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?

Combined forces sees conservation win

TAFE students have joined forces with a local environmental group, resulting in multiple benefits, including the removal of thousands of invasive weeds and the development of positive, ongoing relationships.

Anglesea, Aireys Inlet Society for the protection of Flora and Fauna (ANGAIR) united with Gordon Conservation and Land Management students recently to remove Sallow Wattle and Boneseed from Anglesea’s outskirts.

The day saw strong relationships formed between the two groups, leading many students to continue to volunteer their time with ANGAIR outside of their studies.

ANGAIR committee member Roger Ganley (left), Surf Coast Shire Environment Officer Leanne Rolfe (yellow), ANGAIR committee member Janet Stephens (front right)and property owner Heather Walker (far right) with Gordon TAFE students during a successful weed removal day within Aireys Inlet.
ANGAIR committee member Roger Ganley (left), Surf Coast Shire Environment Officer Leanne Rolfe (yellow), ANGAIR committee member Janet Stephens (front right)and property owner Heather Walker (far right) with Gordon TAFE students during a successful weed removal day within Aireys Inlet.

The students, inspired by their experience, have been participating in local working bees and assisting with the propagation of indigenous plants.

ANGAIR Membership Secretary Janet Stephens said students developed a great rapport with the volunteers, proving age is no barrier when it comes to conservation.

“They were terrific – not only were we able to get a lot of weeding done, but we were also able to pass on our knowledge and experience for the younger generation to take on board,” she said.

TAFE students working hard at removing harmful weeds on the outskirts of Anglesea.
TAFE students working hard at removing harmful weeds on the outskirts of Anglesea.

Gordon Course Coordinator Amanda May said the day was a huge success, with both parties enjoying the benefits of the partnership.

“ANGAIR has benefited from the injection of youthful energy, enthusiasm and muscle.

“In turn, students have learnt a great deal about weed control, working with volunteers, and planning and running a community event,” Ms May said.

In an additional project, Gordon students have also targeted a Bluebell Creeper weed infestation on private properties within Aireys Inlet.

Surf Coast Environmental Officer Leanne Rolfe (centre) and ANGAIR Committee Member Roger Ganley (right) with grateful landowner who made chocolate snowballs for hardworking volunteers.
Surf Coast Environmental Officer Leanne Rolfe (centre) and ANGAIR Committee Member Roger Ganley (right) with grateful landowner who made chocolate snowballs for hardworking volunteers.

Gordon students Kate Skinner and Rachael Beecham prepared site assessment reports for two Anglesea sites and will now develop a management plan for these selected sites.

“Large amounts of the creeper were removed in June, hopefully protecting rare Orchid plants in the future.

“The beautiful orchids were almost completely covered by the Creeper when we first arrived and we were able to make a positive impact, although there is definitely more to be done,” she said.

For more information on coastal, environmental volunteering visit gorcc.com.au. ANGAIR is always on the lookout for new faces and there are lots of ways you can contribute to the group’s conservation efforts. For more information visit angair.com.au.

 

Related blog posts:

The Peninsula Daisy Bush Funds for rare florahttps://gorcc.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/funds-for-rare-flora/
The Gordon TAFE offers a number of courses that have an environmentally sustainable emphasis. Sustainable careers in focushttps://gorcc.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/sustainable-careers-in-focus/

School project protects Point Impossible

Northern Bay College students have planted over 250 indigenous plants at Point Impossible as part of a local environmental education program, benefiting both participants and the coast.

Northern Bay College students have been working on the site over the past three years as part of the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Coast Guardians Program.

Students admire the handy work of the previous Northern Bay College group with GORCC Activity Education Leader Peter Crowcroft (far right).
Students admire their handy work with GORCC Activity Education Leader Peter Crowcroft (far right).

The most recent student group spent three weeks rehabilitating 1000sqm of coast with both the local environment and students enjoying the benefits, with observations of increased confidence and improved communication skills.

GORCC Education Activity Leader Peter Crowcroft, who works with several schools as part of the program, says the hands-on nature of the activities have more impact on teenagers than a lesson in the classroom normally would.

“The kids get a lot out of it – they begin to appreciate and understand the environment instead of taking it for granted,” he said.

Northern Bay College students aren't afraid to get their hands dirty, laying mulch over soil to provide moisture to indigenous plant species.
Northern Bay College students aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, laying mulch over soil to provide moisture to indigenous plant species.

Northern Bay Physical Education Teacher Shane Thompson said he believes more schools should incorporate the environment in to their curriculum.

“The knowledge that students gain will stay with them through to when they become adults and the positive messages will hopefully spread to their peers in years to come.

“It gives them something to take an interest in outside their usual environment and the element of community service looks great on their resume,” he said.

Over the past three years, Northern Bay College students have been working to revegetate the Point Impossible area with indigenous species such as the Olearia plant, which spreads by shooting off parachute-like seeds.

“The Olearia is a species we have used very successfully. In the right conditions it can rejuvenate the environment quickly and self sustainably,” he said.

GORCC activity Education Leader Peter Crowcroft (back right) with Northern Bay College Teacher Shane Thompson (chequered shirt) and students with self-sustaining Olearia plant.
GORCC activity Education Leader Peter Crowcroft (back right) with Northern Bay College Teacher Shane Thompson (chequered shirt) and students with self-sustaining Olearia plant.

The group has also enjoyed a variety of other activities ranging from studying organisms inhabiting the rocky shores to learning about the Barwon river estuary and its unique inhabitants.

Northern Bay College student Nicole Craig said she looks forward to the activities each week.

“It’s heaps of fun – I love being around a small group and getting to know people better,” she said.

GORCC Activity Education Leader Peter Crowcroft with satisfied Northern Bay College students after laying 100m of mulch along coastal soil.
GORCC Activity Education Leader Peter Crowcroft with satisfied Northern Bay College students after laying 100m of mulch along coastal soil.

Student James Griffiths says Coast Guardians days are more exciting than routine school days.

“I don’t like school because it’s boring but I love guardian days; I get to have fun and make friends.”

If you would like to see your school become more involved in the environment, why not join the Coast Guardians program?

To get involved or for more information regarding GORCC’s free environmental education programs, visit www.gorcc.com.au.

Funds for rare flora

A local environmental group has been granted $9000 to enhance two rare flora populations on our iconic coast.

The state government awarded Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA) with $9000 in funds as part of the Communities for Nature Grants program.

Chairperson of Jan Juc Coast Action Luke Hynes said the grant will foster the protection of two state significant flora species and enable them to continue their weed control efforts.

“We will use these funds to assist botanical experts Neil Anderton and Graeme Stockton to propagate the Swamp Diuris and increase the diversity of the Peninsula Daisy-bush in Jan Juc.

“We need to work actively to prevent these species from becoming locally extinct, encourage the recruitment of seedlings, and ensure populations are secure into the future,” he said.

Mr Hynes believes the grant will have significant benefits for the local coastline.

“This grant will benefit our coast by helping us protect local ecological values through weed control and protecting and enhancing these rare plant species,” he said.

The Peninsula Daisy Bush
The Peninsula Daisy Bush

The JJCA group works for the preservation and revegetation of the Jan Juc coastline with Indigenous species and the removal of environmental weeds, erosion control and provision of tracks and lookouts.

The group has been been working tirelessly to protect the survival of these precious flora species.

In 2010 the group pollinated Swamp Diuris by hand and collected seed to ensure the survival of the species.

This complex process required members to pollinate the tiny orchid flowers using tooth-picks.

The community can support the group’s efforts and help to ensure survival of these species by planting indigenous flora in their own gardens and removing environmental weeds.
“The invasion of foreign pasture grasses, noxious weeds and escaped garden plants are common threats to these fragile species.

“The Gazania, a common, pretty garden plant, is a particular threat, especially to the Swamp Diuris.
“Most community members don’t realise how easily these garden plants spread and how devastating they are for the environment,” said Mr.Hynes.

For more information on coastal volunteering in our region, visit www.gorcc.com.au.
Related blog posts:

swamp-diuris-diuris-palustris1Rare orchid survives on edge
image001 Father’s Day fun in Jan Juc
img_0792 Cleanup helps conserve the coast

Volunteers make-over Fisherman’s Beach

Twenty-two volunteers from Lend Lease gave Torquay’s Fisherman’s Beach area a makeover this week, building a new pathway and pedestrian bridge, as well as planting 500 native plants in a rehabilitation area.

Lend Lease_Fishermans Beach 1
Lend Lease volunteers helped makover Fisherman’s Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The activities were led by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) as part of a range of environmental education and volunteering opportunities GORCC provides to schools and groups.

The new pathway provides a link from the Surf Coast Walk to the viewing deck above the Fisherman’s Beach kiosk, which provides great coastal views, with easy access to the kiosk for refreshments. A number of new picnic tables will be installed on the deck in coming weeks.

Environmental weeds along the bank to the north of the deck have been cleared and replaced with native tubestock.

Lend Lease’s Tanya Moscicki said the activity formed part of Lend Lease’s community day, which was established in 1996 to provide Lend Lease people with the opportunity to give back to the communities in which they live and work.

Lend Lease_Fishermans Beach 2
The volunteers planted 500 native plants in a rehabilitation area.

“The weather was amazing so it was great to get out and do something different in the sunshine – everyone enjoyed the day,” she said.

GORCC’s Coast Project Manager, Mike Bodsworth said partnering with volunteers enabled GORCC to achieve much more than would usually be possible.

“We estimate volunteers contribute around a quarter of a million dollars worth of work every year,  from hooded plover monitoring and research projects, to weed control, planting, litter removal and construction.”

“Lend Lease’s team of volunteers also included qualified tradespeople, so it was an ideal chance to build some visitor facilities that have been on the drawing board for a while,” he said.

For more information about how you can get involved in GORCC’s volunteer program,  watch the clip below or visit www.gorcc.com.au/volunteering

Related blog posts:

dsc00188GORCC thanks volunteers
img_0118Indigenous groups join weed action
Ford employees got their hands dirty last month as part of a GORCC run program, planting over 1000 coastal saltmarsh plants along the Anglesea River. Photo: Abhishek Sharma.Ford motors towards a healthier coast

Biodiversity month – get involved!

September is Biodiversity Month  and there’s heaps of simple ways that you can get involved.

Biodiversity month is held to promote the importance of protecting, conserving and improving biodiversity both within Australia and across the world.

What can you do to help?

Here’s a few ideas:

There’s plenty of other simple ways to help to protect our coast’s biodiversity, for more click here.

There are around 22 volunteer groups along our local coast helping to protect our coast’s biodiversity and they are always on the lookout for new members and supporters, even if its just for an hour or two! find out more

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity is the ‘web of life’, ‘the variety of living things’ or ‘the different plants, animals and micro-organisms, their genes and ecosystems of which they are a part’.

Australia is very unique and is home to between 600,000 and 700,000 species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. About 84 per cent of our plants, 83 per cent of our mammals, and 45 per cent of our birds are only found in Australia.

Take a peek at some examples of our coast’s fascinating wildlife.

You can find more about Biodiversity Month here.

How are you working to protect and preserve our coast??

 

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Students think local for national event

Torquay College students got their hands dirty last week for Planet Ark’s Schools Tree Day, planting around 450 plants at Cosy Corner.

GORCC conservation worker Evan Francis with Torquay College student Indiana Colledge, helping to plant a Coastal Moonah Woodland as part of conservation activities organised by the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre.
GORCC conservation worker Evan Francis with Torquay College student Indiana Colledge, helping to plant a Coastal Moonah Woodland as part of conservation activities organised by the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre.

National Tree Day is Australia’s largest tree planting event.

Each year, over 200,000 people take part in activities held on 3000 sites and organised by council, schools, businesses, communities and Toyota Dealers across the country.

The day was run as part of a week of annual conservation activities organised by the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre (MDC) in partnership with The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC).

The annual coastal re-vegetation program has been run by the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre since 1986 and this year the activities were run in conjunction with the national Planet Ark event.

GORCC conservation officer Georgie Beale said the students planted native trees, shrubs and grasses.

“The children were planting a Coastal Moonah Woodland which is an endangered plant community in the area.

“Local families use this beautiful space and it’s great to get the local kids involved in their local community and environment,” she said.

Ms.Beale said the activity was a truly collaborative effort.

“The program also involved four land management groups, five community nurseries, BirdLife Australia and indigenous cultural education officers,” she said.

Participating in National Tree Day is just one of the many ways the community can get hands on in the protection of our local coast.

“Local environmental volunteer groups are always seeking new members and people able to lend them a hand – even for an hour or two,” said Ms. Beale.

Torquay College students (L-R) Jarrah Hirris-Moore, Joff Newton and Jay Newton enjoying their time on the coast planting a Coastal Moonah Woodland at Cosy Corner.
Torquay College students (L-R) Jarrah Hirris-Moore, Joff Newton and Jay Newton enjoying their time on the coast planting a Coastal Moonah Woodland at Cosy Corner.

For schools or groups, GORCC runs a free Environmental Education Program offering a range of hands-on and theory based learning activities and conservation volunteer work.

“Anyone with a love of the outdoors and a passion for the environment can take part in volunteering along the coast and start making a difference.

“You don’t have to be experienced or an expert, there’s plenty of opportunities for everyone no matter what age you are,” Ms Beale said.

For information on National Tree Day visit  www.treeday.planetark.org or call their hotline on 1300 885 000.  To learn more about GORCC’S Environmental Education Program or coastal volunteering opportunities, visit www.gorcc.com.au .

This story featured in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column on the 6th August 2013.

Related blog posts:

img_1058 Kinder kids on the coast
img_1034Coast Connections at student forum
leanne-booley-permission-to-useAdults delve into environmental education!
img_041811 Counteracting the Coast Tea-Tree invasion
img_2918Anglesea heath back to its former glory
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img_0317Students take lead on coast care
gorcc-1There’s an environmental education opportunity out there for you!