By Renee Wood
Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater and Leadbeater’s Possums are coming together to celebrate the 50 year anniversary of both animals being Victoria’s faunal emblems.
An online symposium and art exhibition launch will be held on Saturday 16 October discussing the importance of the animals and what works are being done to save the critically endangered species.
Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater President Alan Clayton is encouraging residents in the Yarra Ranges to join the event to gain a greater awareness on both animals and they’re part in the ecosystem.
“If people become more widely aware of what critically endangered threatened species are around then we can all work together and what I certainly stress is that while we call ourselves Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater were actually the friends of all the species that make up the complex ecosystem,” President Alan Clayton said.
Dr Dan Harley, Senior Ecologist at Zoos Victoria is the keynote speaker for the symposium and will discuss both species and the threats they face, while also sharing current recovery programs that are helping to rejuvenate numbers.
“His role at Zoos Victoria includes identifying those species which require urgent management interventions and being part of developing strategic objectives, so we thought that Dan would be the ideal person to give that overview.”
A panel discussion will follow Dr Harley’s overview to provide greater insight into the ecology, habitats and restoration – including discussing how the volunteers work with private landholders.
“More than 90 of them are engaged in doing some form of habitat restoration – works that can be done on their properties in terms of weed reduction and things like that. So basically working with them in conjunction with the local landcare groups.”
The launch of the online art exhibition will allow the community to browse works submitted by Australian artists, while also having the opportunity to purchase the art.
“100 per cent of every single dollar will go into habitat restoration, we are a volunteer led group so it’s not going to anything except directly into habitat restoration.”
The volunteer’s vital work with environment bodies and Healesville Sanctuary has helped to boost honeyeater numbers slowly, going from 50 in the wild ten years ago to more than 250 in the wild currently.
Volunteers also work in a captive breeding program at Healesville Sanctuary for Leadbeater’s Possum which commenced in May 2012.
“They are still critically endangered, it’s not a fix saying well mission over, it’s still continuing because of the dedication of hundreds of volunteers and others and their partnerships with Zoos Victoria, with Melbourne Water, with the Port Phillip and Western Port Catchment Management Authority, Parks Victoria, DELWP and Shire of Yarra Ranges.
“These partnerships and a really dedicated volunteer base have put in hundreds of thousands of hours over 30 years, they have have been responsible for planting over two million trees, shrubs and grasses in and around the Yellingbo reserve.”
The event was first scheduled to be held in person but it’s been moved online due to restrictions – although it will now allow more people to join in.
“The upside is that people who may have been precluded from by age, disability, geographical distance, now have an opportunity to be participants in events, which was either difficult or impossible beforehand. So that’s one of the silver linings of being able to explore these alternative ways.”
Tickets are free and available from Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/celebrating-50-years-of-our-faunal-emblems-tickets-174093657817