No reservations about Picnic Point

Members of the Friends of Picnic Point Reserve (FOPPR) Landcare Group recently celebrated their achievements with a community gathering held at the Picnic Point Reserve.

The group started as a collection of locals concerned with the degradation of the local wetland and a shared vision to restore the natural surrounds. A plan was devised and the group started a concerted effort to restore the 10 acre site.

Picnic Point Reserve is particularly unique containing unusually diverse vegetation including rainforest, grassy woodlands, shrubland and wetland in a relatively small area.

What was initially a neglected public reserve lacking native plants, with slopes covered in ivy and blackberries and erosion problems, has been gradually transformed.

“We started as a group of friends concerned about the degradation of the area.” explained Mary Baldwin, President of the FOPPR. “We just wanted to get rid of the weeds and replant native species to make it a nice public amenity for everyone to use”.

With the assistance of a number of Victorian Landcare Grants over the years, the group has focussed on several key projects throughout the reserve. “The early days were spent removing exotic trees and weeds and developing the wetland area along Yeates Drive. This helps to filter the stormwater from West Bairnsdale that flows into the Mitchell River and out to the lakes.”

Upgraded paths ensure that the area is accessible and a boardwalk over the wetlands provides an alternate route for the public to enjoy. “The reserve is a popular spot for our community, used for picnics, parties and even weddings. The addition of some native flowering plant beds, picnic tables and a picnic shelter on the top of the hill have added to the appeal of the area.”

“The grants have opened up the possibilities of what can be achieved” explains Mary. “Landcare is more important than it’s ever been; it enables people to make a difference to the environment in their community. This is a beautiful patch of land at the doorstep to the Mitchell River and group members had a vision of restoring it to something like its original state.  We are all delighted and very proud of how it is developing. However, we would like to emphasise that it will always be a work in progress; there is a need for ongoing weeding and maintenance, new plantings in some areas plus further possible development in the future.  New members are always welcome!”

The Victorian Landcare Grants support the implementation of Protecting Victoriaʼs Environment – Biodiversity 2037, the state governmentʼs long-term plan to protect the environment.

Partnerships with purpose

“The Gippsland Lakes, and particularly the rivers that feed them, are an important place for the Gunaikurnai, they’re the lifeline for our people when they’re travelling through country.” -Grattan Mullett Snr, GLaWAC

The value of nature

Chances are you probably haven’t heard of Hansons Bay, a hidden little gem of a bay just around the corner from Nungurner. It’s an area that the Nungurner Landcare Group know well, particularly the steep sloping section of rainforest leading down to the waters edge.

With the assistance of a Victorian Landcare Grant the group are currently working to regenerate the site. The project has already seen a huge amount of exotic weeds removed and over 600 rainforest species replanted. Unfortunately, pest animals, primarily deer, are also fond of the site and so the group have had to install tree guards to protect the seedlings from being eaten.

“East Gippsland is the only place in Victoria where rainforest to the waters edge is known to occur. This as a long term project to bring the rainforest canopy back” said Louise Avery, Nungurner Landcare Group Secretary. “The weather conditions this year are making things a little tricky for us but we’ve been well supported by the Victorian Landcare Grants and also the East Gippsland Rainforest Conservation Management Network (EGRCMN). We’re lucky that they have lots of volunteers who are willing to work right across the region on rainforest restoration.”

While Nungurner Landcare Group’s primary focus is the restoration of degraded areas around their local patch, the group readily welcome the opportunity to work with other Landcare groups and agencies. “We’re a small but merry band of volunteers” explains Ms Avery.

The group have lent a hand to help the Lakes Entrance Community Landcare Group on their project at Kalimna Gully, assisted Greening Australia and Parks Victoria with a rejuvenation program on Pelican Island and worked with the East Gippsland Shire to improve the amenity of the Nungurner jetty.

Ivan Knight, President of Nungurner Landcare Group appreciates the importance of working together. “We all recognise the value of our natural habitat” he explained. “It just makes it more fun, and you really get a sense of the more people who are involved, the quicker the work gets done so it’s less of a chore.”

“Having like minded people around you to get things done helps you to keep getting things done. We all learn from each other too so it really has paid off for us to work collaboratively and we certainly want to keep doing that as we go forward.”

Nungurner Landcare Group’s Hansons Bay project is funded through the Victorian Landcare Grants supporting the implementation of Protecting Victoriaʼs Environment – Biodiversity 2037, the state governmentʼs long-term plan to protect the environment.

The Victorian Landcare Grants have recently opened for 2018-19 with grants of up to $20,000 available. If you are a member of a Landcare group or an environmental community group with a great idea for a project on your patch then you should consider applying. Applications close on Tuesday 12th June, for more information please visit the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority website.

Marlo models the Snowy

The Marlo Angling Club played host to local community members last Monday as Dan Stoessel from the Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) presented his study – Snowy River, Then & Now.

The study, commissioned by the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority and funded through the State Government’s environmental water program, sought to understand the changes to the river system over the last one hundred years.

The audience heard about what those changes mean for the health of the river and for the communities who rely on it. There was good discussion about the natural processes of the catchment, the impacts of climate change and the recruitment of native fish populations within the estuary.

“Undertaking these studies helps us gather information around the processes happening within the river system” said Bec Hemming, Programs Manager at the EGCMA. “ARI’s work helps us and the community understand the changing face of the catchment and provides an insight to better target future works by the EGCMA together with our partner agencies, the community and Landholders.”

Graeme Dear, CEO of the EGCMA said,  “The Water Plan for Victoria seeks involvement from communities to improve our rivers. This forum is a great example of people and groups working together.”

Committed to the community

Andrew Brown, Carolyn Cameron (EGCMA), Keith Primrose (Parks Victoria), Pete Johnstone and Maria Cardoso visited Alistair Mailer (3rd from left) at the Forge Creek Reserve to discuss works undertaken by Romawi Landcare Group.

Community projects were the focus of a bus tour last week as staff from the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA) visited four Landcare groups with the Authority’s Community Programs Committee.  The day was an opportunity to review current projects and to meet Landcare volunteers who continue to roll up their sleeves to get things done.

The EGCMA administers the Victorian Landcare Grants, Regional Riparian Action Plan Grants and the National Landcare Programme Community Grants on behalf of the state and federal governments each year. The Community Programs Committee is made up of natural resource management agency representatives and community members who review and assess grant applications and recommend which projects should be funded.

The tour began on the East Gippsland Rail Trail at Nicholson. Meryl Wright and Michael Oxer, from the Nicholson River Landcare Group, spoke about their current project to build a new walking path from the rail trail to the river and the importance of the rail trail to the township.

In Bruthen, the long term vision for the Loop Walk project was explained by Geoff Williams from Bruthen & District Landcare Group. The Committee noted the challenges in revegetating an area as flood prone as the banks of the Tambo River.

A stop along the Mitchell River enabled Paul Harvey from the East Gippsland Landcare Network (EGLN) to inform the Committee of EGLN’s involvement with the grants process and also review the progress of recent planting by the Bairnsdale Urban Landcare Group.

Finally, Alistair Mailer from the Romawi Landcare Group discussed the need to stabilise erosion points along Forge Creek and the importance of regular water quality monitoring given the creek flows directly into the Gippsland Lakes.

“Our Landcare and community groups are actively involved in caring for the environment” noted Graeme Dear, CEO of the EGCMA. “And it’s great that both the federal and Victorian Governments are supporting community group partnerships such as these.”

The State Government has recently opened the Victorian Landcare Grants for 2018-19 with grants of up to $20,000 available. If you are a member of a Landcare or environmental volunteer group with a great idea for a project on your patch then you should consider applying. Applications close on Tuesday 12th June, for more information please visit the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority website.

The Victorian Landcare Grants support the implementation of Protecting Victoriaʼs Environment – Biodiversity 2037, the state governmentʼs long-term plan to protect the environment.