Connector Newsletter – Issue 17

April – June 2018


From the Executive Officer

The last few months have been hectic, making funding submissions to continue and expand our projects. It seemed like every funding avenue was open for submissions in the same timeframe. We are reasonably confident that we will be successful with these applications.

Following a visit to Western Port Biosphere by Prof Toshinori Tanaka of the University of Tokyo on 11th December 2017 I was invited to attend a meeting in Tokyo of UNESCO Regional Experts Group to represent Australia. Other representatives were from Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Republic of Korea.

Meetings of this type are held as part of the activities of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; this meeting was part of the South East Asia Network.

An action for Lima Action plan, the focus of this meeting was to agree on elements to be included in “Standard Framework for Biosphere Reserve Management” informed by sustainability science.

Case studies in several prominent BRs including Aya (Japan), Cibodas (Indonesia), Cat Ba (Vietnam) and Jeju Island (ROK) have been undertaken.

Presentations were given by managers from three Biosphere Reserves – Western Port Biosphere, Cibodas (Indonesia) and Minakami (Japan’s newest) in response to three questions:

  • what are the current bottlenecks for Biosphere Reserve Management – site level and national level
  • what kind of activities are implemented site level and national level to solve sustainability issues e.g. climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty alleviation or sustainable development in general
  • what do you think are the basic principles recommended for sustainable Biosphere Reserve Management

Presentations from Sustainability Science experts responded to two questions:

  • which Sustainability Science principles are relevant for Biosphere Reserve management
    and/or
  • which aspect/activities of Biosphere Reserve can improve Sustainability Science concept

Matters discussed show a common theme in each Biosphere Reserve:

  • Governance structure
  • Funding levels
  • Professionals/support
  • Review process – should be more frequent; 10 years is too long

Prof Tanaka will prepare a draft of the framework and circulate this to those who participated in the meeting for review and comment prior to tabling the document at the ICC meeting to be held in Indonesia in May.

Participating in meetings of this type provides perspective and an opportunity to gain an understanding of in the issues faced in Biosphere Reserves regardless of where they are located.

Today, the 29th March 2018 is my last official day with Western Port Biosphere as I am ‘retiring’. I have enjoyed the nearly 10 years with the Foundation where I have had the opportunity to work with great staff and dedicated directors, although there have been challenges there have been great achievements. I look forward to following the future achievements of the Western Port Biosphere.

I have offered to volunteer some time for a short period to support staff and make the transition as smooth as possible.

I am a strong supporter of the Man and the Biosphere Program and will close with this quote from Irina Bokova former Director General of UNESCO:

“While World Heritage helps to preserve values, Biosphere Reserves are helping to create them”

Cecelia Witton, Executive Officer, Western Port Biosphere


Growing Connections Follow-up

Here is an update on the work done on Phillip Island as part of the Growing Connections Project, with before and after pictures.

Growing Connections
Phillip Island 2014 – 2015

Rangers from Phillip Island Nature Parks have successfully undertaken a range of projects, thanks to funding provided through the Growing Connections initiative. Sites across the island received the benefit of these projects from Summerlands Estate through to Surf Beach.

The Summerlands Estate project involves revegetation and remnant vegetation protection works in the former Summerland Residential Estate. The project area was once privately owned by various and numerous landholders, holiday home owners and permanent residents, but has since been purchased by the Victorian Government and transferred to the Phillip Island Nature Parks for the conservation, rehabilitation and restoration of the area to Little Penguin habitat.

In the Summerlands Estate we were able to integrate woody weed control measures on species including pittosporum, polygala, thistles, kunzea and various other garden escapees. Weed control measures soon gave way to re-establishing grassy understory in important Plains Grassy Woodland areas, while important native tree and shrub components were also prioritised. Approximately 90ha were directly or indirectly restored through weed control measures or strategic revegetation.

The photos below show kikuyu control in the area between Sunderland Bay and Surf Beach. Kikuyu is the principal threat to Coastal Poa Tussock Grasslands on Phillip Island. Integrated weed control along with planting of Poa poiformis and other locally occurring grassland species closes the site to kikuyu infestation.

Growing Connections funding helped provide valuable protection of Poa Tussock grassland and other plant communities including Heathland and Bird Succulent Herbland, along this part of the coast, with approximately 4.5 kms of coastline treated.

The Berrys Beach project site was broken into two separate areas, firstly the restoration of a Coastal Tussock grassland (shown in the photos) and secondly the improvement of Short-tailed Shearwater nesting habitat, through removal/control of kikuyu and replanting with appropriate succulent species, principally Bower Spinach.

A section of coast from Pyramid Rock to YCW beach (approx. 3.5km) was treated for Gorse. After the gorse had been treated, natural regeneration of native plant species occurred. Here we can clearly see Poa Tussocks reclaiming important coastal cliff tops. This is an important area for VROT plant species including the threatened Crimson Berry.

In Summary

Through the Growing Connections funding, the Phillip Island Nature Parks has been able to integrate weed control efforts with long term restoration of our precious and threatened plant communities and native fauna. Engaging various stakeholders including neighbours and community groups has long term benefits for the entire community and the Island. Phillip Island Nature Parks would like to acknowledge and thank Growing Connections and the Westernport Biosphere for their ongoing support.

Roland Pick, Phillip Island Nature Parks


Water Stewardship

The Water Stewardship Program is in the last year of its pilot program and we are working with 30 sites across 11 catchments within the Biosphere. Our focus in the coming months will be to complete as many plans for various sites (several of which are now near complete). As well as Inghams, we have a completed plan from Peninsula Fresh Organics. While the focus is on existing sites we will welcome new water stewards as we push into new catchments. For instance our Water Stewardship Forum elicited quite a bit of interest from farmers, businesses and organisations on Phillip Island and while we are on the Island preparing the plan with Bimbadeen Farm, we may be able to have some local information and/or training sessions there which should result in new water stewards. So if you are on Phillip Island please get in touch as we hope to run a regional workshop and information session on the Island soon.

The project team has prepared Catchment Conditions and Issues papers for each of the following catchments – Rodds Creek, Watson, Merricks/Hastings South, Langwarrin, Balcombe, Cardinia, Hastings North, Chinamans/Tootgarook, Sweetwater, Bass and Phillip Island catchments. In addition, through proactive engagement with Industry Associations such as the Nursery and Garden Industry Victoria (NGIV) and AUSVEG Victoria, including articles in industry magazines, we are trying to engage nursery growers and vegetable farmers to become water stewards.

The project team has been getting our message out to a broad audience through presentations about the project to the 20th International Riversymposium in Brisbane, AWS International Water Stewardship Forum in Edinburgh, City of Casey Community Event (RBG), CSIRO Science in the Park, Great Barrier Reef Park Marine Park Authority Visit to the project, the Federation University (Berwick), and the Western Port Community Boat Trip.

We are hopeful of extending our reach into a more catchments to recruit more water stewards, to gain continuing environmental improvements, including to water quantity and quality management and biodiversity. We have been very actvely pursuing potential funding from a wide range of sources each with a unique focus, from industry group engagement, small farm projects, and collaboration with regional partners.

If you have interest in become a water steward please contact us!

Lance Lloyd
Western Port Biosphere Water Stewardship Project
Ph. 0412 007 997 lancel@biosphere.org.au


Dolphin Research Institue

Dolphin Research Institute Awarded for Excellence

The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council recently awarded the Dolphin Research Institute its ‘2018 Acknowledgement of Excellence’ Award.

The Shire’s Australia Day Selection Panel was unanimous in deciding to present the Dolphin Research Institute this award ‘acknowledging your dedication and commitment in protecting our marine environment for future generations’.

As DRI’s Executive Director, Jeff Weir said at the presentation “We are humbled and grateful to the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council for being included in their 2018 Australia Day awards”.

The ‘Acknowledgement of Excellence Award’ recognises over twenty seven years of sustained contributions to marine ecological protection in Port Phillip and Western Port.

It was possible due to the passion and commitment of our staff, volunteers, ambassadors and loyal supporters, many of you being with DRI for the whole journey.

Thank you.

The ‘i sea, i care’ Ambassador Program

The Dolphin Research Institute’s ‘i sea, i care’ School Ambassador Program was developed on social marketing principles to become part of the long-term culture of school communities. Our goal is for Victorians to value their marine treasures, and to recognise the impact of pollution from our suburbs.

Seventeen years on, after 5,000 ambassadors from more than 100 schools, we know that ‘i sea, i care’ has had a noticeable impact with participating schools reporting:

  • Culture change where ‘i sea, i care’ Ambassadors have become part of the school leadership team alongside school and sports captains. This makes valuing our marine treasures part of the everyday school conversations and ethic.
  • Ambassadors peer-teaching younger grades and even running science classes. Teachers leverage off ‘i sea, i care’ to add themes or new topics based on local marine issues and values into their curriculum.
  • ‘i sea, i care’ leading whole-school sustainability initiatives with our coastal values as the underpinning ethic. Also, ‘i sea, i care’ being a way to develop leadership and wider community involvement in their school. Programs such as regular student-led beach clean-ups are an example. Changed behaviours of students with reduced litter in schools, and personal growth of individual ambassadors have been noted by many Ambassador schools.

We also know of past Ambassadors graduating and becoming the next generation of environmental managers!

Time and time again we hear “without the program, ‘this’ would not have occurred.” Lasting impacts on culture, curriculum, school sustainability programs, behaviours and personal development are a credit to the program and the collaboration between schools, councils and our team.

Online Mother’s Day Auction

Our online Mother’s Day Auction will be running from Sunday 23 April to Sunday 29 April. We are very grateful to the businesses that have donated their products and services. This is the quick and easy way to pamper your Mum, and help DRI at the same time.

DRI


Mornington Peninsula Landcare Network (MPLN) April Update

This autumn has been the busiest for Landcare since I began in 2012! I’ll endeavour to capture what the Landcare groups, the Network and myself have been up to in these next 500 words as concisely as I can!

Landcare group activity this summer/autumn – A snap shot.

Southwest Mornington Peninsula Landcare have two projects underway in the Fingal and Rosebud regions, respectively: a $50,000 DELWP grant from the Biodiversity On-ground Action – Community and Volunteer Action Grant inititiatve “Moonah Woodland Restoration” and a $30,000 grant from the PPWCMA for “Protect & Connect Stage 3 – Re-establishing significant roadside vegetation near Peninsula Gardens Bushland Reserve”.

Dunns Creek Landcare and Red Hill South Landcare Groups are working with Michele Sabto and Virginia Carter to apply for funding for their biolink plans that were developed last year as part of the MPLN’s ‘Linking the Mornington Peninsula Landscape’ (LMPL) project.

Merricks Coolart Catchment and Manton & Stony Creeks Landcare Groups are looking forward to starting their biolink planning projects through our LMPL project, upon approval from the Natural Resources Conservation League. Manton & Stony Creeks Landcare Group are also beginning their ‘Punty Lane Biolink’ in Shoreham through the Melbourne Water Community Grant.

The MP Equine Landcare Group are back on the scene. Following the success of the ‘Horses & Bushfire’ information session run in conjunction with the CFA in February, they are organising a number of events with the PPWCMA including a pasture management and a dung beetle workshop.

Watson Creek Catchment, Sheepwash Creek Catchment and Balcombe Moorooduc Landcare are organising working bees and Devilbend are looking forward to hosting their frog night.

Balcombe Moorooduc Landcare Group (BMLG) are also pleased that their Junior Landcare students from Penbank Woodleigh Campus will head interstate in October as nominees for the National Landcare Awards ‘Junior Landcare’ category for their participation in BMLG’s ‘Habitat Project’.

Jacqui Salter, Landcare Facilitor


What’s Happening in The Mornington Peninsula Shire

Peninsula Recognised Among Best in Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Movement

Well done Mornington Peninsula Garage Sale Trail participants!

Garage Sale Trail is a grass roots program powered by council that engages communities to rethink what they waste through the simple act of buying and selling at a garage sale.

In 2017 Garage Sale Trail broke all records.

More than 300 garage sales and stalls were registered across the Mornington Peninsula representing over 22,500 items listed for sale or reuse.

According to Garage Sale Trail the average household seller made $323 and community group sales averaged $743 via their involvement, 25% of all sellers were fundraising for a local cause or charity.

Mornington Peninsula Shire Mayor Councillor Bryan Payne said “it was great to see the peninsula come together to demonstrate the importance of decluttering, reducing waste, reusing and recycling household items.

“Well done to all involved on a fantastic effort for our community”.

Mornington Peninsula Shire has been awarded the Garage Sale Trail Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of our innovative approach to promoting Australia’s largest reuse, waste education and community event to the local community.

Garage Sale Trail Co-Founder Andrew Valder said “Mornington Peninsula Shire Council did a truly tremendous job of engaging their community in the Garage Sale Trail idea and the local participation outcomes and resulting impacts speak for themselves.

“Hats off to Council, its officers and local community members for making Garage Sale Trail’s debut such an awesome success”.

Nationally, more than 379,959 Australians chose to re-use, with 15,469 sales and stalls registered and more than 2.4 million items listed for sale with a total approximate value of $15.8 million.

Mornington Peninsula Shire supported the Garage Sale Trail locally with promotion of the trail and assistance with registration. The Shire also worked to contact local schools, community groups, community members and CFA Stations to encourage participation in the program. Emphasis was placed on encouraging car boot sales or stalls at one site to reduce the amount of travelling necessary for prospective purchasers.

To learn more about how Council is moving towards a zero-waste peninsula. visit: mornpen.vic.gov.au/waronwaste

MPSC


News from Frankston City

Recycle Right

Frankston City householders are encouraged to recycle right in the lead up to likely changes in the recycling industry, in response to China’s tighter restrictions on imported recyclable materials.

Residents can help reduce contamination of recyclables by rinsing bottles, cans, jars and plastics. This means emptying out contents, and then being water wise by rinsing in left over washing-up water.

Keep your recyclables loose in your yellow-lidded bin by not putting them in plastic bags first. If recyclables are bagged, they are likely to end up in landfill.

If you’re unsure about what is recyclable, and what is rubbish, please visit Council’s website for a full list: frankston.vic.gov.au/bininformation

“The recycling restrictions imposed by China will be felt state-wide and it’s going to require all three levels of government, industry and the community working together on solutions.
Council is currently working with recycling processors and the Victorian Government to minimise the impact in Frankston City
Residents are urged to keep up their recycling efforts and Council will keep the community informed once any changes are known.

Waste disposal is a significant cost to ratepayers. It is now more important for all residents to minimise the waste they produce – whether it is recyclable or otherwise. Action householders can take includes:

  • Reduce waste – a great start is reusable drink bottles and coffee cups
  • Buy products made with recycled content such as copy paper and toilet paper
  • Avoid products with excess packaging

For more information visit: frankston.vic.gov.au/reducewaste

Frankston City


In the spotlight…

In this issue we talk with Tom Healy, the newly-appointed Biosphere’s Project Officer:

Tell us a bit about your current role.
I have just started as a Project Officer for the Biosphere, taking over from Sally Jacka as she ventures into well-earned retirement. I will be juggling my time across a number of projects seeking to engage the community in efforts to promote and conserve biodiversity within our Biosphere. Currently, my efforts will be based around two main projects – one protecting ecological values of our Western Port Ramsar site and the second, establishing a community predator monitoring program.

The Ramsar project will connect the community with the experts and agenciesinvolved in the research and management protecting Western Port Ramsar Site. This will educate the community on the importance of Ramsar values and provide the opportunity for the community to actively engage in conservation efforts. The predator monitoring program complements the Ramsar project; actively seeking landholders in the coastal north Western Port area to monitor and manage the invasive Red Fox. Landholders will be provided with remote sensing cameras to determine the occurrence of foxes and we will then liaise with a pest management expert to develop control strategies. We are still actively seeking landholders, so if you have an interest please contact tomh@biosphere.org.au.

What led you to become an ecologist?
I suspect like many ecologists of my generation, my earliest memories of being inspired to pursue a career in science came through watching Sir David Attenborough’s Life series. The wonder of the places and species explored in the Life series sparked a desire to learn more. The more I learned, the more I developed my love for the natural world. This ultimately drove me to study Environmental Science at Deakin and I haven’t looked back since – excited to learn and see more.

Why are your projects important to you?
I don’t want to live in a world where the majority of the beauty and wonder of the environment is restricted to conservation area. I believe a healthy environment needs engagement from the community to extend efforts to conserve biodiversity beyond reserve boundaries. I also believe the community has much to gain from having a strong connection with the natural environment.

What are you most proud of achieving with the Biosphere’s program?
It is very early days in my role at the Biosphere so I cannot profess to having achieved much thus far. However, I am very proud to have been given the opportunity to work in a role that actively connects community and environment. I look forward to discovering and learning more as we seek better outcomes for the natural values of our Biosphere together.


City of Casey Latest News

Council Urges Litterers to Listen Up!

The City of Casey is reinforcing its tough stance on litterers and illegal dumpers, reminding residents how to manage their waste responsibly and the hefty fines involved if they don’t.

The City of Casey collects and disposes of more than 600 tonnes of dumped rubbish each year; and employs three Litter Prevention Officers dedicated to cleaning up Casey.

City of Casey Mayor Cr Geoff Ablett said littering and illegal dumping was a major issue for the municipality, and Council are taking strong action against anyone found guilty.

“Council actively investigates offenders and issues infringements under the Environmental Protection Act, and Council’s Local Law,” he said.

“Over the last 12 months, Council has responded to more than 1,300 litter reports and issued 216 notices resulting in 85 fines.

“I encourage anyone who witnesses rubbish or illegal dumping to report this to Council immediately, so our Rapid Response Unit can attend in a timely manner to ensure we keep Casey clean.”

Council has recently begun the installation of cameras in various hot spots across the municipality to help clamp down on the issue.

In a recent case heard at the Dandenong Magistrates Court a person was fined $1,000 without conviction and ordered to pay $2,500 in costs after being found guilty of illegal dumping.

Cr Ablett said Council takes the issue very seriously and is always investigating further measures that will help alleviate the problem.

He urged residents to be mindful about how they can dispose of waste responsibly.

“There are plenty of easy and accessible ways that you can get rid of your litter without dumping it on the side of the road or leaving it behind,” Cr Ablett said.

“Put your waste in a bag and take it home with you, or find the nearest bin.

“In instances where you have large amounts of waste to dispose, Council offers two FREE hard waste collections each year, or you could also take it to your local tip.”

“There is no excuse for illegal dumping.”

If you would like to report a case of littering or illegal dumping, complete the Report littering in Casey online form.

City of Casey


Friends of the Hooded Plover News Items

Reappearance of Hooded Plovers at Somers

The inaugural ranger at Coolart, the late Graeme Pizzey, recorded Hooded Plovers on the beach behind Coolart at Somers some 40 years ago but until recently, they have been absent.

The past few years have seen them return albeit in tiny numbers and quite sporadically. The first recorded sighting was in November 2014 when a pair (yellow flags Y06 and Y08 banded on Phillip Island in January 2014) was spotted at the mouth of Merricks Creek.

An older bird (GMGO bands banded in 2012) has been a regular nester in the Shoreham-Point Leo area but paid a visit to Somers in August 2017 before resuming its nesting activities at Shoreham.

More recently yellow flags Y39 and Y31 (both banded early 2017) have been spotted. On 6 December I photographed Y31 near the mouth of Merricks Creek at Somers.

All these birds were banded on Phillip Island and appear to be using the Somers beach, particularly the sand flats at the mouth of the creek, as a feeding ground.

Their reappearance after many years absence is a welcome sign. Perhaps we can look forward to some breeding pairs in the future.

What to do with this “Helpless Chick”

The Beach-nesting Birds team recently received a notification that someone was asking for help for what to do with this ‘helpless chick’. The unknown person who posted this photo, likely assumed that this little chick was helpless as there were no parents around, and probably believed that because it wasn’t in a “nest” it needed intervention (don’t be shocked, it’s happened before). As you can see in the image, the chick was in a vehicle, taken from its natural environ- ment. We don’t know which beach this little chick came from, we only know the region within South Australia. The local land manager called every vet in the region to see if anyone had handed in a little Hooded Plover chick.

Unfortunately, the person who asked “what do we do with this chick” removed their post, so we couldn’t even offer advice or find out where it was from. Education for Hooded Plovers is key to their survival, even for those who have good intentions and want to help. We need to educate them in the right ways to help. Unfortunately we don’t know what happened to this chick, and will probably never know.

The main thing to let people know is that you should never pick up a chick and if you come across one crouching on the sand, slowly retreat, watching where you step in case it has siblings. The parents will be nearby waiting for you to leave so they can go back to their chick/s. You may not see the parents but they will definitely be there, watching and waiting.

Val Ford – FOHP


Bass Coast Shire Update

Mobile Cat De-sexing Coming to Phillip Island

Bass Coast Shire Council in partnership with The Lost Dogs’ Home is running a cat desexing event in Cowes from Tuesday 17 to Thursday 19 April. Bass Coast residents will be able to get their cats desexed, microchipped and registered with Council for $75.00 – that’s more than a 50 per cent saving. Phillip Island residents will receive an additional discount through funding provided by Phillip Island Nature Parks.

This low–cost, desexing service aims to reduce the number of unwanted and unowned cats in Bass Coast.

Ben Pocock, General Manager of Shelter and Outreach Services at The Lost Dogs’ Home explained the benefits of their mobile service.

“Desexing not only prevents unwanted litters of kittens, it also helps cats live healthier and safer lives,” Mr Pocock said.

“Through our mobile desexing program, The Lost Dogs’ Home makes a positive difference to the lives of cats and kittens in communities across Victoria. Almost 2,000 cats and kittens have been desexed so far.”

Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Pamela Rothfield, explained that the cost of desexing their beloved cat is prohibitive for some families.

“The cost of desexing surgery is out of reach for so many families that it is just not a priority, but this doesn’t mean they don’t care for their cats. I encourage all cat owners to take advantage of this opportunity as it is being provided at cost price,” Cr Rothfield said.

“Council is committed to increasing the number of desexed cats in Bass Coast and to reduce the number of unwanted cats surrendered. One way of doing this is to support members of our community to have access to affordable responsible pet ownership practices such as desexing.

“As well as the surgery this discounted rate also includes microchipping and Council registration for your feline friend to ensure that if they ever go missing you can be contacted and reunited with them as soon as possible and avoid the stress of a missing family member.”

Many cats are bred by accident and some of these cats end up running wild, becoming feral and killing native wildlife. Cat overpopulation is challenging for our natural environment and also for the rescue groups and Council who manage these unwanted cats.

Avoiding unwanted litters of kittens is not the only benefit of having your cat desexed. Desexed cats may be less likely to roam, yowl at night or spray strong smelling urine. It can also prevent them from getting certain types of cancer.

Bookings are essential for this event. You can book online or by contacting Sarah Symons at The Lost Dogs’ Home on (03) 9321 8764 or events@dogshome.com.

Bass Coast Shire


Upcoming Events

Frankston City Council Environmental Events
Greening our Future
Date: Wednesday 11 to Saturday 14 April

War on Waste Tour
Date: Friday 13 April

RACV Bytes: Stories From Your Backyard
Date: Saturday 21 April

Mornington Peninsula Food Forum
Date: Tuesday 24 April

Plastic Paradise Screening
Date: Friday 27 April

Islands of Inspiration
Date: Saturday 28 April

Solar and Batteries; is now the time?
Date: Thursday 3 May

Indigenous Nursery Open Day
Date: Saturday 5 May

Masterclasses in Composting and Worm Farming
Date: Saturday 19 May

World Environment Day: Talking Rubbish
Date: Saturday 9 June, 10am – 1pm
Mechanics Institute Hall, 1N Plowman Place, Frankston