The Mansfield District is located in the North East of Victoria approximately 180km from Melbourne. The region includes diverse landscapes including alpine ranges, important river ecosystems and grassland valleys. The Mansfield District is home to more than 7 000 people with an average growth rate of 1.43% (regional Victoria average 0.53%). This increase can be attributed to the ‘tree change’ phenomenon with the rural and natural assets of the District attracting significant migration from the Melbourne area. The 3 main industries of the District are tourism, business services and agriculture. These factors have resulted in significant pressures on the very assets that attract people to the area so that conserving them is an important task.
Prior to Landcare groups forming in Mansfield District, landholders were involved in the Mansfield and District Farm Trees Group which was formed in 1988 by interested local members of the Victorian Farmers Federation. The group coordinated Farm Tree Care Awards, field days on topics such as salt levels in Lake Eildon, preparing revegetation sites and Whole Farm Planning and successful lobbying to local authorities on issues such as vegetation management on the disused railway reserve. A key project undertaken by the group was the development of a book called ‘The Understorey Story’ which was the result of more than two years field work and research in partnership with Project Mansfield. The book outlines why understorey plants are so important, what remnants of understorey plants can still be found in the district, what sort of sites they grow at, what trees they grow near and how the understorey can be re-established. The book launch attracted more than 100 people.
The first Landcare groups to form were Ford Creek (1989), Ancona Valley (1989), Upper Broken River (early 1990s), and Delatite (1993).
Landcare activities in the Mansfield District were supported by the Upper Goulburn Landcare Network (UGLN) for many years through the employment of a local Landcare Coordinator. During this time, UGLN produced a book ‘Local Plants (2006), a guide to the more common indigenous plant species found in the Mansfield District’, compiled by the Landcare Coordinator.
Up2Us Landcare Alliance was formed in 2008 and has now replaced UGLN in this support role and has taken on the employment of a Landcare Coordinator. Up2Us was established as a locally based network within the Mansfield Shire to better engage the Mansfield community in landcare and environmental issues. Up2Us has been successful in attracting funds to help set up a resource centre and websites for member groups.
Up2Us Landcare Alliance currently works as a partner organisation with both the local Mansfield Shire Council, the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority, Department of Environment and Primary Industries and local schools. Up2Us has recently produced a booklet titled “Mansfield Sustainable Land Management Booklet” aiming at presenting a holistic integration for new landholders into the Mansfield Community. Up2Us coordinates a number of programs for the community, please call if you are interested in joining a landcare group.