre explained that for many years, the group has been trying to source funding to consider farm dams as fantastic habitat and well worth caring for in a “landcare type way”.

She said it was difficult to not only convince funding bodies it was a worthwhile project, but to also find farmers willing to fence off their dams to stock and invest in alternative water sources.

“The major barrier we saw when considering farm dams as a valuable habitat, was that to care for these spots, we'd need to stop domestic stock from accessing them.

“But stock still need to drink, which is why the farmers invested in building dams in the first place. If we removed stock, then we'd have a fantastic habitat, but no water for stock. And that would mean more expense for the farming business.”

They needed a grant.

Lisa said that they applied for grants over the years, and were unsuccessful until the Threatened Species Grant appeared, that listed Growling Grass Frogs as a species that needed protecting.

“Our area is a fantastic spot for Growling Grass Frogs, so we applied for the grant, and luckily we were successful,” she said.

“We applied to fence off 18 dams over nine properties. We also researched Growling Grass Frog needs and discovered aquatic plants they like, and then a great nursery - Habitat Creations - to grow them for us.

“No one here had ever planted aquatic plants before. We planted 2000 plants in each dam. Landholders were also supported in setting up alternate water sources if needed.”

Lisa said the funding also allowed them to purchase a water test kit, which will be used annually to test the dams involved in the project. They also purchased song meter micros, to record frog calls at the dams.

“All of the landowners took part in everything, and we were able to work on our budget and include a further 10 dams on a further four properties,” she said. Wet weather held up the project at times, but it did support the biggest population boom of Growling Grass Frogs the region has seen since 2000.

“It was incredible, and many people were talking and thinking frogs - this project couldn't have happened at a better time!” Lisa said.

A biodiverse environment is not only beneficial for native flora and fauna, but also for the health, and subsequent viability, of farming land.

“Farmers and landholders are well placed to significantly help our environment, as they have the land to work with. With support from landcare, our native species stand a much better chance of long-term survival,” Lisa said.

“We hope this project helps to demonstrate that farmers are conservationists, and conservationists are farmers.”

Lisa said that landcare has given farmers and landholders increased access to funding - and the opportunity to source knowledge, advice, support and research.

“We all know that farmers have been caring for their land since before ‘landcare’ was officially a thing. It was farmers too, that started the landcare movement,” Lisa said.

“It connects people with each other. That's what I love - connecting people to their environment, even if we don't realise it at the time.”

To find out more about this project, contact Lisa at [email protected] or (03) 5574 9235.

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