The land is our first priority.
We are committed and passionate custodians of this land.
We enjoy its beauty, diversity and tranquillity, and we give time, energy and effort to effectively protect it.
We work strategically to a comprehensive management plan, committing to the work and learning required.
People who come to live on the Co-op choose a lifestyle which values conservation and being part of a community that actively works together to manage and protect the natural environment.
Where are we?
The Co-op is in the Bend of Islands, a conservation zone in the Shire of Nillumbik, a Green Wedge Shire. Under the Nillumbik Planning Scheme, it is zoned “Special Use Zone 2: Environmental Living - Bend of Islands”. We are only 33km from the CBD, on the outskirts of Melbourne’s North East.
Our land has Land for Wildlife status and is part of an important network of remnant bush blocks forming the wildlife corridor link between Kinglake National Park and Warrandyte State Park.
We delight in exploring the bush we live in. By wandering through the bush at various times of the year we are privileged to observe the wildlife, explore the flora and fungi and even discover new species.
Whether through our formal research programs and field days, or through individual walks, we are constantly learning about this unique environment.
The Co-op is rich in natural values and supports a range of vegetation communities including Box Ironbark Forest, Creekline Herb-Rich Woodland and Valley Grassy Forest, all of which have a conservation status of vulnerable (Highlands – Southern Fall Bioregion).
Our forest is characterised by Red Box, Red Stringybark, Long-leaved Box, Red Ironbark and scattered Yellow Box trees. In the gullies are a mixture of Swamp Gum, Messmate Stringybark, Narrow-leaved Peppermint and scattered Candlebarks.
A higher diversity of plants occurs in the deeper, moister soils of the riparian zone associated with Stevenson’s Creek near the northern boundary of the Co-op, including Manna Gum, Swamp Gum, Silver Wattle, Hazel Pomaderris, Swamp Paperbark and assorted sedges, rushes and ferns.
August to November is our “wildflower season” when the dry bush is transformed with the colourful displays of a variety of Wattles, Heaths, Bush Peas, Pink Bells, Guinea Flowers, Purple Coral-pea, Blue Pin-cushions, Chocolate Lilies, Grass Trigger Plants, Austral Bears Ears and Small Grass Trees.
Over 50 species of orchids have been recorded on the property and many of these also reach their peak during this time, including Wax-lips, Green Comb Spider Orchids, Pink Fingers, Tall and Nodding Greenhoods and Leopard Orchids.
The diversity of habitats supports an equally diverse range of fauna. This includes 126 species of native birds (one Endangered, 6 Vulnerable, 2 Near Threatened), 20 species of native mammals (three Vulnerable), 13 species of native reptiles (one Vulnerable) and seven species of native amphibians (one Vulnerable). Several native fish species are also likely to occur in the permanent waters of Stevenson’s Creek.
Nocturnal birds and mammals present can be identified by their characteristic calls including the Southern Boobook Owl, Tawny Frogmouth, Powerful Owl, Owlet Nightjar, Koala, Sugar Glider, Common Brushtail and Ringtail Possums and White-throated Nightjar. These and other species can be seen and heard on still nights, particularly during the summer and autumn months.
During the summer months, often following rain, the calls of a variety of frogs can be heard coming from wet gullies and small soaks, including the Victorian Smooth Froglet, Brown Tree Frog, Striped Marsh Frog and Eastern Banjo Frog. During the winter months the raucous shrieks of Grey headed Flying Foxes penetrate the surrounding bushland as they feed on the nectar of flowering Ironbarks.
Reptiles are present in relatively small numbers, but Tree Dragons, Blotched Blue-tongued Lizards and Garden Skinks are regularly sighted during summer months.
Of particular note is the presence of the endangered Tuan or Brush-tailed Phascogale and the Powerful Owl. Both species are of State Significance and listed under Victoria’s Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.
The Powerful Owl requires more than 1000 hectares to survive and the Co-op provides important hunting and roosting habitat within the home range of a breeding pair resident within the Bend of Islands.
How we manage the land
Our conservation management aims to actively maintain the environmental integrity of the land. Activities include weed control, burning for biodiversity, protection of rare and endangered flora, fauna conservation, soil conservation, control of pest animals, research and education.
Our Flora Management Strategy sets out how we will manage the environmental impact of weeds based on protecting the zones that have the greatest biodiversity values, identifying the most threatening weeds and preventing new and emerging weeds from establishing. It also sets out how we will monitor and protect specific species and encourage the re-growth or revegetation of others.
The Burning for Biodiversity program uses prescribed burning to ensure the survival and evolutionary development of the native vegetation and its genetic diversity and to maintain and enhance fauna habitats.
We have several monitoring programs, including nest boxes and Dunnart tiles, as well as participating in research into rare orchids.
Co-op Members undertake a range of activities for conservation management:
Writing grant applications
Committees and working groups
Field days and guest speakers
Monitoring and record keeping
Participating in BICA activities
Members spend 6 to 8 hours a month on these activities. Work parties are four hours long and scheduled monthly. They focus on weed control, burning for biodiversity, protection of rare and endangered species, and soil conservation.
We are a Member and supporter of the Bend of Islands Conservation Association (BICA) and the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF). Co-op Members are often involved in BICA activities and committees and we support and assist BICA's advocacy for the continuing conservation of the Bend of Islands, the Green Wedge and the wider region.