Students celebrate coastal conservation


Image
Hilary Bouma (GORCC Education Activity Leader) and Byron Powell, Wathaurung elder.

90 students joined some special guests at a coastal forum in Torquay this week to celebrate of a year of coastal conservation achievements.

Year nine students from four regional schools came together at the environmental education forum which is held each year as part of the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Coast Guardians Program.

GORCC Community Liaison Manager Jane Rowlands said the forum celebrated the significant contribution the students have made over the past year to the local coastal environment.

Image
Phil Armato (Fisheries Victoria) shows a wobbegong shark jaw to Lorne P-12 College student, James Wainwright.

“The day included interactive activities and challenges, prominent guest speakers, student presentations and prizes and giveaways.

This year’s guest speakers and special guests included:

•    Wathaurung aboriginal elder Bryon Powell
•    Phil Armato: manager of Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre for Fisheries Victoria. Previously worked at the RSPCA and Zoos Victoria.
•    Dr Kate Charlton-Robb: founding director and principal researcher at the Australian Marine Mammal Conservation Foundation. Researcher, lecturer, campaigner, and discoverer of the unique species of Port Phillip Bay Dolphins called Burrunan Dolphins.

The day has been designed to increase and extend understanding on topics students have covered over the last twelve months including aboriginal culture, coastal animals and plants and threats to and management of, the natural coastal environment.

“We hope that these Coast Guardians will now graduate to become ongoing ambassadors for our beautiful and fragile coast,” said Ms.Rowlands.

Students received thank you gift packs donated by Quiksilver and, spot prizes donated by other local businesses.

“GORCC thanks Quiksilver and other local businesses for supporting this very special program and for recognising the achievements of these students who are making a very real difference to the environment.

The GORCC Coast Guardians Program sees four schools take ownership of the rehabilitation and conservation of four sites.   Schools involved are:
•    Lorne Aireys P-12 College
•    Geelong Lutheran College
•    Northern Bay College
•    Surf Coast Secondary College

“This is a long term program where students, mainly year 9s, look after a specific site between Torquay and Lorne over 5 years.

“The Coast Guardians Program aims to relate work undertaken on the ground to the school curriculum, linking to subjects such as science, outdoor education and community volunteering,” said Ms. Rowlands.

For more information on the Coast Guardians Program visit http://www.gorcc.com.au.

SCEG Hosts August Film Night


Australians generate approximately 41 million tonnes of waste each year. Half of this waste is not being recovered for recycling (Clean up Australia, 2009).

To help encourage recycling practices, the Surf Coast Energy Group (SCEG) are inviting the community to attend the August film night, which will showcase the award winning film, ‘Waste Not’.

The 30 minute film, created by Total Environment Centre follows the journey of our rubbish as it is sorted and handled by an army of workers. The night aims to transform the community into ‘Waste Wizards’ and raises awareness about the importance of recycling.

Plastics collected from the beach by a count group
Plastics collected from the beach by a count group

After the screening of this empowering film, the evening will continue with engaging activities for the whole family including:

•    ‘Sort it’, where the whole family can decide what should really be in the recycle bin.
•    ‘Show and Tell’, an opportunity for community members to present their best reuse and recreate item for the chance to win a prize.
•    Rubbish experts from the Shire and Barwon Regional Waste Management answering your questions about where to recycle other items.
•    A discussion about the Surf Coast Shire’s vision to reduce landfill.
•    A delicious supper provided by Zeally Bay Bakery, Hidden Secrets and SCEG volunteers.

SCEG encourages everyone to come dressed in their best op shop outfit and walk the red carpet at Surfworld Theatrette Torquay, on Friday 2nd of August, commencing at 7pm. Entry by donation.

Watch the Waste Not trailer to gain an insight into the film:

For more information, visit:
http://sceg.org.au/

For more information on environmental issues, visit:
http://gorcc.com.au/

Related blog posts:

107Rubbish dumping still a threat to our coast
1362014657_KABwhitebackground Deal with waste responsibly

Coast connections at student forum


Students from four regional schools came together to celebrate a year of coastal conservation achievements at an environmental forum held in Torquay last week.

EcoLogic’s Sophie Small, GORCC Education Activity Leader Sarah Bolus, Northern Bay College students Brian Devlin and Dylan Shelly with some ‘bush tucker’ they learnt about as part of the forum activities.

The educational event formed part of the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Coast Guardians Program and included environmental activities, guest speakers and student presentations.

Geelong Lutheran College Middle School Co-Ordinator Georgia Quirk said the forum highlighted the importance and impact of the students’ year of environmental work.

“It was great to see the students come together with the other schools in the program, and realise that what they have done has a larger purpose.

“Together we can achieve a whole lot more and it was wonderful to see our students interacting with others by take part in this community endeavour,” Ms Quirk said.

Participants learnt about indigenous foods, protecting and caring for wildlife, the impact of marine debris on our environment and were encouraged to consider environmental volunteering and future careers in conservation.

GORCC Conservation Officer Georgina Beale said the forum acknowledged the students’ hard work and contribution to maintaining the coastal environment.

“The students have assisted us to protect and enhance the natural environment and supported the incredible work of local environmental volunteer groups,” said Ms. Beale.

The program covered a range of environmental topics integrated with hands-on activities such as weeding, planting and erosion prevention.

Geelong Lutheran College, Northern Bay P-12 College and Lorne-Aireys Inlet P-12 College and Surf Coast Secondary College Students took part in the Coast Guardians Program for 2012.

Each school took ownership of the rehabilitation and conservation of a coastal site with the help of GORCC’s conservation team and supported by local volunteer groups including ANGAIR, Friends of Queens Park and Torquay Coast Action.

GORCC Conservation Officer Georgie Beale and Education Activity Leader Sarah Bolus with students at the forum.

Visit or like GORCC on Facebook to see more images of the Coast Guardians End of Year Forum.

What is the Coast Guardian Program?

Students involved ranged from years 7-10 from four schools.  The activities the students undertook this year helped to increase awareness of environmental issues and encouraged social responsibility and environmental stewardship and it is hoped that participants will be able to walk along that section of coast in years to come and see the results of their hard work.

The program is additional to GORCC’s general Environmental Education Activities Program and is provided free of charge to the schools involved.

Read more about the program here.

Want to get involved in GORCC’s Environmental Activities Program or volunteering on the coast?

Learn more about it the Environmental Activities Program here.

Visit the volunteer page for further information on volunteering opportunities.

Related blog posts:

 img_0964Young conservationists take action
leanne-booley-permission-to-use Adults delve into environmental education!  
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Young protectors preserve coast
img_041811 Counteracting the Coast Tea-Tree invasion

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

Emerging thoughts on tackling climate change


The recent Shell EcoVolunteers Geelong Climate Change Forum run by Conservation Volunteers Australia opened with a message for us all.   David Tournier of the Wathaurong Community welcomed the attendees with the words “I have been involved in land care since birth” – a sobering thought for a group of people meeting to discuss environmental challenges created through a lack of protection for the very land he was referring to.

The forum aimed to articulate important actions to be taken locally in response to the effects of climate change on biodiversity, and gave participants a greater understanding of what others were doing to tackle climate change.

Forum Speakers
EcoVolunteers Geelong Climate Change Forum Speakers

Speakers from various facets of the community described how they were making a difference within their businesses, careers and communities.  Some of the speakers sharing their stories included:

  • Mark Schubert, General Manager of the Shell Refinery: Mark spoke about climate proofing our communities.  This included information on “integrating economic, environmental and social considerations into business decision-making”, and how Shell was tackling the issue on both a local and global stage.  Mark’s presentation can be found here.
  • Patrick O’Callahan, Director of Conservation Enterprises and the Conservation Volunteers Australia Wild Futures Program: Patrick raised the point that it is not necessarily about trying to save the world, but thinking about actions we can initiate right now, so that plans come to life and become ‘living documents’, and spoke about the animals being targeted by the Wild Futures program, including the Australian Flat Back Turtle and the Southern Bell Frog.  Patrick’s presentation can be found here.
  • Assoc. Professor Peter Waterman, Environmental Planner and Associate Professor, Environmental Science at the University of Sunshine Coast: Peter clarified ambiguities surrounding definitions of and phrases relating to climate change, and spoke about ‘climate proofing’ and how to adapt to change. Peter’s presentation can be found here.
  • Katie Gillett, President of the Geelong West Community Garden, Chair of the Geelong Organic Gardeners: Katie spoke about community gardens as a tool for tackling climate change and their ability to improve health, look after our environment, create a sense of community and increase food security.   Katie’s presentation can be found here.
  • Mark Sanders, Managing Director of Third Ecology – Third Ecology is a multi disciplinary firm focusing on sustainability in architecture, construction management and sustainability advice and ratings.  Mark focussed on tackling climate change through architecture and his presentation can be found here.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee’s Website also has information on what the organisation and others are doing to maintain the coast’s health and resilience in light of climate change impacts such as sea level rise and other threats and what you can do to help.

Below is a video clip available from The Committee’s website about climate change along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road Coast and how you can help us to look after the coast by reducing your carbon footprint.

Other topics on the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee site include:

  • A healthier future for our coast
    Why climate change is important and its likely impacts on our beautiful coastal environment.
  • Climate change snapshot
    An overview of potential climate change effects and their impacts on coastal communities.
  • Learn more
    Useful documents and links to more information about climate change and our coast.
  • Make a difference
    Simple things you can do to reduce your own carbon footprint and contribute to reducing climate change impacts on our coast.

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!