Landholders gather to learn more about fencing project

A big crowd was on hand at the Gilgunnia Cluster Fence open day to learn more about the joint fencing project which aims to reduce the number of pest animals on grazing properties south of Cobar. ▪ Photo contributed

A crowd of close to 100 people have joined Western Local Land Services in acknowledging the completion of the largest cluster fence project in NSW at Gilgunnia last Monday.

Gilgunnia Cluster Fence group members, landholders, stakeholders, invited guests including Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton and landholder Will Roberts, and Western Local Land Services all paid tribute to those involved in the project that has already proven to be a major success for those involved.

The open day and fence tour was held on “Penshurst”, one of the properties involved in the project.

Gilgunnia Cluster Fence organiser Dean Hague said the open day gave everyone the opportunity to see the project and hear about how it came to fruition.

“There has been a lot of time, work and effort go into this project by a lot of people so to see it be such a success is very rewarding,” Mr Hague said.

“Hopefully the landholders that visited got an idea of what is involved in the project, what the benefits are and why it is such a good investment for landholders.

The project involved 22 landholders and saw 210 kilometres of fencing erected to enclose 177,000 hectares, and was funded through the Australian Government’s 2016 Pest and Weed Drought Funding program.

Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said the cooperative approach by the 16 landholders within the fence was a great tribute to the young farming families involved and their approach to working together.

“It’s not easy to get so many farmers working together. This fence will provide numerous opportunities for them to come together as a community, to discuss the focus of their resources and time, the maintenance and the control of feral and pest animals within the fence,” he said.

He said the project has already achieved some great outcomes with landholders noting
a considerable number of pest animals such
as pigs are now excluded from their prop-erties.

“Talking with some of the landholders inside the fence at the field day, I’ve heard of some massive losses of lambs due to the predation of wild pigs,” Mr Coulton said.

“This fence will provide a number of opportunities to provide important long-term improvements in the management of pest animals and also controlling grazing pressure within the cluster area.

“Wild dogs cause terrible distress for farmers and landholders, they are estimated to cost our agriculture sector up to $89million each year in direct costs through livestock losses, control measures and disease transmission, and their impacts are felt particularly hard by people who are affected by dry conditions and drought,” Mr Coulton said.

The Morven cluster involves 30 landholders and 320km of fencing. Mr Roberts said 480 dogs within the completed fence were trapped and destroyed.

“Will Roberts said since his property was inside the exclusion fence, he’d taken his marked lamb percentage from the mid-teens to 100 per cent in 2016, doubling his flock within just three years.

“He said analysis by an accountant revealed that for every dollar invested in the cluster fence, it returned a gross margin of $1.49.

“The Australian Government has shown a commitment to helping limit the harmful impact pest animals have on farmers, the environment and our economy.

“Farmers are benefitting from improved stock management and increased profitability through this work, which is providing employment and economic opportunities to regional communities.”