Last remaining silver banksias protected near Lake Nillahcootie

By Spencer Fowler Steen

One of the last remaining wild populations of silver banksia in north-east Victoria is being protected thanks to the Taungurung Land and Water Council and Goulburn Broken CMA.

The isolated stand of 25 trees on Sandy Creek near Lake Nillahcootie has been untouched for many years and has genetic links back to populations of silver banksia that were once abundant throughout the area.

Rare site: A mature silver banksia.

Goulburn Broken CMA’s Jim Begley said the granitic sandy soils and protective eucalyptus canopy at the site were perfect for silver banksia.

“Silver banksia is an iconic species in Victoria but numbers have rapidly declined due to vegetation clearing, grazing and die-back — and threats continue as the climate gets hotter and drier,” Mr Begley said.

“Not only are silver banksia numbers low, they are isolated from other populations, and limited in their ability to produce a genetically diverse and healthy next generation of trees.

“This is why we have teamed up with the Taungurung works crew to re-establish another 680 silver banksias at this location — it really is about the future survival of this species.”

As part of a Forest Fire Management Victoria planned burning program, an area near Sandy Creek was burnt recently to protect the banksias from future wildfires, with the resulting ash perfect for planting silver banksia seedlings. Future cool burns around the existing trees may also lead to better revegetation outcomes and help increase genetic diversity.

Destined for big things: A silver banksia seedling.

Taungurung representative Shane Monk said having the Taungurung Caring for Country team involved in the project was rewarding.

“Working in the management of our land gives us that connection and is a great way to bring back Taungurung people to country,” Mr Monk said.

“Giving our mob a chance to work on country is a great way of helping them heal.’’

This project is managed by Goulburn Broken CMA through the Victorian Government’s Our Catchment Our Communities initiative.

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