A series of acts of environmental vandalism have made students more determined to help protect the coastal environment. Unfortunately, hundreds of stakes and tree guards were removed from conservation sites over summer with a Spring Creek revegetation area in Torquay almost stripped bare.
Illegal behaviour on coastal reserves such as lighting fires, littering and destroying vegetation is impacting the environment and sparking safety concerns, with the Jan Juc clifftops a particular problem zone. Read more →
The Surf Coast Nature Search (SCNS), an interactive, online search tool for identifying weeds and indigenous plants in our region, has been launched.
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.
“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.
“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.
Torquay College students got their hands dirty last week for Planet Ark’s Schools Tree Day, planting around 450 plants at Cosy Corner.
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.
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 .