Saving Our Species Program – a call to action

A Call to Action: Contributing to the Saving Our Species Program with Landcare NSW

Landcare NSW is reaching out to all community members to participate in an important conservation effort through the “Saving Our Species” (SoS) program.

The NSW Government’s SoS program recently released 71 draft conservation strategies aimed at protecting threatened species and ecological communities across New South Wales, with public consultation (for individuals) open until May 3, 2024.

However, if you would like to participate in Landcare NSW’s consolidated feedback, then you can submit your feedback to no later than 15 May 2024.

Here are the proposed conservation strategies for the 71 species now on exhibition thanks to the SoS program: Saving our Species draft conservation strategies | NSW Environment and Heritage

This is the first of multiple exhibitions that the SOS program is releasing so look out for these on the SOS website. The next tranche (of strategies) is expected to be published in early May.

If you want to be notified of these releases or would like to discuss any aspects of the SoS program, send an email to the SOS Program at:

Compiling Collective Feedback:

Landcare NSW will compile all feedback from these collaborative efforts into a summary document that reflects both detailed and overarching suggestions from the Landcare community.

Engagement and Impact:

This initiative is open to everyone in the conservation community, whether they are currently affiliated with Landcare NSW or not. By engaging in this consultation, participants can influence the strategies that will shape the future of our natural heritage.

We encourage all interested parties to come forward and share their expertise. Together, we can make a lasting impact on the conservation efforts in New South Wales.

Please send your comments to no later than 15 May 2024.


It’s not easy for the average person to prioritise seeds, and yet they are the beginning of all life.

From the size of a pinprick to weighing down a human hand they are genesis.

For Landcare groups across NSW, seed propagation and collection is a crucial step in the regeneration process. Keeping an eye on invasive species a close second.

In the Central West, Dunedoo-Coolah Local Landcare Coordinator Fiona Luckhurst, along with passionate volunteers have been quietly gathering and collecting seeds to ensure the future of local biodiversity.

“We originally began this project with an aim to connect our community members in a multi-generational way through non-hybrid food crop seeds, but it has grown into so much more,” Fiona says.

“We want to ensure that local biodiversity thrives in spite of the many challenges it faces.”

Dunedoo-Coolah Landcare Seed Collecting and Propagating Workshop

In a region with woodland and grassland as primary habitats, old gums and native grasses are often seen swaying together in a ‘good’ year. But changing climate and land management have stressed local landscapes.

“The drought and bushfires were a catalyst for collecting native seeds as we wanted to preserve and increase availability of local native species for revegetation projects and plantings in local gardens and parks.

“We got funding through various channels, including the Landcare NSW Natural Disaster Seed Fund, to support our project. We’ve had so many challenges in response to the drought and fires. One of our biggest concerns over the past two years has been the extensive die-back of native trees and plants. Many have come back abundantly in many places, but many have not. Over-grazing and native vegetation clearing have had a big impact on local biodiversity, so our work is crucial in ensuring that our remaining vegetation is genetically diverse and has long-term viability.

“We are just starting out, but we have a focus on plants for habitat for endangered fauna species such as Grassy Box Woodland species including Mugga Iron Bark, Yellow, Grey and White box, native grasses and Casuarinas for the Glossy Black Cockatoo,” Fiona said.

For Milton Rural Landcare in the South East, the long-term effects of the devastating fire that tore through the South Coast will scar their landscape for many years to come.

Dr Dave Bland ascending the opposite wall of the gorge through some understorey post-fire regrowth to check out the forest floor for fallen berries © Sybille Davidson (Milton Rural Landcare)

Containing patches of low-land subtropical rainforest, the region is characterised by lower rainfall as opposed to the damp and high rainfall features of tropical rainforest. Stranglers, plank buttresses, large epiphytes and woody vines are characteristic features with its most southern limit in the Clyde Valley (west of Batemans Bay), many of which were fire affected.

Milton Rural Landcare Secretary Sybille Davidson, says it is home to many flora species not found elsewhere in the south-east of Australia and over the past three years has been painstakingly collecting and propagating seeds to replant remnant rainforest across the region.

“The origin of our involvement in this project was instigated by our local, and very enthusiastic, amateur Rainforest expert Dave Bland.

“Dave is a small farmer however years of pursuing his interest in the Milton region’s special local rainforest species and seed propagation, spending his childhood and early years exploring these environments, led to him putting in considerable effort to raising awareness about the special significance of these remnant patches and his concern about the depleting biodiversity, including of local fauna,” Sybille says.  

Part of the Saving Our Species program, the project engaged Milton Rural Landcare to grow 14,000 tubestock over 3 years to help restore and support local biodiversity and educate local landholders on the importance of the rainforest.

Similar to Dunedoo Coolah Saving Our Seeds project, working with local landholders has been crucial component as much of the Milton Ulladulla Subtropical Rainforest TEC is on private land Sybille says.

“The project has worked with a variety of stakeholders and focuses on improving the resilience of remnant patches of Milton Ulladulla Subtropical Rainforest TEC through excluding stock, managing weeds, improving occupancy and community education.

However, challenges of the past 18 months have taken its toll on local ecology.

“Of the main remnant patch at YatteYattah Reserve – one of our important sites -, a major gorge with its significant huge fig tree was burnt out.  The properties of three of the participating landholders that took part in the program were significantly burned. One was completely burned. It’s devastating to see years of work, and hundreds of years of growth, gone in minutes.”

“This affects all levels of the local ecology who were already stressed by drought and vegetation clearing. There are many species of birds solely reliant on the specific fruit and berries made by local trees. Birds such as pigeons, doves, thrush, lyrebirds, bowerbirds, green catbirds; various honey eaters, and even a few predator birds such as Sooty Owls and Powerful Owls, are all reliant on the rainforest and the food it produces.

“The effects of the fire and the diminishing extent of habitat and feeding trees will limit the range and constrain their successful breeding into the future meaning populations of these species will continue to decline.

However, the dedication by local volunteers in ensuring the rainforest, and the species which rely on its health, is not to be dismissed. Volunteers have continued to work in seed propagation to help restore local biodiversity in the wake of the fires.

An ongoing and delicate process, due to the fires determining each species readiness to be harvested can often only be seen in the crowns of the tress, however some lower growing species are recovering and even have begun to produce fruit which has been essential for local wildlife recovery, Sybille says.

“It has been wonderful to see species recover and shows the resilience of the Australian landscape, but in heavily burned areas even many of our mature Eucalypts are struggling to recover.

“There is a range of species that have gone missing and may take decades to reappear and achieve a crown able to produce fruit – which leads to natural reproduction – which is devastating.  There are small signs of regrowth from lignotubers (a lignotuber is a woody swelling of the root crown possessed by some plants as a protection against destruction of the plant stem, such as by fire) but only at the base of the burnt stems.

Both Fiona and Sybille agree that education and participation of public and private landholders is key in ensuring the future of local environments balancing on the brink of future viability.

“The big challenge we are working against is general ignorance on the importance and value of biodiversity in the general public and government”, Fiona says.

“We’ve got challenges to overcome, and we need to work to educate ourselves to ensure that our actions aren’t going to adversely affect our environment even further. People are feeling scared after the fires and the challenge will be balancing the idea to ‘clean up’ areas of scrub, fallen timber and other habitat versus the need to understand that much of this is needed for local species to thrive and survive.

“An ageing population and the decline of the family farm is contributing to clearing and the spread of invasive species which is hurting local biodiversity. In the end if you are not emotionally invested, your investment is going to be made on economics and not conserving the environment for future generations and valuing the amenity of the environment. This is where education comes in. We’ve got to learn from one another to grow for the better.”

Sybille echoes the sentiment, saying the greatest challenge now lies in opportunistic clearing of fire-affected remnants that may and will come back, causing further fragmentation of the surviving species and future degradation of the local landscape.

“It’s a difficult process and terrible to see so much of our work destroyed but working together and focusing as much on the long term as the short term is how we restored and supported the forest last time and we will do this again.

“We have lost a lot. Three of the major property owners included in the project had either significant losses or complete loss of their revegetation corridors, including the high-cost tree guards and the timber stakes. One lost his house. His rainforest patch burned right down to the creek bed.  

“But we will work together as a community to rebuild. We also have the support of bordering Landcare groups who have shared some seed from their reserves so we can regrow.

Like Fiona, Sybille remains cautiously optimistic about the future and their work restoring the environment through collaboration and planning.

“We hope to extend and re-establish the vegetation corridors between the remnant isolated patches of rainforest across the Milton-YatteYattah farm properties, but also enhance the populations of certain particular rainforest species within and adjacent to those vegetation corridors.  This will in turn lead to expanding the habitats of forest creatures, and hopefully their populations of native wildlife. So long as we have relationships between landholders, project partners and community groups our project and work will continue to provide a valuable base into the future.”

The Local Landcare Coordinator position is part of the NSW Landcare Program. A co-managed project between Landcare NSW and Local Land Services NSW and supported by the NSW Government.

Saving our Species, NSW’s flagship threatened species conservation program, is supported by the NSW Government

Featured image: the orange berries in the emergent canopy tree Emmenosperma alphitonioides, Yellow Ash © Sybille Davidson 

The seeds of Guioa semiglauca. © Sybille Davidson (Milton Rural Landcare)



Listen carefully and you’ll notice a distinctive sound. In between the throaty cries of crows and the screeching of galahs, the warbling tones of the Superb Parrot colour the air as they feast on flowering gums and grass seeds.

There is some debate around the remaining number of Superb Parrots in the wild, whether there is 8,000 or 10,000, however the fact we can all agree on is that their numbers are declining.

But not if local Landcare and community groups have anything to do with it.

Established in 2017, a consortium including Boorowa Landcare, Hovells Creek Landcare, Upper Lachlan Landcare, Lachlandcare & Mid Lachlan Landcare are working together with partners Cowra Woodland Birds, Greening Australia and National Parks & Wildlife Service NSW to ensure that the parrots and the project that supports them has a fighting chance.

Found along inland Eastern NSW, the parrots face many challenges. As a mainly hollow-bearing species, the parrots require trees of over 100 years old – as only mature trees create hollows – and are restricted to certain tree species such as Box-Gum, Box-Cypress-pine and Boree Woodlands and River Red Gum Forest as well as Blakely’s Red Gum, Yellow Box, Apple Box and Red Box.

But with a support group as collectively diverse as the species habitat range, the passion and dedication that the members bring to preserving the species is inspiring and heartening.

Bird walks have been held over all the region, as part of the broader SoS program. The one last month brought it to six.

Educational seminars have been going for more than five years and up to 100 participants have been trained in the monitoring technique through this project.

Dedicated programs spanning years to support not just the superb parrot but all birdlife and the supporting ecosystems? Absolutely.

For Local Landcare Coordinator for Boorowa Landcare, Linda Cavanagh, the involvement and support of community groups and local landholders has helped sustain the momentum for the continuation of the programs.

“Community involvement is crucial. But community enthusiasm is a driving factor and is so important too. Boorowa Landcare is one of five Landcare groups in our region who have taken on supporting the Superb Parrot and the ecosystems on which they rely on.

“One of our biggest drivers has been local landholders collating and collecting data about the birds and feeding into this program.

“Our birdwalks and regular bird surveys help build the knowledge of population trends, key flight paths and the success factors that lead to successful breeding ecology of the Superb Parrot.

“With such a vast habitat area, collaborations such as the ones between all our local landcare groups are so important and we can help build the knowledge base to help support our work and advocacy for the species.

“Of course, the key strength of the program has been the community engagement activities to increase awareness and interest in project participation by keen volunteers, we couldn’t do it without them,” Linda said.

The funding for the program and activities comes from Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (previously Office of Environment & Heritage) and has helped ensure that Superb Parrot restoration actions in the broader Saving Our Species (SoS) program continue. 

Local Superb Parrot expert, Pat Downey, says collective group’s involvement in supporting the species lead to greater data collection and consistency that is in line with Regional and State wide data bases.

“I’ve been working with Landcare for five years and have seen the growth of passion and ownership for the health of the species.

“The education component is critical is helping communities understand their impact on the local environment and how removing just one tree can have a huge ripple effect on all local species. You are removing a potential home, food source, shelter for other species, microbes in the soil for other vegetation. But, by leaving that tree and protecting it by fencing it off to protect it in combination with planting understorey shrubs you are investing in your land, your profitability and the future of a multitude of species.

“Additionally, by fencing off existing paddock trees you are also supporting your livestock as you are supporting the health of the tree and future trees it may lead to and there’s value for everyone in those things,” Pat said.

As you watch their flight and movement you can understand why communities want to support them and their future. They’re beautiful to watch. A shift in the angle of wings, a cresting in the air and you witness a change in colour with the brilliance in green and gold and example of why a shift in perspective can mean the world of a difference.

The Saving Our Superb Parrot is funded by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Saving Our Species (SoS) program.

CEO Report – March 2020

This summer’s events are a reminder of the scale and complexity of the challenges that we face in protecting our environment, our productive and sustainable farms, and the well-being of all our communities.

For Landcare NSW, 2020 has started at a frenetic pace with lots of key activities underway.

Landcare NSW is actively pursuing a number of partnerships and funding arrangements to benefit the Landcare community including a partnership with the Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT). Landcare NSW received a funding deed for $1.37 million last month which will cover the cost for rolling out a number of educational activities that will bring together people such as landowners and highlight what the BCT is offering to people on the land and in our communities.

Landcare NSW’s partnership with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), that was announced at the Trees in the House event in November, has been formalised with the signing of an MOU for the Greater Sydney Landcare Network to deliver the planting of 100,000 trees in the Greater Sydney region as part of the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s Five Million Trees program.

With all our partnerships, we insist that all partnership programs and projects are co-designed, co-delivered, co-managed and co-governed. All these partnership programs and projects are co-governed by Joint Management Committees made up of leaders and senior executives from the two partner organisations, similar to the one we have with Local Land Services (LLS) for the delivery of the NSW Landcare Program.

Landcare NSW signed an MOU with Saving Our Species in February to promote and raise additional funding for the program with non-government sources. Linda Bell spoke to the Landcare NSW Council at its February Council meeting.

Gotcha4Life and Landcare NSW have also entered a partnership, and an Expression of Interest has gone out to all Landcare regions to seek funding to deliver Mental Fitness Weeks in rural and regional areas across the state in 2020.

Late in 2019, Landcare NSW submitted a business case for $20 million for the delivery of activities related to disaster relief, recovery and preparedness. This was submitted at the beginning of the disaster season, since then the problem has obviously escalated significantly. I believe Landcare should be the go-to vehicle for the delivery of these kinds of services. The Chair, our Government Relations Manager and I had a meeting with Minister Adam Marshall to discuss the business case and the role Landcare can play and these discussions are ongoing.

Corporate partnerships are also an area Landcare NSW is developing and exploring as the interest in corporate volunteering in bushfire affected areas continues to increase.