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Byron Shire
June 7, 2023

Big money for Big Scrub

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The locally-based Big Scrub Landcare group has been awarded some $276,000 over the last two months to undertake urgent bush regeneration work in some of the country’s last remaining remnant subtropical lowland rainforest.

Yesterday the state government announced that its Environmental Trust has awarded the group $100,000 to employ professional bush regenerators, including indigenous regenerators, to manage weeds and other threats to biodiversity.

Just over a month ago the federal government’s Caring for our Country program provided the group $176,000 for a similar project.

Lowland subtropical rainforest or Big Scrub, as it is often referred to, is listed as being a critically endangered ecological system.

The two projects cover a region from a little west of Lismore up to the Qld border and are in the Richmond, Brunswick and Tweed catchments on a mixture of private and public land.

Work will be undertaken in 90 lowland rainforest remnants across 1250 hectares in the Tweed, Richmond and Brunswick catchments. Some sites are on public land, including Nightcap National Park and 13 Nature Reserves. More than 40 sites are on private land.

Big Scrub Landcare president Tony Parkes was excited that both of the applications had come to fruition and is sitting down with his spreadsheets to work out how it can all be completed in a timeframe of 30 June next year.

‘The two are complementary projects. The second grant enables us to do more work on more sites,’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘We need to employ professional rainforest regenerators because plant ID problems are such an issue with 400 native species and 140 weed species in the area and plants often less than 300mm high. At this stage you have to use professionals.

‘We’re a national biodiversity hotspot. The Border Ranges has highest biodiversity in NSW and third highest in Australia after tropical Qld and southern WA.’

Mr Parkes said the group is also encouraging landholders with remnant or regenerated rainforest on their property to enter into voluntary conservation agreements.

‘The benefit for landholders is that councils are obliged to rebate rates for the proportion of the property under covenant,’ he said.

‘If a significant portion of your property is forested this can add up to a worthwhile sum.’

The two projects involve a partnership of six community organisations (Big Scrub Landcare, EnviTE Environment, Richmond Landcare, Tweed Landcare, Brunswick Valley Landcare and Rainforest Rescue), three local councils (Tweed, Ballina and Lismore), Rous Water and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service plus numerous farmers and other landholders.

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