How to help our local biodiversity
There are a range of ways residents, community members and visitors can help to support biodiversity in our LGA. See below for what Council is doing, and what urban and rural residents can do to help!
Cessnock City Council actions for supporting local biodiversity
Cessnock Local Environment Plan
A Local Environmental Plan (LEP) is prepared by councils to guide planning decisions and control development through land use zoning and development standards. Each council in NSW is required by law to have an LEP, which is prepared by council in consultation with the community before it is approved by the Minister for Planning. The Cessnock Local Environmental Plan (CLEP) 2011 is the main environmental planning instrument that applies to the Cessnock Local Government Area (LGA). Twenty (23) zones in addition to the Cessnock Development Control Plan (DCP) 2010 provide detailed development guidelines to supplement the CLEP. For more information go to Council’s LEP page or the LEP contents on NSW legislation website.
Aussie Backyard Bird Count
Cessnock City Council is encouraging local residents to become citizen scientist through participating in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, run by Birdlife Australia and Birds in Backyards each year in October. Locally in October 2016, 134 observers recorded 162 different bird species (with a total of 5,919 individual birds recorded) throughout the LGA. The 2017 Count will be held from 23-29 October.
Habitat Stepping Stones
Are you interested in creating habitat for native animals in your backyard but don’t know where to start?
Cessnock City Council has joined the Habitat Stepping Stones program which encourages residents to create or improve habitat elements (food, water and shelter) on their residential properties. Examples include planting local native plants and food trees in your garden for birds and insects, provide water through bird baths or ponds, and more. If you would like to register for the Habitat Stepping Stones project, and pledge the three or more habitats elements you'll do, simply go to their website for more information.
Flying Fox Engage
Flying-foxes are nomadic mammals that fly across eastern and northern Australia. There are three types of mega-bats (or Flying-foxes) native to NSW, two which are currently impacting upon East Cessnock. Recently Cessnock City Council in partnership with Office of Environment & Heritage asked the community to respond on an online survey through Flying Fox Engage, asking respondents to consider and rank options that will help inform a Camp Management Plan for the Cessnock East Camp. For more information and updates go to the East Cessnock Flying Fox Camp webpage.
How can you help at your place or in your local area?
- Participate in the Habitat Stepping Stones program (as described above) to create habitat and corridors for local native species through providing food, water and shelter in your garden, which helps encourage biodiversity. Also learn and act on weeds and control these in your gardens, as many escape from residential gardens and into our bushland areas.
- Cessnock Mens' Shed and Community Garden - The Men's Shed is a community organisation welcomes volunteers to assist with a range of projects, including bird boxes for local parrots to breed and live in. On-site is also the community garden where local seed is collected and grown for supply to the local community and Landcare groups. If you would like to know more about the Men's Shed and Community Garden, head to their website, and help support them.
- Bushcare - There are some urban Bushcare groups working on public land in the Cessnock LGA, which helps to support and assist the restoration public lands and support our local biodiversity values. We have some Bushcare groups working in the Cessnock and Branxton areas. If you would like to find out more, contact Cessnock City Council staff via email.
Opportunities for local landholders and acreages can be through:
- Hunter Local Land Services – Offer advice to landholders to improve land management, biodiversity, agricultural practices and conservation of native vegetation on properties, and financial incentive opportunities through their annual grants program (run July to June each financial year). Contact your local Hunter Local Land Services office (Paterson for Cessnock LGA residents) or head to their website for more details – www.hunter.lls.nsw.gov.au
- Landcare – Groups of local landholders in rural areas can also form Landcare groups. Wollombi Valley Landcare and Congewai Valley Landcare groups are great examples of these - their contact details can be found via Hunter Region Landcare Network.
- Land for Wildlife – is a voluntary property registration scheme for landholders who wish to manage areas of wildlife habitat on their property, along with other land management objectives. Land for Wildlife is free to join and not legally binding, nor will it change the legal status of a property. The Community Environment Network, a community based organisation, delivery the program across NSW. Go to CEN's Land for Wildlife website for more information.
- Benefiting from Biodiversity Guide (2015) – This publication provides a guide to the opportunities available to the owners and managers of private land with biodiversity values. These opportunities are groped into three types: Commercial activities; Income supplementation; and Support programs.
Benefiting From Biodiversity has been created by Hunter Councils to help landholders navigate the government policies and programs that offer support to maximise your biodiversity asset and attract financial return opportunities. Download Benefiting From Biodiversity for property owners more information.
For annual environmental event dates both nationally and internationally, you can download this list here. More information is also available via http://www.environment.gov.au/about-us/media-centre/events