Connector Newsletter – Issue 15

October – December 2017


From the Executive Officer

We are now in our new office at Shop 1, 97 High Street, Hastings, which has confirmed that moving provides a number of challenges, however we are now settled.

Over the past few months we have been working with Councils on the development of a Memorandum of Understanding and have now reached in-principle agreement on a four year MoU incorporating agreed KPIs. Formalisation of this agreement will help to provide the Board with certainty and demonstrate Council support to prospective funding bodies.

Our submission for funding under Biodiversity On-Ground Action – Community & Volunteer Action Grants was successful and we look forward to working with landholders and community groups in the coastal northern Western Port region who will be integral to the success of the project. Project activities will empower landholders to build pest management into routine farm management, and the broader community will gain knowledge of biodiversity values, monitoring and threat abatement.

Going forward, we are in the process of finalising the draft outline of a new project that would incorporate an expansion of Water Stewardship and continue to build on the work of Growing Connections. I will report in more detail on this project when we have consulted further with potential partners and funding bodies.

Cecelia Witton, Executive Officer, Western Port Biosphere


Growing Connections Final Report

The Growing Connections Project, supported by the Australian Governnment, ran from July 2012 to June 2017. The project focused on improving the biodiversity values within the landscape through undertaking the development of plans for pest control and vegetation works, developing new technologies for data capture and knowledge sharing, and increasing understanding of the fauna of the area through a substantial monitoring program.

Key project achievements include:

  • 145 hectares of revegetation
  • 1,159 hectares of remnant vegetation and restoration
  • Planted well in excess of 100,000 plants
  • 65 motion sensing camers deployed, 2,000,000 photos collected, and 187,997 photos of animals collected and identified
  • Pest control management in excess of 2,726 hectares (combined works)
  • Developed a Predator Control Strategy
  • Developed an innovative Biodiversity Plan
  • Held annual Biodiversity Forum since 2015
  • Fostered key partnerships to achieve great outcomes for biodiversity

New Storyboard
An interactive storyboard highlighting the achievements of the Growing Connections Project has been created for the Biosphere by the CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI).

You can also view and download a PDF version of the Growing Connections Project Report.


Ramsar

The Biosphere is ahead of schedule in meeting its target number of community engagement activities for the Australian Government funded ‘Protecting the Ecological Values of the Western Port Ramsar Site’ program due for completion 30 June 2018.

The program aims to reduce threats to the Ramsar site and increase community understanding of the importance of wetlands and how to protect them. As part of our contribution we were engaged to provide information sessions on issues including Ramsar values, pest plants and animals, water quality and land management. The focus area for community engagement has been for residents living on or near the Western Port Ramsar Site from Yaringa to Warneet.

However, during the final nine months, we hope to expand the project’s reach by focusing activities further east to the Tooradin and Koo Wee Rup region. If you live in this region and want to learn more about, or share your passion and/or knowledge of, the Ramsar site’s natural values and threats with other residents, please register your interest via email: sally@biosphere.org.au.

Sally Jacka, Project Officer, Western Port Biosphere


Water Stewardship Update

Our Water Stewardship project has been proceeding at pace. I’ve just returned from three days at the International River Symposium where I spoke about the project with other river professionals from around the world. Many people were interested in our approach to water stewardship which complements the program being undertaken by the Alliance for Water Stewardship globally. Sharing our information means that the water stewards in the Western Port Biosphere Reserve are also contributing to improvements in water quantity and quality as well as to the biodiversity and governance of catchments and waterways worldwide.

Water Stewardship Forum
We are planning our first Forum on Thursday 16 November 2017 to share information about the Biosphere’s Water Stewardship project.

Our keynote speaker will be Professor John Langford AM. Professor Langford is a nationally and internationally recognised water expert; an Honorary Professorial Fellow and Director of Uniwater at the University of Melbourne; Director of the Australia China Centre of Water Resource Research, and Chair of the Alliance for Water Stewardship – Asia Pacific. His diverse and distinguished career in the water industry spans 35 years, including 15 years at chief executive level. He has worked at Melbourne Water, was CEO of the Rural Water Corporation, a Commissioner of the Murray Darling Basin Commission and Chair of the Co-operative Research Centres for Freshwater Ecology and Catchment Hydrology.

This event is not to be missed, so please save the date. Further details will be available soon.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
The Biosphere, Alliance for Water Stewardship and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) met in late August 2017 to witness first-hand the relationship between catchment health and marine environment. The group discussed the Western Port Biosphere’s Water Stewardship Program, and our work to protect coastal ecosystems and marine parks through better onsite water management. The group visited two of our water stewards, nursery TGA Australia and veggie growers Peninsula Fresh Organics, to view the great work they’re doing as part of their Site Water Stewardship Plans.

We also learnt from GBRMPA on how they manage their catchments to protect the reef. They were particularly interested in observing the positive impact of water stewardship in the Biosphere reserve because of the prevalence of streams, Ramsar Wetlands and the Yaringa Marine National Park.

We all share the common goal of better catchment management to protect important receiving waters. It was a very productive and collaborative meeting for all parties and we look forward to working together further on these issues and water stewardship.

Bass Coast Farm visit
I visited Bass Coast Farm’s two properties in the Bass River catchment in early August 2017 to review their onsite conditions and identify some of the actions they can apply to improve water quantity, quality, and biodiversity. Bass Coast Farm run cattle and free range chickens in a unique farming operation. Sylvia’s management of pasture by light grazing some paddocks proved very important during a huge recent rain storm.

Another significant issue which Bass Coast Farm is trying to manage is erosion of gullies and streamlines. While we will be attempting some experimental techniques using garden stakes to reduce erosion in some areas, fencing and revegetation will need to be utilised in other locations. Bass Coast Farm’s Site Water Stewardship Plan will contribute to their demonstration of sustainable farming practices and improve water quality and biodiversity on their property and downstream.

Become a Water Steward
Would you like to be at the forefront of this initiative and develop a site water stewardship plan for your property? We will provide you with assistance to develop the plan and the training necessary to implement it.

Contact: Lance Lloyd, Water Stewardship Project Officer: Email: lancel@biosphere.org.au
Phone: 03 5979 2167

The Biosphere gratefully acknowledges our Water Stewardship Project partners and supporters.

Lance Lloyd, Water Stewardship Project Officer, Western Port Biosphere


The Biosphere Foundation has moved office!

We have moved to Shop 1, 97 High Street (next to Subway). Our contact details are the same: Phone: 5979 2167 Email: admin@biosphere.org.au


Bass Coast Shire: 3 bin update

On 4 September 2017 Bass Coast Shire Council introduced a third bin for food and garden waste (the organics bin, with a green lid), which will be collected weekly.

In the two weeks prior to 4 September (2 bin) 418 tonnes of waste was collected: 35% recycling and 65% garbage to landfill.

In the two weeks’ collection after 4 September (3 bin) 493 tonnes of waste was collected: 28% recycling, 22% garbage to landfill, and 50% organics which is now being diverted away from landfill to become compost for farms.

More information is available at basscoast.vic.gov.au/organics

via Bass Coast Shire Council


Frankston City Council advocates for Victoria-wide plastic bag ban and container deposit scheme

Frankston City Council is in support of a Victoria-wide ban on single-use plastic shopping bags and the introduction of a container deposit scheme (CDS).

Plastic bag waste has become a hot topic following the War On Waste TV series. A Victoria-wide ban on single-use plastic shopping bags would reduce plastic bag waste and litter. South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT and Tasmania have already banned single-use plastic shopping bags. Both Queensland and Western Australia have announced they will ban them in 2018. Frankston City Council recently wrote to the Victorian Government advocating for a ban on single-use shopping plastic bags. This follows Council’s Ordinary meeting on 1 May 2017 (OM300), in which Notice of Motion 1305 – Ban the Bag was carried.

A CDS is a system where beverage containers can be returned at approved collection points for a deposit. The deposit amount is built into the cost of the beverages. The collected beverage containers are reused, recycled or disposed of appropriately. A CDS in Victoria could expect to reduce beverage container litter and increase beverage container recycling.

Both South Australia and Northern Territory already have a CDS. NSW, Queensland, ACT and Western Australia have announced that they will introduce a CDS. At Frankston City Council’s Ordinary Council meeting on 4 September 2017 (OM306), Council committed to advocate to the Victorian Government for a CDS. This advocacy will commence shortly.

For more information, visit the Frankston City Council website or contact Joanna Drennan, Council’s Waste Minimisation Officer on 1300 322 322.

Via Frankston City Council


Mornington Peninsula Shire: kerbside bin inspections

Mornington Peninsula Shire is working to help educate residents on what items belong in which bin, starting with a series of kerbside bin inspections carried out across the Shire from September.

If your bins have been inspected, you will receive a tag providing feedback on whether you are recycling properly, and information about what items can be recycled at home.

The aim of the kerbside bin inspections is to help educate residents on what items belong in which bin, in order to reduce bin contamination and increase actual recycling rates. The inspection program will also help the Shire to understand how our community are performing in the areas of rubbish and recycling.

For more information visit www.mornpen.vic.gov.au/bininspections and follow the links to find out more about household recycling and what can be recycled free of charge at the Shire’s Resource Recovery Centres.

via Mornington Peninsula Shire Council


Cardinia Shire: Gardens for Wildlife

Cardinia Shire’s new Gardens for Wildlife is a free program that shows residents how to plant a garden that attracts wildlife and provides a haven for them to live in or visit. The program provides advice about what species grow naturally in the Shire (meaning less water, fertiliser and maintenance) and helps residents connect with neighbours and get out in the fresh air. The health benefits from being in leafy green spaces are immeasurable and include reduced stress, lowered blood pressure and lowered cholesterol. The program is a partnership between Council, Landcare networks, ‘Friends’ groups and local volunteers.

Visit the website to register and find more information about the program.

via Cardinia Shire Council


50th individual Victorian Humpback Whale catalogued

The Two Bays Whale Project and its partners, the Dolphin Research Institute and Wildlife Coast Cruises have just catalogued the 50th individual whale into the Victorian Humpback Whale Catalogue!

The whale, identified as VIC_0050, was spotted by year 7 Emerald Secondary College student Alana Loschenkohl who photographed it as it lifted its fluke above the water off the coast of Kilcunda in July this year. Individual humpback whales can be identified using photographs of the unique black and white patterning found on the underside of the fluke, also known as the tail.

This year, it is expected that up to 26,000 humpback whales will make the northerly migration along Australia’s east coast to the calving grounds…a far cry from the post whaling population estimate of around 200.

Little is known about the migration of humpback whales along Victoria’s south coast but with interest growing and the ongoing work of the Two Bays Whale Project, it is hoped that we may soon be able to unlock some of the secrets of these magnificent winter visitors.

Members of the community can find out about getting involved and supporting the Two Bays Project at www.dolphinresearch.org.au/twobays. A 100 WHALES Appeal is running to reach the 100 Whale milestone in the Victorian catalogue.

via Dolphin Research Institute


Moonlit Sanctuary announced as finalist in 2017 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards

The Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park has been announced as a finalist in the Environmental Protection category for this year’s Premier’s Sustainability Awards for their Orange-bellied Parrot Breeding for Recovery program.

The Awards represent Victoria’s highest recognition for sustainability and acknowledge leadership, innovation and achievement.

The Orange-bellied Parrot (OBP) National Recovery Plan calls for a sustainable captive breeding program of 400 birds to help protect this endangered species against extinction. Moonlit Sanctuary on the Mornington Peninsula seized the opportunity to become a cornerstone of the Plan.

Based on learnings from a trial block of five aviaries, they designed a 20-aviary complex for up to 40 breeding birds and 100 offspring. In 2016, with support from Zoos Victoria, Moonlit Sanctuary opened a new OBP breeding facility in time for the 2016-17 breeding season.

Results from 12 pairs was 25 offspring, and supplied birds for Tasmanian breeding grounds and the Werribee Open Range Zoo. Scientists from Victoria’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning say the release has exceeded all expectations.

“Moonlit Sanctuary will continue to breed OBP for the recovery plan until there is a viable wild population again, saved from extinction. We have committed to run our program for at least the next 10 years,” said Michael Johson, Director, and Founder of Moonlit Sanctuary.

The winners will be announced at the Awards ceremony on 26 October 2017.

via Sustainability Awards and Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park


Shells not of the seashore

Edithvale—Seaford Wetlands are but a small remnant of the once mighty Carrum Carrum Swamp which stretched from Mordialloc to Frankston and out to Dandenong.

However, some 7,000 years ago this swamp, along with other low-lying areas around Port Phillip Bay, was under a shallow sea for about 2,000 years.

Later, about 5,000 years ago, the sea level fell (following the cessation of the warm period), leaving behind the shells. These shells, then, are between 3,000 and 5,000 years old.

Visit the ‘Dog Pond’ in Edithvale North; they are scattered everywhere on the ground.

Pick one up, and hold in your hands something which is thousands of years old and which once formed part of a living creature.

Fascinating!

Robin Clarey, Friends of Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands Inc


Boomerang Bags

Boomerang Bags is a community driven movement tackling plastic pollution at the grassroots level.

Volunteers from all walks of life get together to make re-useable ‘boomerang bags’ using recycled materials, providing a sustainable – and lovingly handcrafted – alternative to plastic bags.

The bags create a platform to start conversations, make friends, up-cycle materials and work towards shifting society’s throw away mentality to a more sustainable revolution of re-use – one community, needle and thread at a time!

There are more than 426 Boomerang Bags communities around the world, including Red Hill, Rosebud, Somers, Sorrento and Western Port.

You can get involved by donating second hand materials such as linen, fabric offcuts, curtains and thread. You can also volunteer to cut, sew, iron or screenprint. Or you can buy a Boomerang Bag: current stockists include La Casa Nostra Deli (Rosebud), JacknAndys Opportunity Shop (Sorrento), Southern Peninsula Rescue Squad Opportunity Shop (Blairgowrie), Sorrento Community Centre, Bryant’s Organic Vegetable Farm (Rosebud), Red Hill Cellar and Pantry Grocery and Somers General Store.

Visit http://boomerangbags.org/be-involved/ to find your nearest Boomerang Bag community.

Marnee Fraser, Boomerang Bags Red Hill


Mornington Peninsula Landcare Network Update

Mornington Peninsula Landcare Network (MPLN) has had some great opportunities recently to work with young people, including the Balcombe Creek Junior Landcare Program, and National Tree Day.

Balcombe Moorooduc Landcare Group’s Junior Landcare project Balcombe Creek Habitat Trail was recognised at the Victorian Landcare Awards through a Junior Landcare award to their partner school, Penbank (a junior campus of Woodleigh School). The project involves students researching, designing and creating habitat for indigenous fauna along a section of the Balcombe Creek at Mt Martha. At the heart of this habitat project is a partnership between a Landcare group and a local school. It has produced a practical, positive way for students to take action on environmental issues and helped to involve the whole community in protecting their local creek.

The MPLN teamed with Mornington Toyota to organise a successful planting day for Planet Ark’s National Tree Day in July. Around 60 people, many of them under 12 years old, planted 1,000 indigenous trees and shrubs on the Baldrys Road property which is part of the MPLN’s Greens Bush to Arthurs Seat Biolink project. The Rosebud Cub Scout group came along and I gave them a brief introduction into the great work of Landcare for their Landcare badge.

Jacqueline Salter, Landcare Facilitator, Mornington Peninsula Shire


Fox-free Phillip Island to save bandicoots from extinction

When Phillip Island Nature Parks launched its Fox Eradication Program in 2006, the vision was to protect Phillip Island’s biodiversity and wildlife, and work towards an environment free from the destruction wrought by the European red fox. This vision has become a reality with the historic announcement that Phillip Island is now fox-free, paving the way for a release of the critically endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot.

“The implementation of this comprehensive control program has resulted in the reduction of the fox population from an estimated 150 individuals in 2006 to undetectable levels today, with no physical evidence found in over two years. While we are confident we have removed foxes from Phillip Island, we will continue our robust monitoring program into the future to ensure they do not re-establish on the island.” said Catherine Basterfield, Phillip Island Nature Parks CEO.

“Not only does this landmark achievement protect the island’s iconic wildlife such as penguins and shearwaters, it also provides Phillip Island with a unique opportunity to save a native animal from extinction in Victoria. The Eastern Barred Bandicoot has been wiped out on the mainland by foxes and habitat loss, and now we can give this marsupial its best chance of survival by releasing it onto Phillip Island,” continued Catherine.

This extraordinary achievement has been made possible by the long term contributions from Zoos Victoria and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team who have worked to preserve the species in fenced and captive environments until suitable fox-free environments became available.

www.penguins.org.au/bandicoots

Roland Pick, Communications Executive, Phillip Island Nature Parks


Research isn’t just for scientists!

As Western Port Biosphere LifeSearch has proved, citizen science effectively bridges the gap between science and local community. Citizen Science participation teaches us that anyone can get involved regardless of urban or rural environment.

Many benefits are gained; notably, increased awareness of environmental issues, and greater understanding of science and local ecosystems, together with spin-off benefits, a sense of place and belonging, ongoing stewardship of local ecosystems and natural resources – and, most importantly, a desire to protect and care for these natural assets.

As part of our participation in recent KARTS sessions held throughout various Shire councils, WPCLN presented a number of Citizen Science Project Proposals. These had been developed for the Landcare groups within the Network, to encourage interest and participation.

Some of the Citizen Projects chosen included:

  • Warragul Burrowing Crayfish – this unique creature is critically endangered, with threats to its habitat as well as hydrological alteration. Activities would involve survey and monitoring, data collection, and riparian rehabilitation.
  • Neerim District Wetlands – Frog Watch! to survey native and local species. Threats include predation/pollution run off. Activities would include data collection through smartphone app ID, revegetation and working bees to improve habitat.
  • Labertouche Landcare group chose a Weed ID project to survey and collect data on a weed species that is intrusive to pasture and bushland. Activities would include data collection, mapping and weed eradication program with follow up.

All data collected from these projects will be uploaded to The Atlas of Living Australia and contribute to the wonderful biodiversity found within our local communities!

Mariea Pacheco, Vice President, Westernport Catchment Landcare Network


Upcoming Events

Wallaby Walk Spring Babies Photo Competition
Date: Until Sunday 8 October 2017
Take a picture of a wallaby at Moonlit Sanctuary and share it on social media to win a One Year Family Membership, a Behind the Scenes Tour or Sponsor an Animal.
Visit http://moonlitsanctuary.com.au for details.

Balnarring Sustainability Fair
Date: Saturday 14 October 2017, 9am – 4pm
At Balnarry Primary School, Civic Court, Balnarring
Featuring a wide range of activities including a vibrant marketplace with ethical and sustainable foods and products, school stalls, workshops, live music and old fashioned children’s games. It aims to inform, educate and inspire visitors to work towards a more sustainable future.

Love Food Hate Waste
Date: Wednesday 18 October 2017, 12.30-2.30pm
At Lynbrook Community Centre, Harris Street, Lynbrook
Discover how to get the most out of your food in this cooking class with a difference. We will share our best leftover recipes, tips for selecting and storing food so that it tastes better and lasts longer and teach you other handy skills for how to eat well while saving time and money! Free but bookings essential.

Master Classes in Composting and Worm Farming
Date: Friday 20 October 2017 – Composting 9.30-10.45am & Worm Farming 11.00am-12.15pm
At Karingal Place Neighbourhood Centre, 103 Ashleigh Avenue, Frankston.
Reduce your household waste and reap the rewards. Free, but bookings essential.

Working Bee at Colley Street Bushland Reserve
Date: Sunday 5 November and Sunday 3 December 2017, 9.00am – midday
At Colley Street, Pearcedale.
Meet outside the reserve’s main entrance at the northern end of Colley Street. Wear sturdy clothing, shoes, gloves, a hat, insect repellent and sunscreen. Remove weeds and rubbish with other volunteers. Bookings are essential.

Seasonal Vegetable Gardening
Date: Wednesday 8 November 2017, 10.00am – 1.00pm
At The Old Cheese Factory, 34 Homestead Road, Berwick.
Find out how to grow and get the best out of your vegetable garden. $15, bookings are essential.

Caring for Trees
Date: Sunday 12 November 2017, 10.00am -12.30pm
At Frankston South Community and Recreation Centre, 55 Towerhill Road, Frankston.
Advice and information from a vegetation expert covering topics such as planting, mulching, watering, pruning, pest control, protection and more. Free but bookings essential.

Eco-makover Your Home
Date: Saturday 25 November 2017, 10.00am – midday
At the Eco Living Display Centre at ‘The Briars’, 450 Nepean Highway, Mount Martha.
Get expert, independent advice and see practical examples of how to ‘makeover’ your home to be more energy and water efficient. There will also be the chance to have a guided tour at the Eco Living Display Centre, a sustainably retrofitted house in Mount Martha. Free but bookings essential.

Sustainable Summer Gardening
Date: Thursday 7 December 2017, 9.30-11.00am
At Seaford Community Centre, 1/6 Broughton Street, Seaford.
Keep your garden alive and well over summer, with tips including smart water use, greywater, mulch, composting, plant selection and soil health. This session is run by a knowledgeable local gardening enthusiast, and there will be plenty of time for discussion and idea sharing.