Wanderer watchers wanted

THE Plains-wanderer is listed as one of Australia's most endangered birds and the Terrick Terrick National Park Advisory Group is looking for volunteers to contribute their time to help protect this precious native species and the Northern Plains native grasslands it calls home.

The Northern Plains native grasslands are a sensitive landscape and the precise levels of biomass required as habitat for the Plains-wanderer and other flora and fauna species is a carefully managed science. Parks Victoria works with neighbours, community groups, scientists and other agencies to manage the grasslands included in Terrick Terrick National Park. The Terrick Terrick National Park Advisory Group has vacancies and Parks Victoria is asking interested community members to apply.

ENDANGERED. The Plains-wanderer.

ENDANGERED. The Plains-wanderer.

SUPPORT. Volunteer Jenny Spence and Parks Victoria's Mark Antos inspect a grasslands habitat area.

SUPPORT. Volunteer Jenny Spence and Parks Victoria's Mark Antos inspect a grasslands habitat area.

Meeting quarterly, the group contributes to discussion around management of the national park including the areas of the Northern Plains grasslands and Cypress pine woodlands that the park protects. The group holds regular meetings, field trips and contributes to strategic plans.

Once common in lowland grasslands in coastal and sub-coastal eastern Australia, the Plains-wanderer is limited to two known strongholds one of which is Victoria's Northern Plains. The birds roam across private and public land, preferring low sparse grass as habitat, which requires careful management.

Ecological grazing programs carried out in partnership with the community and other agencies maintain the correct biomass levels. New methods such as ecological fire for biomass management were reintroduced in 2018 for the first time in five years.

Surveys of Plains-wanderers in 2017-18 recorded an increase in both sightings (from night surveys) and audio recordings (from the use of song meters). The surveys and management actions take place on both public estate and private land, as the birds move across the landscape.

Through strong working partnerships with community, neighbours, friends' groups and conservation management the program is achieving positive outcomes for the species. A captive breeding program in partnership with Werribee Zoo has commenced and a s small number of birds are now in captivity, preparing to supplement wild populations in the future. Regeneration from drought and over grazing requires collaboration, passion and commitment.

Terrick Terrick Advisory Group member, Jenny Spence said, "Helping restore the sensitive ecosystem of the Northern Plains Grasslands is a rewarding experience.

"I've seen how collaborative land management has assisted with improvements in Plains-wanderer habitat both on public and private land."

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Terrick Terrick National Park Advisory Group should visit http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/about-us/tenders-and-notices/expressions-of-interest-for-participation-on-the-terrick-terrick-national-park-advisory-group

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