Community conservation groups and natural resource management agencies are uniting in a mission to protect and enhance biodiversity in the Otways.
The Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN) aims to reduce the threat of weed species on native bush in the Otways, and raise awareness of the impacts of weeds in the community.
The OCCN is a joint initiative by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and Parks Victoria and the OCCN steering committee includes representatives from a range of natural resource management agencies.
The Otway Community Conservation Network Steering Committee
DSE Forest Officer Craig Clifford says DSE and Parks Victoria welcome the establishment of the OCCN, which is funded by the Australian Government Caring for our Country Program.
“By supporting community conservation groups, increasing coastal community awareness and acting as a link between communities and agencies, the network will play a key role in protecting the rich biodiversity in the Otways,” he said.
Project facilitator Luke Hynes says need was identified for an integrated approach.
“Many groups were already working on controlling these two species in the area, however a lack of coordination was impeding the process,” he said.
Mr Hynes will be working with community groups and agencies to tackle biodiversity issues in the region a concentrated, collaborative effort.
“The initial focus is to remove and control Boneseed and Bridal Creeper – two weeds of natural significance,” he said.
Mr Hynes says this year’s work will include the creation of a comprehensive map of all the Boneseed and Bridal Creeper infestations in the Otways.
“It is anticipated this map will be vital in identifying key infestation areas and where best to direct our efforts,h” he said.
The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale works regularly with community conservation groups to control weeds and is a representative on the OCCN steering committee.
“GORCC will be assisting to guide the network in respect to weed infestations on GORCC managed land and assisting to ensure an effective approach,” she said.
The OCCN is looking for people who want to be involved in native bush restoration, including landholders with Boneseed and Bridal Creeper problems, community members passionate to take action or corporate organisations that want to volunteer their time.
For more information and to see how your group or organisation can benefit please contact Luke Hynes 0406 113 438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was written by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee and published in the Surf Coast Time’s Going Green Column.