Conservation plan released

GORCC’s 2015-2020 Native Vegetation and Weed Action Plan (NVWAP) has been released.

GORCC engaged locally based consultant Beacon Ecological to lead the revision of original 2009 NVWAP.  The updated 2015 NVWAP will guide GORCC’s on-ground conservation work over the next five years and aims to protect and enhance ecological values along the 37km of coast under GORCC’s care.

NVWAP

GORCC Environmental Projects Coordinator Alex MacDonald  said the updated plan sees a continued focus on the eradication of weeds which are identified as the key threat to coastal biodiversity.

“Weeds have been identified as the number one threat to GORCC coast management.

“It is a widespread issue which is difficult to combat without a sustained and coordinated effort,” she said.

GORCC Environmental Projects Coordinator Alex MacDonald with Beacon Ecological consultant Luke Hynes, who undertook the weed plan revision process.
GORCC Environmental Projects Coordinator Alex MacDonald with Beacon Ecological consultant Luke Hynes, who undertook the weed plan revision process.

The revision and development process included consultation with local environmental volunteer groups, land managers and other key stakeholders.

Ms. MacDonald said GORCC and environmental volunteers had made significant progress in combatting invasive weeds along the Surf Coast, but that weed eradication remained a big challenge.

“Invasive species can have devastating impacts on the biodiversity on GORCC managed land, which is why it is important to develop and implement an effective action plan for future management,” she said.

To view the plan, click here. Interested in learning more about environmental volunteering on the coast? Click here to find out how.

How do you plan to overcome the weeds in your backyard? Let us know in the comments below!

New online nature search launched

The Surf Coast Nature Search (SCNS), an interactive, online search tool for identifying weeds and indigenous plants in our region, has been launched.

The Surf Coast Nature Search homepage.
Surf Coast Nature Search homepage

The online resource, which has been developed by local volunteer group Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA),   is a detailed database of hundreds of indigenous plants and environmental weeds on the coast between Point Impossible and Bells Beach.

Users are able to search based on a range of criteria including plant type, flower colour, size, leaf shape and more.

JJCA Chairperson Luke Hynes said the website is a great local asset for locals that will help support an increase in environmental awareness.

Jan Juc Coast Action Chairperson Luke Hynes uses the new database to search for the coastal shrub along the Surf Coast Walk.
Jan Juc Coast Action Chairperson Luke Hynes uses the new database to search for the coastal shrub along the Surf Coast Walk.

“The SCNS database has been a dream of the JJCA group for many years,” he said.

To date, JJCA volunteers have added 181 plant species to database, which is expected to grow as species are added and the tool extends to include fauna and cover more areas of the Surf Coast.

“It’s exciting to think that people with a limited understanding of botanical terms will now be able to identify local plants, pinpoint environmental weeds in their backyard and learn more about the environmental impacts and benefits of particular species,” said Mr. Hynes.

JJCA group volunteer Graeme Stockton said one of the aims of the database is to help coastal property owners create environmentally friendly gardens.

JJCA Chairperson Luke Hynes and GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale test out the database on their walk.
JJCA Chairperson Luke Hynes and GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale test out the database on their walk.

“The SCNS is a simple tool for identifying environmental weeds in your garden and selecting indigenous alternatives,” he said.

Weeds, which easily escape from local gardens, have been identified as the number one threat to the natural environment on the coast due to their ability to out compete indigenous species.

“Indigenous plants are vital, providing vital habitat for local birds and animals,” said Mr. Stockton.

Mr Hynes said the group had worked hard with locally based web design experts Boojum to ensure the platform was as interactive and easy to navigate as possible.

“Our biggest challenge was trying to incorporate complex plant characteristics in a searchable format that is flexible and user friendly,” he said.

Luke and Georgie using the database to identify the coastal shrub along the Jan Juc cliffs
Luke and Georgie using the database to identify the coastal shrub along the Jan Juc cliffs

The database can be accessed at www.scnaturesearch.com.au.

The project was supported by a $5000 State Governments CoastCare Grant, $2500 Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Coastal Grant and $1000 Surf Coast Shire Grant.

Check out the Surf Coast Nature Search today and see how many plants you can identify from your garden! Let us know how many indigenous plants you find in your backyard in the comments below. 

Winter weed blitz

Despite the cold weather, winter is the perfect time to combat the spread of environmental weeds and revegetate residential gardens with beautiful (native-animal-attracting) indigenous species.

Agapanthus – a very popular garden plant – are also a noxious weed that have a devastating impact on natural habitats.

Environmental weeds are plants that displace native vegetation which impacts the vitality of indigenous flora and fauna.  Surprisingly, many environmental weeds are popular garden plants that have grown to become major threats to the biodiversity in the natural environment.

Freesias look friendly, but they can spread quickly, out-competing precious indigenous species.

Common garden plants such as Agapanthus, Arum Lily, Gazania and Freesia are all environmental weeds that are detrimental to native flora and fauna.

Gazanias are sold at many nurseries – but don’t be fooled. These invasive weeds are having a huge impact on our coastal environment.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale, encourages locals to remove environmental weeds from their gardens this winter.

“If we remove environmental weeds and plant indigenous species in their place, we are able to provide a haven for our precious wildlife and protect coastal habitats.

“Revegetating gardens in winter provides plants with ideal soil conditions and the best chance of survival.

“Seeds from invasive species are easily spread by the wind and animals, which is why it is important to avoid planting environmental weeds in the garden,” she said.

The flowering Moonah tree is a native alternative for Surf Coast gardens.
The flowering Moonah tree is an indigenous alternative for Surf Coast gardens.

Surfers Appreciating the Natural Environment (SANE) Chair Graeme Stockton is urging locals to think of plants as more than an aesthetic addition to the garden.

“Plants provide vital habitats for local birds and animals, and the type of plant determines the fauna it attracts.

“As a community, we have a large impact on the environment and it is up to us to choose whether  we have a positive or negative impact.

“Removing environmental weeds from the garden and coastal habitats is a great start to environmental stewardship,” he said.

Flowering Samphires at Painkalac Creek, Aireys Inlet is a native plant.
Samphires (pictured here in flower at Painkalac Creek, Aireys Inlet)  are perfect for coastal environments.

Weed eradication programs are a vital component of GORCC’s extensive conservation effort to protect and enhance fragile habitats along the coast.

Local schools and environmental volunteer groups actively contribute to GORCC’s conservation effort and dedicate hundreds of hours each year to coastal protection works.

Coastal volunteers in action
Coastal volunteers in action along the Surf Coast

For more information on what plants are weeds (and what alternatives to plant in your garden), check out the  Weeds of the Surf Coast Shire booklet.

Want to do more?  Environmental volunteer groups operate right along our beautiful coast.  For more information,  click here.

Want to purchase some indigenous plants or get a helping hand?  Otways Indigenous Nursery in Aireys Inlet is a great place to start.

Have you identified any weeds in your garden?

Australia celebrates helping hands

Local volunteers Ian and Roma Edwards are just two of 6 million volunteers being celebrated as part National Volunteer week this May.

Ian and Roma Edwards stand in their Indigenous garden.
Ian and Roma Edwards stand in their Indigenous garden.

The couple, who founded local volunteer group Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA) in 1994, have been working to protect and restore the Jan Juc cliffs since they moved to the town in 1990.

The Edwards began by removing debris and rubbish along the local foreshore and their dedication was recognised by the Victorian government which awarded the couple a $30,000 grant to form the JJCA group and continue their conservation work.

The JJCA’s first major task was to remove the woody weed from the Jan Juc cliffs before revegetation works commenced.

The Edwards are pleased at the progress the JJCA group has made over the past 20 years.

“One of our biggest achievements has been seeing the return of many birds and native animals around the Jan Juc cliffs.

“The indigenous flowers have attracted the rare Rufous Bristlebird back to the area which is very encouraging,” Mr Edwards said.

The Edwards have loved learning about coastal conservation and enjoy sharing their skills and knowledge with others.

Mrs Edwards admits their passion for indigenous flora and fauna has become an obsession that has extended to her own garden.

“Our garden only has indigenous species because they are easy to look after and bring lots of birds and wildlife to the area.

“The results of our work is difficult to gauge because if it is done correctly then it should be impossible to tell that any work has been done at all,” Mrs Edwards said.

JJCA holds working first Sunday of each month and everyone is encouraged to help out – even if they only have an hour or so to spare.

“It is great to see more young people getting involved. They still have their original hips and plenty of energy which keeps our work going.

“It is possible to make a difference and even small actions can make a big impact,” Mr Edwards said.

This year, National Volunteer Week runs from 11th to 17th May.  This year the theme of the week is ‘Give Happy, Live Happy’ – promoting the increased happiness of Australians who volunteer and are active in their community.

Have you ever thought about how you can help the environment? Check out our website to find your local volunteer group today.

Plant Tool in Production

An innovative, searchable plant database is in production thanks to grant funding, donations and the work of Jan Juc Coast Action volunteers.

The online tool, which will allow people to identify indigenous species and environmental weeds growing in the Jan Juc area, will provide in-depth information about local flora.

Jan Juc Coast Action is working with a range of partners on the project, including the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) and Boojum, a local online design business.

The project was recently awarded a GORCC Coastal Grant of $2500 and has also received support through a State Government Coastcare Grant.

Jan Juc Coast Action volunteers Graeme Stockton (left) Geoff Morgan and GORCC Conservation supervisor Georgie Beale
Jan Juc Coast Action volunteers Graeme Stockton (left) Geoff Morgan and GORCC Conservation supervisor Georgie Beale are picture with the Indigenous Olearia plant in Jan Juc

Jan Juc Coast Action volunteer Graeme ­­Stockton said the database will help to protect local flora and fauna by allowing coastal property owners to identify environmental weeds in their gardens and offering them indigenous alternatives.

“Environmental weeds are harmful plants that quickly spread to nearby habitats causing severe damage to the fragile coastal environment.

“We only have a thin strip of natural coastal habitat left and residential gardens are located very close to these fragile environments,” he said.

Jan Juc Coast Action hopes the database will be expanded beyond Jan Juc in the future to cover indigenous plants and weeds right along the GORCC managed coast.

“It would be ideal to see this tool expanded to become a comprehensive database of not only flora along GORCC-managed land but fauna as well,” said Mr. Stockton.

Boojum Lead Designer Roland Maxwell who has been working with the volunteers to create the website, has donated hundreds of hours to the project.

“The database will be searchable in a range of ways including flower colour, size, leaf shape and more,” he said.

The platform has been designed to be as flexible and user friendly as possible.

The website is flexible enough to support future growth to the database and potential extensions of the project such as applications for mobile,” said Mr Maxwell.

GORCC is supporting the project through both grant funding and in-kind assistance.

GORCC Community Liaison Manager Jane Lovejoy said the website is set to become an indispensable tool that can be used by volunteers, community members and educators alike.

“This tool will be a fabulous education resource for school groups that we engage through our education programs.

“Additionally, those who love the coast and enjoy walking along the Jan Juc Cliffs and admiring indigenous species will be able to accurately determine what plant they’re looking at,” she said.

More information on coastal volunteering and the GORCC Coastal Grants program is available at www.gorcc.com.au.

This article was published in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast column

 

Future generations caring for our coast

250 local students recently joined forces with the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) and Fisheries Victoria to plant more than 800 indigenous plants as part of an annual event with a long history.

Year 3-4 Students from Torquay College were not afraid to get their hands dirty during the Coastal Stewards Program.
Year 3-4 Students from Torquay College were not afraid to get their hands dirty during the Coastal Stewards Program.

The Coastal Stewards Program (previously known as Dune Edu-Action) has been running for more than 10 years and has enabled thousands of students to make a positive contribution to our coastal environment.

The program aims to teach students to take ownership of their local environment and create generational change.

Phil Armato, Manager at the Queenscliff Marine and Fresh Water Discovery Centre believes it’s crucial to educate future generations to care for our precious coast.

“The program empowers the children to make a difference in their community, and that’s a big deal when you’re only in grade 3 or 4.

“These children are our future leaders, parents and voters. It will pay-off in the long run that they care for their coast,” Mr. Armato said.

Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale show students how to best protect indigenous plants by surrounding their roots with water crystals.
Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale show students Tom (left) and Finn how to best protect indigenous plants by surrounding their roots with water crystals.

This year’s program saw grade 3 and 4 students from Torquay College plant indigenous flora along Fisherman’s Beach in 2 hours sessions over three days.

Torquay College teacher Dianne Dendle said the program provides an opportunity for the kids to put their classroom learning into practice.

“We have been learning about biodiversity, sustainability, recycling and marine parks, including how humans impact on these issues.

“Coming out here and getting our hands dirty means what the children have been learning in class becomes relevant and is put into practice,” Ms. Dendle said.

From left to right: Amelia, Ava, and Tahlia from Torquay College enjoy the tree-planting day as part of the Coastal Stewards Program.
From left to right: Amelia, Ava, and Tahlia from Torquay College enjoy the tree-planting day as part of the Coastal Stewards Program.

Ms Dendle also believes the program plays an important part in teaching students to appreciate and care for the environment they live in.

“It is a hands-on activity which means the children can see how the area has been affected, grow a sense of respect and ownership for the environment and make a difference in the community,” she said.

GORCC contributed indigenous plants and gardening equipment to the program, which Conservation Supervisor, Georgina Beale said was a great success.

“The students made a fantastic impact on our coastal environment by planting approximately 800 indigenous plants as well as learning how to protect their local environment.”

Phil Armetto will plant existing shrubbery around the young, indigenous plants to help protect them as they grow.
Phil Armato will plant existing shrubbery around the young, indigenous plants to help protect them as they grow.

For more information about environmental education activities on our coast click here.

Wildflower Weekend a Growing Success

The indigenous orchids were hugely popular over the weekend.
The indigenous orchids were hugely popular over the weekend. Photo: ANGAIR.

Over 1, 300 attendees enjoyed the activities and displays available at the 2014 Annual Wildflower Weekend and Art Show held 20-21 September, hosted by Anglesea, Aireys Inlet Society for the Protection of Flora and Fauna (ANGAIR).

The EstuaryWatch marquee was popular amongst children, with the Water Big activity allowing children to view tiny animals in their natural marine habitat.
The EstuaryWatch marquee was popular amongst children, with the Water Big activity allowing children to view tiny animals in their natural marine habitat.

The Show, which saw an increase in numbers this year, aims to celebrate local flora and fauna and raise awareness around current environmental issues.

The 2014 Show included a versatile range of indigenous flora, guided wildflower walks and bus tours, plant sales, bird watching, plant propagation, children’s activities, and art and craft stalls.

There was a mixture of beautiful indigenous flora and information.
There was a mixture of beautiful indigenous flora and information on the day.

The Estuary Watch ‘Water Bug’ children’s activity proved popular, allowing children to view living animals in their natural aquatic habitat through a microscope.

Estuary Watch Coordinator Rose Herben said children enjoyed the activity which raised awareness of the water quality and river health of local waterways.

“A highlight of the day was identifying a large dragonfly, known for its alien like retractable jaw,” she said.

Callum McNeil was excited to see the tiny marine animals come to life.
Callum McNeil was excited to see the tiny marine animals come to life.

ANGAIR President Helen Tutt said feedback from the day had been positive, with more emphasis on marine life this year.

“Above the stage, there was a beautiful screen display covered in marine photography – it looked stunning,” she said.

One new addition to the weekend was the Friends of Eagle Park marine-themed stage.
One new addition to the weekend was the Friends of Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary marine-themed stage.
The Friends of Eagle Rock marine sanctuary beach-themes stage looked just like the real thing with local bird statues.
The Friends of Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary beach-themed stage looked just like the real thing.

If you would like more information regarding similar events and activities, visit the ANGAIR website here.

Did you attend the Annual Wildflower and Art Show? What was your favourite part?