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Welcome to 2016

Before we get started…

  • Corflute Landcare signs are currently available at the SOLN offices, 69 Nelson Street, Apollo Bay. We would love to see more of these signs on the landscape to increase our profile in the year ahead, so please pop in and grab one for yourself and a bunch for your Landcare group (free of charge).
  • The Corangamite CMA has opened Expressions of Interest for River Health projects. The process will be slightly different this time around. If you think you might have a River Health project and haven’t spoken to us yet, now is the time to get in touch.

…And now, welcome to 2016!

Thank you to the community of the Southern Otway Landcare Network for your support. It may be safe to say that the Southern Otway Landcare Network has been on a white knuckle ride throughout 2015. With many funding programmes cut and others delayed well past the the usual time rames, our staff and committee have experienced great uncertainty in regards to both staffing and project delivery in 2016. It went right down to the wire but developments in December completely changed our outlook at the eleventh hour. The SOLN Committee of Management met this week and we are pleased to announce that staff contracts have been extended until December 2016. Thanks to recent grant announcements, we head into the new year with both a full staff complement and a full onground works programme.

Crowdfunding and Threatened Species

Our crowd funding campaign that closed on December 15 was an incredibly humbling display of generosity and support for local Landcare and well exceeded our expectations. We would like to most sincerely thank all members of our community who donated and / or shared our campaign. Some very generous donations were received by private individuals which both moved and amazed us. The Apollo Bay News Sheet, the Apollo Bay Chamber of Commerce, the Hordern Vale Glenaire Landcare Group and the Apollo Bay Landcare Group all gave generously and reminded us of the strength and importance of our local community groups. A huge thanks also to those who donated rewards to the campaign.  In the process we have learnt a lot about reciprocity, giving and social capital. Our community is incredibly generous and hard working and our similarities are truly greater than our differences. So again, thank you. 2016 looks set to be a whole new year and we look forward to the dust settling and getting to work. The Crowdfunding Campaign was linked to our successful project proposal through the State Government’s Threatened Species Initiative which will allow us to undertake more vegetation assessments and wildlife monitoring work in our Network area.

Green Army and Twenty Million Trees

The Federal Department of Environment announced in December that SOLN had been successful in applications to both the Green Army and 20 Million Trees Programmes. The Network continues to express reservations about this policy but changes in delivery processes and a partnership with the Conservation Ecology Centre allowed us to design what we believe are high quality and achievable project plans. We have been successful in three applications to Green Army which will allow us to have teams on the ground for 18 months supervised by a Team Leader who will be employed by SOLN specifically for this role. Projects will focus on the Federal Government’s Election Commitment to undertake works on the Barham River in the first six months before moving on to a focus on the Great Ocean Road National Heritage List Place and and Threatened Species Conservation on Cape Otway for the remaining year. SOLN has commenced recruitment for both a Team Leader and crew members. The 20 Million Trees project will see restoration and revegetation of a former grazing lease on the Great Ocean Walk on Marengo and additional support for restoration at Cape Otway.

What happened in 2015?

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2015 focused on the delivery of two Communities for Nature projects, delivering community based habitat restoration and monitoring at Cape Otway and Skenes Creek. Community attended workshops on forest structure, restoration and revegetation and participated in training in Wildlife Camera Trapping. We have been delighted by the level of interest and leadership that has emerged out of this project, which is helping us to better our understanding of our forests and the management of Landcare plantings. The project has been a great opportunity to strengthen our highly productive partnership with Conservation Ecology Centre at Cape Otway.    A big thanks to the Apollo Bay Landcare Group whose generous donation supported the purchase of wildlife cameras, which will be used to support our annual spring monitoring programme. Please keep your eyes out later in the year to get involved.

A new group joined the SOLN Committee of Management, with Otway Coast Regenerative Farmers (OCRF) becoming the fifth group represented on our Committee. OCRF are trialing and developing Regenerative Agriculture techniques in the Southern Otways and we are pleased to have a mix of conservation and agricultural interested represented within our governance structures. We have seen a fair bit of change in our Committee of Management over the last 12 months. SOLN is now governed by a mix of experienced and new members who have all worked extremely hard under challenging circumstances. On behalf of the Staff, you’e been a pleasure to work with and thank you for your support. Particular thanks to our President Tony Webber, Vice President Jack Pascoe and Treasurer Ken Forrester.

Staff members Mike and Libby participated in an interesting process called the Systemic Inquiry into NRM Governance with the aim of improving relationships between all levels of governance involved in Natural Resource Management. Mike and Libby have focused on the social impacts of Natural Resource Management and at the same time have worked towards the development of a Resilience Self Assessment Tool for Landcare. The tool allows Landcare groups to become stronger and more resilient in the face of challenges by identifying where the groups can most effectively make change. The tool has been trialed in the Wimmera, and hopefully soon in Port Phillip. We hope this will make a valuable addition to all of Landcare in the future.

Put in your diaries:

  • February 20 – Apollo Bay Seafood and Local Produce Festival. Get on down to the Apollo Bay Foreshore and go and buy a delicious burger and some fresh produce from Otway Coast Regenerative Farmers
  • March 26 – Wye River Fete. The Wye River Fete was scheduled for January 6th but of course had to be rescheduled due to the fires. Proceeds from the fete will go to support the Wye River CFA.
  • April 16 – Fungi Photography Workshop with Alison Pouliot. Keep an eye out for details, places will be strictly limited.                                                  

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Today is the best pozible day to support threatened species

For every dollar you donate today to SOLN’s threatened species conservation work, the State Government of Victoria will match it. This is an initiative of the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning and the crowdfunding platform Pozible. Five projects have been selected to feature in the Threatened Species Initiative collection and our Landcare is Critical campaign is one of them.

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The short story

Some of you are just going to want the short story, so here it is. You have until December 15 to pledge money to support our habitat and wildlife conservation and programme, and you do that by going here:

www.pozible.com/landcareiscritical 

If you don’t know the crowdfunding drill, you can select a reward or just make a donation. If we raise our target of $10,000 the money gets taken from your account at that point, the State Government kicks in another $10,000 and we’ve raised $20,000 that is critical to our ability to deliver our programme. If we don’t make the $10,000 the campaign fails and the money stays in your account.It’s an all or nothing deal.

Other things you can do to help include sharing our campaign with your friends. Donating early helps to encourage more donations as people are more likely to support campaigns that look like they might succeed.

You can also drop into our Christmas Party this Wednesday the 2nd of December at the Mechanics Institute in Apollo Bay to see the results of our monitoring programme, hear some great young musicians, have a feed and make a donation.

The long story

The long story lies in what we plan to do with your money. People have been doing Landcare in the Southern Otways since the mid 1980s. Over this period we’ve been learning a lot about how to restore and enhance vegetation in the region and we know now that some of our early plantings need work to improve their habitat value.

This spring we’ve been working in four Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs) – Wet Forest, Riparian Forest, Shrubby Foothill Forest and Damp Sands Herb Rich Woodland. We’ve just received a grant to expand this into Shrubby Wet Forest and Coastal Headland Scrub in 2016 and will use the crowdfunding money to add more EVCs to the list. We’ve chosen a reference forest (a good quality piece of remnant vegetation) and a Landcare Planting in each EVC.

A permanent 20 x 20m monitoring plot is set up at each site and the first step is to undertake a Habitat Hectares assessment. Habitat Hectares is a tool developed by the Victorian Government to assess the quality of vegetation. We compare the Habitat Hectares score between the reference forest and the Landcare site. Landcare plantings have a consistently low Habitat Hectares score and so the next step is to determine what we can do to improve it. We do this using a tool that we developed ourselves called the Forest Profile by Rapid Assessment, which helps generate a set of management actions. These actions may include ecological thinning, enhancement planting and cool burns. When we visit the sites we also set up 4 wildlife cameras so that we can start to see the relationship between habitat quality and the animals that live there. This data is collected and analysed using protocols developed by our research partner the Conservation Ecology Centre.

Vegetation on each site will be fully assessed every five years, and photopoint and fauna monitoring undertaken annually. In the meantime, we’ll be trialing management actions designed to improve the quality of Landcare plantings. The process will also allow us to start tracking changes in our reference forests, which will be particularly interesting as the climate changes. This programme is being guided by highly knowledgeable members of our community and we extend an open invitation to everyone interested in this work.

(We won’t be able to keep going without funding, however, so don’t forget to donate if you like what we’re doing).                                   

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Environmental Monitoring and Photography Workshops

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Wildlife Cameras are rolling out across the Southern Otways as part of our inaugural Spring Monitoring Event. SOLN staff and volunteers have been visiting sites in a variety of Ecological Vegetation Classes to assess vegetation and undertake fauna monitoring. The data we collect will be used to inform management of Landcare plantings to improve their habitat quality. We are still looking for volunteers to help us sort through images so please contact libby.landcare@soln.org if you would like to help out.

On Saturday November the 28th, Alison Pouliot will be delivering a Photopoint Monitoring and Environmental Photography Workshop which will complement our environmental monitoring programme. Alison has visited many times to deliver her outstanding fungi workshops and we look forward to uncovering even more of her expertise. The workshop will focus on:

*Photopoint monitoring to document environmental and cultural change
*In situ environmental photography (technical and artistic)
*Photographing people in the natural environment (great for those of you delivering grants and sponsored projects)
*Processing, managing and tracking your photographic data.
The day will include a hands-on theoretical component and a field trip.
You will need to bring:
*A camera
*Your lunch
*Walking shoes and wet weather gear in case of rain.
Please RSVP to libby.landcare@soln.org. Places are limited.

Saturday November 28 at Marrar Woorn Community House, Pengilley Avenue, Apollo Bay 9.45 am  – 4 pm

Cost is $75 per person.

 

 

 

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The Great Ocean Road – a National Heritage Place

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We’ve recently had cause here in the SOLN offices to look at the Gazettal Notice for the Great Ocean Road as a National Heritage Place. The National Heritage List (NHL)  recognises and affords protection to our most significant cultural and natural landscapes. The Great Ocean Road between Torquay and Allansford was formally added to the NHL in 2011. The listing recognises the relationship between the road and returned servicemen from World War 1. Construction of the road was designed both to employ returned servicemen, and to build the road as a memorial to their service. 3,000 men were employed in its construction between 1919 and 1932. The road is considered to have high archaeological potential to reveal how extensive, remote work camps operated during the inter-war period.  Upon opening, the road quickly became critical to developing tourism in Western Victoria and in 1955 the Ocean Road Planning Scheme was developed to protect the scenic values of the road. This process significantly influenced the manner in which both public and private land was, and still is,  managed for scenic and environmental values in Australia.

Areas of the Great Ocean Road have both palaeontological and geomorphological significance. The Great Ocean Road has some of the world’s richest and most diverse assemblages of Polar Dinosaurs, with the most famous example being Dinosaur Cove. Recent discoveries at Bell’s Beach are currently providing  palaeontologists with new insights into the evolutionary relationship between baleen and toothed whales. Geomorphologically, the coastline at areas such as Parker River and Cape Patten is of high significance it provides evidence of what the environment was like prior to Australia’s separation from Gondwana  99 million years ago.

The National Heritage List also recognises the environmental diversity and scenic beauty of the Great Ocean Road, which includes the rainforests of the Otway Ranges and the open landscapes to the west near the 12 Apostles. The impact of this landscape on writers, film makers, photographers and painters is also noted. The road was a major inspiration to garden designer Edna Walling and contributed to her passion and advocacy for the use of Australian natives plants in garden design.

If you are interested in reading the full listing, it can be found at www.environment.gov.au.

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Energy Solutions for Rural Properties

Energy Solutions for Rural Properties: Workshop.

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Otway Coast Regenerative Farmers are hosting a workshop on Energy Solutions for Rural Properties, with a focus on renewables. The Workshop will focus on:

  • Strategies to reduce use;
  • The current and anticipated economics of the energy market;
  • Thinking through your needs: methodologies for assessing use and requirements;
  • Different energy options;
  • Renewable energy for rural properties.

 

The workshop will be run by Simon Reid. Simon is currently the Managing Director of Breaze Energy Solutions who advise on and support the installation of solar and heat pump technology. He is also advising on energy efficiency to  the Central Highlands Smarter Agribusiness Forum. The workshop will be held at Tanybryn Park Limousins, 985 Skenes Creek Road, 10am  – 3pm Friday the 14th August.   Cost is $50 for members of Landcare, $75 if you are not a member. Lunch will be provided. Places are limited so please RSVP soon to libby.landcare@soln.org or phone 5237 6904 to secure a place.  Otway Coast Regenerative Farmers would like to sincerely thank the Apollo Bay and District Community Bank for its sponsorship of this event.

 

Seeking wood (and a woodworker!) To complement our bird and mammal monitoring programme, we are seeking support to run a nest – box building workshop. We would love:

  • Donations of recycled, off cut or surplus timber, hessian and shade cloth
  • Access to a shed that can hold a number of people working together
  • A woodworker or handyman willing to do a bit of prep and run a workshop – you will be paid from profits taken on the day once we’ve recovered the cost of materials.

 

Please contact libby.landcare@soln.org or phone 52376904 if you can help out.

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