We know that two rabbits per hectare is enough to stop revegetation of a lot of native species on our landscapesMichael Reid
North East participants played a key role in a rabbit management project that has received international recognition.
The Victorian Rabbit Action Network received a United Nations Public Service Award in Azerbaijan late last month for "delivering more inclusive and equitable services to leave no one behind".
Since being set up in 2013, the network has hosted learning and mentoring networks, delivered workshops on best-practice rabbit control and supported people and groups to collaborate on rabbit action.
Having already reached out to about 6000 people on more than 2.5 million hectares of public and private land, the network expected this figure to grow to 10,000 by the end of this year.
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Wodonga-based Agriculture Victoria program manager Michael Reid said rabbits, introduced to Australia in the 19th century, still caused significant damage.
"The Commonwealth have quantified rabbits threaten 300 endangered species, both plant and animals," he said.
"We know that two rabbits per hectare is enough to stop revegetation of a lot of native species on our landscapes.
"We've got places in Victoria where rabbits are burrowing into Indigenous burial sites and destroying that cultural heritage."
Upper Murray rural leader Lyn Coulston sits on the action network's committee, which Mr Reid said aimed to put community at the forefront of decision-making.
"Rabbit management, it's a socio-political issue but it's essentially about people," he said.
"It's about acknowledging citizens' expertise on the ground as important experiences, they're at the coalface of dealing with the issue and it's about acknowledging that story as a process for change."
Farmers, scientists, government officials and the wider community came together to share their "knowledge and know-how" of the problem.
"This program has built on decades of experience and it's a model of distributive leadership," Mr Reid said.
"It's not one individual, it's about a network of people who have been able to drive this forward and that's such a key message."
Mr Reid attended the award presentation at the 2019 United Nations Public Service Forum, where the Victorian group won against nominees from across western Europe.
Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes congratulated Agriculture Victoria and the network on the United Nations award.
"Rabbits don't follow fence lines and boundaries, and neither does the Victorian Rabbit Action Network," she said.
"We're making sure community, industry and government work effectively together to develop long-term, sustainable approaches and solutions."
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