Sugarloaf Link Project

What is the project?

Sugarloaf Link is a biodiversity conservation project.  It seeks to control deer, foxes and weeds on private and public land - to enhance connected habitat for threatened plants and animals. This will benefit species such as Phascogales, Dunnarts and a range of threatened orchids.

The project is funded with support of the Victorian Government through the Biodiversity Response Planning (BRP) program until June 2021. 

For more information please contact the Sugarloaf Link Project Officer on 9433 3111 or email

Where will the works be undertaken?

This project is focussed on an area that forms part of the major habitat corridor connecting the Kinglake National Park to the Yarra River, in the vicinity of Bend of Islands, Watsons Creek and Christmas Hills.

Why is Nillumbik Shire Council undertaking this project?


Deer are over-browsing the shrub layer, affecting threatened species in the biodiversity-rich project area such as Round-leaf Pomaderris and a wide range of terrestrial orchids whose pollinators are dependent on wattle and pea shrub species. 

They are also damaging groundcover and waterways with their hard hooves and the creation of wallows.

As such we are seeking to reduce their numbers within our 3,660 hectare project area, and we are also seeking to interrupt their southward spread by reducing the number of deer that reach, cross and travel along the Yarra River - to reduce their geographic range and impacts. 

The deer control being undertaken through this project complements other works being undertaken by government in Sugarloaf Reservoir, Kinglake National Park and Manningham, and culling being undertaken by private landholders.

Control of deer will be through a strategic shooting program undertaken only by highly professional, accredited pest controllers. These experts will work under the strict guidelines of Victoria Police, Agriculture Victoria, and in accordance with the Animal Ethics Committee standards and all relevant Acts (including Wildlife Act 1975, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008). All permits, notifications, licences and operational procedures will be in place.


The project is targeting weeds in the Bend of Islands. It is focusing on weeds that alter habitat quality and structure and as a result reduce its suitability as habitat for animal species such as the Brush-tailed Phascogale and Slender-tailed Dunnart. We are extending and complementing weed control work occurring on public land further north and on private land in Christmas Hills.

Weeds being targeted had already been identified in the several management documents prepared for the Bend of Islands land, and include woody weeds (Pittosporum, Pines, Boneseed, certain Acacia species, invasive Gums), Thistles, Blackberry, Bridal Creeper, Agapanthus, Briar Rose, Inkweed, Tutsan and St John’s Wort.

Grassy weeds such as Veldt Grass, Vernal Grass and Quaking Grass will not be included in this program.

A combination of hand weeding, and cut and paste / drill and fill methods will be used where approved.


Foxes predate on vulnerable ground dwelling animal species such as Slender-tailed Dunnart, Brush-tailed Phascogale, Spotted Quail-thrush, Brown Quail and others. As such this project includes fox control, timed to align with the dispersal of young Phascogales from their nests.  This will complement similar work being undertaken by Parks Victoria and through the Conservation Futures project in and around significant reserves north of the project area.

Professional contractors will use soft-jaw trapping to control foxes on private property within the project area, at sites where multiple adjacent properties sign up to be involved. Parks Victoria and Melbourne Water are undertaking similar fox control works in the vicinity.

Trapping of foxes will be carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTA) and associated regulations, with traps checked first thing every morning. This method minimises possible off-target impacts to other animals.

Project Partners

The Sugarloaf Link Project Partners oversee and implement the Sugarloaf Link project, and work in collaboration with the Yarra Catchment Deer Network Forum. The Project Partners are:

  • Nillumbik Shire Council
  • Parks Victoria (Middle Yarra)
  • Melbourne Water Corporation
  • Bend of Islands Conservation Association
  • Christmas Hills Landcare Group
  • Wurundjeri Council – Narrap Team
  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)

Nillumbik Shire Council is the project lead and hosts the project coordinator.

Collaboration is increasing the opportunities for success

The Sugarloaf Link project is complementing other agency and grant-funded programs/projects occurring in the region including:

  • Rivers to Ranges (Peri-urban Weed Management Initiative): weed management on public land.
  • Conservation Futures (Biodiversity On-Ground Action): threatened species protection including complementary weed and fox control, burning, orchid reintroductions and deer exclusion fencing.
  • Deer control in Kinglake National Park
  • Fox control in One Tree Hill and Rifle Range reserves (Parks Victoria)
  • Melbourne Water deer control within Sugarloaf reservoir
  • Melbourne Water capital works project along Long Gully
  • A range of weed and rabbit control on private and public land