Connector Newsletter – Issue 8

January – March 2016

Update from the Executive Officer

This is an exciting time for the Foundation; in September 2015 the Foundation called for Expressions of Interest for Board positions and the response was very pleasing. Existing board members who had expressed an interest in seeking reappointment participated in the EOI process. An independent selection committee was appointed to review all EOI received and interview those applicants with the desired skills sets, and provide their recommendations to the Board.

The Selection Committee recommendations were accepted by the Board and at the AGM in November 2015 our new skills-based Board members were confirmed.

We welcome our new board members Ellen Kittson, Lisa Nelson, Gillian McDermott and Jo McCoy who join Rod Anderson, David Young and Neil Rankine, the Councils nominated representative David Garnock and our Chair Duncan Malcolm. Profiles of all board members can be viewed on our website.

As I have said, this is an exciting time. In March 2016 UNESCO is holding the fourth World Congress of Biosphere Reserves in Lima, Peru. At this Congress the Man and Biosphere (MAB) Strategy for 2015-2025 will be agreed and the Lima Action Plan approved for implementation by UNESCO’s MAB and the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR).

Over four decades, people across the globe have explored local solutions to global challenges in biosphere reserves designated under UNESCO’s MAB Programme, generating a wealth of experience and innovative potential for a sustainable future which emphasises the conservation of biodiversity. In the coming 10 years MAB and its WNBR will work towards the Sustainable Development Goals and contribute to implementing the Post-2015 agenda, both within biosphere reserves and through the global dissemination of the models of sustainable development in biosphere reserves.

I look forward to working with our new board to meet current challenges and to build a framework that will enable the Foundation to meet those of the next ten years and build on the work and successes attained for this region over the last ten years.

Growing Connections Activities

Predator Control Helping to Protect Biodiversity

Fox control in the area north of Tooradin will be our initial focus in implementing the Biosphere Predator Control Strategy released last year.

This area is a high priority because of its biodiversity values. The new pest control works will complement other predator control programs in the surrounding landscape and will be used by our biodiversity monitoring program to help us establish the relationship between predators and Southern Brown Bandicoot populations, and how pest control efforts affect these populations.

We’ve also set up the provisionally-named Western Port Pest Management Control Group as part of the wider pest control works. The group is made up of the lead agencies in pest control around the Biosphere and will provide a forum to share ideas and experiences, drive best practice, and coordinate large scale works.

Revegetation and Remnant Vegetation Protection

We are negotiating further revegetation and remnant vegetation protection works for the remainder of the Growing Connections project. These activities, which will help restore and create habitat corridors, will build on the great work already done as part of Growing Connections with the invaluable support of local residents and groups. I will share more detailed information about these works in the next edition of the Connector.

More Interactive Maps Coming

Have you seen the interactive maps on our website which show changes to vegetation over time, the extent and zones of the Biosphere Reserve and the work of our camera trapping program?

We have been working in partnership with CRCSI (the Co Operative Research Centre for Spatial Information) to develop more online tools and information and will be sharing more about these exciting projects in the coming months.

2016 Biodiversity Planning Forum

Preparations have begun for this year’s Biosphere Biodiversity Planning Forum in April (date to be confirmed), including selecting the key note speaker. This event was well attended last year by community groups, councils, private landholders and businesses and we hope this year will be as much of a success. The forum is open to everyone with an interest in biodiversity in the Biosphere region; keep an eye on our website and facebook page for more details.

For more information on Growing Connections visit our website or contact Chris Chambers, Growing Connections Project Officer via email: [email protected]

Call for New Water Stewards Across the Western Port Biosphere Region

As we have previously reported in the Connector, Water Stewardship is a form of water management that helps businesses, landholders and organisations to better manage water – an increasingly scarce resource. Water Stewardship follows an international standard that assists participants to achieve sustainable water use, good water quality, a healthy ecosystem, and good water governance.

To date, with funding from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and our project partners, we have made good progress in the first year of our three year pilot with 10 Site Water Stewardship Plans already created or in development.

The project is now expanding into its second phase which will include other catchments within the Biosphere, and we are seeking further businesses, landholders and organisations to be involved in our project. If you are interested in developing and implementing a site water stewardship plan, or simply want to know more, please call us at the Bisophere’s office (03 5979 2167).

Our goal is to continually increase the number of water stewards across all catchments of the Biosphere, in order to improve water management in the region and to protect and enhance significant water-related assets such as our magnificent Ramsar wetlands.

If you live and work or own property in the Biosphere, this is your opportunity to be at the forefront of Water Stewardship. We will provide you with the assistance and training to develop a Site Water Stewardship Plan including site visits, templates, information on catchment conditions, field days to see how other Water Stewardship plans are being developed and benefiting landholders, and information on how other existing or planned site work can be integrated with your Plan.

Good water management provides economic, social and environmental benefits to the whole community. Landholders find that having a site water stewardship plan increases their ability to deal with environmental issues on their site, saves them money and resources (by reducing water use and run-off of water and nutrients) and has the benefit of protecting the receiving environments because less stormwater, nutrients and sediment enter local creeks and waterways. A Site Water Stewardship Plan can easily be developed from scratch or built upon existing site works and plans.

For more information visit our website or contact Lance Lloyd, Water Stewardship Project Officer via email: [email protected].

Protecting the Ecological Values of the Western Port Ramsar Site

Fifteen enthusiastic residents from the northern Western Port region attended Dr Graeme Lorimer’s popular day-long practical course on wild grasses as part of the Protecting the ecological values of the Western Port Ramsar site project.

Graeme has been running courses on the identification, ecology and management of wild grasses and their relatives for 28 years. Participants enjoyed discovering how to differentiate between species of grasses, including how to recognise individual species of native and introduced grasses in flower or seed, The focus was on grasses that provide the best indication of the ecological health and conser­vation values of a grassy area and understanding the basics of managing grassy areas.

In the morning session Graeme outlined the different features of grasses that help with identification and participants were able to examine samples. The afternoon was spent looking at grasses and sedges in the coastal reserve, learning the identifying features of annuals versus perennials and weeds versus native plants.

World Wetlands Day Photo Competitions

World Wetlands Day is celebrated on 2nd February every year and highlights the importance and value of wetlands.

One of the many ways you can be involved is through photography competitions:

Gardens’ Wetland Photo Competiton
Post your best water in the gardens photo to #bgvwetlands and win a guided tour of the wetlands plus a daily family pass on the Garden Explorer.
Open Monday 1st – Sunday 7th February 2016

Wetlands in Focus Photo Competition
Capture your favourite Australian wetland flora (plant), fauna (animal), landscape or volunteer image. $1,500 in cash prizes is available.
Open now until 29 February

World Wetlands Day Youth Photo Competition
For young people 15 – 24 years of age. The photo must capture how people make a living from wetlands. You could win a free flight to a wetland anywhere in the world!
Open 2nd February – 2nd March 2016.

Lifesearch 2015 Winners

Congratulations to the Lifesearch 2015 winners:

Kayla Trezise (Individual award)
Perseverence Primary School (Birdsearch Shield )
Susan Davies & Geoff Lockwood (Team winners)

All sightings have been uploaded to the Atlas of Living Australia Lifesearch portal.

There will be another opportunity to participate in Lifesearch in 2016, to track and record the birds and animals living in your area.

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 visit our website.

Upcoming Events

Western Port Environment Research Seminar
Date: Friday 5th February
Time: 8.45am-1.45pm
Location: Cardinia Cultural Centre, Lakeside Blvd, Pakenham
More details: Researchers will present findings of the past year from projects concerning the Western Port marine and coastal environment. Entry is free, however registration is essential:
More information/registration

Detox Your Home Mobile Collection Program
Date: Saturday 6th February
Time: 8.00am – 4.00pm
Location: Skye (details available on registration)
More details: Safely dispose of unwanted household chemicals: Registration essential.

Green Events – Monthly Produce Swap
Date: Saturday 13 February & 12 March
Time: 9.00am-10.00am
Location: Myuna Farm, 182 Kidds Road, Doveton
More details: Exchange fresh produce, swap tips and share skills and seasonal recipes with others. Items to swap may include vegetables, herbs, fruit, eggs, seeds/seedlings and even compost.

San Remo Channel Challenge
Date: Saturday 20th February
Time: 11am start
Location: San Remo
More details: The event is hosted by the Woolamai Beach SLSC and comprises a 550 metre swim across the channel between San Remo and Phillip Island and a 2km run back over the bridge to finish down the main street of San Remo.

Clean Up Australia Day
Date: Tuesday 1st – Sunday 6th March
Time: various
Location: Search the Clean Up Australia Day website for local sites
More details:
· Business Clean Up Day, Tuesday 1 March 2016
· Schools Clean Up Day, Friday 4 March 2016
· Community Clean Up Day, Sunday 6 March 2016

Phillip Island Nature Parks Community Open Day
Date: Sunday 6th March
Time: From 10.00am
Location: Phillip Island
More details: Free entry and activities all day for Bass Coast residents (please bring some proof of residency such as a driver’s licence or rates notice on the day).

Western Port Catchment Committee Annual Boat Trip
Date: Tuesday 8th March
Time: 9.30am – 2.30pm
Location: Departs from Tooradin on the Tidemaster then crosses the tidal watershed in the East Arm, down to Grantville and south-east French Island.
More details: In past years this annual boat excursion has been offered to community and agency interests to provide a first-hand experience of Western Port.
More information: please email the Committee’s Executive Officer Ian Stevenson: [email protected]

Cardinia Women in Conservation
Date: Tuesday 8th March
Time: 6.30pm-10.00pm
Location: Pakenham and District Golf Club, cnr Princes Highway and Oaktree Drive, Pakenham
More details: Celebrate International Womens Day 2016 at this dinner for women and men.
Female speakers will talk about their passion for the environment and their achievements.
Bookings required. More information/bookings: 03 5941 8446.

Virtual Ranger Trail and Mt Cannibal: A Nature Walker’s Guide Launch & Demonstration
Date: Sunday 20th March
Time: From 11.00am
Location: Mt Cannibal Flora and Fauna Reserve, Garfield North Road, Garfield North
More details: Friends of Mt Cannibal Flora and Fauna Reserve invite you to attend the launch of two new publications:Virtual Ranger Trail and Mt Cannibal: A Nature Walker’s Guide, funded by a Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning Communities for Nature grant. A free copy of the guide will be given to every family attending the launch.