Connector Newsletter – Issue 13

April – June 2017

From the Executive Officer

The first few months of this year have been hectic for the Foundation and I would like to thank those who showed their support by attending the EGM held in January. I am pleased to be able to say that we have, with the help of our Biosphere Councils and others, secured the funding required to meet the projected cash flow shortfall.

It is great to be able to report on the more positive funding situation, but renewal of memberships is slow. I urge current members to renew now, because we must retain a membership base of a minimum of 50 financial members to meet the criteria for our Charitable DGR status.

I would also like to encourage all Connector recipients to become members if you are not already, and to ask you to ask your friends to join us also as a demonstration of support of the Foundation and its work. Without ongoing support from our membership, the Foundation will not be able to take advantage of philanthropic funding opportunities for which DGR status is required. To become a member, or to renew, please visit our website or use the button at the bottom of this Connector newsletter.

During recent discussions with the Biosphere Councils it was generally agreed that the development of a Memorandum of Understanding would be beneficial to all. We are currently in the process of finalising a draft document for consideration by all parties.

Cecelia Witton, Executive Officer, Western Port Biosphere

Growing Connections

The past three months of the Growing Connections project have been focussed on finalising all works ready for the completion of the project in June of this year. All of our project partners are busy finishing on ground revegetation and remnant vegetation protection works, which are all on target to be completed on time. We still have a fox control program underway around Tooradin which will be completed in the coming month. This work will contribute to the analysis of the data collected through our monitoring program looking at the relationship between the Southern Brown Bandicoot and their predators, namely foxes. We are also starting to calculate the carbon that has been sequestered through our revegetation programs over the life of the project.

One highlight of the last few months has been building a partnership with the Bunurong Land Council which has culminated in partnering to run a series of three Cultural Heritage Bus Tours around the Biosphere landscape. The first of these tours was held in late March and explored the landscape of Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula. Forty eight people enjoyed the tour, which included hearing stories from members of the Bunurong Land Council, and visits to Cape Schanck, Point Nepean, Arthurs Seat, Mount Martha, Bunurong Park, and Colemans Road industrial estate in Carrum Downs.

Two more tours are coming up; the first, visiting cultural sites around Casey and Cardinia, will be held on 21 April, and the second, focussing on Bass Coast, will take place on 28 April. If you would like more information or would like to book your seat on the bus, please either email [email protected] or call 5979 2167, but get in fast as places are filling up.

Chris Chambers, Growing Connections Project Officer, Western Port Biosphere

Update of fox baiting in the Tooradin region
In May 2016 Mal Legg’s Ecological Services established 20 fox baiting stations, which they will be monitoring until May 2017. Thus far there has been 62 bait takes.

Update of camera monitoring in the Tooradin region
Eighty random point sites in the Tooradin region have had cameras set, each for approximately one month, since December 2015. Over this period 27,180 animal images were captured. This data has been amalgamated with approximately 155,380 images collected from a further 340 sites in other areas in the Biosphere Reserve. All data is currently being put in a format for Ecology Australia to analyse.

Sally Jacka, Project Officer, Western Port Biosphere


Protecting the ecological values of the Western Port Ramsar site
On 5 March 2017, I joined Parks Victoria’s Sea Search Program, various other organisations and individual community members on a boat trip to French Island Marine National Park. This excursion was held on the S.V. Pelican 1 as part of the Two Bays 2017 program. The main purpose was to network with like-minded people and to learn how citizen scientists can contribute to seagrass monitoring and marine pest control. It was a valuable experience, particularly networking and making new contacts with representatives of organisations such as CoastCare, Parks Vic. and EPA, and with local community members. Following on from this, I am now investigating the possibility of establishing Estuary Watch Groups in northern Western Port coastal communities.

More photos and information can be found on the Sea Search Facebook page.

Sally Jacka, Project Officer, Western Port Biosphere

Water Stewardship

Water Stewardship training
An important part of the process becoming a Water Steward is attending a water stewardship training workshop conducted by the Biosphere and the Alliance for Water Stewardship.

Our half day training workshop provides you with the opportunity to learn the background to water stewardship, aspects to enable you to develop your Site Water Stewardship Plan and, more importantly, a one-to-one mentoring session to work through aspects including the issues and challenges of water management on your property. This session will provide a great start to your Site Water Stewardship Plan by developing or confirming your objectives and hopefully beginning to identify some actions needed to improve water quantity, water quality or biodiversity on your site (Figure 1).

We ran our third training workshop on 22 March 2017 – also World Water Day – which was attended by three new water stewards (covering four Water Stewardship Sites): Bass Coast Farm (which has two properties in the Bass River Catchment), Dewhurst Farm (Cardinia Creek Catchment) and Quilly Park (Langwarrin Catchment). These farms all recognise the need for better water management and understand that water stewardship will help their enterprise as well as the environment on their farms and within the broader catchment.

An additional benefit of these workshops is the knowledge sharing that occurs between landholders. We are really pleased that each of our participants took away information, not only on water management, but about other practices which will improve their farming enterprise. We hope this is the start of growing a water stewardship community within the Biosphere Reserve.

Why not join us when we run our next program? Contact Lance Lloyd ([email protected]), call the Biosphere office (03 59792 167).

Our Water Stewards
We congratulate the landholders, businesses and organisations that have committed to our water stewardship program. Visit our website to view the current water stewards in each of the catchments we are working in.

Lance Lloyd, Water Stewardship Project Officer

AWS Training Program

In May 2017, the Alliance for Water Stewardship is offering a formal, globally accredited (AWS), training program for people generally interested in developing the skills to implement and promote good water stewardship.

There are three levels of training. The Foundation program provides an understanding of the water stewardship system and its implementation. The Advanced program aims to develop higher level capabilities in water stewardship. The Specialist program will develop and test skills required for practitioners to offer services as specialists in the water stewardship system. As part of our Growing a Water Stewardship Community in Western Port Biosphere project the Biosphere is offering this program to our water stewards and program partners. Please contact Lance Lloyd for more details – [email protected].

Cardinia Shire Indigenous Plants Directory

Cardinia Shire has a new online indigenous plant directory which provides information about indigenous plant species, their growing conditions, flower colour, and plant size. Most entries have photographs.

via Cardinia Shire website

Summer – the season of volunteers

Summer is now officially over, but it has been a great time for seed collection and revegetation project planning with the aid of some dedicated and helpful volunteers.

The Nature Parks’ Revegetation Plan has been written up for 2017 and seed is being collected accordingly, with major areas of focus being Cape Woolamai, Pyramid Rock to Berrys Beach walking track, Five Ways and the Ramsar coastline.

We have enjoyed some excellent assistance from groups of university volunteers who have helped with spinach propagation and Poa seed collection, in addition to the removal of thistles and inkweed.

A Nature Parks’ internal volunteer day was held on 11 February to increase penguin habitat on the east side of the Penguin Parade, which will be an ongoing project.

So a big thank you goes out to all of our volunteers who make a lot of our work possible.

Roland Pick, Communications Executive, Phillip Island Nature Parks

PICS the winner from work experience offer

Phillip Island Conservation Society (PICS) was lucky to have Deakin University Environmental Science student, Jye Anderson, spend 40 hours with us late last year as part of his university program. Jye, who grew up on Phillip Island, worked alongside me, mostly at Scenic Estate Reserve, but also Red Rocks and on mangrove planting at Grantville.

We collected and tentatively identified up to 15 moss and liverwort species from SER, and started a photo gallery of flowering plants.

We continued the monitoring program of sea spurge germination near Justice Road, and participated in a successful ‘Spurgebusters’ morning, clearing out sea spurge from Justice Rd to Red Rocks and removing Boneseed. Blue Periwinkle has been hunted out and removed from previously infested areas at Red Rocks.

Jye helped me continue the salinity monitoring project at SER, and helped set up the monitoring of cliff erosion on the coast there. We also measured the impact of herbicide on Swamp Paperbark encroaching on nature grassland.

Mangrove seed was collected at different places along the coast, and secured to bamboo stakes in a new, direct-seeding method being trialled to establish mangroves on eroding shorelines. One hundred were recently planted in this way at SER and nearly 300 at Grantville.

Our sincere thanks go to Jye for his invaluable assistance with all of these projects, and more. Following his work with us, Jye headed off to Costa Rica for several months to help with preservation of sea turtles. We look forward to Jye being guest speaker at a PICS General Meeting in the future.

John Eddy, Friends of Scenic Estate Reserve co-ordinator

CEC and others bringing the native animals back to altered landscapes

Our generation is in a race against time to save remnant native vegetation in our catchment. Plants introduced by European settlers have become rampant weeds without the Northern Hemisphere winters and bugs to stop them. We need native plants for the native animal species (mammals, marsupials, insects and birds) to survive.

Through its nursery, Cardinia Environment Coalition is working to ensure provenance plants are produced to restore the important native plants gene pool. Our motto is “Indigenous plants for native animals”.

Nursery manager, Adele Richardson, points out the unusual Pultenaea weindorferi from Labertouche which she is growing successfully for that area. She is excited by some of the orchids specific to certain areas, some endangered, that she and her army of volunteers are able to propagate. Adele has pots brimming over with the brilliant green of a specific species of Wallaby grass remnant from the Swamp. She will know which eucalyptus is the right one for your area.

Like many of the indigenous plant nurseries throughout Western Port, the CEC Community Nursery volunteers are potting up tiny seedlings at this time of year to be ready for planting as soon as the rains start in late autumn and winter. It is exciting to think of the habitat that will be created as these plants turn into food sources and shelter for our native animals like native bees and the Southern Brown Bandicoot.

You are invited to make an appointment to visit the nursery, particularly on a Tuesday when the dedicated volunteer helpers are having fun and working hard to produce rows of different native plant species. Adele would love anyone with native plant identification skills to help the volunteers to learn about the work they do with such passion. It all makes for interesting discussions and memorable activities to hear from others, especially if you have skills in unusual areas like ferns and fungi identification. And she might show you the wonderful insect mascots they have there, hiding amongst the eucalyptus leaves in their cage… no further clues… you have to visit to see them!

Or phone Adele for a recommendation for the nursery closest to you to get the remnant plants special to your area and for YOUR native animals!

Adele can be contacted on 0417 373 690. You can also visit the CEC website or our Facebook page.

The CEC Community Nursery has had a recent email address change. Please update your contacts: [email protected] and/or [email protected]

Elizabeth Fraser, President, Cardinia Environment Coalition

FLOW – the new Friends Group in Langwarrin

A new Friends Group, FLOW, has evolved in Langwarrin. Flow stands for Friends of Langwarrin’s Outdoors and Waterways, and at their inaugural event, Clean Up Australia Day, around 60 volunteers, led by the inspirational Suzie and Cecilia Webster, removed a whopping 418kg of litter from Boggy Creek and surrounds.

Boggy Creek is home to one of the most regionally significant populations of Dwarf Galaxias. Suzie and Cecilia, with young Max in tow, visit the site weekly, cleaning up litter and documenting wildlife with their keen photography skills.

At the Frankston Council Meeting on 14 March 2017, Mayor Cr Brian Cunial and Cr Sandra Mayer presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Suzie, who has worked tirelessly and selflessly in both cleaning up Boggy Creek and improving local participation in conservation.

If you are interested in finding out more about FLOW or getting involved from time to time, follow the FLOW Facebook page.

Ella Boyen, Langwarrin Woodlands and Northern Westernport Landcare Group

Mornington Peninsula Landcare Group update

March was a great month for promotion of Landcare on the Mornington Peninsula. Recently, a team of volunteers hosted the MPLN stall at the Red Hill Show, which featured a ‘Guess the Weed’ competition.

Last month, I was also assisted by Pam Cairns, Anne Tyrrell and a number of Green Army members to run the Landcare puppet show at Enviro Week at The Briars.

Greens Bush to Arthurs Seat Biolink Project update
The Advisory Panel, composed of representatives from PPWCMA, Birdlife Australia, Melbourne Water, Parks Victoria, the Mornington Peninsula Shire and members of Main Creek Catchment and SW Mornington Peninsula Landcare groups, had their inaugural meeting on Monday 6 March. As Project Coordinator I gave the a background to the project and progress to date. I have now met with 14 landholders involved in the project. On Saturday 1 April, the ‘Introductory Session’ for the Greens Bush to Arthurs Seat (GB2AS) project was held at Jenny and Sam Stidston’s property, who are Main Creek Catchment biolink members. The event was well attended, with 25 people coming to hear both Mal Legg and Gidja Walker present and take a walk and talk around the property. We look forward to the nestbox builidng workshop on Sat 22 April and the official launch on Saturday 29 April.

For more information, contact Jacqui Salter [email protected], 0408 213 079

Jacqueline Salter, Landcare Facilitator, Mornington Peninsula Shire

In the spotlight…

In this issue we talk with Clare Warren, Coordinator Biodiversity at Frankston City Council

Tell us about your role at Frankston City Council
I coordinate the Environment Team within the Planning and Environment department. My team consists of a Biodiversity Officer, Environmental Planner, Vegetation Protection Officer and Environmental Interpretation Officer. We undertake tree, landscape and biodiversity assessments for planning applications, prepare policy and strategy documents with regard to biodiversity protection and the Urban Forest, provide advice to internal departments, government departments and the community, provide support to environmental volunteers, and run events, workshops and training sessions for the community.

What does a typical day involve?
Most days are varied. I can be stuck in the office assessing planning referrals, responding to community requests, attending cross-functional meetings, liaising with external organisations such as the Biosphere, Melbourne Water, CMA and Indigenous groups. Or out and about assessing sites, planning for community events or attending networking meetings.

What are you most proud of achieving?
I am most proud of the relationships I have formed across the region with both community and industry, working together to achieve valuable environmental outcomes. And the odd tree here and there that I have fought to retain, when I drive past them, makes me smile.

Are there any projects or initiatives for 2017 that you can share with us?
We have just completed community consultation on our draft Urban Forest Policy. We are hoping this will get adopted by Council later in the year and we will begin development of an Urban Forest Action Plan to implement the foundation of this policy.

What are some of the ways people (from Frankston or other areas within the Biosphere Reserve) can get involved with biodiversity activities at home or in their community?

  • Join a Friends Group or Landcare Network. Council has a very active Friends Network that includes 14 Friends groups that volunteer within reserves within the Municipality. There are also two Landcare groups active within our Municipality.
  • Attend a workshop or planting day – Council also has a bi-annual Calendar of environmental events.
  • Plant within your own backyard – Indigenous plants can be purchased for their own gardens from the Frankston Indigenous Nursery.

Two Bays Whale Project

The Dolphin Research Institute (DRI) has five citizen science programs using keen volunteers to provide sightings of dolphins and whales in Victoria. We are proud to continue our lead role in the development and support of the Two Bays Whale Project. The Two Bays Whale Project is a citizen science initiative between the Dolphin Research Institute, Wildlife Coast Cruises and Killer Whales Australia.

The project is designed to formalise the recording of sightings of large cetacean species within Port Phillip, Western Port and adjacent waters (Barwon Heads to Inverloch). The current data set dates back to 2000 with some supplementary sightings from previous years dating to 1984. It will also be a repository for images of fins and flukes (humpback whales) and callosities (southern right whales), as well as a resource for existing identification catalogues.

The key species for this citizen science project are humpback whales and southern right whales but also includes other species such as killer whales, minke whales and blue whales, also occasionally seen.

In 2016 there were 86 confirmed separate sighting events (58 Western Port region and 28 Port Phillip region), of three confirmed species (southern right, humpback and killer whales). There were two unconfirmed but probable minke whale sightings. The estimated number of individuals is 161 (best estimate after omitting probable and known re-sights). The success of the 2016 season can be attributed to an excellent network of enthusiastic supporters, good communication and collaboration between organisations.

Our second Whale Festival at Phillip Island will be held in the July 2017 school holidays. This is run with Phillip Island Nature Parks and Wildlife Coast Cruises. More information will be available on our website and Facebook page closer to the time.

Jenny Parsons, Communications Officer, Dolphin Research Institute

Moonlit Sanctuary opens new enclosure to house Australia’s largest bird of prey

A pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles that cannot be released into the wild due to domestication and injury are now being housed in a new purpose-built enclosure at Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park.

A first of its kind in Australia, the unique enclosure has been self-funded by the privately-owned park and was officially opened yesterday by the former Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events and Chair of Destination Phillip Island, John Pandazopoulos.

The 30-metre aviary was built based on a raptor rehabilitation design that is free of any wire and includes slatted wooden sides and a 7-metre-high domed top with double netting, to ensure the huge birds don’t injure themselves and have plenty of room to fly.

Director of Moonlit Sanctuary Michael Johnson said: “It’s unfortunate the two Wedge-tailed Eagles are not able to be released into the wild as they wouldn’t be able to fend for themselves based on their upbringing and injuries.

“The male Wedgie was found severely underweight and begging for food on a farmer’s property, while the female was injured in an accident and required surgery to amputate two talons.

“As Wedge-tailed Eagles can live up to 35 years in captivity, our dedicated team of keepers have worked hard to design, build and provide a home where the eagles can comfortably live out their lives with the potential to also become a love nest if the two breed.”

Moonlit Sanctuary’s Wedge-tail Eagle enclosure will feature a viewing platform at each end of the aviary for visitors to see these majestic birds.

With a wingspan of around 2.4 metres, the Wedge-tailed Eagle is the largest raptor in Australia characterised by its long, wedge-shaped tail and found throughout mainland Australia and Tasmania.

via Moonlit Sanctuary

Langwarrin Woodlands Calici release

It was with great excitement that we received our single precious vial of RHDV1 K5 Calici virus. Down here in Langwarrin Woodlands we had been busily preparing for this, with spotlight counts, free feeding and uploading of data into the FeralScan/Rabbit Scan App. Our single site release point was located, in proximity to Moonlight Sanctuary, Pearcedale.

It was clearly evident on being shown around this site why it had been selected. It was a virtual ‘feral bunny metropolis’, with extensive land degradation and soil erosion. Together with severe warren infestation and the over growth of Bracken fern providing perfect cover and habitat, it wasn’t difficult to pinpoint keys locations for baiting.

The next week, the carefully prepared Calici carrot bait was laid out, following instructions from the RHDV Boost Team. This was carried out with GPS coordinates, photos and tagging of site.

Depending on climatic conditions, the Calici virus typically lasts for two to four weeks, and in this time it is taken up into communities, with rabbits dying within two to four days. Additionally, the virus will be spread via hosts such as fleas, flies and mosquitoes and shed also in their droppings.

So now, for Woodlands, we wait… John, the property manager has reported significantly less rabbit sightings in his spotlight count and this is indeed encouraging. We also hope that soon we will have our first dead rabbit to take samples from, and see results from all our hard work.

We will keep all posted on further developments.

Mariea Pacheco, Project Team Leader, Langwarrin Woodlands

Upcoming Events

Backyard Chooks
Date & Time: Thursday 6 April 2017, 6.00-8.00pm
More details: Location: Myuna Farm, 182 Kidds Road, Doveton
Learn how easy it is to keep chickens in your own backyard. Bookings are essential, visit the Casey Green events webpage.

Experience Casey
Date & Time: Sunday 9 April, 2017, 11.00am – 3.00pm
Location: The Old Cheese Factory, 34 Homestead Road, Berwick
Experience Casey is an annual one day event that provides the community with a variety of experiences including food tasting, performances and community stalls representing the culturally vibrant and diverse community of Casey. Phone: 9705 5200.

Southern Gippsland Sustainability Festival
Date & Time: Sunday 9 April, 2017, starts 10.00am
Location: State Coal Mine, Garden Street, Wonthaggi
Held annually, alternating between South Gippsland and Bass Coast, the festival aims to showcase a range of exhibitors and eco-friendly products, provide practical information, down-to-earth demonstrations and speakers. These provide practical skills for residents and visitors to use daily at home, work and in their community. Local entertainment and children’s activities mean that the day is not just about learning, but is also about having fun
More information: Southern Gippsland Sustainability Facebook Page
Contact: Roslyn Jenzen, 03 5951 3317 or [email protected]

City of Casey: Follow Your Waste Tour
Date & Time: Thursday 27 April, 2017, 9.30am – 2.30pm
Visit the closed landfill in Narre Warren to see power generation from landfill gas, REPLAS in Carrum Downs to see soft plastic recycling, and SUEZ landfill in Hampton Park to see landfill construction. Free, but bookings are essential, visit the Casey Green events webpage. Meet at the City of Casey Civic Centre, Magid Drive, Narre Warren. More information: Abbie Lane, Waste and Recycling, 9705 5200.

Mornington Peninsula Shire: No Charge Green Waste Weekend
Date & Time: Friday 28 April – Sunday 30 April, 2017
8.00am-4.00pm, (8.00am – 5.00pm Saturday and Sunday)
Mornington Resource Recovery Centre, 134 Watt Road, Mornington
Rye Resource Recovery Centre, 280 Truemans Road, Rye
Tyabb Resource Recovery Centre, 21 McKirdy’s Road, Tyabb

Master Classes in Composting and Worm Farming
Date & Time: Saturday 29 April, 2017
Composting: 9.30–10.30am; Worm farming: 11am–12pm
Location: Frankston South Community and Recreation Centre, 55 Towerhill Road, Frankston
Learn how to be a super composter or worm farmer. Reduce your household waste and reap the rewards! Free, however bookings are essential. Visit the booking page or leave a phone message on: 9768 1628.

Make Your Own Bath Bombs
Date & Time: Thursday 4 May, 2017, 7.00-9.00pm
Location: Selandra Community Place, 2 Forest Drive, Clyde North
Just in time for Mother’s Day! Create beautiful bath bombs and shower fizzies using essential oils and natural ingredients. Bookings essential: $20 per person. Email: [email protected]/phone: 5998 9541

Habitat Gardening
Date & Time: Saturday 6 May, 2017, 1.00-3.00pm
Location: Cnr Ballarto Road and Botanic Drive, Cranbourne
Learn about the habitat needs of local fauna and how to incorporate these into your yard. Bookings are essential, $5 per person. Visit the Casey Green events webpage. More information: 9705 5200.

Compost Correctly
Date & Time: Wednesday 10 May, 2017, 9.00-10.00am
Location: Myuna Farm, 182 Kidds Road, Doveton
Learn how to set up and maintain a compost bin or worm farm at home. Free, however bookings are essential. Visit the Casey Green events webpage. More information: 9705 5200

Compost and Worm Farming
Date & Time: Saturday 13 May, 2017, 10.00-11.30am
Location: Eco Living Display Centre, The Briars, 450 Nepean Hwy, Mount Martha
Learn how to set up and maintain a worm farm or compost bin and create wonderful compost for your garden. Free, however bookings are essential. Visit the booking page. More information: Nicci Tsernjavski, 0428 351 778 or [email protected].

City of Casey Indigenous Plant Giveaway
Date & Time: Thursday 18 May – Saturday 20 May, 2017
Come along to our annual plant giveaway promoting indigenous plants for Casey residents gardens. Collect two free plants per household. Bookings are essential, visit the Casey Green events webpage.

Sustainable Vegie Gardening
Date & Time: Saturday 20 May, 2017, 9.30-11.00am
Location: Joy of the Earth Community Garden, Joy Street, Frankston
Find out how to grow your own vegies for the least environmental impact and cost. Suitable for beginners or experienced home gardeners. Free, however bookings are essential. Visit the booking page or leave a phone message on: 9768 1628.

Gardening for Wildlife
Date & TIme: Sunday 28 May, 2017, 10.00am – 12.30pm
Location: Langwarrin Community Hall, Lloyd Park, Cranbourne-Frankston Road, Langwarrin
Celebrate World Biodiversity Day and discover how to create a wildlife-friendly habitat garden.
Free, however bookings are essential. Visit the booking page or leave a phone message on: 9768 1628.

World Environment Day: Speed Date a Sustainability Expert
Date: Saturday 3 June, 2017, 2.00-4.00pm
Location: Mount Eliza Community Hall, 90–100 Canadian Bay Road, Mt Eliza
Renovating, designing or building? Meet experts for personalised advice on how to make your home smarter, greener and more economical. Free, however bookings are essential. Visit the booking page or leave a phone message on: 9768 1628.

Winter Wise
Date: Friday 16 June, 2017, 2.00-3.00pm
Location: Eco Living Display Centre, The Briars, 450 Nepean Hwy, Mount Martha
Beat the winter chills by learning how to make your home more comfortable and save on heating bills. Free but bookings essential. Visit the booking page. More information: Nicci Tsernjavski, 0428 351 778 or [email protected]