Annual event signals start to spring

Spring has definitely sprung with the warm weather welcoming the ANGAIR Wildflower and Art Exhibition on the 19th and 20th September.

The event attracted locals and visitors of all ages the area to explore the variety of stalls ranging from floral arrangements, propagation stalls and walks and rambles around the Anglesea area.

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Many organisations hosted stalls at the annual event, including the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC).

There was a lot of interest in the GORCC activities, attracting children and adults of all ages with colouring ins, puzzles and valuable information on local flora and fauna.

GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale said the weekend was a great opportunity for local organisations to raise awareness about the work being completed in the area and answer public questions.

“There was a good mix of everything on the weekend with lots of local organisations represented.

“It was great to see people of all ages enjoying the activities we had on offer and finding out more about GORCCs role in the community,” she said.

ANGAIR is a dedicated volunteer group that aims to protect and maintain the indigenous flora and fauna in the Anglesea and Aireys Inlet environments. For more information about volunteering in your local area visit our website.

What were your highlights from the day? Share them with us in the comments below. 

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. 

Eco burn for Jan Juc cliffs

Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA) has partnered with the local CFA to conduct an ecological burn as part of a trial to investigate how important grasslands respond to different treatments.

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Torquay CFA volunteers performing controlled ecological burns at Jan Juc

A five year ecological burn plan has been developed between JJCA group and Torquay CFA in an effort to optimise the flora vegetation at the Jan Juc cliffs.

The conservation plan is designed to increase overall biodiversity in the area by allowing plants time to set seed before the second fire.

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Local CFA volunteer monitors the planned burn to ensure the fire remains under control.

Australian flora needs fire for plants to seed and regenerate evolving from thousands of years of controlled burns by Indigenous Australians.

JJCA Chairperson – Luke Hynes is hopeful the ecological burns will improve the coastal vegetation along the cliffs and was grateful for the local CFA support.

“Our main challenge organising the ecological burns was finding a day to complete the burn when the weather is appropriate.

“We rely on fantastic local CFA volunteers to undertake the burns and really appreciate the time they put in,” he said.

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Six CFA volunteers helped clear the tussock grasses to create space for other native species.

The fire creates space between native grasses which allows smaller, indigenous herbs and plants room to grow.

Torquay CFA Captain, Phil Campbell was pleased at the outcome of the ecological burn, and said that the day was well organised and uncomplicated.

“We were very lucky with the wind and weather conditions. It was a coincidence that the weather on the day was perfect for burning, which made it a lot easier for us to control,” he said.

Mr Hynes is eager to see the results from the initial burn and hopes more native species will grow in the area.

“The Jan Juc cliffs were revegetated over 10 years ago with positive results, so hopefully we will be able to see a larger variety of herbs and grasses regrow along the cliffs,” he said.

The JJCA group is particularly interested in whether the fire will increase populations of the native rare orchid, Swamp Diuris, in the area.

Funds has been provided by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne to collect and grow seeds of the rare orchid and the JJCA group hopes the ecological burn will improve the populace.

The JJCA group works to preserve and revegetate the Jan Juc coastline with Indigenous species and the removal of environmental weeds.

Ongoing environmental conservation works are being conducted in the are to help combat erosion, pest invasion and the provision of tracks and lookouts.

Check out the JJCA Facebook page to keep up to date with what’s happening along the cliffs.

Are you fire ready for this summer? Share your tips of how you keep your home safe in the comments below. 

Hope for Orchid survival

The vulnerable Swamp Diuris orchid has a brighter future thanks to a fungus-focused regeneration program led by the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and Jan Juc Coast Action (JJCA).

The process has involved Royal Botanic Gardens Orchid Conservation Officer Neil Anderton, with assistance from JJCA volunteers, taking small root samples of the orchid which is growing at Bird Rock, Jan Juc.

JJCA volunteers Roma Edwards, Tom Elford, and Ian Edwards with Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale (second from left) observe Orchid Conservation Volunteer Neil Anderton as he safely removes a root sample.
JJCA volunteers Roma Edwards, Tom Elford, and Ian Edwards with Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale (second from left) observe Orchid Conservation Volunteer Neil Anderton as he safely removes a root sample.

Mr. Anderton said taking the root samples was the first of many steps in the process, which would hopefully result in the production of precious orchid seedlings.

“This is a non-destructive method which means the plant usually continues to grow as it would before the procedure,” he said.

After the roots were removed from the plants’ stems using sterilized equipment, Mr. Anderton worked with Nursery Technician Chris Jenek to extract crucial fungi which will be used to create healthy, thriving Swamp Diurus seedlings for future planting.

The exposed roots of the Swamp Diurus orchid. Neil removed the healthy root growing on the left side to for the fungi extraction.
The exposed roots of the Swamp Diurus orchid. Neil removed the healthy root growing on the left side to for the fungi extraction.

Neil Anderton said land clearance was a major contributor in the dwindling orchid species population, with very few Swamp Diurus communities remaining.

“I have assessed the area and estimate there are around 50 plants flowering or in bud at BirdRock presently.

“There are Swamp Diurus populations inland near St Arnaud, Stawell and Nhill, and further west from Port Campbell.

“However, land clearance has reduced the species range dramatically, meaning it is now listed as vulnerable in Victoria,” he said.

The beautiful Swamp Diurus orchid is listed as vulnerable in Victoria with one of the few communities remaining in Jan Juc.
The beautiful Swamp Diurus orchid is listed as vulnerable in Victoria with one of the few communities remaining in Jan Juc.

JJCA Volunteer Ian Edwards attended the Swamp Diurus recovery day, helping Mr. Anderton collect the fungi samples.

“We hope to learn more about the Swamp Diurus plant and how we can help protect it for future generations,” he said.

Jan Juc Coast Volunteers Tom Elford (left) and Ian Edwards share their conservation beliefs at the orchid-recovery day.
Jan Juc Coast Volunteers Tom Elford (left) and Ian Edwards share their conservation beliefs at the orchid-recovery day.

Mr Edwards, a long-term member of JJCA since 1994, said land degradation had resulted in severe impacts on the indigenous floral population, as had introduced species.

“From 1860 onwards, sheep and cattle grazed on the fragile land for about 100 years.

“Plants brought in from other countries and even other parts of Australia have also severely impacted on native species.

“Weed seedlings have spread to local land where they compete for survival with (often weaker) indigenous species, gradually killing them,” he said.

Neil Anderton of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne takes all the necessary precautions, ensuring the Swamp Diurus has the best chance of survival.
Neil Anderton of the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne takes all the necessary precautions, ensuring the Swamp Diurus has the best chance of survival.

If you would like support the JJCA’s environmental work, contact Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438 or click here for more information on other groups operating in our region.

Coastal Expedition for Kinder Kids!

The kids from Anglesea Kindergarten enjoyed an educational coastal excursion last week to Anglesea Main Beach.

The exciting expedition, facilitated by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) is part of a free program designed to encourage people of all ages to understand and respect our beautiful coastal environment.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee’s Conservation Supervisor, Georgina Beale engaged the kids in fun, educational activities.

“The aim of the excursion was to teach the kids about the importance of conserving their local coastal environment in a simplistic and interactive way, ” Ms Beale said.

“We covered topics such as marine fauna and flora, the impacts of litter on our marine environment and discussed the kids own beach experiences,

“The kids had great fun participating in a mock beach clean-up, a beach ‘treasures hunt’ as well as games and races, ”she said.

GORCC's Conservation Supervisor Georgina Beale facilitated fun coastal activities for the Anglesea Kindergarten kids.
GORCC Conservation Supervisor Georgina Beale facilitated fun coastal activities for the Anglesea Kindergarten kids.

Ms Beale believes it it vital to educate children about the important of preserving our coast at a young age.

“Our younger generations will be the future custodians of our coastal environment, so it is important for them to learn to nurture and respect our beautiful coast while enjoying it as the same time.”

The GORCC Environmental Education and Activities Program is free and provides participants of all ages with opportunities to learn about and care for coastal environments. Activities are led by experienced conservation experts who have teaching experience and a wealth of knowledge about coastal environments.

For more information about GORCC’s Environmental Education Programs, click here

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.
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