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Proceedings of the Second National Conference of the Native Grasses Association
Roadside Conservation Officer, The Rural City of Wangaratta, Victoria, 3677.
The importance of roadside reserves for the preservation and conservation of native flora and fauna is well known. However, in many regions the extent of remnant vegetation is either unknown or unrecognised in any formal planning process by those who manage these areas. In response to this need, the Rural City of Wangaratta, in conjunction with the Shire of Indigo and funded by the Natural Heritage Trust, has undertaken a Roadside Management Strategy. This strategy incorporates an assessment of all roadsides within the municipality for conservation status, and provides recommendations for maintaining the quality of roadside vegetation.
During the assessment process, many roadsides were found to have a high conservation status, with more than twenty rare or endangered species of native flora and fauna recorded. The classification and mapping of roadsides into High and Medium Conservation status, and of rare/endangered species has identified certain "epicentres" of significance to biodiversity conservation. This will enable resources to be allocated more specifically, thus maximising the net gain.
A GPS was used when assessing the roadsides to enable the information gathered during the assessment process to be recorded on the municipality's Geographic Information System. The successful completion of this activity now means that the assessment is more than a "snapshot in time", with continued input of data and modifications possible. Quick access to the system to determine conservation status, presence/absence of rare or endangered species and weed infestations are just some of the possible queries that can be carried out at a moment's notice, thus improving the Rural City of Wangaratta's service to the community and the environment.