Bird numbers soar as farmers regenerate land

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Subject: Bird numbers soar as farmers regenerate land
From: "Tony Lawson" <>
Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2011 10:11:51 +1100

(rather old story, but hopefully still of interest)

Bird numbers soar as farmers regenerate land

By environment reporter Sarah Clarke

A decade-long survey has found key species of birds that were in trouble because of land clearing and grazing are on the way back.

For the past decade, David Lindenmayer and a team of scientists from the Australian National University have been keeping a close watch on woodland birds, studying 300 sites across 150 farms over a 10-year period.

Over that time, many species that were considered to be in trouble have reappeared, including the speckled warbler, the diamond firetail and the rufous whistler.

"In some cases we've seen the reporting rate, which is the number of times we record the birds on our sites, double, triple, even quadruple on some of these farms where there's been these kinds of interventions," Professor Lindenmayer said while visiting a property near Boorowa in southern New South Wales.

"The fantastic thing is it is telling us now about the kinds of things that we might need to alter slightly on farms to actually have really good environmental outcomes."

And it is not just birds that are reappearing.

Reptiles are also being monitored and are also making a comeback.

"It's been a really buoyant year as far as the rainfall and things have been going," scientist Geoffrey Kay said.

"So we're picking up blind snakes and pink-tailed worm lizards. These are species that very rarely come up. They're subterranean and the moisture is really pulling them to the surface."

The key to this biodiversity comeback is the landholder.

Graziers and farmers are helping regenerate the land, replant the vegetation and grasslands, and over 10 years that has paid off.

Grazier Neil Stuart signed up to the Federal Government's Environmental Stewardship Program and he is now taking great pleasure in watching the dramatic turnaround.

"It gets you more involved because the more they find the more excited they get about the birds, reptiles, grasses and whatever," he said.

"You go to some of these sites and you see these incredible wildflowers, that are endangered, growing.

"I reckon it's great, and I just like talking to other people who are involved with this and they get a bit excited, because it's the first time they're seeing something happening." 


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