Protecting and connecting species on the Mornington Peninsula

14 September 2020

Over the last four years, the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA has been working with Mornington Peninsula Shire, Parks Victoria, Trust for Nature and Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation to protect some of Victoria’s most vulnerable species in the most biodiverse areas of the Mornington Peninsula.

This included species such as the Dainty Maidenhair Fern, Frankston Spider Orchid and Coast Helmet Orchid, Leafy Greenhood, as well as the Hooded Plover, Australasian Bittern, White Footed Dunnart and other threatened species.

2020 saw the ‘Protecting and Connecting Species and Communities on the Mornington Peninsula’ project come to a close, with significant outcomes being achieved on the ground.

Key outcomes:

  • 181.8 hectares of weed control, much of which was specialist activities to protect threatened orchid habitat and Dainty Maidenhair Fern
  • 6 hectares of highly significant orchid habitat protected with rabbit proof fencing
  • 216 hectares of pest animal control to protect Hooded Plovers on the Peninsula’s surf beaches
  • Secured a conservation covenant for a private property on the Mornington Peninsula.
  • Supported Trust for Nature and Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation to deliver the Warreen Beek Ranger training program, in which Indigenous students complete a Certificate III in Conservation and Land Management course, as well as extensive hands on learning and mentoring opportunities.

Another key outcome for the project was supporting the future security of one of Victoria’s most threatened Orchids, the Frankston Spider Orchid (Caladenia Robinsonii). Historically this orchid had only five know population sites, all confined to coastal areas in the south east of Port Phillip Bay.

Frankston Spider Orchid (Josh Gunn)

The project supported Mornington Peninsula Council and the C. robinsonii Working Group (comprised of members from Australian Native Orchid Society, Department of Land, Water, Environmental and Planning, Mornington Peninsula Shire, local ecologists and various universities) to bolster one of these populations through weed control and the translocation of specially grown plants. Through this project a total of 33O new plants have been establish across an existing site and a new site that will serve as an insurance population.

Another highlight was the discovery of a new colony of the extremely rare Dainty Maidenhair Fern. Previously this fern had only one known colony in Victoria and they were at risk from erosion and weed infestation.

Dainty Maidenhair Fern

Protecting the colony was particularly difficult as it is located on a cool seepage line that winds down a steep rocky escarpment, which is a long trek from the nearest access point.

Through the project, weed control contractors were employed to undertake this difficult task and through this work they discovered a previously unknown colony of the fern a few hundred meters further along the escarpment.  

The Protecting and Connecting Species on the Mornington Peninsula project was supported by the Victorian Government.