Invasive orchids get the boot

Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA) faced an unusual task during their last working bee for 2015 – finding and removing the tenacious South African orchid Disa bractreata.

The highly invasive orchid species first appeared in Victoria in the mid-1990s after being introduced in Western Australia in 1946. Read more

Guest Post: Geelong Lutheran College Coast Guardians 2015

GORCC’s Coast Guardians program is a special, ongoing program created for year 9 students from four local and regional schools. Each school works on protecting and enhancing a local coastal area. Here is a blog post from Annalyse, Brittany, Cameron and Lilly from Geelong Lutheran College about their Coast Guardians experience this year: Read more

Curl crew helps planet

Rip Curl employees have teamed up land managers to conduct conservation work along the local coast as part of the annual Rip Curl Planet Day.

Each year the Rip Curl staff from the Torquay Head Office donate one working day to environmental volunteering, working with the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC), the Surf Coast Shire, Parks Victoria, and local volunteer groups.

IMG_5401 (Large)
Rip Curl team members braved the 33 degree day to plant hundreds of indigenous flora at Cosy Corner this Planet Day.

The annual event has seen over 85,000 indigenous Surf Coast plants planted along coastal reserves stretching from Point Impossible through to Bells Beach/Southside.

Rip Curl Team Event and Promotions Manager Mark Flanagan said the day was important to the Rip Curl staff as it provides the opportunity for them to give back to their community.

“The majority of our Torquay staff live on or near the Surf Coast and use the local areas.

“It’s a great feeling for the Rip Curl team to be able to walk past and see the progress of the areas they worked on over the years,” he said.

IMG_5398 (Large)
Rip Curl team members partnered with the GORCC conservation team to re-vegetate the popular beach destination.

Mr Flanagan said one of Rip Curl’s core values is to be environmentally responsible with Planet Day providing the opportunity for staff members to actively contribute to their local environment.

“Planet Day is a fantastic way to support the team of dedicated land managers and volunteers who spend hundreds of hours every year to make the coast a better place,” Mr Flanagan said.

Rip Curl CEO and Planet Day participant Stephen Kay said he enjoys seeing the results from the Rip Curl staff.

“We value the opportunity to contribute to the local environment and are committed to the future of the program,” he said.

IMG_5405 (Large)
The team takes a break from the sweltering heat this Planet Day.

Staff are divided into various groups over the two days to complete environmental activities such as indigenous tree planting, eradicating environmental weeds, removing rubbish and implementing water saving strategies.

Long-time Rip Curl team member Dianne McCall has participated in Planet Day every year since it began in 2000, and loves seeing the difference the work has made.

IMG_5409 (Large)
More than 600 indigenous plants were re-introduced to the Cosy Corner foreshore.

“The day is a great opportunity to socialise and work with people who you wouldn’t normally see in the office whilst also having a positive impact on the coast,” she said.

Local environmental volunteer groups and land managers work to ensure that progress made by the Rip Curl crew is maintained through ongoing conservation works and programs throughout the year.

IMG_5423 (Large)
Cosy Corner was one of many Torquay areas to receive an environmental make over thanks to the Rip Curl staff this Planet Day.



Rip Curl has a strong determination to be environmentally responsible and encourages everyone to demonstrate environmental stewardship. What are some of the things you do to protect our coast? Let us know in the comments below. 

Teamwork trumps weeds

Lorne volunteer groups are combining to tackle invasive weeds as part of an annual effort to conserve local parklands, while encouraging others to take small, environmentally-aware actions every day.

Friends of Queens Park (FoQP) and LorneCare will conduct three intensive working bees between August and October, joining together to overcome weeds in popular local destination Queens Park.

FoQP Chairman John Wilson said that while weed removal was a priority and essential to protecting and enhancing biodiversity, the group was also focussing on educating others.

“Removal of garden escapees such as boneseed, cape broom and sweet pittosporum is an important part of creating a sustainable coastal environment, however weed removal is not the only focus for environmental volunteers.

John Wilson and sweet pittospurum
FoQP Chairman John Wilson explains the various weeds FoQP and LorneCare are targeting in the area to volunteers. He is pictured here with the environmental weed, Sweet Pittosporum. Photo: Ferne Millen

“FoQP is trying to let people know that conservation extends beyond weed control, and that the real meaning of conservation is about making environmentally conscious choices in our everyday living,” he said.

LorneCare Co-founder and Co-convener Alain Purnell said the personal satisfaction of being involved in local conservation is one of the most rewarding elements of volunteering.

“Working along the coast and in Queens Park, we continually see the progress our groups have made,” he said.

3_163
Volunteers of all ages participate in the local working bees, helping locals raise environmental awareness in the community. Photo: Ferne Millen

While environmental volunteering often involves hands-on conservation, Mr Purnell said it was the social aspect and sense of satisfaction that motivated volunteers to continue their involvement.

“These types of groups are a great way to meet new people in the community, whether they are local residents or seasonal holidaymakers.

“Volunteering is a great excuse to catch up with friends and have a barbeque to celebrate our achievements for the day,” Mr Purnell said.

image041
Picturesque views along the coast provide a wonderful backdrop for volunteers and visitors. Photo: Ferne Millen

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) works alongside and supports volunteers in their environmental efforts.

GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale praised the ongoing dedication of volunteer groups operating along the Great Ocean Road.

“Our local volunteers do a fantastic job along our coast and their ongoing support of our conservation efforts is unparalleled.

“It is everyone’s responsibility to help protect our precious coast.

Simple actions such as staying on designated walking tracks, removing environmental weeds from your garden and avoiding fenced off areas make a real difference in the preservation of fragile ecosystems,” she said.

Queens Park is a popular recreational destination consisting of over 40ha of parkland and is home to the recently rebuilt Teddy’s Lookout.

image044
Volunteers and the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee work hard to keep the environmental weeds out of areas like the iconic Teddy’s Lookout. Photo: Ferne Millen

FoQP and LorneCare’s next working bee will be held at Teddy’s Lookout at 10am Sunday 18th October and new volunteers are always welcome.  For more information about FoQP, LorneCare, or your local community group visit our website. 

Conservation is more than just weed eradication. Share what conservation means to you in the comments below.

Guest Post: Friends of Queens Park

GORCC works alongside and supports many volunteer groups who operate on coastal Crown land reserves from Torquay through to Lorne. These groups spend thousands of hours each year undertaking vital conservation work and raising awareness in the community. Friends of Queens Park Lorne are one volunteer group working towards creating an environmentally friendly future. 

This is an excerpt from the Friends of Queens Park Spring 2015 newsletter:

Sweet Pittosporum, bone seed and cape broom have all met their downfall over the past few months, thanks to the work of GORCC and the Green Army. Also there’s the social connectivity of the volunteer groups Friends of Queens Park and LorneCare working together in Queens Park with three working bees planned during the spring.

John Wilson with Pittosporum
Friends of Queens Park chairman John Wilson explains the damage Sweet Pittosporum has on native vegetation to Friends of Queens Park and LorneCare volunteers at their working bee. Photo: Ferne Millen

An example of this work can be seen on the fire track leading up to Teddy’s Lookout from the Queens Park caravan park. It’s a revealing dividing line showing good weed control management on the uphill side, neglect on the downside. Take a look on your next walk down this track.

We trace the growth cycle of Sweet Pittosporum. It begins with the sweet smelling flowers. The resulting seeds are spread by birds and emerge as small plants growing prolifically to form a dense canopy of foliage so dense that the sun can’t shine through. There’s semi darkness underneath an old stand, soil nutrients change, indigenous plants die and biodiversity is destroyed. It’s an invasive weed which can spread very rapidly.

To counteract this invasion is it essential to limit the spread by removing foliage and some entire plants.

Volunteers work tirelessly all year to remove environmental weeds from the coast to help preserve the natural environment. Photo: Ferne Millen
Volunteer groups work tirelessly all year to remove environmental weeds from coastal habitats to help preserve the natural environment and stunning views along the Great Ocean Road. Photo: Ferne Millen

Control of the Sweet Pittosporum requires drastic action. Whole plants often have to be removed by cutting the trunk at its base and the stumps painted with systemic herbicide immediately after cutting to ensure that the plant is killed.

After the Sweet Pittosporum has been cleared away the land is left bare for the regeneration of indigenous species.

Interested in getting involved in the outdoors? Check out our website to find out how!

Conservation plan released

GORCC’s 2015-2020 Native Vegetation and Weed Action Plan (NVWAP) has been released.

GORCC engaged locally based consultant Beacon Ecological to lead the revision of original 2009 NVWAP.  The updated 2015 NVWAP will guide GORCC’s on-ground conservation work over the next five years and aims to protect and enhance ecological values along the 37km of coast under GORCC’s care.

NVWAP

GORCC Environmental Projects Coordinator Alex MacDonald  said the updated plan sees a continued focus on the eradication of weeds which are identified as the key threat to coastal biodiversity.

“Weeds have been identified as the number one threat to GORCC coast management.

“It is a widespread issue which is difficult to combat without a sustained and coordinated effort,” she said.

GORCC Environmental Projects Coordinator Alex MacDonald with Beacon Ecological consultant Luke Hynes, who undertook the weed plan revision process.
GORCC Environmental Projects Coordinator Alex MacDonald with Beacon Ecological consultant Luke Hynes, who undertook the weed plan revision process.

The revision and development process included consultation with local environmental volunteer groups, land managers and other key stakeholders.

Ms. MacDonald said GORCC and environmental volunteers had made significant progress in combatting invasive weeds along the Surf Coast, but that weed eradication remained a big challenge.

“Invasive species can have devastating impacts on the biodiversity on GORCC managed land, which is why it is important to develop and implement an effective action plan for future management,” she said.

To view the plan, click here. Interested in learning more about environmental volunteering on the coast? Click here to find out how.

How do you plan to overcome the weeds in your backyard? Let us know in the comments below!

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.