Forum Focusses on Biodiversity Issues

The Otway Biodiversity Forum was held in Colac recently with participants attending from across the region.  Groups representated included  management bodies,  government agencies,  and community organisations.

The Forum, hosted by the Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN), discussed how current conservation projects and ideas can be linked, prioritized, and improved upon and was aimed at increasing community awareness and improving ecological values and environmental well-being.

biodiversity forum

Department of Environment and Primary Industries District Planning Manager (Otway District) Craig Clifford said the forum was a well organised and productive day.

“By bringing all the stakeholders together to discuss projects, ideas and possible linkages/partnerships the OCCN can ensure an integrated approach to land management.

“The OCCN provides a platform for groups who do not fit within  formalised networks and provides the support and leadership they need,” he said.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgina Beale attended the day and was happy with the progress made by all groups.

“We have been able to discover related projects and identify other groups who have the same goals.   Hopefully we can team up in the future and have a greater positive  impact on the environment,” she said.



Ms. Beale believes programs like GORCC’s Environmental Education Program can really benefit from increased support and partnerships.

“Community organisations and volunteer groups are vital in educating the younger generation…without them, students may not appreciate and take care of the environment,” she says.

To learn more about the Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN) and how they can help your group or organisation to reach your environmental goals, check out the video below:

The OCCN host regular biodiveristy forums and representatives from all regional groups and organisations are invited to attend. To learn more,  contact Luke Hynes on 0406 113 438 or email

Weeding out coastal invaders

A new conservation network is weeding out threats to native vegetation along the coast and you can help starting with your own backyard.

The Otway Community and Conservation Network (OCCN) is working to reduce the threat of two invasive weed species, Boneseed Chrysanthemoides monbilifera and Bridal Creeper Asparagus asparagoides.

Otway Community Conservation Network Introduction

OCCN project facilitator Luke Hynes says Boneseed and Bridal Creeper are regarded as two of the worst weeds in Australia due to their invasiveness and potential for spread.

“Boneseed and Bridal Creeper are emerging weeds in this area and it is essential that we control these weeds before they become established,” said Mr Hynes.

Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) Officer Craig Clifford says that the weeds will be removed from public and private land, giving landholders an important role to play in controlling the weeds.

“We have been getting on top of infestations in some of the DSE managed areas but this is a great opportunity to assist adjacent private landholders,” said Mr Clifford.

“We have been getting on top of infestations in some of the DSE managed areas but this is a great opportunity to assist adjacent private landholders.”

September is the peak flowering time for both species and the network is preparing for a busy control period.

“September is the best time to control both of these species.  The yellow Boneseed flowers in particular are very easy to spot and control.

Boneseed flowers, one of Austrlia’s most dreaded weeds.

“It is important that coastal residents look out for these weeds and are proactive in removing these weeds from their backyards,” said Mr Hynes.

“It is important that coastal residents look out for these weeds and are proactive in removing these weeds from their backyards.”

During the early flowering period of August, OCCN mapped all known infestations of Boneseed and Bridal Creeper across the project area, which includes land from Anglesea to Port Campbell and through to Colac.

OCCN volunteers removing Boneseed on the Surf Coast

‘’With infestations in the project area mapped we can get stuck into control works before the plants set seed in October,’’ said Mr Hynes.

The mapping is guiding OCCN during the prioritisation process which will determine the most important sites for weed removal.

High priority sites include smaller, outlying infestations around Wye River, Kennett River, Borongarook, Deans Marsh and Bambra and heavier infestations between Lorne and Anglesea.

OCCN members Jack Pascoe, Michael Callahan, Gary White, John Wilson, Georgie Beale, Peter Hay and Ulric Orr.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Officer Georgie Beale says that GORCC will be removing weeds in Anglesea with the help of funding from OCCN.

“OCCN has done a wonderful job coordinating all the conservation groups which was a large job in itself,” said Ms Beale.

For more information contact Luke Hynes PH: 0406 113 438 or Email:

This column bought to you by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC). To view the GORCC website click here.

This column appeared in the Surf Coast Times on the 6 September 2011.

For more information:


Bonseed infestation map

Bridal Creeper

Bridal Creeper infestation map

The Otway Community Conservation Network

Are you an OCCN volunteer?

Would you be interested in helping to weed out the Boneseed and Bridal Creeper infestations?

Have you seen any infestations not included in the mapped area?

We would greatly appreciate your feedback!

New network to protect Otways

Community conservation groups and natural resource management agencies are uniting in a mission to protect and enhance biodiversity in the Otways.

The Otway Community Conservation Network (OCCN) aims to reduce the threat of weed species on native bush in the Otways, and raise awareness of the impacts of weeds in the community.

The OCCN is a joint initiative by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and Parks Victoria and the OCCN steering committee includes representatives from a range of natural resource management agencies.

The Otway Community Conservation Network Steering Committee

DSE Forest Officer Craig Clifford says DSE and Parks Victoria welcome the establishment of the OCCN, which is funded by the Australian Government Caring for our Country Program.

“By supporting community conservation groups, increasing coastal community awareness and acting as a link between communities and agencies, the network will play a key role in protecting the rich biodiversity in the Otways,” he said.

Project facilitator Luke Hynes says need was identified for an integrated approach.

“Many groups were already working on controlling these two species in the area, however a lack of coordination was impeding the process,” he said.

Mr Hynes will be working with community groups and agencies to tackle biodiversity issues in the region a concentrated, collaborative effort.

“The initial focus is to remove and control Boneseed and Bridal Creeper – two weeds of natural significance,” he said.

Mr Hynes says this year’s work will include the creation of a comprehensive map of all the Boneseed and Bridal Creeper infestations in the Otways.

“It is anticipated this map will be vital in identifying key infestation areas and where best to direct our efforts,h” he said.

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Conservation Supervisor Georgie Beale works regularly with community conservation groups to control weeds and is a representative on the OCCN steering committee.

“GORCC will be assisting to guide the network in respect to weed infestations on GORCC managed land and assisting to ensure an effective approach,” she said.

The OCCN is looking for people who want to be involved in native bush restoration, including landholders with Boneseed and Bridal Creeper problems, community members passionate to take action or corporate organisations that want to volunteer their time.

For more information and to see how your group or organisation can benefit please contact Luke Hynes 0406 113 438 or

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