Action and art for conservation

Students from St. Therese Catholic Primary School have been working alongside local environmental volunteers to protect threatened Moonah trees while encouraging others to look after our coastline.

Grade 3 and 4 students from St. Therese Primary School students teamed up with with volunteers from Surf Coast Inland Plains Network (SCIPN),  Torquay Coast Action (TCA) and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) to plant 400 Moonah and Wirildra trees near  Whites Beach.

Drawing inspiration from the latest SCIPN wildlife card collection by local artist Mark Trinham, students also created and displayed their own artwork at the planting site.

St. Therese Primary School students Mickey Cotsopoulos, Charlotte Morgan and Olivia Gross with their artwork and GORCC conservation officer Georgie Beale

Native animals such as frogs, reptiles, mammals, bats, freshwater fish and many birds from the region feature in the cards, which were developed to promote local  wildlife and conservation education.

SCIPN operations manager Mandy Coulson said students had researched Moonah Woodlands in class and also worked on their art.

“Their artwork depicts local trees and animals, and has been displayed near the planting site to raise public awareness of the coastal environment,” she said.

For more information on Moonah Woodlands, please click here.

Glenda Shomaly, a volunteer from TCA, said St. Therese Primary School plays an active role in educating its students on the importance of maintaining and enhancing the local environment.

“St. Therese Catholic Primary School students plant 400 trees a year  as a part of their carbon offset project,” she said.

The school’s sustainability coordinator, Gerard McCarthy, said students were excited to participate in the day’s activities.

“Opportunities like this allow the students to further understand their local environment and how to look after it,” he said.

“As they grow up, they will be able to appreciate their own efforts made to protect the area.”

This educational activity was made possible by a grant received from the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, which is celebrating 25 years of land care this year.

Why did the site need rehabilitation?

The area, which borders Fishermans Beach and Whites Beach, was chosen because only one per cent of Moonah trees remain there due to decimation.

GORCC coastal project manager Mike Bodsworth said GORCC was grateful to the students and volunteers for their assistance in an area requiring restoration.

“GORCC has supported their work by fencing the site to protect the re-vegetated area and give it the best chance of survival,” he said.

Our coastal ecosystem will be threatened if Moonah Woodlands are not planted in the area.

More information

Torquay Coast Action hold regular working bees along the coast.

For further information please phone 5261 6266.

Check out what other students have done to help the coast in our previous blogs:

Queens Park blitz a group effort

Plunging in for fish count

Students take lead on coast care

Heart of coast restored by hand

Jan Juc Coast Action will work with local volunteers throughout a two year project to restore grasslands atop the Jan Juc cliffs.

Jan Juc Coast Action hopes the Jan Juc grasslands restoration will have the same success as the Grassy Groundcover Restoration Project which spanned three years and restored native grasslands across Victoria.

“The Grassy Ground Cover Restoration Project demonstrated that it is possible to recreate grasslands,” said native grasslands expert Paul Gibson Roy.

Jan Juc Coast Action Chairperson, Luke Hynes, said the project is to begin in late August.

“Grasslands are a vegetation type that has been severely depleted across Victoria.

 “Grasslands are a vegetation type that has been severely depleted across Victoria.

“We should be trying to maintain and enhance the grassland areas of the Jan Juc cliffs as there are only a few examples of this vegetation type remaining,” said Mr Hynes.

The project is based on the techniques developed by Mr. Gibson Roy.

“There is less than one per cent of native grasslands remaining, they could be considered one of the most endangered species in Australia,” said Mr. Gibson Roy.

Jan Juc Coast Action will use the same techniques used in the Grassy Ground Cover Restoration to restore the Jan Juc grasslands.

Mr Hynes said the grassland restoration involves taking off the top 10 to 15 cm of soil which will remove the high level nutrient soil and any weed seed in the soil.

“We will then reseed back into the exposed soil with native grassland seeds.

“The low nutrient, weed seed free soil should provide a great substrate for the native grasslands species to thrive,” said Mr Hynes.

Volunteers have been actively involved the Grassy Groundcover Restoration project and the Jan Juc Coast Action Grasslands Restoration.

“Volunteers are incredibly important. Most of our research was undertaken on farms and public land and the project relied heavily on farmers and the community, “said Mr Gibson Roy.

Learn more about coastal volunteering in this Coast Action/Coastcare video clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DV80QxX_19o

Mike Bodsworth, Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Coastal Project Manager said that GORCC is supportive of Jan Juc Coast Action’s initiative.

Jan Juc Coast Action working bees take place on the first Sunday of each month

For more information on Jan Juc Coast Action click here or if you would like to volunteer contact Luke Hynes ph. 0406 113 438 or email luke@beaconecological.com.au

Have a look at these links for more information.

Coast Action/Coastcare

Grassy Groundcover Gazette

Greening Australia

Jan Juc Coast Action

Volunteering on the Surf Coast

This column bought to you by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee, to visit the  GORCC website click here.

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times Tuesday 23 August 2011

Are you or anyone you know involved in the Jan Juc grasslands restoration?

Are you interested in coastal volunteering?

Do you know of any other environmental projects happening on the Surf Coast?

Let us know your thoughts and opinions!

Students take lead on coast care

Geelong VCE students recently got hands on in the protection of the environment as the first participants in a new coastal environmental education program.

The enthusiastic year 12’s from North Geelong Secondary College were helping to preserve threatened coastal Moonah Woodlands as part of the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee’s recently launched Environmental Education and Activities Program.

GORCC conservation team leaders with North Geelong Secondary College VCE Students

Principal of North Geelong Secondary College, Nicholas Adamou, said the College was proud to be the first school taking part in the program.

“North Geelong Secondary College strongly values environmental education.

“Society is increasingly facing environmental issues and we believe we should be taking the lead and getting involved.

“We fully support worthwhile programs such as this one,” said Mr Adamou.

The GORCC Education and Activities Program offers opportunities for all ages to learn about and care for coastal environments and is offered free to schools and groups.

Fran Forsyth, North Geelong Secondary College VCE outdoor education teacher said the program formed part of the school’s unit four VCE Environmental Studies and their State of the Environment topic.

“GORCC’s Environmental education program was an opportunity to learn in a practical, hands on sense, and the program fits perfectly with what we are currently studying,” said Ms. Forsyth.

“GORCC’s Environmental education program was an opportunity to learn in a practical, hand on sense, and the program fits perfectly with what we are currently studying.”

GORCC Conservation Team Officer Georgie Beale, who led the activity, said the students participated in a range of activities.

“Activities included planting, a beach cleanup, rubbish pick up along Spring Creek and site maintenance which involved the removal of old guards around the Moonah Trees.

“It was a positive experience for both the students and for us, and helped to create awareness of the work involved in managing coastal sites”

Moonah Woodlands are listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1998, which identifies them as a threatened ecological community and high conservation priority.

A bee on a flowering Moonah tree

The Environmental Education and Activities Program is led by GORCC’s experienced Conservation Team, and has been set up through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country program.

IF your school or group is interested in getting involved, visit the GORCC website.

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times fortnightly ‘Green the Coast’ column.

Here are some more links if you would like to learn more about the threatened Coastal Moonah Woodlands.

Learn more about Coastal Moonah Woodlands

A field guide to Coast Moonah Woodlands in Victoria

Read about other local native flora

Joint forces protect threatened woodlands

Would you be interested in participating in a GORCC Environmental Education and Activities program? Click here for more information.



There’s an environmental education opportunity out there for you!

There are lots of opportunities for people of all ages to get involved in learning to help the environment and volunteering on the Surf Coast.

Is there one to suit you?

Educational Opportunities offered by GORCC

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) has recently launched an education program which has been specifically designed to be flexible, catering for a range of ages, skills and requirements and is available to schools and groups. Check out the Education and Activities program 

Stay tuned because GORCC is currently developing further educational resources which will be made available online and will include fact sheets, web clips, games, puzzles, activities, lesson ideas and more. These reources will be fun and interactive and will be made accessible for use by teachers, students, parents and anyone interested in coastal environments by the end of this year.

If you’re looking for educational resources already available look at our fact sheets and video clips.

 

GORCC has launched a new environmental education program.

 

Environmental volunteering can be an educational opportunity too!

If you are interested in making new friends and challenging themselves consider volunteering with one of the many volunteer groups operating on the coast. Volunteering is a great way to have new experiences, build knowledge and skills and is a hands on way to make a real difference. Volunteering can also be a great addition to your resume as well as being good for your health and fitness.

Many groups offer learning opportunities such as informative walks and resources. Get in contact with a local group to find out what they offer. For a contact list and details of local coastal volunteer groups click here.

 

St Bernard’s Catholic College students working with Anglesea Coast Action

 

There are a  range of other environmental education programs, activities, learning resources and more available from many different organisations and providers. Check out just a few examples of the opportunities on offer:

Plants and Animals Education Page

Forests Education

Threatened Species Education and Information Resources

Eco-Logic Education and Environment Services

Parks Victoria Education

Marine Discovery Centre

The Sustainability Hub

Birds Australia Education Resources

LandLearn

Australian Maritime Safety Authority Education Page

Victorian Association for Environmental Education

Australian Water Education Toolkit

Sustainable Schools

Do you know of any other great environmental education resources?

Have you or your family been involved in environmental education programs or accessed any resources?

Please share your thoughts and experiences!

Predatory pests targeted in Juc

Jan Juc Coast Action group is embarking on a fox control program in an effort to protect the local environment from the predatory pests.

Jan Juc Coast Action chairperson Luke Hynes said foxes were highly destructive to both flora and fauna.

“Foxes not only prey on native animals, but increase the spread of invasive weeds by dispersing weed seeds through their droppings and it is imperative that we reduce their impact,”  he said.

Foxes not only prey on native animals, but increase the spread of invasive weeds by dispersing weed seeds through their droppings and it is imperative that we reduce their impact.

“They are becoming more prevalent in the Jan Juc area, often being sighted around supermarkets and suburban backyards,” he said.

This confident fox was snapped in a Jan Juc residents backyard.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) conservation officer Georgie Beale said foxes could also be found in coastal vegetation, and that fox dens were a common sight in the dunes.

“The fox is a clever and oppotunistic predator , and carcasses of penguins and other small marsupials can be seen around their dens and scattered through the dunes.

Red Fox with bandicoot. Courtesy of DPIW Tasmania

“Ground nesting birds such as the hooded plover are particularly at risk. GORCC fences plover nesting areas in an attempt to not only protect this threatened species from dogs, but from foxes, ” she said.

Jan Juc Coast Action’s program involves trapping the foxes with soft jaw traps and does not utilise and bait in order to protect dogs.

GORCC is ordering and purchasing equipment for the group in support of the program.

“We are investigating different methods fox control, and are happy to be able to assist the group in this important program,” Beale said.

The Otway Coast Committee’s recent success using soft jaw traps for fox and feral cat trapping is serving as inspiration for the group.

OCC executive officer Gary McPike said about 30 foxes in total had been caught on beaches and foreshores in almost 18 months.

“This is a fantastic result for our native birds and animals. At the start of last year’s hooded plover breeding season three foxes were trapped inside one of our nesting areas in the one weekend.

” As a result, for only the second time in 10 years, at lease one plover chick grew to be a fledgling,” he said.

Traps are set away from beach access points and warning signs request dog owners keep their animals under control and stick to the paths.

If you would like to assist Jan Juc Coast Action in their work please call Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438.

This column was featured in the Surf Coast Time’s fortnightly Going Green Column.

Further resources:

Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994

European Red Fox information factsheet

What do you think?

Have you seen any foxes in your area?

Have you come across foxes anywhere else on the coast?

What are your thoughts about the control of foxes along the surf coast?

Joint force protects threatened woodlands

Anglesea Coast Action (ACA ) has joined forces with other coastal volunteer groups, students, a local business and local land managers to protect threatened Coastal Moonah Woodlands.

ACA secretary Carl Rayner said the work, which is focused on the sand dunes at Main Beach Anglesea, was necessary protect nearby Moonah Woodlands from the devastating impact of environmental weeds.

“Birds transfer seeds via their droppings into the woodland and the weeds then grow, eventually taking over the area by sucking all the moisture out of the soil and killing the Moonah trees,” said Mr Rayner.

Year nine students from St Bernard’s Catholic Boys College in Essendon assist ACA in their conservation work each year.

Students can be seen dragging cut vegetation from the sand dunes to the car park for mulching and using bow saws to cut smaller shrubs and trees.

Year 9 student volunteers from St Bernards Catholic Boys College Essendon working at Anglesea Main Beach.

St Bernard’s Campus Director Mark Smith said the project was an outdoor education experience for students and that for some it was their first experience of the coastal environment.

“The students gain an understanding of the natural environment and engage with the community and it provides them with great insight into coastal management,” he said.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Team organises the mulching of cut vegetation after working bees, which is then recycled for use at the time of planting.

Conservation Officer Georgie Beale said Coastal Moonah Woodlands were listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988, which identifies them as a threatened ecological community and a high conservation priority.

“Our team works to protect and enhance Moonah plant communities on a regular basis by removing environmental weeds along a wide range of sites right along the coast,” she said.

Once the site has been prepared, the Torquay Landcare Group facilitates approximately 40 staff volunteers from Quicksilver to plant 1500 indigenous plants in one day.

Torquay Landcare Group (TLG) member Rhonda Bunbury said that for four years, Quiksilver Foundation has sponsored Torquay Landcare in the group’s re-vegetation projects.

“It’s a fun day as well as hard work but there is a reward in watching the dunes come back to life with plants that belong in the dunes’ environment and which enrich the dune habitat,” said Ms Bunbury.

The project is supported by a $4,300 grant from the Coastal Small Grants program at the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority.

The ACA group meets on the second Saturday of each month at the Motor Yacht Club Point Roadknight for a working bee held 10am to 12noon. Anyone who would like to get involved can contact Carl Rayner on (03) 5263 2193 or (03) 9331 2810 email: crayner3@gmail.com.

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

Gazania! Have You Seen this Weed??

Gazania or ‘Treasure Flowers’ are environmental weeds currently invading native vegetation along the Surf Coast.

Although, these brightly coloured daisies seem attractive additions to gardens and nature strips, Gazania ‘escapees’ are causing serious problems to coastal flora and fauna.

If left unmanaged, Gazania will continue to spread and smother coastal dune and cliff vegetation within the Surf Coast, resulting in insidious weed infestations similar to that caused by Blackberry, Gorse and Boneseed.

Gazania Flower

Why is Gazania a problem??

Gazania withstand salt-laden winds, are extremely drought tolerant and thrive in sandy soils – making them the perfect invader of coastal areas such as the Surf Coast and Bellarine Peninsula.

Gazania spread via abundant wind-blown seed and by forming dense mats. The plants out-compete native species, such as orchids and lilies, for resources, degrade habitat and interrupt important ecological processes.

Furthermore, Gazania are freely available from local nurseries for less than $10. The plants are marketed as ‘soil-stabilisers, water-wise, easy-to-grow and low-maintenance’ making Gazania appear economically attractive and environmentally friendly.

BUT DON’T BE FOOLED – Gazania is considered a significant environmental weed and has the potential to completely cover the ground on which it grows, displacing native vegetation and directly threatening rare flora and fauna (Impact Assessment – Gazania in Victoria, Department of Primary Industries Victoria).

What does Gazania look like??

Gazania is a low-growing plant, which is easy to identify (you can spot Gazania along the Jan Juc cliff tops !). Look out for the following features:

  • Low-growing herb to 30 cm tall.
  • Leaves are either shiny or hairy and densely matted. Bright green or grey on the top with white with smooth hairs below.
  • Flowers in spring and summer (but can flower all year round in right conditions).
  • Showy, bright daisy flowers in tones of yellow, orange and red
  • Flowers close at night.
Gazania Flowers

How Can I Help??

Herbicide control of Gazania is notoriously difficult. The best way to prevent the spread of Gazania is to…

  • Remove (dig out) existing plants form your garden and nature strip. Avoid purchasing and planting Gazania.
  • You can also help control and eradicate Gazania from the Jan Juc cliffs by pulling weeds and planting trees with the Jan Juc Coast Action Group.

Where: Jan Juc cliff top car parks (Bird rock, Little Rock).

When: First Sunday of every month, 10am – 12pm.

What to Bring: Yourself, your family and your friends – we’ll supply the rest (even morning tea!).

Or join the annual ‘Weed Whacking Day’ held by Jan Juc Coast Action Group on the Jan Juc cliff tops. Contact Luke Hynes from Jan Juc Coast Action on 0406 113 438 or luke@beaconecological.com.au for more information.

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

Volunteers Restore Coastal Heathland

Most would agree the coastal environment along the Great Ocean Road is arguably one of the most beautiful natural locations in the world. The region is bursting with spectacular sights of dramatic cliffs, huge surf, and pristine beaches all delicately highlighted by one of Australia’s largest collections of indigenous flora and fauna.

Part of the reason the region stays so beautiful is many hardworking volunteer groups contribute hours of their time to protect, maintain and enhance the coastline we all love.  One such group is the dedicated members of the Anglesea Coast Action group.  You might have spotted them hard at work every second Saturday of the month planting indigenous species, controlling environmental weeds, developing walking tracks, preventing coastal and dune erosion and encouraging the growth of indigenous vegetation.

Over the past four years the group has been working on a project to restore the well known Anglesea heathlands which are renowned for their large diversity of wildflowers including strikingly coloured native orchids.  In November 2006 Anglesea Coast Action in partnership with ANGAIR Inc were successful in obtaining a Natural Heritage Trust Envirofund Grant of $15,700 to restore the original heathland vegetation between Anglesea Surf Club and the “Pullover” Lookout on the Great Ocean Road.

Above are historical photos of the area. (PLEASE PUT YOUR CURSOR ON EACH OF THE ABOVE HISTORICAL PHOTOS TO REVEAL THE CAPTION AND YEAR TAKEN)

The Problem

In 2006 the heathland was completely engulfed by environmental weeds and it was obvious that unless the weeds were removed quickly the original indigenous vegetation would be totally destroyed.  Environmental weeds including Coastal Tea Tree, Sweet Hakea and Giant Honey-myrtle invaded the site, smothering and killing most of the indigenous vegetation.

PHOTOS ABOVE SHOW THE SIZE OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL WEED COASTAL TEA TREE AND THE SWEET HAKEA (ANOTHER ENVIRONMENTAL WEED).  ON REMOVAL INDIGENOUS VEGETATION BEGAN TO GERMINATE (SEE SLIDES BELOW)

The Results

The ongoing devotion to the project has produced outstanding results.  The diversity of the regenerating flora has been excellent with at least 90% of the site now restored.  The soil on the site has become more moist and warm with the removal of environmental weeds and these conditions are ideal for germination of soil borne seed and the germination of heathland plants has been prodigious.  Since the project began, there has already been a list of more than 100 indigenous plants that have re-established.

The success of this project can also be attributed to the support received from the many students at St Bernards Catholic Boys College in Essendon. The schools Santa Monica campus for their year 9 students is located at Big Hill near Eastern View.  Groups of visiting students were involved in regular working bees with Anglesea Coast Action roughly every 6 weeks.

PHOTOS ABOVE SHOW PROGRESS AT PEGGED AREAS OF THE SITE IN  THE FOLLOWING ORDER:

  • Peg 5 2008, Peg 5 2009
  • Peg 8 2008, Peg 8 2009
  • Peg 10 2008, Peg 10 2009
  • View of Anglesea Clifftop now

How You Can Help

Volunteers are always needed to ensure our coastlines are properly maintained.  If you have some spare time and are the kind of person who gets satisfaction out of restoring indigenous vegetation to its original condition, or you love getting back to nature, then you can get involved. The Anglesea Coast Action group meets the second Saturday of every month at 9am at the Motor Yacht Club, Pt Roadknight, followed by a working bee from 10am till midday.

For more information contact Carl Rayner on 5263 2193 or 9331 2810, email: crayner3@gmail.com.

Story provided by Carl Rayner, Anglesea Coast Action.

Next steps to realising our future

The forum generated various ideas for the next steps that could be taken towards realising our future aspirations as coast carers. These ideas could be grouped into four key themes.

In the conversations we have from now onwards, we need to:

  • continue to talk about the BIG questions that we hold and find ways of communicating the key messages simply – with each other and with others (e.g. Why is our work important? What does it matter?)
  • create opportunities for more conversations between our community and the various agencies involved in coast care
  • look for opportunities where people are gathering to talk about related topics (e.g. fire management) and draw links to our purpose and activities, and
  • reframe the language we use when communicating with others (e.g. refer to ‘vegetation’ as ‘habitat’ – see Birds Australia publications for good examples of simple, accessible language).

We also need to use the stories we share as a foundation to:

  • create an ‘interpretive story’ for visitors to experience on the soon-to-be-built Surf Coast Walk
  • set a mission that everyone shares the stories (i.e. what we do and why) with as many people as we can and then invite them to join us in taking action
  • capture and share the great stories that we all know about (and start to actively collect these stories in words, photos and video), and
  • use our broader network to create its own online space that is accessible and simple, and allows local groups to upload and share stories, photos, event details, questions and video.

In the work we do together, we can start to:

  • fund and prioritise ongoing monitoring programs to inform our learning and outcomes
  • make our activities more visible to other people, starting with working bees and other activities on the Great Ocean Road (Note: during the forum, Coast Action/Coastcare provided a sign template that groups could use to promote their activities)
  • start to research and document (e.g. in a story) the extent to which we are ‘winning or losing’ the battle to save key ecosystem species/the war against environmental weed species, and
  • begin looking to the philanthropic sector as a possible funding source for our projects (e.g. www.ourcommunity.com.au).

By networking more we could:

  • find a central point of contact that works across all the agencies (e.g. Coast Action/Coastcare)
  • update our own lists of all current volunteer groups, starting with centralised information sources (e.g. Surf Coast Shire, Great Ocean Road Coast Committee), and
  • make the effort to do more ‘volunteer exchanges’ when doing on-ground works.

If we focus on implementing some or all of these ideas as we talk, share, work together and network, we will move forward together and achieve more on-ground success in caring for the coast!

If we had a magic wand…

During the forum, the group was asked this question:

If we had a magic wand that we could wave to make our work together everything we hoped for, what tangible things would we see?

The following responses provide a glimpse into our goals and hopes for the future as coast carers:

  • We have more volunteers, especially younger people joining us.
  • Community participation in our on-ground activities is filled with people from all parts of the coast, of all ages and cultures, and with a gender balance.
  • We have better links with land managers and agencies, and they are providing more help with our working bees.
  • We have more funding for on-ground works – and we are accessing new funding sources.
  • Funding agencies recognise the need for longer-term funding of our projects, which is enabling both certainty and monitoring of these projects into the future.
  • We have found ways to generate money from tourism to put into our on-ground works.
  • Applying for grant funding is now simple and accessible for all groups – only the essential information is needed to complete the submissions.
  • Our efforts have resulted in improved communication between all agencies, land managers and groups.
  • Our education efforts have raised awareness of the fact that we all share many goals, which has resulted in greatly strengthening communication.
  • We have evolved our communication to a point where each player has full knowledge of what each other is doing. As a result, groups are building on each other’s work, sharing skills and resources.
  • Succession planning and management has become a reality, and all groups are working together to plan ahead and share ideas.
  • The ongoing ‘politics’ continues… despite this, our work continues to get stronger with a healthy focus on catchment boundaries (instead of political lines on a map).
  • One single regional agency (or point of contact) has been established.
  • Our successful work has been widely acknowledged and promoted throughout the community.
  • It has become the norm for companies and larger organisations to provide staff on paid time-out to assist with on-ground works (e.g. Rip Curl Planet Days).
  • Growth in the employment of our people and groups has happened!
  • We are seeing richer biodiversity through the removal of weeds.
  • More and more people now know the difference between weeds and indigenous plant species.
  • Our community of volunteers and groups is using online tools in unique and effective ways. We use these tools to coordinate, share knowledge, and recruit and attract new people.