Did you know that our manufacturing sites across Victoria and Tasmania are home to some incredible ecosystems?
From the northwest coast of Tasmania, right up to the heart of northern Victoria, many of our sites feature flora and fauna that are native to the area.
Our job is to ensure that we produce dairy in a way that protects these flora and fauna – because we know that healthy ecosystems are essential to the long-term success of our business, our farmers’ businesses, and our communities.
To understand more about the biodiversity that surrounds our manufacturing sites, we spoke to some of our environmental managers.
Located on a 100ha property, of which only 20 per cent is used for manufacturing, James says the site boasts the Mersey Estuary, Cockers Creek, and riparian bush.
“What’s amazing is that it’s also the residence of a rare Central North Burrowing Crayfish.
“Living in various streambanks and wetland areas around our site, the Burrowing Crayfish is listed as a threatened species.
“Growing up to 10cm in size, these critters can fit in the palm of your hand – although few people get the chance to meet one.
“That’s because they are hard to find and usually all that can be seen is a burrow entrance, often with a raised 'chimney' of pelleted mud surrounding it,” says James.
Over the Bass Strait and into West Gippsland, is our Darnum site – which produces many of our creams and milk powders – including paediatrics, whole and skim milk powder and skim milk concentrate.
“Even Sir David Attenborough made a trip ‘down under’ in 2005 to film this rare species as it squelches and burrows through wet soil below the surface.
If you haven’t guessed what it is, it’s the Giant Gippsland Earthworm, which grows to one metre long on average and lives its life underground in darkness.
“This snake-like earthworm is a protected species and Gippsland is its only remaining habitat in the world.
Dr. Beverley Van Praagh
“While we haven’t found one at our Darnum site, we know they lurk not far away – so, anytime we do environmental work at site, we have plans in place to protect them,” says Paul.
Lastly, Stanhope – known as the “Town of the Tastiest Cheese” and home to our Perfect Italiano cheese.
“On this land, we have the Buloke Mistletoe, which is a critically endangered species. While it isn’t unusual to see it in the region, the host tree – the Buloke – is also critically endangered and they are scattered around some of the farms in the area in very low numbers.
“On our farmland, we have quite a few of the Buloke trees which means lots of the Buloke Mistletoe.
“Flowering only in summer, the Mistletoe is often enjoyed by the native Cuckoo Bee.
“Unlike normal bees, which build and maintain their own nest, they use the nest of another to lay their eggs – this way they trick other bees to do their dirty work and raise their young.
“Another frequent visitor is a small flock of Brolgas, the only crane that is native to Australia.
“Brolgas are known to mate with one partner for life with their courtship ritual being an amazing display of dance that one of our farmers has been privileged to observe on our farm.
“Back in 2018 we had a flock of around 23 brolgas, which is pretty amazing as the northern Victoria’s population brolgas is estimated at around 50 birds.
“So, as you can imagine, it can be quite a hive of activity on our farm over the warmer months,” says David.
Many of these species and ecosystems are not necessarily visible to our people or visitors. However, at Fonterra we have an environmental team in each of our regions who ensure everything is documented, regularly monitored and that we protect them from our activities.
We’re always looking for ways to improve the health and biodiversity of land and water in the regions where we operate. By having a regenerative mindset, we can reduce the impacts of farming and manufacturing, and work in partnership with our communities, farmers and others to leverage and support a healthy environment.