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Get involved with dolphin research as part of the Western Port Project

By Pippa Salmon, Dolphin Research Institute

“Hang on, I see one!”

I scramble for my binoculars, adjusting the focus and scanning the horizon.

“Right there! Just to your left a little…”

And… got it! Two dolphins, flipping gracefully through the water. As they disappear into the waves, I look around. The ocean is shimmering; reflecting the subtle pinks and tangerine that appear as the day comes to a close. Magic.

As an intern at the Dolphin Research Institute (DRI) in Hastings, I’ve been spending a lot of time watching the water as part of our new Western Port Research Project.

DRI director Jeff Weir thinks there are around 20 resident dolphins inhabiting the Western Port. Until now, they have been largely unstudied.

“We want to better understand these bottlenose dolphins – where they’re spending their time, as well as their interactions with other beings. This way we have the knowledge to protect them,” Jeff said.

However, getting this information requires an immense amount of sitting and surveying (not to mention concentration!). It’s tricky for a small organisation to get all the data we need on our own, which is why we want your help!

The Western Port Study is looking for citizen scientists to record their dolphin sightings.

“We are particularly looking for people who are willing to sit on the beach for half or one-hour blocks and put all their attention into surveying. That way we can accurately record the times when there are no dolphins in the bay, as well as when they are around,” Jeff said.

Alternatively, if you are on the beach and happen to see a dolphin, fill in the PodWatch survey on the DRI’s website.

If you are interested in helping with surveying for the Western Port Project, we would love to hear from you! Get in contact with Jeff via email, director@dolphinresearch.org.au

Happy surveying!

 

 


Western Port – the need for a strategic way forward

By Colette Day, Biosphere Foundation Board member and Chair of Science & Education Committee

The Shapiro study reported in 1975 was a baseline study of the Ecology of Western Port and rightly held in high esteem.  Over 100 people participated in 45 separate science projects. They set about providing the basic knowledge for the future management of industrial and tourist development.

The region had a population of 45 000, 68% of the area was used in agriculture, 46% of that dairy, There was 20% forest and only 1% of the area was considered as housing. This represented some 8000 homes. The study recorded the flowing of streams over structured soils to healthy sea grass meadows (38% of total area) with 40% of the coast lined with mangroves.  Shapiro recorded a bay rich in diversity of marine invertebrates, fish and birds. There are reems of excellent science which illustrate a bygone era.

The researchers and writers of the report likely could not have imagined the explosions of urban and industrial development that have occurred since then. This is evident in their conservative recommendations to consider placing restrictions on pollutants. Western Port and catchment areas are irrevocably changed from this time.

Findings and recommendations from the Victorian Government’s Parliamentary Inquiry into Ecosystem Decline Report released in December 2021 call for changes to government regulations and implementations of structural changes to manage impacts of invasive species, issues of habitat loss and climate change. It is apparent from this inquiry and the many studies available through DELWP, Melbourne Water, Parks Victoria and our universities, that we have the data, and the vision is grim for all of Victoria.

What we need to do is agree on which solutions we can implement and get started.

An overarching strategic management plan would provide a clear direction to optimise conservation and act on restoration initiatives. A management plan would advise on urban development and pressure points in our environment, leading to more sustainable coexistence between humans and the environment in the Western Port region.  The Port Phillip Bay Environmental Management Plan 2017-2027 provides a useful analogue for consideration. DELWP is undertaking Marine Spatial Planning for Victoria and will focus on choosing which areas to study. Having Western Port as a priority would be an ideal outcome.

For these reasons, the Biosphere Foundation’s Board has recommended that we remove the Shapiro Mark II project from our business plan and direct our efforts into supporting a strategic management plan for Western Port.  We understand that some of you might wish to discuss facets of this decision and we are happy to elaborate.


Vale Sarah Coe

By Greg Hunt, former Foundation Executive Officer

Many many things can never be taken for granted. Yes, the sun will most likely rise tomorrow and autumn will follow summer. It was Benjamin Franklin who observed that ‘the only certainties in life are death and taxes’. Sadly, it was the first of these that visited recently.

Sarah Coe, the Biosphere’s Administration Officer, passed away early this year, without any inkling at all that there was anything wrong. She had overcome serious health issues, including a double knee replacement, with barely a grumble. She had just purchased a new car (the personalised number-plate COE 001 did not stand for Church of England as she quipped), she was enjoying her role supporting new Biosphere CEO Mel Barker, her office equipment and processes were recently updated – all seemed right with her world. Even her horse Rocco was in fine fettle, and she was often out riding.

As the previous Biosphere EO, I was still in frequent contact with her as she was collecting articles for inclusion in The Connector, the quarterly newsletter. It was evident to all at home when I was on the phone to Sarah, the amount of laughter, both coming down the line and that which she provoked, was considerable. For all that, she took her role very seriously. She was comprehensive in carrying out tasks, she had a formidable local network and a strong recall of who did what with whom. She knew who to ask about local events, both past, present and planned.

And then the news, so out of left field, so totally unexpected. Suffice it to say we were devastated. If ever there was a reminder that our lives are fleeting and that when we run out of time is so arbitrary, this was it.

Well over a hundred people gathered at the Old Tyabb Cemetery on an early Friday in February to mourn her passing.

Sarah, know that you were loved.


From the Chair

By Jo McCoy, Biosphere Foundation Chair

Sadly, I open my report to you by echoing the words of our recently retired Executive Officer Greg Hunt who wrote a piece on the sudden passing of our Administrative Officer Sarah Coe. Sarah died just days after the last edition of Connector was published with Sarah herself “In the spotlight”.  We miss you Sarah and send our deepest sympathies to your family and friends. Vale.

With the Federal Election fast approaching, I hope readers are interrogating the environmental and sustainability policies and credentials of all candidates in their electorates. The recent terrible floods in south-eastern Queensland and northern New South Wales surely must have convinced any remaining sceptics that human induced climate change is real and that what scientists have been warning us about for decades is happening now.

See some great summaries of the data in following weblinks: State of the Climate 2020: Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO – Climate change in Australia, Climate change in Australia

The data tells us that the time for action is also now. We are poorly prepared and can no longer delay decisive action. “Once in a century” floods, fires and storms will continue to occur with increasing frequency and intensity, the Great Barrier Reef will suffer repeated bleaching episodes and droughts and days of increasing heat will continue to plague us. We must ensure our politicians understand that we want stronger targets on emissions reduction along with planning to mitigate the impacts across all levels of government.

Landholders, farmers and business owners may be interested in investigating what they can do with schemes such as the EcoCredit scheme recently launched by ORICoop. (See the article at Eco-Credit | ORICoop).  It has a focus on farm and business sustainability and climate resilience and aims to achieve “measurable carbon drawdown outcomes through improved farming practices including carbon sequestration in soil, forestry and biodiversity enrichment.”

As flagged in my last article, the Biosphere Foundation Board and staff recently participated in a Strategy Day where we focused on how we could better tell the story about who we are and what we do.  While the next five-year strategy is not quite finalised, we have a clearer understanding of the types of projects that we will be involved in in future and where they sit under our three pillars of climate action, environment preservation & restoration and sustainable development.

We are very lucky to be working with Joe Rodgers from The Contenders, a Biosphere local and brand specialist who is generously donating his time and expertise to us pro bono. In addition to focusing our thinking internally, this work should assist us in pitching ideas to partners, potential sponsors and benefactors. We are, of course, always searching for new ways to build our capacity and to ensure that we can continue to grow our team and our expertise.

Some of this work has already come to the attention of a generous benefactor who has been sold on the story, believes in what we are trying to achieve and has promised to match donated funds up to $25,000 before the end of this financial year! Please be on the lookout for future information on this exciting news. We definitely want to maximise this opportunity.

Feel free to write to me at chair@biosphere.org.au if you have any comments or suggestions for issues or updates that you would like to see included on the website and/or addressed in future editions of Connector.


CEO Report

By Mel Barker, Biosphere Foundation CEO

As you’ll have read in Greg’s tribute above, we were all devastated by the sudden loss of Sarah Coe at the beginning of the year.  Sarah featured in our last Connector and as she said, we’re a close-knit little team, which has made her passing all the more shocking.  She was a very warm and friendly person and I used to have a running joke with her to see if there was anyone I met that she didn’t know – as it seemed she knew everyone!  We all miss her very much and our thoughts are with her partner, family and friends.

Some of you may have seen the latest International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which we featured on our website.  The first few lines of the IPCC press release summarise it best “Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks. People and ecosystems least able to cope are being hardest hit.”  These comprehensive global scientific reports from the IPCC are a vital underpinning of the need for urgent global action.

One of the key projects that the Foundation has recently kicked off to address both climate change and biodiversity loss is our Blue Carbon mapping project.  We initiated a partnership with 7 local Councils and the South East Councils Climate Change Alliance, and have engaged Deakin University’s Blue Carbon Lab to undertake the project.  It will examine the opportunities in Western Port and eastern Port Phillip Bay for local scale ‘blue carbon’ projects to maintain and restore mangrove, seagrass and saltmarsh ecosystems. These are capable of capturing carbon up to 30 and 50 times faster than terrestrial forests, locking it into the marine sediments for thousands of years.  Further information is available on our website here.  It was great to see some local school children getting on the front foot helping to plant mangroves in Western Port – you can read more about it in this recent article in the Bass Coast Post.

We’re also continuing to work through our 10 year Periodic Review for UNESCO, and I was delighted that Katarina Palthe, our intern from last year, was keen to stay on and help us with this project.    The team has been involved in a number of forums, meetings and events in recent months.  We were part of World Wetland Day at Boneo Park and also had a stall at the Red Hill Show which saw record attendance due to the perfect weather.  Grill’d in Frankston chose the Western Port Biosphere Foundation as their local charity for the month of February – and it was great to see the level of support for our work from their customers.

I went along to the Hastings Repair Café a few weeks ago – it’s an excellent initiative to help keep things out of landfill.  I came away very happy that several items that were beyond my skills to fix were back in action so I didn’t need to buy replacements!  It would be great to see ideas such as these continue to expand.

I hope you enjoy reading more about our work in this newsletter, as well as that of our five partner councils.

 

 


Hydrogen, the energy of tomorrow?

By Isabelle Higgins, Biosphere Foundation Board Secretary

After last month’s article on the colours of hydrogen which explained the various sources of hydrogen production, we continue with looking at the potential uses of hydrogen.

Is it the energy of the future? Or has it got a limited market?

When considering the current production and distribution methods for hydrogen as energy, hydrogen is a renewable emission-free fuel but its downside is inefficiency due to losses in energy during conversion.

Renew provides a summary of their expert analysis of the hydrogen markets. In conclusion, renewable energy such as solar and wind need to be maximised for a fast transition to a low-carbon energy system. Renewably generated hydrogen has potential in some niche applications as summarised in the table below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This table is an extract from renew.org.au/research/hydrogen-help-or-hype.  For the detailed analysis, have a read of their article ‘Hydrogen: Help or Hype?’.


Projects Update

Water Stewardship

We have been busy this period visiting sites and developing draft plans for the following sites: Bass Coast Shire, Phillip Island Nature Parks, Bimbadeen Farm, Newhaven College, Woodleigh School, St Mary’s Catholic Primary and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary. We are planning to present to the Mornington Peninsula Farmers discussion group in April to help raise awareness about whole-farm water plans to help farmers conserve water, improve water quality, increase farmland’s value for biodiversity, and reduce water bills.

Blue Carbon

We have kicked off our Blue Carbon mapping project across Port Phillip Bay and Western Port with the Blue Carbon Lab at Deakin University. Workshops will be held in April with our partner Councils, including Bass Coast, Cardinia Shire, City of Casey, Frankston City Council, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Bayside and Kingston, to begin to develop business cases for sites identified as potential opportunities to increase Blue Carbon.

In partnership with Melbourne Water, we have applied for the Federal Government’s EcoSystem Restoration Fund, which would enable us to undertake a series of on ground works to help improve mangroves, seagrass meadows and salt marshes in Western Port. Sites have been identified thanks to the Western Port Seagrass Partnership who have worked locally for many years trialling new techniques and locations. On ground works would be undertaken by Bass Coast Landcare Network and Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation. This proposal also seeks to include the re-introduction of shellfish reefs, which have been successfully implemented in Port Phillip Bay. For more information about shellfish reefs in Victoria click this link: https://www.publish.csiro.au/rs/pdf/rs16008

For more information about the Blue Carbon mapping project see our Blue Carbon page on our website.

Shorebird Site Action Plan

A series of important measures are being planned to help shorebirds of the Biosphere Reserve through a partnership with Birdlife Australia. In February 2022, Birdlife Australia ran an online event to people wanting to know more about shorebirds in Western Port.  Marta Ferenczi from Birdlife presented the event online targeting a wide range of knowledge levels. She introduced us to some of the threats and concerns our shorebirds face and some small steps we can do to help protect them. The next workshop will include land managers to help identify a specific location in Western Port to develop an action plan.

Can Bandicoots cross the road?

Well thanks to Stephen Brend, the Foundation’s Project Officer, we have managed to attract the attention of Regional Roads Victoria under their Gippsland Transport Environment Program to research into why this is important when deciding on a reintroduction program.

The aim of this project is to support the recovery of the Southern Brown Bandicoot, both in terms of numbers and genetic health, through the development of a translocation plan. In partnership with Parks Victoria and the Cranbourne Royal Botanical Gardens Victoria we aim to engage consultants to help research into the issues around road locations and the ability for bandicoots to move around safely.


Biodiversity in Schools, Term 1 2022

It’s been a busy start to the year for the Biodiversity in Schools program. We have new schools recruited, including Beacon Hills College, and have been delivering workshops across the Western Port region from Newhaven College on Phillip Island, to Koo Wee Rup Primary, to St Joseph’s Catholic Primary in Crib Point.

We have initiated a Water Stewardship plan at Newhaven College and audited the site with Head of Year 9, Ann-Marie McLean. We would like to thank Ann-Marie for her time and in-depth discussion about the school as we walked the campus. The students have been busy over the last ten years planting native bushland, rain gardens, and revegetating wetlands, coordinated by Ann-Marie through the innovative Grade 9 program. We are in the process of writing up the Water Stewardship plan, ready to work with the Grade 9s next term to finalise and initiate some great actions to improve water conservation and quality onsite.

Relief from Covid lockdowns has enabled us to make two visits to Koo Wee Rup Primary this term to reignite the Southern Brown Bandicoot garden restoration project. Koo Wee Rup Primary is uniquely positioned in bandicoot territory and a camera trapping project in 2021 meant we were able to see bandicoot activity in an overgrown weedy area at the school, which prompted ambitions to turn this area into a native, bandicoot-friendly garden. This term we have met with Principal, Mr. Ben Zimmerle, and the Eco-leaders, and the schools has since established an Eco-team, made up of representatives from Grades 3 – 6, to drive the garden design and implementation. The Biosphere Foundation and the Southern Brown Bandicoot Recovery Group are working in partnership to oversee the success of the project and we very much enjoyed delivering a workshop to the Eco-team in week 6 to initiate the process with the students.

The Biosphere Foundation has a longstanding relationship with St Joseph’s Primary, Crib Point, supporting them on their innovative and beacon program, the Sea is Our Best Friend, which provides students with an immersive process to connect them with the Western Port Biosphere Reserve, migratory shorebirds, and blue carbon ecosystems. Students participate in fortnightly walks down to Woolley’s Beach Reserve to conduct citizen science projects to learn about the local marine environment, including the mangrove, saltmarsh and seagrass ecosystems, and migratory shorebirds. This term we have delivered a two-part workshop about the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve program, the Ramsar Convention and some of the migratory shorebirds and their flyway routes to Siberia and back. We very much value this ongoing partnership with St Joseph’s.

If you would like any further information about our Biodiversity in Schools program, or are a school interested in getting involved, please contact Lucy Kyriacou, Project Science Officer, 0499333762, pso@biosphere.org.au We would love to hear from you.


Updates from our Partner Councils

Bass Coast Shire Council

Latest seal pup census reveals worrying trend

New census findings reveal that Australian fur seal numbers have continued to decline, with concerned researchers working to understand why – and turn it around.  The number of seal pups recorded at breeding sites in Victoria and Tasmania decreased by around 22 per cent between 2007 and the most recent count in 2017.  It takes years of research after the census takes place before the study can be released, as scientists need to be sure of their findings, which are then peer reviewed and published.

Phillip Island Nature Parks marine scientist Rebecca McIntosh, who led this census, said the continued decline was worrying and likely due to a combination of many factors.  “The fur seals are wonderful to study and an important part of the ecosystem, both bottom-up – adding nutrients and top-down – helping to keep the fish populations healthy. People love going to see them on seal tour cruises because they are so entertaining. People may think there are a lot of seals out there, but only about half the original population exists today,” Dr McIntosh said.  “There may be several contributing factors including disease and pollutants affecting pup birth rates and survival, as well as seals dying in fishing nets and marine plastic entanglements.  Then there are climate change impacts such as storm inundation of breeding areas and changes in the food chain of southeast Australia – a hot spot of ocean warming – which may also be affecting the seals.”

The five-yearly census of Australian fur seals began 20 years ago to better understand their populations after over-harvesting in the 1800s almost drove them to extinction. Fur seals are not endangered and are classified as being of ‘least concern’.  The highest count of around 21,600 pups was recorded in 2007, but numbers had dropped to 17,500 by the next census in 2013.  Researchers hoped it was an anomaly. But the recently released 2017 census reported a further decline to just 16,900 pups.  The census will be used to inform future planning, including being provided to fisheries managers for ecosystem management of fisheries and to government for planning responses to emergencies such as oil spills.

And of course, it is already being used by researchers as they furiously work to turn the declining numbers around.

Phillip Island Nature Parks is using drones to monitor Seal Rocks and The Skerries to gain a deeper understanding of the population decline. For example, is it the pups that aren’t surviving? Or is it because there are fewer breeding females?  Nature Parks researchers are also studying different impacts to the seal population, including disturbance by boats and jet skis at Seal Rocks, ecotoxicity and pollutants, and marine plastics.  “The Nature Parks team is committed to a variety of research projects at home and internationally. We hope to conserve the fur seals and the penguins, with flow on benefits to the other species and the people that share the ocean with them.”  “As top predators, fur seals are excellent ecosystem sentinels – if they are healthy, then in a general sense, the ecosystem underneath them can be assumed to be doing well. So all of this work is not just vital to our seals, but to our entire ecosystem.”

The next fur seal census will take place at the beginning of next year.  The full 2017 census paper Sustained reduction in numbers of Australian fur seal pups: implications for future population monitoring is available at: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0265610  It is co-authored by Karina Sorrell, Monash University; Sam Thalmann, Tasmanian Department of Natural Resources and Environment; Anthony Mitchell, DELWP Victoria; Rachael Gray, The University of Sydney; Harley Schinagl and Peter Dann, Phillip Island Nature Parks; John Arnould, Deakin University; and Roger Kirkwood, South Australian Research and Development Institute.  This research was funded by the Telematics Trust and the Princess Melikoff Trust Marine Mammal Conservation Program.

Meet Phillip Island’s Bush Stone-Curlews

Phillip Island (Millowl) recently became home to bush stone-curlews for the first time in decades and the community is now invited to see the critically endangered birds up close.  After arriving to Phillip Island Nature Parks in mid-2021 from Moonlit Sanctuary in Tyabb, the two bush stone-curlews have now moved into new specially designed aviaries in the Koala Conservation Reserve.  “We encourage the community to come and ‘meet’ the critically endangered bush stone-curlews, understand their plight and learn about the recovery efforts to bring them back from extinction on the island,” said Thomas Nixon, Phillip Island Nature Parks Threatened Species Officer.  “You can learn more about the role Phillip Island (Millowl) will be playing for their future survival and recovery efforts across Victoria, and more importantly meet one of us and ask questions,” he said.  “Bush stone-curlews can be a relatively cryptic species, so the opportunity to see them up close before they are returned to the wild is unique and special.”

Predation by foxes is a major threat to bush stone-curlews and was a key contributing factor to them becoming extinct from Phillip Island in the 1970s. But now the island is fox-free, there is a unique opportunity to work towards the successful reestablishment of a ‘self-sustaining population’, similar to eastern barred bandicoot recovery efforts.  The Nature Parks is part of a coordinated recovery effort in south-east Australia which is working to create a series of safe havens where bush stone-curlews can be safely returned and the birds can prosper. Funding for the program on Phillip Island (Millowl) has been generously provided by the Penguin Foundation.  “Bush stone-curlews were identified through a structured decision-making process with community representatives and regional experts in 2019, as a priority species for reintroduction to Phillip Island (Millowl),” Mr Nixon said.  “Bush stone-curlews have no foreseen negative impacts on the existing values of the island and we hope to proceed with a wild release within the near future.  One of the most exciting parts about this project is speaking to people that remember seeing bush stone-curlews on the island and telling them we have the opportunity to bring them back.”

One such resident is Les McFee, who remembers hearing the curlews only a few decades ago.  “I remember in the late 1960s on the hill north of Smith’s Beach on the old Cleeland farm hearing that eerie screech of a curlew coming from what is now the Koala Conservation Reserve. It seemed so close, but in reality it was well over a kilometre away,” he said.  A dedicated team of volunteers have been feeding and caring for the curlews since their arrival last year, including Visitor Engagement Volunteer Karen Duffy.  “I love observing the birds we have and watching and learning their behaviours. Seeing them regularly, showing them to the visitors and being part of their care team is truly rewarding,” Karen said.  “It is a small part of a big picture, knowing that the result is hopefully these birds will again be resident on our beautiful island in the future.”

To find out more about the Koala Conservation Reserve, including opening times, visit the website: https://www.penguins.org.au/attractions/koala-reserve/


Cardinia Shire Council

Cardinia Shire Council has recently adopted a Biolink Plan. Biolinks connect pockets of native vegetation so wildlife can move more easily between areas. The Plan and mapping which is viewable on the link below identifies where biodiversity exists and sets out how to best protect our flora and fauna. 66 ‘nodes’ which are clusters of vegetation critical to supporting biodiversity have been identified in the Plan. 122 corridors to link these nodes have also been mapped.

The Plan will inform conservation actions including pest plant and animal control, fencing to protect vegetation, revegetation, artificial habitat creation and other conservation works.  The Biolink Plan outlines strategic conservation priorities at both the broader landscape level to plan large multi year projects and also by identifying the importance of vegetation at the property scale using a ‘biodiversity conservation score.’ This mapping feature helps landowners to identify the most important areas of vegetation on each individual property.  The Plan also identifies a suite of indicator species for future monitoring programs to help inform on biodiversity health.

The Plan uses the latest technology in computer modelling to identify species habitat needs and their movement patterns in different landscapes and combines this with known existing vegetation extent to map the most important areas to assist the movement of biodiversity within Cardinia.  The modelling calculated dispersal and movement capabilities of species by considering parameters such as habitat sizes, ‘gap-crossing’ and ‘inter-patch crossing’ thresholds. These represent the maximum distance an animal can move between structural connectivity elements (e.g. two isolated trees) and between habitat patches and considers increasing evidence that species exhibit thresholds in their dispersal behaviour.

The link to the document and mapping can be found here; https://www.cardinia.vic.gov.au/environment

New Wetlands Wonders Boardwalk open at Deep Creek

Cardinia Shire Council has officially opened the new Wetland Wonders boardwalk project at Deep Creek Reserve.  Deep Creek Reserve is a premier environment, education and recreation destination in Pakenham.  Council has converted 480,000 square metres of former farmland into the Deep Creek Reserve, transforming the space into a regional environmental precinct which last year won the Premier’s Sustainability Award.

Last year, Council was successful in receiving a grant of $200,000 from the Victorian Government through the Integrated Water Management Forums that are run by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning which funded half of the Wetland Wonders project.  This grant helped to fund the construction of the boardwalk, interpretational aspects of the Wetland Wonders area, as well as the Bunurong Traditional Owner story of Waa, which tells of the importance of the wetlands to the Bunurong people and of their unique relationship to Country in the Deep Creek Reserve precinct.

Cardinia Shire Council Mayor Councillor Jeff Springfield was thrilled to see the Wetland Wonders project at Deep Creek Reserve as he toured the area today with State Member for Bass Jordan Crugnale.  “This has been a real team effort to get this amazing project to where it is today,” Cr Springfield said.  “I encourage all of our residents and their families to head along and experience the newly completed Wetland Wonders at Deep Creek Reserve.”

State Member for Bass Jordan Crugnale said this was a fantastic addition to Deep Creek Reserve.  “The Wetlands Wonder Discovery Trail and boardwalks, each with viewing platforms, are a fantastic addition to 48 hectare Deep Creek Reserve, showcasing the stunning 6 hectares of wetlands, a place of environmental significance.  Special thanks to the Bunurong Land Council, Cardinia Shire Council and South East Water for their dedicated work for this project. Whether it’s the walking trails, educational centre, accessible playground or wetlands there is something for everyone here and it is a tremendous local asset.  Now is the perfect time to experience this amazing open space with your friends and family to explore, play and to learn about our local protected environment.”

For more information about the project, visit Council’s website at www.cardinia.vic.gov.au/deepcreek or call the Parks and Environment team on 1300 787 624.


City of Casey

Casey Green Living Festival 2022

Casey are holding their Green Living Festival this Saturday 2nd April at Bunjil Place.  The Western Port Biosphere Foundation will have a stall so come along and say hello !  More information is available on the Casey website here.

Australia’s Favourite Art Prize Is Coming To Bunjil Place 

The Archibald Prize 2022, an Art Gallery of New South Wales touring exhibition is coming to Casey’s Bunjil Place from 3 September to 16 October 2022!  The annual Archibald Prize is eagerly anticipated by artists and audiences alike. Judged by the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW, the prize is awarded to the best portrait painting. Since 1921 it has highlighted figures from all walks of life, from famous faces to local heroes, reflecting back to us the stories of our times. This touring exhibition is an opportunity to see the finalists in the Archibald Prize 2022.

The Archibald Prize 2022 
Date: 3 September 2022 – 16 October 2022
Anticipated Audience: 80,000+


Frankston City Council

City Nature Challenge 2022

Frankston City Council is teaming up with 17 Councils across Greater Melbourne, along with the Field Naturalists Club of Victoria, the Entomological Society of Victoria, and Scouts Victoria to represent Greater Melbourne on the global stage in the City Nature Challenge.  During the 29th April to the 2nd May 2022, snap a photo of a plant or animal and upload it to iNaturalist making sure to include the location! The observations will automatically be pooled to this project so that we can compete with participants from cities all over the world!  Let’s show the world the incredible biodiversity of Frankston.

https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/projects/city-nature-challenge-2022-frankston-city-council

Frankston Indigenous Nursery Open Day

Come and join us at Frankston’s Indigenous Nursery Open Day for a morning of festivity on Saturday 7th May from 10am to 2pm. This year’s theme is ‘The importance of urban forests’.  This year we are pleased to be hosting special guest Dr Greg Moore of Melbourne University, speaking on ‘Liveable and Sustainable Cities Need Trees’.  There will be interactive displays from local wildlife gurus, Living with Wildlife, AWARE Wildlife Rescue, Frankston’s Natural Reserve Friends groups and Gardens for Wildlife Victoria volunteers.  The Lions Club of Frankston will be cooking up a free BBQ, there will be plant sales and giveaways as always, a nursery tour and propagation workshop, and plenty of activities for the kids.

 Frankston Indigenous Nursery Open Day Tickets, Sat 07/05/2022 at 9:00 am | Eventbrite

Coastal Marine and Management plan

Frankston City Council is currently developing a Coastal and Marine Management Plan which will set out our vision, objectives and actions for the management of the Frankston and Seaford coastal and marine areas.

Stretching from Kackeraboite Creek in the South to Keast Park in the north our coastline is renowned as the most pristine and accessible stretch of foreshore on Port Phillip Bay. We will collaborate with Traditional Owners, the wider community, key stakeholders and agencies to shape our vision, objectives, and actions for the Plan. With your help, we want to protect and enhance the marine and coastal environment, adapt to climate change, support sustainable use and strengthen community engagement. We want to know your thoughts on how we can improve and enhance our Marine and Coastal environment. We welcome your feedback visit Coastal and Marine Management Plan | Engage Frankston! By completing our questionnaire, you could go into the draw to win 1 of 3 $100 vouchers to a Frankston City Foreshore Restaurant!


Mornington Peninsula Shire Council

Get discounted energy upgrades and learn how to create a comfortable, energy efficient home

Dreading the power bill? Wanting to do better for the environment? Ready to go green but don’t quite know where to start?  Join our community bulk buy! We’ve taken all the guesswork out of solar panels and batteries, heat pumps and reverse cycle air conditioners and done the research for you.  Together with the Australian Energy Foundation, the Shire offers our residents free access to information on creating an energy efficient home, access to high quality products from accredited suppliers at discounted prices and support to access the government rebates and programs.

Solar panels and battery storage
By installing solar, you can expect to reduce your electricity bills by 30 to 60 per cent! With these savings, a typical home could recoup the initial investment between three to five years.

Hot water heat pumps
Enjoy instant hot water and reduce your greenhouse gas emissions while you’re at it! This appliance uses only around one-quarter the electricity of a traditional electric hot water system.

Reverse-cycle air conditioners
Heating and cooling a home can use up to 40 per cent of energy usage in an average home. A split system air conditioner can achieve both for less money and energy. These products also avoid the health and safety risks present with some other forms of heating, such as burns from electric radiators and carbon monoxide emitted by unflued gas heaters.

What does the community bulk buy program involve?

If you’ve been thinking about making some eco-friendly home improvements that are both good for the environment and your future power bills, this is your chance.

As a Shire resident, you will have free access to:

This media release was published on 22/03/2022

Sorrento heading into the future with public EV charging stations

Construction has started on two new public charging stations for electric vehicles in Sorrento. Located in the Morce Avenue car park, just near the community centre and the skate park, the 50kW chargers will be capable of charging a typical electric vehicle from flat to 80 per cent charge in approximately one hour.  The chargers will operate as a paid service and will be managed by Evie Networks. The cost will be set by Evie Networks, however we’ve included a clause in the license to ensure it is commensurate with similar services.

This new initiative is in response to Evie’s successful application for ARENA’s Future Fuels Funding Program which promises to promote public charging infrastructure: ‘On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $24.55 million in funding to five applicants across 19 projects to expand Australia’s fast charging network for battery electric vehicles (EVs), in Round 1 of the Government’s Future Fuels Fund.’

It is expected that the chargers will be ready for public use by the end of April.

Quote attributable to Mayor Councillor Anthony Marsh:
“This initiative will further promote the uptake of zero emission vehicles in our community, serving to reduce transport emissions, enhance our tourism economy and improve our community’s health and wellbeing. This project aligns strongly with our Climate Emergency Plan.”

Quote attributable to Nepean Ward Councillor Susan Bissinger:
“Being a tourism hot spot with many holiday makers and weekend visitors throughout the year, Sorrento is the perfect destination for public EV chargers. Many community members and our visitors will be happy to be able to charge their cars while they take a stroll around the village!”

Quote attributable to Nepean Ward Councillor Sarah Race:
“Electric vehicle uptake is critical in reducing emissions and tackling the climate crisis. One of the main barriers for people who are considering making the switch to an electric car is the lack of public chargers available. By working with Evie we are directly addressing this concern and standing by our commitment to a greener future.”

This media release was published on 23/02/2022

Old tyres get a new lease on life in Moorooduc

Bentons Road is again open to traffic. Construction works on the significant east-west corridor were completed on Friday 4 February.  During construction, the contractors and the Shire agreed on a new crumb rubber asphalt pavement design, incorporating a high-performance bitumen made from recycled tyres. This replaces the previously announced use of Plastiphalt.

In the 1,450 tonnes of asphalt used in the 1.6km stretch of road, there is:

  • Approximately 9,200kg of recycled rubber, equivalent to 920 end-of-life tyres
  • 145 tonnes of Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) used, avoiding use of raw materials
  • 5-10 per cent reduction in CO2 emission reduction by using warm-mix asphalt (WMA) technology.

This initiative is part of our Environmentally Sustainable Design Policy for council buildings and civil works, which seeks to minimise the environmental impact of construction works. It also supports the following target from our  Climate Emergency Plan and Beyond Zero Waste Strategy: By 2030, 22,829 tonnes of recycled content will be used in Shire civil or construction works.

Quotes attributable to Mayor Councillor Anthony Marsh:
“It’s great to see this project completed and the road in use.

“Stay tuned for more projects delivering great outcomes for our community and the environment.”

Quotes attributable to Deputy Mayor, Cerberus Ward Councillor Lisa Dixon:
“Thank you to the community who have been so patient while we’ve undertaken these upgrades. It’s been a challenging ride with storms, material delays and COVID-19 isolation setting us back along the way. But we got there in the end! Enjoy the improved road and drive safe!”

This media release was published on 09/02/2022