Local Indigenous groups are partnering with environmental volunteers to help weeding thanks to a state government grant program.
The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) has been supporting the Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative and Kuuyang Maar Aboriginal Corporation to work with volunteer groups on the removal of destructive weeds.
The work has taken place on three coastal sites and been led by Jan Juc Coast Action, Torquay Coast Action and the Friends of Queens Park. Jan Juc Coast Action chairperson Luke Hynes said Indigenous people have an explicit connection to the Australian landscape.
“The Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative has been training some of its members in natural resource management and we saw this as a great way to partner with them,” he said.
David Tournier of the Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative said the project was significant.
“It’s important that we look after our native land and get rid of the weeds so our native plants can flourish,” he said.
Kuuyang Maar Aboriginal Corporation has been working with Friends of Queens Park in Lorne and project manager Joey Chatfield said the funding had facilitated the paid employment of Indigenous workers.
“We have nine heritage officers working on the project, protecting native species and helping Indigenous plants to revegetate.”
Environmental volunteer groups are estimated to contribute 10,000 hours on the GORCC managed coast each year, the equivalent to almost six full time staff. GORCC chief officer Richard Davies said the project was an ideal opportunity to work with both volunteers and Indigenous groups.
“These groups are highly valued by GORCC and our recently approved coastal management plan identifies protection of both the natural environment and cultural heritage as high priorities for our organisation. This project enables us to expand relationships and the involvement of the Indigenous community in the management of the coast.”
Mr Hynes said introduced weeds have a huge advantage over our native species.
“They can seriously disrupt natural ecological processes and destroy habitat for local flora and fauna. You can help by taking a few simple steps to eradicate these weeds at home – a good place to start is to download the Surf Coast Shire’s online Environmental Weeds booklet,” Mr Hynes said.
Out of the ten new weeds recorded in Australia each year, around two-thirds of those escape from gardens. Funding to facilitate the involvement of the Indigenous works crews was provided through the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s Coastcare Community Grant program.
This story was published in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast column.
More information about volunteering on the coast is available at gorcc.com.au.
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