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Murray project picks up major award

The Murray Riverina Travelling Stock Reserves project has picked up the prestigious 2018 Albert Morris Award for an outstanding Ecological Restoration Project.

The award, presented at the recent gala dinner of the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia, commemorates the visionary ecological restoration practitioner, Albert Morris, who initiated the Broken Hill Regeneration Reserves project in 1936 – one of the very earliest ecological restoration projects in the modern world

The Murray Riverina TSR project was selected from a field of five very strong candidate projects from Australia and New Zealand.

Gary Rodda, General Manager of Murray Local Land Services, received the award on behalf of the project ‘Enriching biodiversity in the NSW Riverina bioregion by managing the TSR network for nature conservation’.

Convenor of the Award, Dr Tein McDonald, said that the project particularly inspired the judges with its brilliant application of ecologically attuned grazing to improve the condition of native ecosystems.

“This makes it a highly fitting model for other public and private landholders who want to maintain and improve their native pastures and ecosystems rather than have them degrade over time,” she said.

The Murray Riverina TSRs project bears many of the hallmarks of the work in Broken Hill in the 1930s led by Albert Morris, supported by his wife Margaret and many local and state organisations – as it has a similarly high relevance to conserving and renewing the native vegetation of regional Australia upon which we depend.

In the case of Albert Morris’s Broken Hill Regeneration Reserves, the motivation for the work was to stabilise the desert sands after excessive overgrazing of the town common, leading to a stable native shrubland regenerating around the town and stopping sand drift.  In the case of the Riverina TSRs, the motivation has been and remains to renew the native vegetation for not only native fauna habitat but also to retain potential for managed grazing.

Murray Local Land Services general manager Gary Rodda said the outstanding results of the project, which was supported by the Biodiversity Fund of the Australian Government, was largely due to the TSR rangers allowing grazing when weed was growing but prior to its seeding, allowing a shift to more productive native pastures and recovery of other natives.

“Grazing thereby provided the main tool for renewing the ecosystems,” Mr Rodda said.

“The project also involved substantial seeding of native shrubs to improve habitats for declining woodland birds, many of which the project’s monitoring has found returning slowly but surely.

“This demonstrates what can be achieved when groups come together to collaborate and co-invest in the management of the TSRs.”

Criteria for eligibility:   Projects needed to demonstrate many of the following characteristics:

  • Innovation in terms of techniques or approaches
  • Strong ecological basis
  • Substantial progress along its trajectory to 5-star recovery
  • Monitored to quantify progress against original goals
  • Provides ecosystem services relevant to community
  • Reduction or mitigation of impacts from neighbouring areas
  • Secure conservation arrangements for the foreseeable future
  • Strong and growing links to environmental education programs
  • Potential to substantially influence the broader communities understanding of and need for continued uptake of ecological restoration

The National Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration in Australia was used as a judging guide for all awards (see http://seraustralasia.com/standards/contents.html).

Judging: The Albert Morris Award was judged by the Albert Morris Award Committee with representatives from the four initiating Partner organisations – the Australian Association of Bush Regenerators, The Australian Network for Plant Conservation, Greening Australia and the Society for Ecological Restoration Australasia.

Media enquiries: Matt Lane, Communications, Murray Local Land Services, 02 6051 2252.