Protecting threatened species from the Peaks to the Plains

17 November 2019

The granitic peaks of the You Yang Ranges and surrounding low lying grasslands of the Werribee Plains are some of Victoria’s most ecologically significant landscapes.

The continual impacts of invasive weeds, rabbits and goats threaten the iconic flora and fauna species that live in this area, including Spiny Rice-flower, Button Wrinklewort, Eastern Barred Bandicoot and the Plains Wanderer.

Since 2017, the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA has been working with key organisations and private landholders to protect and enhance 7,000 hectares of this landscape through a range of monitoring and control efforts.

One such site is Mt Rothwell Conservation Reserve, a 473 hectare property located west of Melbourne, at the base of the You Yangs Regional Park. Mt Rothwell has partnered with the PPWCMA and Geelong City Council to implement rabbit control works across their grasslands and rocky outcrops.

You Yangs Regional Park
You Yangs Regional Park

Last month, representatives from Parks Victoria, Geelong City Council, Melbourne Water, Naturewest and the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA headed out to Mt Rothwell Conservation Reserve to view the progress of these works.

Five hectare sections have been fenced out with critter-proof fencing and rehomed dogs have been used to undertake low-impact rabbit eradication in each section. The dogs have been extensively trained to only pursue rabbits and not the endangered mammals living at Mt Rothwell.

This approach has proved highly successful, with the last remaining rabbits caught on camera at last count there were 2 rabbits remaining within the last enclosure.

Critter proof fencing

Foxes and cats have now been eradicated from the property, allowing for native species such as the Eastern Quoll, Brush Tailed Wallaby, Eastern Barred Bandicoot and the Spiny Rice Flower to be introduced.

The Peaks to Plains project is funded by the Victorian Government.

Mt Rothwell Conservation Reserve