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.

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.

Love Our Lakes, Love Our Pelicans

Photo by John Hutchison

 

It isn’t very often you wouldn’t be able to spot a Pelican when visiting the Gippsland Lakes. For a species that is often sighted though, not a lot is known about its breeding and behaviour patterns in the Gippsland Lakes.
Birdlife Australia, together with the regional group of volunteers from Birdlife East Gippsland, are working on several projects funded by the Gippsland Lakes Community Grants 2017.

Graeme Dear, CEO of the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) said “The Gippsland Lakes funding is a priority in the Water Plan for Victoria. The projects are very much a partnership of agencies and community groups working together for the benefit of the Lakes”.

The Australian Pelican will be one of the focus species of the projects. With its cultural significance and a bird that everyone knows and recognises, the new information will assist in demonstrating the importance of the Gippsland Lakes as a refuge in times of national and regional drought. It will also assist in the future management of wetlands. Other species will also be monitored including resident and nomadic birds such as Egrets, Cormorants, Ibis, Spoonbills and Herons.

Deb Sullivan from Birdlife Australia said “The iconic Pelican expanded its nesting colony to a second site over the previous breeding season but this year it doesn’t appear that this will happen. It is known that the pelican has a nomadic response to significant rain events but there is no information on this response for the Gippsland Lakes. We hope through our projects that we may be able to answer some of those questions.” The Gippsland Lakes is home to one of the few permanent breeding rookeries in Australia for the Australian Pelican.

Other work will include monitoring the distribution and behaviour of waterbird and shorebird species, impacts that human disturbances have on migratory birds as well as creating a breeding index to gain a better understanding of bird breeding patterns to ensure their long term survival.

Mr Dear said “The Gippsland Lakes are recognised internationally as a Ramsar listed wetland and are a vital habitat for native plants and animals. As a major tourist and recreation destination they also play a vital role in supporting the region’s economy. The Gippsland Lakes community projects play an important role in looking after the Lakes.”

Landcare, It’s A RRAP

Seven Landcare groups will share in funding to undertake works on their local waterways as part of the East Gippsland Regional Riparian Action Plan grants administered by the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA) and funded by the Victorian State Government.

Graeme Dear, EGCMA CEO, said “Our local Landcare groups are valuable contributors to improving the health of our environment. They don’t mind rolling up their sleeves and digging in to make a difference. This state government funding is supporting their efforts through the work described below.”

Bairnsdale Urban Landcare Group is undertaking work to stabilise the bank of the Port of Bairnsdale by planting seedlings and continual weed control.

Dargo Landcare Group is in the second stage of their Orrs Creek rehabilitation project with 1,400 seedlings to be planted along the erosion prone banks.

Eastwood Landcare Group is working in partnership with the East Gippsland Shire Council to continue the program of planting locally grown indigenous species along Tulaba’s Track.

Friends of Picnic Point Reserve Landcare Group is working to remove willows growing along the lagoon below Picnic Point Farm and stabilising the bank by planting seedlings.

Goongerah Landcare Group is continuing a weed control program they began in 2015-2016 within the Martins Creek catchment.

Nagle College Landcare Group is continuing it’s rainforest project. Over 5,000 seedlings will be grown by students for use in the project and distributed to other local Landcare groups for revegetation works.

Swifts Creek Landcare Group is aiming to improve the health of the Tambo River by undertaking weed control near the township of Ensay.

Marine Life In The Lakes

Friends of Beware Reef; a small volunteer group, are full swing into photographing the underwater world of the Gippsland Lakes after being one of the groups that secured funding in the Gippsland Lakes Community Grants in 2017.

The grant is for a twelve month project to establish a photo database of all marine fish and invertebrates found during dive surveys in the Gippsland Lakes.  Surveys will focus on seagrass beds and rock structures and they will aim to identify any pest marine plants or animals.

Graeme Dear, CEO of the EGCMA said “it’s great to see such an enthusiastic group of people who love what they do and care about our Gippsland Lakes receiving this funding.  The Water Plan for Victoria seeks increased participation from many groups and this Gippsland Lakes funding is part of the plan implementation.”

A small group of divers, Friends of Beware Reef have been diving and capturing vision of what is happening under the water’s surface for about 12 years.  They have conducted an enormous amount of surveys and captured many stunning visions of the offshore marine life at Beware Reef sancturary near Cape Conran.

Not only are they passionate about diving and interested in what they find but they have also played a very important role in assisting DELWP and other departments gain further understanding of our marine environment.  It was during one of their dives a couple of years ago that they discovered the Northern Pacific Seastar in the Gippsland Lakes, an invasive starfish that is an aggressive predator of native marine life.

Friends of Beware Reef pass on their knowledge and experiences to the community via the many talks they do to groups and organisations.  With a wealth of knowledge and a superb collection of photos and videos, people have the opportunity to see what is below the surface without getting wet.  Don Love, a Friends of Beware Reef member said “It’s about getting the word out and showing and educating people, we say hey the Barrier Reef looks pretty but there is some pretty cool stuff down here in our local area too.”

Funding for this and other projects has been provided by the Victorian State Government based on advice from the Gippsland Lakes Coordinating Committee.

“The Gippsland Lakes has probably got a great deal of biodiversity in it that we don’t really know about yet.  Cameras have been dragged though the water but nothing beats the human eye when it comes to finding stuff.  We love challenges and it’s about eyes on the bottom, someone just sniffing around and having the ability to observe things.” Don added.