Connector Newsletter – Issue 7

October – December 2015


Mission: Lifesearch

Schools, community groups and individuals are invited to take part in Lifesearch, a Western Port Biosphere event, in which participants record what plants, birds, and other animals they observe within the Western Port Biosphere Reserve.

Lifesearch 2015 will run from Saturday 17 October to Sunday 25 October.

All Lifesearch participants will be making a valuable contribution to our understanding of life in the Western Port Biosphere, as well as a national database. Data will be collected as part of a citizen science project and will be stored on the Atlas of Living Australia’s database.

Prizes are on offer for the school recording the most species overall, the school recording the most bird species, and the individual or team recording the most species.

Thanks to Phillip Island Nature Parks and the Atlas of Living Australia for supporting this project.


Healthy water for our future: water stewardship

We have been working closely with a range of individuals and organisations within the Watson Creek catchment to secure participation in our Water Stewardship Project. We are delighted to announce that we now have six participants in our Water Stewardship Project. These include organisations as diverse as Somerville Secondary College and TGA Australia (a major plant nursery).

There are still opportunities for you to be at the forefront of Water Stewardship. If you are interested in working with us to become a Water Steward please go to www.biosphere.org.au/biosphere-projects/water-stewardship or give Lance Lloyd a call or email (Email: lancel@biosphere.org.au | Mobile: 0412 007 997).

In 2016 we plan to extend the Water Stewardship project beyond the Watson Creek catchment and we invite individuals and organisations to work with us on this important project to maintain and protect our waterways.


French Island Tree Planting

The first Growing Connections project on French Island got off to a good start when 22 people turned up for a Community Planting Day on Saturday 22 August. The project along Tankerton Road – which is the main road on the island – plans to restore degraded roadside vegetation and create a viable habitat corridor to link up the French Island National Park (via Clump Road) with an important bushland remnant on The Centreway. Each year, the French Island LandCare group and FOFI (Friends of French Island NP) hold a community planting day on the island. The day turned out to be perfect for planting and the group tackled the task with enthusiasm. 400 trees were planted and guards placed, before everyone retired for hot soup and homemade bread at the nearby organic olive orchard.

The southern third of French Island is mostly on soils of the Flinders Volcanics, whereas the remainder of the island is sand, clays and gravels of the Baxter Formation and Cranbourne Sands. The richer soils along the south coast were first settled in 1847, and have been subject to intensive grazing, burning and clearing ever since. Very little original vegetation remains and the French Island Growing Connections projects aim to improve and connect these remnants. Most of these remnants are on private land, with some very small pockets along the south coast fringe, which is part of the National Park. Over the last 20 years, many of the remnants have been fenced and it is very encouraging to see rare plant species reappearing. One of the habitats which is restricted to the southern basalt on French Island is Swamp Gum Plains Grassy Woodland (EVC55). This is similar to the woodland around the Crib Point Cemetery. Tiny remnants of degraded woodland remain on the island, with Kangaroo Grass (Themeda), Tree Violet (Melicytus dentatus) and other Basalt Plains species present. Many of the mature Swamp Gums have been killed by Koalas, and the remaining trees are again threatened by an increasing Koala population. The management of the French Island Koala population is a dilemma for preserving the island’s woodlands.

Chris Chandler, French Island


Growing Connections: interactive maps online

As part of the Growing Connections project we worked with CRCSI to develop three maps which show changes to Biosphere vegetation over time; the extent and zones of the Western Port Biosphere Reserve; and the work of our camera-trapping program.

You can see how these interactive maps work by visiting http://www.biosphere.org.au/biosphere-projects/growing-connections.


Working with our partners: Growing Connections

Since the launch of the draft Western Port Biosphere Reserve Biodiversity Plan at the Western Port Biodiversity Forum in April we have been working hard on improving the plan based on the valuable feedback we received. Over the coming months we will be out meeting with groups to talk about how we can share information that will be useful for planning and delivering future works. This will include the plan being made available online and an online portal being built to record what projects are being delivered across the Biosphere. We are also working with the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority to integrate this plan with the Regional Catchment Strategy. The draft of the plan is available on our website.

Through a partnership with Ecology Australia the Growing Connections project has developed the Predator Control Strategy for the Western Port Biosphere Reserve. We are currently working towards delivering our pest control works in line with this plan. We will also be holding the second meeting of the Western Port Pest Animal Group during October. This group will be made up of groups and agencies undertaking pest control in the Biosphere with the aim that through these meetings greater coordination of works can occur along with more standardised techniques. An update on this group will be provided in the next issue of Connector.

Chris Chambers, Growing Connections Project Coordinator


Protecting the ecological values of the Western Port Ramsar site

The Western Port Biosphere is actively engaging the northern Western Port coastal communities as a partner in the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority’s “Protecting the ecological values of the Western Port Ramsar site” project, which is funded by the Australian Government.

In June and July we facilitated two Weed Identification workshops, one in Cannons Creek and one in Warneet, where Naturelinks Landscape Management staff presented information on weed control techniques followed by a walk where many weed and native plants were identified.

In August the Western Port Biosphere invited residents of Yaringa, Cannons Creek, Warneet and Blind Bight to join in an animal survey, which continues through to the end of September. Thus far seven surveys have been returned. Although a small number of returns, they have supplied an extensive list of birds and indicate that there are many Brushtail possums and that Ringtail possums, Sugar gliders, Swamp wallabies and Echidnas are present in the northern coastal villages. Numerous foxes, rabbits and domestic cats and dogs have been reported. We have deployed motion-sensing cameras in the Bonnie Watson Reserve and two private properties in Cannons Creek and at the Warneet Coastal Reserve, which have given similar results. A workshop will be held later in the year to present the results to the community.

In November we are delighted to have well-known grass expert, Graeme Lorimer, coming to Blind Bight to present a course on wild grasses. Participants will learn what to look for to differentiate between different species of grass and how to recognise individual species of native and introduced grass in flower or seed, focusing on those that provide the best indication of the ecological health and conser­vation values of a grassy area.

Residents interested in learning more about Western Port Ramsar’s values and threat abatement can contact Sally Jacka, Project Officer on 5979 2167 or email sally@biosphere.org.au.


Become a member of the Biosphere

Become a member of the Biosphere Foundation and you will be supporting our goals of bringing people together to foster conservation and sustainable development.

Membership costs $25 and includes invitations to Biosphere events, the latest Biosphere news and the opportunity to network with like-minded people.

You can join by calling us on 59792167 or go to http://www.biosphere.org.au/get-involved/become-member.


Upcoming Events

Soil & Pasture Management Course with Chris Alenson & David Stewart
Date: Sunday 4 October
Time: 10am to 4.30pm
More details: There will be a second workshop on 8 November.

Resourceful Gardening
Date: Saturday 10 October
Time: 9.30am to 11am
Location: Frankston Indigenous Nursery
More details: Kick start your garden this spring. Learn great tips for creating superb compost and healthy soil, plus fabulous home grown vegies or a native garden. Bookings essential at frankston.vic.gov.au/Environmental_Events. Or leave a phone message at 9768 1628.

Bush food Workshops
Date: Thursday 15th October to Sunday 18th October
Time: 10am to 3pm
Location: Thursday 15 October Ruby Hall, 10am-3pm
Friday 16 October – Jindivick Hall, 10am-3pm
Sat 17 October – Gembrook Primary School, 10am-3pm
Sunday 18 October – The Briars Mt Martha, 10am-3pm
More details: For more info about the individual workshops go to www.wpcln.org.au and view calendar.

Lifesearch
Date: Saturday 17 October to Sunday 25 October
Time: all day
Location: Western Port Biosphere Reserve
More details: http://www.biosphere.org.au/get-involved/lifesearch

Spring plant sale – Friends of Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne
Date: Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 October
Time: 10am to 4pm
Location: Australian Garden, RBG Cranbourne
More details: www.rbg.vic.gov.au

Green Events: Follow your recycling
Date: Tuesday 10 November
Time: 9am to 4pm
Location: City of Casey Civic Centre
More details: http://www.casey.vic.gov.au/arts-leisure/calendar-of-events/following-your-recycling

Phillip Island Jazz Festival
Date: Friday 13 to Sunday 15 November
Time: 6 – 8pm
Location: Cowes
More details: www.phillipislandjazzfest.org.au

Keeping Chickens
Date: Saturday 21 November
Time: 10am to 12pm
Location: Eco Living Display Centre at ‘The Briars’, 450 Nepean Highway, Mount Eliza
More details: http://www.mornpen.vic.gov.au/Whats_On/Events/Keeping_Chickens
Phone: 5987 3078

Mornington Peninsula Birdlife
Date: Wednesday 9 December
Time: 9am
Location: Main Ridge Flora & Fauna Reserve, Main Ridge
More details: Meet at the gate on Mornington-Flinders Road, south of Shands Road intersection. MEL 255 D3. David Ap-Thomas, 9787 6691.