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.
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.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participants in a recent local workshop on Phytophthora Dieback which threatens the Surf Coast’s bushland were shocked to learn that the water mould that rots the roots of plants is much tougher than at first thought.
Dr Jane Allardyce of Deakin University told 25 people at the Friends of Point Addis workshop that the mould spreads by moving through water and moist soil but it can survive for six to eight years in leaf litter and dry soils up to three metres deep.
Research has shown that Phytophthora (pronounced Fy-toff-thora) Dieback can attack more than a quarter of taller plant species and between half and three-quarters of low-growing flowering plants, just the sort of plants that make the Surf Coast’s bushland and heathland so beautiful.
The plants most at risk in the Surf Coast are the ancient grasstrees, Coastal banksias and Horny conebush.
But home gardens, in which the beauty comes from non-native species, are equally in peril. Among susceptible plants are apple, peach and apricot trees, grapevines, camellias, azaleas, roses, proteas and rhododendrons.
It is in everyone’s interest to minimise the spread of the disease and workshop participants learned some simple precautions they could take including:
Anyone walking or riding bikes in bushland should start the trip with clean footwear, camping gear, bike frames and tyres and avoid walking or riding in puddles.
Carry a spray bottle containing 70 per cent methylated spirits and 30 per cent water and a small brush to clean and disinfect footwear, gear and tyres before leaving a diseased area. Horse-riders should treat their horses’ hooves as if they were boots.
Stick to formed tracks and avoid walking or riding in wet or muddy conditions if at all possible.
Use wash-down stations if they are provided.
Gardeners can take extra precautions to safeguard their gardens including:
Never taking plants, soil, gravel or bush litter from bushland.
Mulch should be properly sterilised and plants sourced from reputable nurseries.
Using clean and sterilise equipment and tools with 70/30 methylated spirits and water, which is good garden hygiene even if Phytophthora Dieback isn’t present.
How do we know where the killer is lurking?
Workshop participants learned to assume the worst and to always use the hygiene precautions when enjoying Surf Coast bushland.
It takes a mere few months for beautiful native plants to become infected and killed by the root-rot fungus known as Phytophthora Dieback.
What is the effect of the root-rot fungus?
The root-rot fungus works by spreading through moist soil and quickly infecting and killing a number of native plants – from the well-known ‘Grass Trees’ particularly prevalent in the Great Otway National Park, to coastal Banksias and even large trees.
How does the disease spread?
If you have walked through the Great Otway National Park, you probably would have come across easily recognizable Grass Trees. The effect of the fungus on these Grass Trees, as well as other plant, is also recognizable. From beautiful blue-green fronds to tangled brown in just a few months – the rapid effect is devastating.
Parks Victoria have set up stands for brushing and washing shoes and bike tyres around the Ironbark Basin area.
How can you get involved?
The Friends of Point Addis are this month holding an information session for any concerned locals, landowners and visitors to learn more about the disease and what they can do to help stop the spread of disease.
Register to attend the workshop by emailing (email@example.com) or calling Bronwyn Spark on 5263 2224. Then come on down to the Ironbark Basin car park off Point Addis Rd Saturday July 21 to learn more in the free Workshop.
Remember – we all need to pull together to stop the fungus from infecting our native flora!
This story featured in the Surf Coast Time’s fortnightly Green the Coast Column.
Do you have any more ideas about how we can protect our native flora and fauna? Let us know!
Have you heard the news? It seems that the endangered Tiger Quoll has made a reappearance in our region.
ABC Radio’s World Today Program this week announced the first confirmed sighting of the critically endangered species in a decade, with holidaymakers near Lorne catching a glimpse of an endangered marsupial.
Matt Moreton and Joanne Wood heard a thud on their back deck last month. When the couple went outside to investigate, they saw an unusual animal which resembled an oversized, ginger and white spotted possum.
Mr. Moreton and Ms. Wood collected samples shortly after the animal defecated outside their laundry door. Tests on the animal’s faeces by the Cape Otway Conservation Ecology Centrehave confirmed that it was in fact a Tiger Quoll (Dasyurus maculatus).
Ms. Wood told the Geelong Advertiser she had never seen anything like the marsupial before.
What does this sighting mean for the fate of Tiger Quolls?
This sighting indicates there are still some isolated populations of Tiger Quoll in the Otway Ranges.
The Cape Otway Conservation Ecology Centre is training dogs to detect Tiger Quoll faeces. Locating their faeces will result in more effective conservation efforts and will hopefully lead to more sightings in the future.
What are Tiger Quolls?
They are the largest carnivorous marsupial remaining on mainland Australia. Tiger Quolls have a red-brown to dark brown fur and are covered with distinct white spots which vary in size. They have sharp teeth and a long snout and tail.
Tiger Quolls mostly hunt at night as they are nocturnal creatures. The majority of their diet consists of gliders, possums, rabbits, and even small wallabies. Their diet also consists of carrion (dead animals), birds, eggs, reptiles and invertebrates.
They become completely independent of their mothers at 18 months old and have a life span of about five years.
In the past, Tiger Quolls were commonly found in south-eastern Australia and Tasmania. Unfortunately since European settlement, they have become an endangered species.
Check out what a Tiger Quoll looks like in this short YouTube clip.
There are few areas where Tiger quolls can exist without being affected by humans. So, they are particularly susceptible to a number of threats including land clearing, introduced species, baits and fire.
Tiger Quolls are found in a variety of dense habitats from rainforests to woodlands. They prefer to live and hide in caves, hollow logs, burrows and rock crevices. Sadly, these habitats are often destroyed.
Introduced species such as foxes and cats threaten the existence of Tiger quolls as they compete for their food and are potential predators.
Tiger Quolls are also highly susceptible to the baits used to control these introduced species.
Cats and foxes are highly prevalent on the Surf Coast. To learn more about these predators check out these links:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was written by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee and published in the Surf Coast Time’s Going Green Column.
Those of us involved with GORCC – whether as employees, voluntary committee members, coastal volunteer groups or partners – all have one thing in common. We all love our beautiful Great Ocean Road coast. It’s our inspiration and passion.
Here are 10 things that put a smile on our faces and make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
The sun rising above the ocean on a perfectly still, crystal clear morning.
Six foot at Boobs – or any of our other favourite local surf breaks.
The walk along the cliff tops from Jan Juc to Bells Beach – simply stunning any time of the day all year round.
The swingbridge and boardwalk on the Erskine River – a picturesque greeting card as you drive into Lorne and an enjoyable place to while away some time during your stay.
Torquay Surf Beach on a summers day – despite the crowds!
Volunteers working alongside our outdoor works crew at 6am on New Years Day to help clean-up the Lorne foreshore after its busiest night of the year.
More than 2,000 people gathering in the dark at Torquay’s Point Danger for the ANZAC Day dawn service.
The magnificent views over the Eagle Rock Marine Sanctuary from the Split Point Lighthouse in Aireys Inlet.
An opportunity to rug up and walk along the beach in winter with a storm brewing over the Otways – ideal vantage points include Fairhaven, Moggs Creek, Easternview and Lorne.
The feeling of relaxation that comes over you as you dig your toes in the sand.
These are just a few of our favourite things. We could go on ad infinitum but we’re more interested in finding out what it is about our coast that you love. You can add to our list by posting a comment to share your favourite things about the coast.