FUEL reduction grazing trials, wildlife monitoring, tree planting and the development of a new resource centre added up to a busy year at the Mount Leura reserve.
Mount Leura and Mount Sugarloaf Committee of Management member Graham Arkinstall said fuel reduction trials were carried out in the reserve’s south west corner.
“The trial was carried out using dairy cows in partnership with the neighbouring landholder,” he said.
“In terms of keeping the grass down, the grazing worked well.
“But in terms of reducting the fire risk, the results are limited because there is still plenty of fuel on the mount.”
Mr Arkinstall said the cattle had also removed the lower branches of the trees in the trial area.
“The trees are relatively unscathed but we have to acknowledge that there would be no regeneration under the trees if cattle are grazed there.
“We need to consider these issues over the longer term, so we will continue the trial for the foreseeable future.”
Wildlife monitoring also continued with the use of two relocatable cameras and eye witness accounts.
“While we didn’t notice any new species to the mount, we have found an increase in the number of kangaroos on the reserve and a number of koalas passing through,” Mr Arkinstall said.
“We also think the number of wallabies is now fairly stable at about a dozen.”
Two more relocatable cameras have since been purchased to increase monitoring efforts.
The year also saw the conversion of a school portable into a Volcanic Education Centre at the base of the mount.
Donated by Camperdown College, the portable has since been painted, reroofed and fitted with an access ramp.
“It is our aim to host more school groups, university groups and other interested organisations,” Mr Arkinstall said.
“The reserve gives a wonderful insight into volcanic activity and its easily accessible.
“We already have GPS units available for geocaching on the reserve and a geo trail is in the process of being developed, which will add another learning tool to the site.”
According to the Mount Leura and Mount Sugarloaf Committee of Management annual report, committee members contributed more than 700 volunteer hours while the wider community contributed more than 400 hours, equating to an estimated value of $28,300 of work.
A funding allocation of $22,000 has also been included in the Corangamite Shire’s 2015-16 Draft Budget for consideration.