A desire to see a neglected tract of public land reach its full potential has been the impetus for an eleven year old, hunter led, conservation project in Eastern Victoria.
The Clydebank Morass State Game reserve is an 1800 ha parcel of former farmland bordered by the Avon River and Lake Wellington in the Gippsland region of Victoria. The reserve was progressively purchased by the Victorian Government in the mid to later parts of the twentieth century. Virtually all native vegetation was cleared from the area during the farming era and dense introduced grasses had all but precluded the re-establishment of indigenous flora species of any sort. Consequently the reserves capacity to provide habitat for wildlife was significantly diminished.
Hog deer had been present in the area since the late 1860s but their population was largely restricted to private land and the hunting opportunities for ‘ordinary’ hunters during the tightly regulated April open season were severely limited due to the dearth of wildlife on suitable public land.
The Australian Deer Association (ADA) realised that if things were going to change that hunters would need to take the initiative. In 2004 the ADA allocated a budget to commence work on the reserve and secured complimentary funding from a range of sources including the Blond Bay Hog Deer Advisory Group, Greening Australia and Parks Victoria.
In the midst of the drought, in May 2005, volunteers from the ADA commenced the task of restoring the reserve by planting 5,000 seedlings over about 6 hectares adjacent to the Avon River.
In the decade since the project commenced over 45,000 trees have been planted over hundreds of hectares, effectively restoring the biodiversity of the area whilst simultaneously transforming the reserve in to high value habitat for a wide range of mammals and birds.
If you’d like to know more about the Australian Deer Association, click HERE.
Deer hunters from the Australian Deer Association plant trees at the Clydebank Morass State Game Reserve.