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Second Herbivore Exclusion Fence Completed at Frahns Farm

Construction of a second Herbivore Exclusion Fence at Frahns Farm (Eastern Enclosure) has recently been completed, protecting an area of 193 hectares.

Woodland habitats will be reinstated over about half of this area and will be the focus of Bio·R’s Planting Festivals for the next 3-4 years. Some grading of the area to be planted in 2024 has already been completed. Degraded remnant vegetation exists over the over half of the fenced area. This remnant vegetation will benefit from reduced grazing.

This project was only possible thanks to the generosity of hundreds of Bio·R donors who contributed to our 2022/23 end of financial year fundraiser. Thank you to all of those wonderful people!

But why do we need a fence?

Since European settlement, kangaroo numbers have increased across south-eastern Australia due to the clearance of woodland for pasture, an increase in watering points, and the extermination of dingoes, their main predator.

This has created an ecosystem imbalance and roos are now over-abundant in the region. They prefer to eat tender native seedlings, which hinders habitat regenerating naturally. This puts further pressure on declining woodland birds, like Diamond Firetails and Restless Flycatchers, to find food and shelter.

Early plantings of tubestock in individual guards at Frahns Farm showed that we needed a new approach to improve the scale and success of our habitat reconstruction. Firstly, guards were expensive and time consuming to install, so they limited our ability to upscale our plantings. Secondly, they were ineffective, as seedlings planted in both the standard green corflute guards or “Mallee Mesh” guards could not form their natural shape as they grew. The plants were constricted by the guard’s dimensions and any plants that grew through the guards were simply eaten by roos. Consequently, we could not grow habitat that was self-sustaining and resilient. Thirdly, we could not direct seed grasses and small herbs within our plantings, as they could not be protected from grazing kangaroos. This again restricted our ability to upscale our work and create a structurally diverse ecosystem from the ground to the tree canopy, which is necessary for creating habitat for wildlife.

By investing in a herbivore exclusion fence, we don’t have to guard each seedling that our community plants, saving thousands of hours and dollars, and we can grow more habitat by direct seeding native grasses and small plants. This enables us to effectively create a diverse woodland which will provide healthy, productive habitat for our native wildlife for many decades to come.

At 7 km long, the fence will protect 200 ha and will be tall enough to deter most jumping roos, with an apron on the ground to stop animals from digging under. The mesh spacing will still allow smaller animals to move through. Fenced exclosures are currently the most cost-effective method for protecting plants from roo herbivory at a large-scale.

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