Five community and volunteer groups are set to benefit from the annual Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Coastal Grant program with $10,000 going to projects that protect, enhance and increase community connections to the coastal environment.
ANGAIR, Anglesea Motor Yacht Club, Fairhaven Surf Life Saving Club, Jan Juc Coast Action and Torquay Coast Action have all received funding towards their upcoming projects.
Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville said this year’s finalists and award winners have been exemplary.
“I’m proud of how we take real responsibility for the welfare of our coast, which not only improves the health of the environment, but also the livability of our communities.
“It is important we understand the threats to our coastal and marine environments, and the ways in which communities can take action to help limit their impacts,” she said.
Over the past 21 years, JJCA has rehabilitated four kilometers of coastal foreshore and continues to improve this area through monthly working bees conducting activities including the removal of pest species, fencing and revegetation.
In recent years, the group’s focus has shifted from revegetation and access control to targeted threatened species and raising environmental awareness through engaging with the community.
Recently JJCA launched their online searchable plant database the Surf Coast Nature Search, that aims to help support an increase in environmental awareness among locals and holiday makers.
The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) works closely with environmental volunteer groups that work on the GORCC managed land and was thrilled to see JJCA receive the award.
GORCC Community Liaison Manager Jane Lovejoy said the award was well deserved and a testament to the hard work volunteers donate each year to protect the coast.
“Volunteer groups continue to be the backbone of GORCC’s conservation efforts with 11 groups working directly on our managed land.
“It is fantastic to see local environmental volunteer groups receive recognition for their consistent contributions to enhancing our precious coastal environment,” she said.
Coastal conservation is everyone’s responsibility. How do you help keep our coast beautiful?
The Surf Coast Nature Search (SCNS), an interactive, online search tool for identifying weeds and indigenous plants in our region, has been launched.
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.
“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.
“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.