Bingara Living Classroom becomes showcase for Brigalow Nandewar Biolinks project

23 July 2013

The Gwydir Shire Council and the Border Rivers-Gwydir Catchment Management Authority (CMA) have joined forces to create vital new landscape corridors as part of the Brigalow Nandewar Biolinks project.

A strategic revegetation plan will be implemented at The Living Classroom Bingara to strengthen the links between biodiversity and agriculture.  With funding from the Australian Government's Biodiversity Fund (through the Clean Energy Future Initiative) new paddock trees, patches of bushland and a wildlife corridor will be established to link areas of remnant vegetation.

New shelter belts will create protection from harsh winds, roadside plantings will fill in vegetation gaps and increase connectivity for wildlife, and mid-paddock tree clumps will provide shade, shelter and rest stops for wildlife.

The Living Classroom was once a degraded town Common on the edge of Bingara, but the Gwydir Shire Council has now developed this 150 hectare area into a research centre and showcase for the future of sustainable agriculture. It’s been designed as a centre for education, experimentation and inspiration.

The Border Rivers-Gwydir CMA sees the Living Classroom as an ideal partnership for the Brigalow Nandewar Biolinks project which aims to restore bush corridors and reconnect farmland with the beneficial services supplied free to agriculture by the natural environment.  The project also aligns with the Bingara and District Vision 20/20 plan and the local community's focus on regeneration.

"The Living Classroom site is just the sort of landscape we're targeting under the Biolinks project.  It offers an ideal location for a wildlife corridor to be planted, linking the predominantly cleared valley floor landscape with remnant biodiversity in the surrounding hills," explained CMA Brigalow Nandewar Biolinks Project Coordinator, Marty Dillon.

"We'll be working with the Gwydir Shire Council to restore links to important remnants of predominantly grassy woodlands, including white box, silver leafed iron bark, and critically endangered box gum grassy woodland."

Local native seed for direct drill and tube stock plantings has been collected through the CMA's seed bank

Gwydir Shire Council Trade and Projects Officer, Duncan Thain, says the Gwydir Shire is very pleased to have the Border Rivers-Gwydir CMA's assistance to further enhance the Living Classroom.

"The Brigalow Nandewar Biolinks Project marries perfectly with the Living Classroom concept which focuses on food-forests and regeneration," stated Mr Thain.

"Establishing a wildlife corridor from the west to the east of the site, down through the gullies between the dams on the property, will complement the revegetation work we have already done."

"We are also looking at the possibility of incorporating a permaculture garden, native fruits and bush tucker species plantings in amongst this area, taking advantage of the shade and shelter the new patches of native vegetation will provide," said Mr Thain. 

Weed control and site preparation has already begun on the site using the CMA's ripper mounder tool, with planting to commence in spring, and more plantings to follow next autumn. 

Brigalow Nandewar Biolinks Technical Working Group leader, David Carr, says The Living Classroom project will be the first time the CMA utilises direct seeding on a large scale to plant native species.

"We hope the new wildlife corridor will be the starting point for restoring connecting routes for native species from Bingara on the slopes to the Plains," said Mr Carr.

"The Living Classroom is about demonstrating regenerative agriculture and building a facility with tourism, education and conservation benefits. It’s a natural partnership with the aims of the Brigalow Nandewar Project which is all about creating connectivity for wildlife, linking up big patches of vegetation, particularly across the valley floors which have often been cleared."

"This is a great site because it’s so visible to the public and so easily accessible on the main road between Bingara and Narrabri. Doing this work on the Living Classroom site is a great way to show other people about the benefits of wildlife corridors and restoring native vegetation," stated Mr Carr.

Brigalow Nandewar Biolinks Project Coordinator, Marty Dillon, says the Border Rivers-Gwydir CMA is delighted to be working in partnership with the Gwydir Shire Council to make The Living Classroom at Bingara part of the Brigalow Nandewar Biolinks Project. He would also be very keen to talk to individuals and groups in the Bingara area who are interested in doing something similar.

"As the plantings progress and the public can see for themselves the benefits strategically planting native vegetation can provide, we hope this project will provide information and inspiration for landholders and the broader community across the Border Rivers and Gwydir catchments," said Mr Dillon.

For more information about the Brigalow Nandewar Biolinks Project contact Marty Dillon on phone:  (02) 6773 5268 or email: martin.dillon@cma.nsw.gov.au

The Living Classroom - Tree planting

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