Landcare groups across the region have been polishing up on their technical skills in recent weeks, undertaking computer software training provided by the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA) in sessions run in Bairnsdale and Orbost.
The EGCMA has developed a simple to use software program to help community groups record projects they’ve undertaken and the improvements they have made.
Rena Gaborov from Goongerah Landcare Group appreciates the simplicity of the program and the ability to convey projects visually using a map. “It’s easy to upload our data, knowing that we can refer to what we’ve been doing over years just by clicking on different points.”
Carolyn Cameron, Community Projects Officer at the EGCMA, hopes that the training will ease the administrative burden on groups. “We’ve tried to create a simple program to help our Landcarers report on their projects and better convey all of the great work they do.”
This program has been developed with the support of the Victorian Landcare Program.
A new resource is set to benefit Landcarers throughout East Gippsland by removing the administrative burden that many groups feel and providing useful and relevant information.
The East Gippsland Regional Landcare Group Handbook was launched last week by the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority together with Far East Landcare Victoria (FEVL), the East Gippsland Landcare Network and the Snowy River Interstate Landcare Committee.
A collection of resources designed to take the mystery out of good governance and record keeping, the handbook comes in electronic and hard copies and provides information on running a successful community group. It includes a variety of templates, from agendas and minutes to capturing volunteer hours, which can be customised by each group to meet their needs.
Penny Gray, Network Co-ordinator with FEVL, was instrumental in creating the handbook and is excited by the benefits of an electronic version. “The handbook provides a one-stop shop that we’ve never really had before. It will allow groups to get on with what they want to focus on rather than getting bogged down in paperwork.”
Gabo Island might be a remote parcel of land in the most remote pocket of eastern Victoria but it is also home to an ambitious project to remove a highly invasive weed, Mirror bush.
Through funding from the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, the Friends of Mallacoota group are working to get rid of the shrub, a native of New Zealand.
Mirrorbush is often planted in coastal gardens because of its tolerance to sea-spray but it is also capable of forming dense clumps that don’t provide any room for native plants to grow and restricts the habitat of native critters and birdlife.
Martyn Hiley, a member of Friends of Mallacoota and regular visitor to Gabo Island recalls “In the past, I’d visit and see the weeds there and think wouldn’t it be nice to do something about that?” And now he is. Three times a year, eight volunteers charter a boat to the island and stay in accommodation provided by Parks Victoria. In four day stints the team use a grid pattern to remove weed from an area around the Lighthouse and they hope that in 5-6 years they will have completed the entire 154 hectare island.
Max Elliott moved to Mallacoota 18 months ago, and he is impressed at the willingness of the community to dig in and lend a hand. “Our Friends group has 130 members which isn’t bad for a town of only a thousand or so people. If somebody wants to get something done then they know they just have to ask, and that’s true of getting weeds off Gabo or removing rubbish from Betka Beach or anything. Town folk are just willing to get in and do and that’s a lovely thing.”
“People can ask why we care about the weeds on Gabo Island” says Martyn, “The people of Mallacoota love Gabo Island and the nice thing about an island is that it’s contained. If we can remove Mirror bush entirely off the island then it may not come back, and that’s a good thing.”
“Because of the hard work of the Friends of Mallacoota, the township is relatively weed free, we’re surrounded by wilderness and it would be nice to see Gabo weed free one day too. “
Landcare Groups across East Gippsland will share in $146,000 of funding for community projects as part of the latest round of Victorian Landcare Grants.
The funding, distributed through the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA), supports on-ground works and community projects including weed control, pest animal control, protection of habitat, revegetation, and community education.
Graeme Dear, CEO of EGCMA said “the grants will help contribute further to the significant efforts made by our Landcare members in East Gippsland.”
This year the program has funded 12 projects and 11 support grants.
Groups that will receive project funding include:
Bruthen & District Landcare Group
Eastwood Landcare Group
Friends of the Upper Nicholson Catchment Inc.
Snowy West Landcare Group
Tambo Bluff Landcare Coastcare
East Gippsland Landcare Network
Far East Victoria Landcare
Snowy River Interstate Landcare Committee
The Victorian Landcare Grants are helping to implement the Government’s long-term biodiversity plan – Protecting Victoria’s Environment – Biodiversity 2037.