Beating Back the Browsers
The levels of browsing pressure by animals, particularly Sambar Deer on newly-planted Landcare revegetation sites in East Gippsland, is resulting in very high mortality rates of new seedlings.
So, last year, when the East Gippsland Landcare Network (EGLN) received the inaugural Sure Gro Tree Max Landcare Grant, they named their project, ‘Beating Back the Browsers’.
EGLN is an umbrella organisation that supports 24 local Landcare groups and assists in region-wide environmental works. Their goal for this project was to reduce the pressure of browsing animals by utilising the specially designed Sure Gro Tree Max Beast Guards and therefore increase the survival rates of newly planted native seedlings on Landcare revegetation sites of their participating members.
Feral Sambar and several other species of deer are well established in Victoria and populations are continuing to increase, causing damage and spreading to new areas across the State at a rapid rate. Deer pose a significant risk to biodiversity, causing both direct and indirect impacts on native flora and fauna.
735 native seedlings and the 90x30cm SureGro Beast Guards were provided by the EGLN to volunteer members identified through their revegetation program. The seedlings were planted and the guards installed across nine sites with 94 volunteers participating.
‘Beating Back the Browsers’ has proven to be a spot-on project name with ELGN reporting that the majority of the nine planting sites that used Sure Gro Tree Max Beast Guards to protect the 735 seedlings they planted are recording survival rates at, or above, 98 percent.
This is an exceptional result, as it’s well in excess of the group’s historic target rate of 75 percent using more ‘standard’ cardboard guards. Sure Gro Beast Guards contributed to the local Landcare 2019 seedling revegetation project by increasing the seedling survival rates throughout selected sites of high browsing activity.
Landcare members have been extremely responsive to receiving Beast Guards in areas of high browsing activity as they are aware of the losses faced both on-ground and in volunteer hours when seedlings fail.
Therefore, they’re excited at the prospect of being provided with Sure Gro Beast Guards, given how disheartening it is for them when seedlings fail after they’ve invested significant volunteer effort through site preparation and planting.
Deer, like the Sambar, pose a significant risk to biodiversity, causing both direct and indirect impacts on native flora and fauna.