Surf Coast groups benefit from funding

Local community groups within the Surf Coast and Bellarine have received a share of over $40, 000 in State Government funding.

The Coastcare Victoria Community Grants Program aims to support local action that protects and enhances coastal environments.

In 2014, local groups including Jan Juc Coast Action, ANGAIR, Torquay Coast Action and Surfers Appreciating Natural Environment have all been recognised and received funding for their conservation projects.

Local environmental volunteer group ANGAIR has received $2, 000 to count towards re-establishing threatened Moonah Woodlands in Anglesea – a project the group has been working on in partnership with GORCC for more than 7 years.

ANGAIR volunteer Bill McKellar and GORCC Conservation Officer Georgie Beale on the Melba Parade (Anglesea) site where the seven-year restoration project had been taking place.
ANGAIR volunteer Bill McKellar and GORCC Conservation Officer Georgie Beale on the Melba Parade (Anglesea) site where the seven-year restoration project had been taking place.

ANGAIR volunteer Bill McKellar said the group had just 200m of site left to rehabilitate, with the funding set to help complete the project.

“When we started, coastal tea tree – a native to Australia but non-indigenous to the area and an invasive weed – had taken over.

“The occasional Moonah and Bearded Heath had survived, however, they were stretched to the limit and competing for space,” he said.

Melba Parade, the Anglesea site where the seven-year restoration project has been taking place, has seen significant improvements over the years.
Melba Parade, the Anglesea site where the seven-year restoration project has been taking place, has seen significant improvements over the years.

Mr McKellar said the project had been worth seven years of hard work and dedication.

“The results are magic – it really is extraordinary,” he said.

GORCC conservation officer Georgie Beale said the project was one of GORCC’s most successful restoration projects.

“The increase in biodiversity has been significant.

“As their habitat is re-established, native fauna are moving back into the area as evidenced by the increase in tracks and burrows on the site,” she said.

Schools are also playing an important part in the project.

Christian College students can finally take a break after years of hard work, including this planting day in July last year.
Christian College students can finally take a break after years of hard work, including this planting day in July last year.

“Many school groups have supported the works through the GORCC Environmental Education Program including Christian College and St Bernard’s College who have dedicated many hours to the project over several years,” she said.

Mr McKellar said the work has resulted in the return of indigenous flora as well.

“Satin Everlasting (Helichrysum Leucopsideum) – a very pretty flower – has reappeared on the site. This is the only place it can be found on the Surf Coast,” he said.

The Satin Everlasting flower is starting to provide some beautiful colour to the Melba Parade site.
The Satin Everlasting flower is starting to provide some beautiful colour to the Melba Parade site.

Department of Education and Primary Industries Coastcare co-ordinator Alex Sedger said the contribution of volunteers was integral to coastal management.

“All volunteers are passionate about their special patches, and often work without asking anything for their efforts,” she said.

Want to get involved?  Find out more about coastal, environmental volunteering here.  ANGAIR welcomes new volunteers, and information on the group and the upcoming Wildflower Weekend can be found at angair.org.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

Seal relocation highlights community role

A seal spotted near a construction site at St Kilda recently was relocated to a Barwon Heads beach by the Melbourne Zoo and Barwon Coast due to concerns for its welfare.

A sub Antarctic fur seal getting released onto a Barwon Heads Beach after it was relocated from a construction area in St Kilda breakwater
A sub Antarctic fur seal getting released onto a Barwon Heads Beach after it was relocated from a construction area in St Kilda breakwater

Melbourne Zoo Head of Veterinary Services Dr Michael Lynch said the Department of Environment and Primary Services (DEPI) informed the zoo that the Sub Antartic Fur Seal had been there for an extended period of time.

“Given the seal was resting near a construction site, DEPI were concerned it may be injured and asked that it be removed from the area.

The seal was healthy, with no evidence of illness or injury so we relocated it to a Barwon Heads beach where it would be within its natural range.

We have asked people to keep a look out for the seal to make sure it is managing well in its new location,” he said.  

Sub Antarctic fur seals breed in sub Antarctic island waters between November and December each year.

Barwon Coast community liaison and education manager Maddie Glynn said it was important for the public to notify the appropriate authority if they saw sick, injured or distressed seals on the coast.

“It all helps to build a picture of what’s going on and sometimes it can assist in the identification of diseases of importance,” she said.

“Not all mothers are good parents and some of the younger seals – skinny yearlings that are not in prime condition – start to emerge along the coast.

“We often give assistance and advice to people on the ground to help manage seals that are found resting on beaches.

“We build networks with communities and ask individuals to contact us if they have a concern so we can assess the situation.”

People are urged not to go close to seals – as they can bite – to keep dogs on leashes and to dispose of fishing line correctly to prevent injury and disease.

Community members are urged to use Melbourne Zoo’s Seal the Loop bins designed for the collection of fishing waste so seals do not become entangled. Photo: www.zoo.org.au
Community members are urged to use Melbourne Zoo’s Seal the Loop bins designed for the collection of fishing waste so seals do not become entangled. Photo: http://www.zoo.org.au

“Melbourne Zoo’s Seal the Loop program provides bins designed for the collection of fishing waste,” Dr Lynch said.

“Disposing of fishing lines in the bins provided is essential as seals can become entangled in discarded fishing gear.”

Ms Glynn said seals are protected by state legislation and people and their dogs must not come within 50 metres of a seal on land.

“An inquisitive dog that may approach a seal may be seen to be harassing the animal and owners face potential prosecution.”

Any concerns regarding seals should be reported to the DEPI customer service centre on 136 186. For a map of Seal the Loop bins head to zoo.org.au/sealtheloop.

For further information on what to do if you sight a seal or other marine animal on the seashore visit the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee website.

This story featured in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column.

Remember a number of measures can be taken to protect the welfare of seals resting on our coast:
•   Do not come within 50 meters of a seal on land as they can bite
•   Keep dogs on leashes
•   Dispose of fishing line correctly to prevent injury and disease
•   Notify appropriate authorities if you come across a seal in distress

Related blogs:

km-entanglement-4_mg_7092 Volunteer saves injured hoodie
dog-on-the-beachTop tips to care for the coast

Whales sighted early on coast

The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) have reported  three sightings of whales along the coast of Marengo on the Great Ocean Road (read the full media release).

whale breaching

DSE has called on Victorians to report any sightings of whales over the next few weeks after earlier than usual sightings of migrating humpbacks off our coast.

DSE Senior Biodiversity Officer at Warrnambool, Mandy Watson said they have had two sightings of Humpback Whales off the Victorian coast this year and they are keen to hear from anyone if they see any more.
“We normally don’t start seeing Humpback Whales until April or May so we are very interested in hearing any further reports of these early starters.”

“Anyone sighting migrating humpback or southern right whales over the next few weeks should call the DSE Customer Service Centre on 136 186,” Ms Watson said.

Marine mammals are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and rules and regulations are in place to protect them.

To report an emergency (stranding, entanglement, injury or death) involving a whale or a dolphin call the Whale and Dolphin Emergency Hotline – 1300 136 017.

A Southern Right Whale, which are most commonly seen close to the coast in the winter months between June and October.
A Southern Right Whale, which are most commonly seen close to the coast in the winter months between June and October.

Are you keeping an eye out for migrating whales this year, and where are the best spots on the coast to sight them?

Let us know below.

Related blog posts:

southern whaleWinter whale watching

Weed Profile: Boneseed

Boneseed (Chrysanthemoides monilifera ssp. monilifera) is one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its severe environmental impacts. This killer is invasive and has a threatening potential to spread rapidly.

Boneseed is a declared noxious weed in Victoria – it endangers rare and threatened plants.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of Boneseed is that it thrives in coastal areas. It favours sandy soils and tolerates saline conditions.

Boneseed is recognizable by its erect, woody, evergreen shrub that can grow to 3m. The fleshy leaves are an elongated oval shape with toothed edges. When flowering, they have yellow daisy petals that grow in clusters. Boneseed also has round, green and black berries, each containing a seed.

Boneseed:

–          Invades dunes and coastal areas;

–          Grows in most soil types and tolerates a wide range of climates;

–          Rapidly regrows after a disturbance;

–          Alters habitat and shifts food plants of native animals; and

–          Can restrict access to beaches, parks and trails.

It is for these reasons, along with the alarming fact that it has no natural enemies in Australia, that Boneseed has so rapidly invaded many areas of Victoria. It is now in mid-winter that the plant flowers and it is NOW that you need to take control before the killer takes over your garden.

What can you do to protect your area from Boneseed?

Boneseed is difficult to clear, it is very hardy and can withstand salt spray. Report an infestation to your local weeds officer.

It is easy to join a local Landcare of Coastcare group to remove Boneseed. Contact the State Landcare Coordinator on (03) 96378033 or see – http://landcarevic.net.au/regions.

If you want more information regarding Boneseed and other weeds go to The Weeds Australia website – here

More information about weeds and how to protect the coast from them is available here.

Below is a video about the importance of protecting our coast.

Information for this blog came from the Victorian Government, Victorian Department of Primary Industries and National Bitou Bush and Boneseed Management Group flyer.

Dieback fight back – protect plant-life on our coast

It takes a mere few months for beautiful native plants to become infected and killed by the root-rot fungus known as Phytophthora Dieback.

Healthy Grass Trees won’t stay green for long with infected neighbours nearby

What is the effect of the root-rot fungus?

The root-rot fungus works by spreading through moist soil and quickly infecting and killing a number of native plants – from the well-known ‘Grass Trees’ particularly prevalent in the Great Otway National Park, to coastal Banksias and even large trees.

How does the disease spread?

If you have walked through the Great Otway National Park, you probably would have come across easily recognizable Grass Trees.  The effect of the fungus on these Grass Trees, as well as other plant, is also recognizable. From beautiful blue-green fronds to tangled brown in just a few months – the rapid effect is devastating.

What is being done about it?

The Friends of Point Addis together with the Victorian National Parks Association and Deakin University are currently monitoring the Grass Trees in Ironbark Basin.

Parks Victoria have set up stands for brushing and washing shoes and bike tyres around the Ironbark Basin area.

How can you get involved?

The Friends of Point Addis are this month holding an information session for any concerned locals, landowners and visitors to learn more about the disease and what they can do to help stop the spread of disease.

Register to attend the workshop by emailing (bronwynspark@gmail.com) or calling Bronwyn Spark on 5263 2224. Then come on down to the Ironbark Basin car park off Point Addis Rd Saturday July 21 to learn more in the free Workshop.

Remember – we all need to pull together to stop the fungus from infecting our native flora!

This story featured in the Surf Coast Time’s fortnightly Green the Coast Column.

Do you have any more ideas about how we can protect our native flora and fauna? Let us know!

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