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Healthy Farm Dam Workshop Dalton
21 Jul 2012

35 people attended a Healthy Farm Dam Workshop at  the Dalton Anglican Hall and at local Dalton  property” Meriden” on Saturday 21st July organised by Lachlan CMA with support of Upper Lachlan Landcare and The Jerrawa Creek Landcare Group.  The Two Key presenters were Dr David Hunter - Threatened Species Officer, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and Mr Tony Cox , District  Agronomist with the Department of Primary Industries.

 Dr Hunter, a renowned frog expert, explained that farm managers are integral to biodiversity conservation because typically threatened species are found in the agricultural landscape not in National Parks, so there is a need to marry agricultural practices with biodiversity conservation.

 In 2009, at nearby Blakney Creek, Dr Hunter and colleague, Luke Pearce discovered the Nationally threatened Yellow Spotted Bell Frog which had been, unseen in the wild for the past 30 years, prompting a campaign by the Lachlan CMA and the Office of Environment and Heritage, “Fish Frogs and Hollow Logs” aimed at assisting landholders to manage the habitat of this endangered species and others.

 Dr Hunter believes that biodiversity conservation does not; have to be at the expense of productivity and, in fact, agricultural productivity can be enhanced by biodiversity.

 “Frogs play an important role in ecological processes “,Dr Hunter explained, “due to their lifecycle which bridges two core elements of the environment, water & terrestrial. They consume large amounts of food from the wetland to the terrestrial environment.”

“Frogs are a good indicator species, if there is an abundance of frogs then it can be an indication that things are going well. The entire body of a frog is a mucus membrane therefore if there are pathogens and toxins they are first felt by the frogs. Like canaries, if there is a problem in the system then the frogs are the first to go.” Dr Hunter Said.

 Whilst there are many threatening processes affecting frog species that we do not have the capacity to influence such as the pathogen amphibian chytrid fungus( introduced into the Australian environment during the 1970’s and is  causing amphibian declines and extinctions all around the world);  other pathogens and increasing effects of climate change; We can  help reduce their impacts by ensuring that the frogs have a good quality habitat and understanding some of the critical elements in their lifecycle.

In the case of the Booroolong Frog this is about ensuring that they have the crevices that they need for laying their eggs.; other factors such as diversity of structure in wetland systems ; to ensure survival in diverse time  we need to have not just  one great wetland or habitat,  changes can happen rapidly such as in the river system losing deep holes to sediment after a flood which can happen overnight  meaning that in the next drought there will be no free standing water; and we need to provide complexity in habitat to assist frogs to co-exist with predators.

 Tony Cox a District Agronomist for the DPI explained how improved water quality can benefit production, biodiversity and the environment

 The key management options for addressing water quality issues;

·         Maintaining 80% or more groundcover in paddocks to prevent erosion.

·         Where possible, fence off dams, drainage lines and spillways to prevent stock access

·         Stock can be given restricted access to dams with placement of gravel and fencing to reduce turbidity and their ability to stand in the water at depth.

·         Drainage lines and spillways should have 100% ground cover and a high herbage mass to slow the flow of water and encourage deposition of sediments; crash grazed when necessary, provided there isn’t heavy rain forecast.

·         Planting paddock trees away from the dam to prevent stock from ‘camping’ too close and fouling the water.

·          Design tree plantings to reducing wind on dam to reduce damage to dam walls.

·         Construct dams with a variety in depth and jagged shorelines to maximise habitat.

·         Plant a range of species to create a variety of habitats and encourage biodiversity in a Include plants that encourage ‘biofilm action’. Biofilm consists of microorganisms that grow on the plants and filter out nutrients and sediments giving it a brown slimy appearance.

biodiversity chytrid chytridfungus Dam Farm frogs Healthy landcare pathogens species threatened Workshop YellowSpottedBellFrog
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