Project: Balliang Grey Box Woodland Restoration

ballliang grey box restoration project

Overview:

We can transform a paddock into the largest, most southerly block of endangered Grey Box woodland in Australia. This could be a critical climate change-refuge for threatened Koalas, Brush-tailed Phascogale & Grey-headed Flying-fox & Fat-tailed Dunnart; critically endangered Swift Parrot, endangered Speckled Warbler & Barking Owl, vulnerable Diamond Firetail, Brown Treecreeper and Jacky Winter; endangered Tussock Skink & Glossy Grass Skink; endangered Fiery Jewel Butterfly and vulnerable Golden Sun Moth.

Janine Duffy, President

Location: Balliang, west of Melbourne, northwest of the You Yangs

Status: Confirmed

Total project cost: $80,000 AUD

UPDATE: This project is now expected to be fully funded. Thankyou to our wonderful partners, acknowledgements to come when all is finalised.

Number of trees/shrubs: 8000

Size of planting site: 10 hectares

Contact: president@koalaclancyfoundation.org.au

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Vision:

Complete restoration of a 10 hectare block of endangered Grey Box Eucalyptus microcarpa woodland at Balliang, VIC. The site was once part of a large swathe of this species-rich open eucalypt forest, but was cleared for farmland in the early 1900s.

Map showing former extent of this species-rich forest type at its southern boundary in Australia.
Map current extent of Grey Box Eucalyptus microcarpa woodland southern Victoria
Map showing current tiny patches of Grey Box woodland. Almost nothing is left.

Revegetating this site will restore the largest, most southerly block of this endangered forest type in Australia. Threatened mammals that may benefit include vulnerable Koalas, Brush-tailed Phascogale & Grey-headed Flying-fox, near threatened Fat-tailed Dunnart; threatened birds like the critically endangered Swift Parrot, endangered Speckled Warbler & Barking Owl, vulnerable Diamond Firetail, Brown Treecreeper and Jacky Winter; endangered reptiles including Tussock Skink & Glossy Grass Skink; endangered Fiery Jewel Butterfly and vulnerable Golden Sun Moth.

balliang grey box project planting
Project site as it currently appears in 2021
balliang grey box restoration project future
Project site as it will appear in 20 years: a thriving ecosystem, home to many species including koalas

What species will we plant:

Note: species shown in bold are the dominant plants that we will plant in high proportion. The site is adjacent to a wetland and includes a depression.

TREES:
River Red Gum Eucalyptus camaldulensis
Melbourne Yellow Gum Eucalyptus leucoxylon ssp connata
Yellow Box Eucalyptus melliodora
Grey Box Eucalyptus microcarpa
Swamp Gum Eucalyptus ovata (TBC)
Red Box Eucalyptus polyanthemos
Manna Gum Eucalyptus viminalis (TBC)
SMALL TREES/LARGE SHRUBS:
Gold-dust Wattle Acacia acinacea
Silver Wattle Acacia dealbata
Lightwood Acacia implexa
Black Wattle Acacia mearnsii
Blackwood Acacia melanoxylon
Buloke Allocasuarina luehmannii
Black She-oak Allocasuarina littoralis
Drooping She-oak Allocasuarina verticillata
Sweet Bursaria Bursaria spinosa
Hop Bush Dodonea viscosa (TBC)
Tree Violet Melicytus dentatus
SMALL SHRUBS
Berry Saltbush Atriplex semibaccata
Lobe-seed Daisy Brachyscome dentata
Cut-leaf Daisy Brachyscome multifida
Lemon Beauty-heads Calocephalus citreus (TBC)
Common Everlasting Chrysocephalum apiculatum
Clustered Everlasting Chrysocephalum semipapposum
Small-leaved Clematis Clematis microphylla
Button Everlasting Coronidium scorpoides (Helichrysum)
Flax-lily Dianella longifolia
Grey Parrot-pea Dillwynia cinerascens (TBC)
Nodding Saltbush Einadia nutans
Ruby Saltbush Enchylaena tomentosa

Common Eutaxia Eutaxia microphylla var diffusa (TBC)
Scaly Buttons Leptorhychos squamatus
Basalt Daisy Podolepis linearifolia (TBC)
Fragrant Saltbush Rhagodia parabolica
Woolly New Holland Daisy Vittadinia gracilis

What/who will benefit?

The plants chosen will specifically target the needs of 16 threatened species. These include birds, mammals, reptiles and insects that are…

Critically Endangered:

Barking Owl, Black Falcon, Swift Parrot

Endangered:

Speckled Warbler, Tussock Skink, Glossy Grass Skink, Fiery Jewel Butterfly & Large Ant-blue butterfly.

speckled warbler you yangs endangered
Speckled Warbler: a beautiful songster of Box woodlands. Now tragically endangered in this area, as 85% of this habitat type was destroyed.

Vulnerable:

Koala*, Brush-tailed Phascogale, Grey-headed Flying-fox, Diamond Firetail, Brown Treecreeper, Little Eagle, Jacky Winter and Powerful Owl.

Diamond Firetails, vulnerable Australian finches that thrive on diverse grass seeds found in open woodlands.

We plant a wide diversity of species, genera and families of native trees, shrubs and wildflowers, to create a flourishing ecosystem. We don’t plant only quick-growing trees for carbon capture – as these are rarely useful to koalas in the long term, and we don’t plant masses of overused, widespread species, like Kangaroo Thorn/Hedge Wattle Acacia paradoxa as these can be harmful to Diamond Firetails. Our plantings typically include 30 to 40 species, carefully chosen to suit the site.

We also plant an endangered tree species: Melbourne Yellow Gum Eucalyptus leucoxylon connata. We plant many of these, and are very careful to only plant this subspecies from local provenance seed in the area it naturally occurs.

Already, on some of our earlier plantings, landowners have been approached by government authorities about releasing koalas onto the sites. This project would be very suitable for this in 3-5 years.

What’s exciting about this:

The sympathetic custodian landowners have partnered with us to plant trees since 2016, and seen new bird species colonise their farm as a result. They have agreed to exclude this paddock from grazing permanently, in order to improve their land for biodiversity. If it works – if the plantings suppress weeds, encourage koalas and self-manage – other farmers in the district may consider restoring their low productivity paddocks in this way.

balliang grey box planting project
Close-up view of area, showing past plantings and mature trees this project will connect to.
mature eucalyptus microcarpa Victoria

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Opportunities are available to become involved with this project as a funding partner or volunteer. Contact president@koalaclancyfoundation.org.au to discuss funding partnerships.

PAST PLANTINGS AT THIS SITE:

2021 Planting:

Number of trees/shrubs: 365

Size of planting site: 0.3 hectares

Total Project Cost: $3650 funded by Melbourne Water and Koala Clancy Foundation donors.

Progress Report: This planting was infill into a previously-planted, heavily eroded streamside. We changed our approach, planting a lot of saltbush and salt-tolerant, hardy groundcovers.

2020 Planting:

Number of trees/shrubs: 308

Size of planting site: 1.05 hectares

Total Project Cost: $3080 funded by Melbourne Water and Koala Clancy Foundation donors.

Progress Report:

2019 Planting:

Number of trees/shrubs: 500

Size of planting site: 0.406 hectares

Total Project Cost: $5000 funded by Melbourne Water and Koala Clancy Foundation donors.

Progress Report:

Planting in 2019
The same site two years later in September 2021. Survival in this area has been very high.

2018 Planting:

Number of trees/shrubs: 800

Size of planting site: 0.629 hectares

Total Project Cost: $8000 funded by Melbourne Water and Koala Clancy Foundation donors.

Progress Report:

2018 planting just completed

2017 Planting:

Number of trees/shrubs: 600

Size of planting site: 1.2 hectares

Total Project Cost: $6000 funded by Melbourne Water and Koala Clancy Foundation donors.

Progress Report:

Site for 2017 planting, taken in 2016. The eroded creek is hidden by pasture grass, but the pile of wire is visible.
The same site in 2021. Almost unrecognisable – this is now an ecosystem. The pile of wire is visible on the right.
Inspecting the 2017 plantings 10 months later in 2018.

2016 Planting:

Number of trees/shrubs: 100

Size of planting site: 0.3 hectares

Total Project Cost: $1000 funded by Melbourne Water and Koala Clancy Foundation donors.

Progress Report: One of our first-ever plantings, this site was infill on a previously-planted corridor.

2016 plantings after 2 years

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