State: NSW | Hectares: 1,628 | IUCN Category: IV | Partners: Heritage Australia
On the fringes of Namadgi National Park, conservationists have joined forces with community, government and even a local four wheel drive club to protect a remarkable area of bushland.
Scottsdale covers more than 1,600 hectares of fertile native grassland and mountain woodland rising up from the Murrumbidgee River near Bredbo in New South Wales.
Bush Heritage Australia bought Scottsdale for conservation earlier this year, with help from the National Reserve System Program and generous private donations from the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and private donors commemorating the lives of Helen Lilian Manning Rickards and Dr Peter Barrer.
Bush Heritage Chief Executive Doug Humann says Scottsdale is a cracker in its own right, but its conservation potential goes well beyond its boundaries.
"Scottsdale is the first major action of an ambitious landscape reconnection project called "Kosciuszko to Coast" that aims to create a network of protected areas linking the snowgums of Kosciuszko National Park to the sea," he says. "The project is a collaboration between the community, local environment groups, conservation organisations and all levels of government. Scottsdale is the first anchor in phase one of this conservation corridor and gets us off to a great start."
Scottsdale is home to two significant endangered vegetation communities - box gum woodlands and native temperate grasslands. These communities support a wealth of listed species including the endangered golden sun moth, the gang gang cockatoo and diamond firetail finch.
If Scottsdale hadn't been purchased for conservation it would very likely have been further developed for agriculture or rural subdivision. It is one of the last-remaining remnants of highly productive grassland amid a sea of farmland and almost all the surrounding viable property has been developed.
Lauren Van Dyke manages the property for Bush Heritage, and has been discovering some real benefits to having so many farmers as neighbours. Lauren says she's been working with them to tackle the issues that are common to many properties in the area, like the control of the invasive weed, African lovegrass.
"We are learning a lot from the local farming community and they're watching what's going on at Scottsdale with great interest," Lauren says.
Scottsdale is proving to be a perfect hub for research partnership opportunities. The Australian National University, Canberra Institute of Technology and CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems are pursuing on-ground research projects to guide future management.
Lauren says they have some really innovative trials in the pipe line.
"We looking at the use of zero-till smother crops for weed suppression and want to investigate timed chemical weed-control that both suppresses target weeds and stimulates native grasslands. We plan to try harnessing fire as a restorative process, stimulating recovery and increasing diversity in some of Scottsdale's less intact native grasslands.
"We are setting up a survey program to monitor the growth of vegetation, and have already shown things are progressing well with the regrowth of red grass and a spring flush of bluebells."
The first native grass production area on Scottsdale has already been seeded and significant progress has been made on the development of low-cost native grass seed harvesting and delivery systems.
Strong relationships have been forged with the local Bredbo community and the Southern Tableland 4WD club. The club volunteered vehicles and drivers for the recent Scottsdale launch, ferrying guests up the mountain and helping them tour the property. The club owns a neighbouring property that it is revegetating through direct seeding so its members are particularly interested in what is going on at Scottsdale.
Scottsdale just goes to show the innovative and practical solutions that can be developed when conservationists, the community and government work together.