New direction for conservation

The Otway Community Conservation Group recently held a  workshop  to  address future directions and potential projects for the management, protection and enhancement of biodiversity in the Otway region.

The Rufous Bristlebird is threatened by habitat loss. Improvement of wildlife corridors will help to preserve and increase habitat for a range of species, including the threatened Rufous Bristlebird pictured above, which has decreased in numbers dues to habitat loss and is now confined to a small pocket of coast in the Surf Coast and Otway regions.


OCCN facilitator Luke Hynes was encouraged by the outcomes of the workshop and feedback given by all representatives.

“Suggested project areas included further networking between groups, improving wildlife corridors, controlling pest plants and animals and increasing community engagement and education,” he said.

Why is biodiversity important?

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale believes biodiversity is important in order to protect our unique Australian flora and fauna.

“Conserving and enhancing this biodiversity in the Otway region will provide us with a much healthier and more resilient ecosystem.

“Australia is one of the most biologically diverse countries in the world and much of our flora and fauna cannot be found anywhere else.

It is this unique landscape which gives us our identity as a country and the more we learn about, understand and respect our environment the better off we will all be,” she said.

Check out this video clip about biodiversity.  The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee is working with volunteers to take direct action against invasive weeds and other critical threats to our coast’s precious biodiversity. But we need your help too.

Who attended the workshop? 

Around 30 natural resource managment staff and community volunteers attended the workshop.

Representatives from the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, Parks Victoria, the Department of Sustainability and Environment, local councils, coastal land managers, VicRoads, Conservation Volunteers Australia, ALCOA, Otway Conservation Ecology Centre, local Landcare networks and conservation groups also attended the workshop.

OCCN chairperson Roger Ganly said he was thrilled with the strong turnout, thanking all those who attended.

“We had a great representation from a cross section of the community and natural resource management sector across the Otway region,” he said.

 How do I find out more?

For more information please contact the OCCN Project facilitator Luke Hynes – PH: 0406 113 438; E: occn@occn.org.au or visit their website www.occn.org.au

You can also check out other blogs we have posted on the OCCN:

Input sought on Otways biodiversity.

Community Conservation Network forges ahead.

New network to protect Otways

Input sought on Otways biodiversity

Do you have some more free time during your Easter Holidays? Why not come along to the upcoming planning workshop for the Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN) later this month?

After a successful first year, the OCCN is inviting the community to have their input at a new workshop about the future protection of biodiversity in the Otway region.

The OCCN are coordinating an effort to tackle Bridal Creeper and Boneseed weeds in the Otways through ground control, as well as mapping.

Bridal Creeper taking over native vegetation (photo: OCCN)

This Clip produced by the OCCN shows volunteers removing Boneseed  on three Victorian Properties:

OCCN Facilitator Luke Hynes said that these weeds are having a devasting effect on our local environment and coastline. He said that it is also the perfect opportunity to share information and discuss how to encourage biodiversity in a community-oriented environment.

“We are now planning future projects and community input is vital,” he said.

Who else will be there?

Representatives from Great Ocean Road Coast Committe (GORCC), Parks Victoria, VicRoads, The Department of Sustainabilty and Environment, The Corangmite Catchment Management Authority, Landcare,  local councils, coastal land managers, Trust for Nature and other conservation groups, will also be there contributing their ideas.

‘We are asking for input and are looking forward to seeing to see representatives from the community on the 18th of April,‘ said Mr. Hynes

 

 

One of the unique creatures that OCCN strives to protect

 

 

What are the details?

When: Wednesday 18th April, from 10am-12pm.

Where: Otway Estate, 10 Hoveys Road, Barongarook.

Lunch will also be provided!

RSVP:  If you’re interesting in coming along to the workshop, please RSVP to Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438 for catering purposes.

If you’d like more information contact OCCN Project facilitator Luke Hynes – PH 0406 113 438 E: occn@occn.org.au or visit our website www.occn.org.au.

 

 

By coming along to this workshop, you can help keep our coastline beautiful too!

 

 

We would love to see you there!

Check out our past blogs about the OCCN here:

Community Conservation Network forges ahead.

Weeding out coastal invaders.

New network to protect Otways.

Sensors to stop stealthy predators

Data collected by Parks Victoria using infrared camera trapping is helping keep track of  threatened species and monitor the control of predators like cats and foxes. It sounds very technical but according to a recent Surf Coast Times article it’s easy, cheap and causes minimal disturbance to native wildlife.

How does infrared camera trapping work?

Digital cameras are set up at various montitoring sites and help researchers to determine the effectiveness of their current fox and cat control methods.  The cameras not only collect images of predators but have taken some great pictures of rarely seen native wildlife.

The monitoring is helping to collect data on mammals and birds where is the past information was based on estimates and guess work.

A fox is caught in the act as it passes an infrared motion sensor site. Photo courtesy of Parks Victoria

Where are the cameras located?

Monitoring has taken place over 4 years in more than 40 sites in the Anglesea Heath and the Great Otway National Park.

The results so far…

The data collected has shown small mammal numbers are increasing and rare animals like the Bandicoot are being spotted  more frequently.

The research has also found rainfall is a key factor in wildlife population changes. When there is better rainfall in a season more animals were caught on film. This is because  better plant growth means more insects for the wildlife to feed on which then results in a  better breeding season with more babies.

Lots of small mammals have been spotted by the cameras. Photo courtesy of Parks Victoria.

Have the cameras caught anything interesting?

Two male Scarlet Robins were caught having a territorial dispute.

Also spotted were the White Footed Dunnart, Southern Brown Bandicoots, a long-nosed Bandicoot, Button Quail, Owlet NightJars, Echidna, Possum and Currawong.

To read the full article click here.

More information about Parks Victoria and this project is available at www.parks.vic.gov.au or by calling 131 963.

Cats and foxes are highly prevalent on the Surf Coast to learn more about these predators check out these links.

Who let the cats out? A blog about cat curfews on the Surf Coast.

Predatory pests targeted in Juc  a blog about fox trapping in Jan Juc.

Click here  to learn about more ways you can help to protect native wildlife.

New network to protect Otways

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 luke@beaconecological.com.au.

This story was written by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee and published in the Surf Coast Time’s Going Green Column.

Winning battles in the war on weeds

There’s a war on weeds being staged at the Great Otway National Park and some dedicated environmental warriors have been winning significant battles.

The Friends of Eastern Otways have been working tirelessly to protect and rehabilitate the internationally significant coastal heathlands at Anglesea – renowned for their wonderful flora and fauna biodiversity.

The 1983 bushfires that swept through the Anglesea area allowed many environmental weeds to invade these precious heathlands smothering and crowding out many smaller, more delicate, indigenous plant species.

More recently, fuel reduction and ecological burns have also influenced an increase in the weed load due to stored seedbanks in the ground responding to the stimulation of fire.

Coast Wattle and Coast Tea-tree have been the major offenders.  These plants form monocultures (meaning only that one species grows in the area) and smother all neighbouring plants.  Coast Wattle in its pure form, does in fact belong in the area but has hybridised with the Sallow Wattle in the form of a weed.

In 2005 the Friends of Eastern Otways commenced a project to remove the environmental weeds that had invaded the heathlands along the Great Ocean Road at Anglesea.  No replanting was required, as the existing seedbanks germinated following the removal of weeds and the addition of rain.

Various conservation, community and student groups have assisted with the project which has also been supported by Parks Vic, DSE and GORCC.  All these efforts have returned, what was an almost an impenetrable barrier of environmental weeds, into a highly admired heathland.

The wonderful success of this project has been marked by an impressive comeback from wildflowers and indigenous plants.

Silky Guinea-flower, Common Heath, Twiggy Daisy-bush, Common Wedge-pea, Silver Banksia, Chocolate Lilies and Native Violets are just some of the flowers growing where weeds have been removed, while terrestrial orchids can be found scattered throughout this restored environment.

Despite the accomplishment, work must continue in the area.  Environmental weed seedlings continue to appear and the war is never won.

Would you like to help?

The Friends of Eastern Otways meet on the second Tuesday of each month in the above area near the corner of the Great Ocean Road and O’Donohue Road, Anglesea from 9.30am to 11.00am.

This small group of volunteers work in a beautiful setting against an ocean backdrop to ensure that this very special area of the Great Otway National Park is protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.  The group would love to have some more helpers and you will be ensured of a warm welcome if you would like to come along.

Contact Margaret MacDonald (03) 5289 6326 or margmac@iprimus.com.au.

This article was published in the Surf Coast Times as part of the publications fortnightly “Going Green Column”.

Who does what where?

The forum provided an opportunity for coastal volunteers to learn more about the roles and responsibilities of the various land managers and government agencies involved in caring for the coast.

COAST ACTION/COASTCARE

Coast Action/Coastcare supports community volunteer groups involved in caring for Victoria’s coast.

This role encompasses:

  • coordinating volunteers for coastal projects
  • funding projects through the Coastcare Victoria Community Grants program
  • providing boundaries for volunteers
  • facilitating volunteer achievements, and
  • communicating and sharing ideas to provide connections between the different volunteer groups, projects and stakeholders.

The agency fulfils an important public education role on several levels:

  • linking coastal management policy to communities
  • helping to find a role for the public in coastal management
  • communicating current coastal-related issues, and
  • educating the broader community (e.g. children, schools, visitors, businesses) about caring for the coast.

Coast Action/Coastcare also contributes to community capacity building by providing various education and training programs for volunteers and the general public. These include occupational health and safety, leadership, first aid, community forums, field days, workshops and the annual Summer by the Sea summer holiday program.

Provided by Matt Fox, State Coordinator, Coast Action/Coastcare

GREAT OCEAN ROAD COAST COMMITTEE

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee manages 37 kilometres of Crown land foreshore reserves along the Great Ocean Road between Point Impossible (east of Torquay) and Cumberland River (west of Lorne).

Its responsibilities as a land manager are focused on looking after these reserves by:

  • protecting the sensitive coastal environment through weed eradication programs and other activities
  • building and maintaining an A to Z of coastal facilities, assets and infrastructure – from artwork to zebra (pedestrian) crossings
  • controlling commercial and other activities on the reserves through the issuing of leases, licences and permits, and
  • contributing to the area’s overall amenity in various ways, such as removing rubbish from beaches and foreshore areas.

The committee also operates caravan parks in Torquay and Lorne, and manages the leases for two other privately operated parks at Anglesea and Cumberland River.

The income generated by the parks funds the committee’s coastal management work with additional income, mainly from State and Federal Government grants, supporting the delivery of various capital works and improvement projects.

Much of the committee’s work is undertaken in partnership with other coastal land managers, State Government and local community volunteer groups who contribute much valuable time and effort to caring for the coast.

Provided by Richard Davies, Chief Executive Officer, Great Ocean Road Coast Committee

PARKS VICTORIA

Parks Victoria is responsible for managing a wide variety of parks in Victoria as well as the recreational management of Port Phillip Bay, Western Port and the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers

Specifically, the estate includes:

  • 45 national parks
  • 13 marine national parks
  • 11 marine sanctuaries
  • 3 wilderness parks
  • 25 state parks
  • 30 metropolitan parks
  • 60 other parks (including regional and reservoir parks)
  • more than 2,000 natural features reserves and conservation reserves
  • 10,412 formally registered Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, and
  • more than 2,500 non-Indigenous historic places.

These assets total more than four million hectares (about 17 per cent of Victoria) – total area of parks and reserves.

As land manager, Parks Victoria’s responsibilities include:

  • preservation of natural eco-systems
  • Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultural heritage protection
  • access and visitor facilities
  • fire management, and
  • education and interpretation.

Funded by the State Government, the organisation comprises locally-based rangers, as well as planners, environmentalists, scientists and managers working at both state and local levels,

Provided by Frank Gleeson, Ranger in Charge – East Otways, Parks Victoria