Sleepers in the grass

2. DPoint #86 high res final (for stories)_Page_16_Image_0010In many far flung paddocks on private land in south east NSW stand star posts marking the location of a collection of rail sleepers, sheets of corrugated tin and roof tiles. These are survey stations set up by Geoff Kay and David Lindenmayer from the ANU. These little islands of artificial habitat are magnets for lizards, snakes, frogs and invertebrates. If there are any of these creatures in the surrounding landscape, they’ll more often than not turn up in these patches. These survey stations have been set up in locations where farmers are receiving Environmental Stewardship Program (ESP) payments from the Federal Government to monitor whether the ESP is making a difference to biodiversity (of course, each ESP monitoring station is matched to another control station outside of the area in the ESP). Geoff (on the left) is pictured here talking to Phil Gibbons and Emma Burns about how the monitoring works and what they hope to discover. The ESP is an agri-environment scheme, one of many being applied in Australian rural landscapes. A recent NERP workshop on agri-environment programs is seeking to distil key learnings on how such schemes operate, and how they can be improved. See Learning from agri-environment programs in Australia.

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