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.

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.