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25 Oct 11 @ 07:00am by Gilbert Gardiner

A LEADING conservation authority has stepped up its campaign to protect endangered flora and fauna species across Casey and Cardinia.

Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority is distributing $65,000 in grants to help landowners build fences to control pest plants and animals, and revegetate private properties.

The grants form part of a three-year $1.9 million program to protect 390ha of habitat for southern brown bandicoots, leadbeater’s possums and helmeted honeyeaters.

Project co-ordinator Adam Shalekoff said the distribution of grants in Cardinia was set to begin, with Casey to follow in coming weeks. The project is run alongside the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s fox-baiting scheme.

“The biggest threat to the southern brown bandicoot are foxes. Therefore, supporting landowners to control foxes is our priority,” Mr Shalekoff said.

Healesville Sanctuary director Glen Holland urged landowners to do their bit to help species facing extinction.

Landowners who have received a letter inviting them to submit an expression of interest form in Cranbourne and Koo Wee Rup are invited to apply for additional grants.

For information or to apply for a grant, phone Adam Shalekoff on 8781 7962.