Checking microbat boxes – Wildlife for Wine started in McLaren Vale and is now expanding to the Barossa and Adelaide Hills wine regions. PHOTO: Ben Della Torre.
Wildlife and vineyards don't always mix, with grapes and tender young vine leaves sometimes proving irresistible to birds, mammals and insects.
But a project called Wildlife for Wine which was recently introduced in the Barossa reveals that some native species can be a grape grower's best friend.
"Wildlife can play positive ecological roles in pollination, pest control and nutrient cycles, thereby contributing to more resilient and productive landscapes", says Jamie Pook, District Officer with Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges.
"Microbats and insectivorous birds consume pest insects around the vineyard, while birds of prey naturally scare away fruit-eating birds," he said.
Wildlife for Wine is a region-wide initiative of the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board. It started last year in McLaren Vale, with microbats monitored and bat boxes installed in vineyards, together with planting native vegetation to encourage beneficial insects.
Due to the project's success, the board is now working with the Barossa Grape and Wine Association to deliver Wildlife for Wine in that district.
Mr Pook said Wildlife for Wine supports grape growers in developing Biodiversity Action Plans (BAPs), which help identify the natural resources on a property as well as conservation measures for long term viability. Significantly, BAPs are tied to industry standards which recognise the importance of maintaining biodiversity in viticultural settings.
"A key aspect of the project will be understanding what wildlife species currently persist in these landscapes and how to balance conservation with grape production," he said.
As part of the project, Barossa Grape and Wine Association will be holding a bat night to introduce these curious creatures and discuss how they could control pests in vineyards. Another event will be held on beneficial insects. For details, contact Nicki Robins on 0426 252 396.