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Giving the land back to nature

Janet and Justus Hagen named their Miepoll property Wetlandia when they embarked on the ambitious project of restoring the cropping and cattle property to nature.

CATHY WALKER May 6, 2014 3:05am

Ecologist David MIchael demonstrates how to set up a reptile monitoring site.


Janet and Justus Hagen named their Miepoll property Wetlandia when they embarked on the ambitious project of restoring the cropping and cattle property to nature.

The 130ha property bordering Seven Creeks was the venue for a field day with a difference last week when participants were asked to bring — as well as the usual chairs and so forth — their muscles, to assist with building some experimental monitoring plots.

In giving a little of the background to the project, Mrs Hagen said she and her husband purchased the property after it had been on the market for more than a year and ‘‘through neglect it actually got sold’’.

‘‘We have been able to secure quite a bit of funding to do what we want to do ... our aim is to revegetate the whole lot.’’

She explained it was important to be able to manage and watch the changes.

‘‘We are not going to stick to the same thing if it doesn’t work,’’ Mrs Hagen said. ‘‘We’ll restore the basics before we attempt to do the finer details.’’

Convenor Jenny Wilson from Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority explained the purpose of the day was to assist the Hagens to set up plots where biodiversity changes could be monitored, and to learn monitoring techniques that could be put to use elsewhere.

And the group had some expert advice.

Damian Michael is an ecologist and herpetologist from Australian National University’s Fenner School of Environment & Society whose experience in monitoring biodiversity projects includes responsibility for 1600 reptile ‘stations’ from Warwick, Queensland, all the way south to Merton in central Victoria.

‘‘That’s the top and tail of the box gum woodlands,’’ Dr Michael said.

Mr and Mrs Hagen have already established monitoring sites at Miepoll not only for reptiles but for other species including birds, moths, bats and frogs.

The property has a cropped area, semi-natural area, wetlands and a riparian area of Seven Creeks.

Dr Michael showed the group how commonplace items such as corrugated iron, old railway sleepers and terracotta tiles are placed to encourage and protect reptiles and whatever else comes along — such as the redback spider that walked across one sleeper as he was demonstrating.

The Hagens live in the Ruffy area but said they had come to appreciate the beauty of the ‘‘flatlands’’ since they purchased Wetlandia.

‘‘It is a different kind of beauty; we camp here and it’s like being near the Murray or the outback,’’ Mrs Hagen said.

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