Barnett Legacy Lives on in Woodland Habitat
23 September 2013 at 3:11 pm
A bequest left by conservationists Jenny and John Barnett, who lost their lives in the 2009 Victorian bushfires, has been put into protecting threatened Plains Woodland.
|Bush Heritage Reserve Manager Jeroen van Veen with 300-year-old yellow gums.|
The bequest enabled Bush Heritage Australia and Trust for Nature to purchase 190 ha property near Wedderburn in central Victoria, which has been renamed “Barnett Block” in memory of the Barnetts.
The property will be incorporated into Bush Heritage Australia’s Nardoo Hills reserves that protect healthy stands of rare and nationally threatened Grassy Box woodlands, and support more than 110 bird species. The Barnett Reserve also has a rare natural spring within its Plains Grassy Woodlands, which is important habitat for declining woodland fauna.
Bush Heritage Australia Chief Executive Gerard O’Neill said the Barnetts were greatly respected in the conservation community.
“Their deaths in the Black Saturday bushfires was a tragedy not only for their families and friends, but also for the environment movement,” O’Neill said.
The couple, who had a home at Steels Creek near Kinglake, had dedicated their lives to animal welfare and caring for the bush and had a wish to see Victorian natural heritage protected for generations to come.
The Barnetts had spent time in Central Victoria working with organisations including Bush Heritage on fauna monitoring and erecting nesting boxes.
Jenny also discovered a new species of ant on neighboring Nardoo Hills commonly known as Jenny’s bull ant.
The Barnett Block is significant for its mature stands of yellow box, grey box and yellow gum, and woodland habitat for the nationally endangered Swift Parrot and declining woodland birds such as the hooded robin, brown treecreeper and painted buttonquail.
Bush Heritage is also hoping it will find the threatened northern golden moth orchid on the property, once threats such as weeds and grazing are managed.
“This new reserve will be named in John’s and Jenny’s memory and will protect some of Victoria’s native mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates, including Jenny’s bull ant, for the long-term,” Trust for Nature CEO Victoria Marles said.
Bush Heritage Australia Reserve Manager Jeroen van Veen said one of the first things planned for the Barnett Block was a plant inventory to help create a baseline for future management to record important information for managing, restoring and even extending habitat for threatened species.
“We are hoping the large grey box and yellow box trees on the Barnett Block will provide food and roosting sites for Swift Parrots over-wintering in the region,” van Veen said.
Since European settlement, Victoria has lost 83 per cent of its woodland ecosystems to land clearing.