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. 

Conservation For Christmas


NAB volunteers have given the gift of conservation at Christmas, working with the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) to restore threatened Coastal Moonah Woodlands at Point Roadknight.

NAB Melbourne senior manager Tim Gorst said NAB employees are encouraged to spend several days each year doing activities that connect them with the communities in which they live and work.

“We get together about this time every year to work with GORCC so it is becoming something of a tradition,”

“We all live in Torquay and enjoy this special environment so the day was a great opportunity to support some of the important work GORCC undertakes to protect the local coast.”

Mr.Gorst said volunteering on the coast didn’t just benefit the environment.

“As a bunch of pen pushers it is great to be out of the office, and rewarding to see the fruits of our labour at the end of the day,” he said.

The volunteers helped to clear Tea Tree, an environmental weed, from a coastal revegetation site in Point Roadknight.

“None of us realised it had become a problem and was choking out a lot of other native vegetation,” said Mr.Gorst.

(L-R) NAB's Matt Henderson, Jodi Heath and Tim Gorst, GORCC's Georgie Beale and Darryll Rogers also from NAB.
(L-R) NAB’s Matt Henderson, Jodi Heath and Tim Gorst, GORCC’s Georgie Beale and Darryll Rogers also from NAB conserving the Coastal Moonah Woodlands at Point Roadknight.

GORCC Conservation officer Georgie Beale said Tea Tree, while native to Australia, is not indigenous to this part of the coast.

“Coast Tea-Tree has invaded many coastal areas since the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires forming thickets on dunes and heathlands.

“The weed smothers indigenous vegetation through shading and competition for resources such as water, soil and nutrients and therefore reduces the habitat of indigenous fauna,” she said.

Ms. Beale said Tea Tree isn’t the only issue.

“Garden escapees such as Polygala are also devastating to these threatened plant communities.
“We would encourage coastal landowners to plant indigenous plants in their garden – pretty flowers are often the biggest menace,”

“We would also ask that people don’t dispose of their garden cuttings on the coast, as this also encourages spread,” she said.

Ms. Beale said the GORCC conservation team had been working with volunteers and school groups over several years to restore over nine hectares of coast.

“ANGAIR volunteers, in particular have worked for almost a decade to improve biodiversity in the area.

Ms. Beale said GORCC hoped to see indigenous plants and animals return to the area.

“With improved biodiversity we should see all sorts of fauna inhabiting the area.

“We might even see the return of species such as the Southern Brown Bandicoot,” she said.

Learn more about coastal volunteering at www.gorcc.com.au

This article featured in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column – Check it out here!

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

Counteracting the Coast Tea-Tree invasion


 

Christian College year 10 students assemble near Jan Juc for the Coast Tea-Tree working bee.
Areas of the Anglesea Heathland received a makeover between Jan Juc and Bellbrae thanks to Christian College Geelong’s Year 10 Outdoor Education students’ who have been working closely with several conservation groups and private landowners.

Students worked closely with the Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN), the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC), Surfer’s Appreciating the Natural Environments (SANE) and private landowners where they were involved in numerous conservation activities including pulling out Boneseed, cutting out Coast Tea Tree and brush matting to stabilise sand dunes.

“The working bee forms part of the student’s outdoor education class and will equip them with hands on experience and knowledge about the issues affecting our coast,” said Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Conservation Supervisor, Georgina Beale

Coast Tea-Tree has invaded many coastal areas since the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires forming thickets on dunes and heathlands, and smothering indigenous vegetation through shading and competition for resources such as water, soil and nutrients.

“Coast Tea-Tree also reduces the habitat of indigenous fauna that inhabits the heathland,” Ms. Beale said.

The environmental weed is spread by wind, water, human planting and through dumped garden waste.

You can stop the spread of Coast Tea-Tree along the coast by ensuring you remove all weeds from your garden to stop the weed from further spreading into our natural areas.

Use green wastes bins or drop weeds at local waste transfer stations to dispose of them.   Stations are located in Anglesea, Lorne, Winchelsea and Deans Marsh. For more information visit the shire’s waste disposal website here.

What does the Coast Tea-Tree look like?

Coast Tea-Tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) is an invasive environmental weed along our coast.
  • Coast Tea-Tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) looks like a shrub or small tree.
  • They can grow to about 5m high.
  • Recognised by a dull grey-green colour with stiff leaves and large white flowers that appear in the spring.
  •  Common along coastal areas because of their good tolerance of salt-spray conditions.

For more information on the Coast Tea-Tree you can visit the Weeds Australia website.

Why Coast Tea-Tree is both native to Australia and an environmental weed:

Although Coast Tea-Tree is native to Australia, it becomes an environmental weed along the Surf Coast when it moves from within its natural habitat into a new area where the species has a strong competitive advantage over the indigenous plants already in that area.

Environmental weeds are plants that grow in environments where they are not wanted and in natural landscapes they can out-compete indigenous species. This affects the balance of the entire ecosystem by reducing biodiversity, taking away vital food sources and habitat for native insects, birdlife and fauna. Many of the plants introduced into Australia in the last 200 years are now considered environmental weeds.

For more information on environmental weeds, check out our website here.

Find out more about weeds along the coast:

Find out more information about the environmental weeds affecting our coast on the  GORCC website.

The Surf Coast Shire has also developed a list of environmental weeds along the Surf Coast on their website here. 

For more information on environmental weeds along the Surf Coast check out the Surf Coast Shire Booklet- Environmental Weeds Invaders of the Surf Coast Shire.

How you can get involved:

Christian College student helping to remove invasive Coast Tea-Tree in the heathland reserve.
Learn more about our GORCC’s Environmental Education Program for Schools and become involved here. 

Learn more about environmental volunteering opportunities on our coast here.