The past twelve months’ activities have been fast and furious from my perspective. We entered the year lodging a revised constitution and then continued at a solid pace into changes on our website in the way we do things from a membership point of view as well as in other areas.
Our membership database has improved in the way we communicate and keep our records updated. It is of course a work in progress as I think any website functionality is. I’ve gained some valuable experience and insights being the Chair of the communications sub-committee. Thanks to Liddy and Bruce for your support as well as the “unofficial” members of the committee.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with all of these energetic and knowledgeable people whether the committee, the volunteers or the facilitators. Volunteering is a truly rewarding experience and I thank everyone for their friendship and support.
Unfortunately work in other areas has required me to stand down from the committee but I will undoubtedly be around to assist in any way I’m able to in the future.
The last year has been a busy year for the Nursery, with plant production being maintained, whilst there has been a change of staff. We were very sorry to lose Fiona Conroy who resigned after 4½ years of service, and we were fortunate to find a temporary replacement in David Heath.
Fiona's work contributed so much to the nursery, and to the education not only of students but also of the public in the area of plants, weeds and biodiversity. We thank her for her contribution.
David is a qualified landscaper, who did part of his training at Versailles! We thank him for stepping into the breach and for continuing in the role. The position must be advertised and this will happen in about two weeks.
Out thanks to Beth Ross who has helped out also, and to Sophie Small who has assisted with advice and help in seed collecting. Both ladies are plant experts! Sophie also serves on the Committee of Management and I thank her for her work.
The other mainstay at the nursery is the group of volunteers. These men and women keep the show on the road, keep the supply of plants up, moving them from seed trays to growing tubes. Thank you for the interest and expertise in plants and all sorts of repairs and minor projects. Jim Mason has covered their work in his report and I will not repeat it.
A new agreement was negotiated with Bellarine Secondary College, and I thank Alison Murphy (Principal) for her interest and enthusiasm for the nursery.
One of our concerns for the future is the lack of government funding for landholders for planting.
To sustain the nursery we have had to increase the price to $2 a tube; we have also started to sell plants at the Tuckerberry Hill market (thank you David and Chris Lean), and we have made payment by card possible at the nursery, which seems to be increasing sales.
At the moment the financial position is sustainable as we have a surplus built up over the years. We have to maintain this and hope that some large scale orders come in during this year. We are confidently building stock so that we can meet anticipated needs of landholders as well as increasing slowly our sales.
April 12 2016
2015 was the final year of a 3 year Grant scheme with a focus on the protection of waterways flowing into Bellarine Ramsar wetlands.
Fourteen landholders undertook conservation works on their properties revegetating 17.3 ha, planting almost 25,000 indigenous seedlings, and direct seeding 1 km of wildlife corridor/shelter belt.
2,500 metres of stock proof fencing was erected
2 km of water ways were protected, including three key sites adjoining Lake Connewarre, and three key properties containing a waterway flowing into Swan Bay.
$12,000 grant for revegetation works focusing on healthy waterways leading into Ramsar wetlands to be completed December 2016
Eight landholders are Grant Recipients for revegetation, weed control and fencing.
In July 2015 and February 2016, we facilitated an integrated Pest management workshop With Dr Paul Horne, and expert in the field of entomology, wine growers and landholders, learnt how to identify the good from the bad, and how the good bugs can have positive effects on their crops.CCMA Local Soils Action Plan and Land Health Program
Soils workshop in May, with soil scientist Lisa Miller discussing findings of lime trials, and participant input into a Local Soils Action Plan.
13 Events - National Tree Day, National Tree Day Schools’ Day, plus 5 community planting days on private land, as well as three Bellarine Blitzs!, 2 plantings on the Rail Trail and a Direct Seeding Workshop.
Support for Bellarine Catchment Network’s World Environment Day activities, Drysdale Primary School Anniversary Planting, speaking engagements at Leopold Primary School, Surfside Primary School, the Gordon TAFE, Bellarine Secondary College Year 11, Ocean Grove Barwon Heads Lions Club.
Barwon Heads Cub Scouts activity day – planting and nursery
Year 9 Bellarine Secondary College art students involved in an environmental art project, creating ceramic fauna of the Bellarine Peninsula for display at the Nursery.
Information Trailer at Bellarine Farmers Market, Wallington Strawberry Fair, Bellarine Show
At least 35 visits to BLG member landholders and others to provide advice on weeds, revegetation and natural resource management issues.Bellarine Rail Trail
Princess St – Bridge St - Focus on planting and maintaining 2014 National Tree Day Planting site with the help of adjoining residents and Bellarine Secondary College Year 11 Environmental Science class. Two planting sessions, two public working bees and 5 visits by Bellarine Secondary College.
Andersons Rd – Swan Bay Rd - The Gordon TAFE students assisting with mapping of rabbits and weeds in this high biodiversity section and removing weeds.
Media – 10 stories in local papers, most of them with a focus on Rabbits & 2 interviews on local radio stations
Sadly, all around us we notice that the days of cash funding are passing. There is little available and the fight for it is competitive. The governments are responding by changing their models.
It has been said for a long time that the job of the Landcare facilitators is to make themselves redundant. This is true and not true: more than ever, the pressure is on our facilitators to set-up and set-free independent groups of volunteers who will do the work necessary to conserve and promote our beautiful peninsula. Today, volunteers are counted in the bottom-line totals: their work is valued in $$s, the ratio of volunteers to employees is measured, and facilitators who set them up are rewarded.
This has been the pattern of funding possibilities in 2015-16.
We have a grant that covers most of our facilitators’ time, and we subsidize the rest. Our facilitators have a range of tasks associated with this government funding, many of them involving the facilitators using their expertise and networks in behind-the-scene activities to swell the productivity of the volunteer forces.
Government grants are no longer for killing rabbits (landholders are responsible for this) or removing weeds (ditto), or fencing off nature corridors (landholders can choose to do this), and so on. Grants are offered for adopting new ways of working, especially those that will be managed and populated by volunteers. The Rabbit Action Group, for example, has been funded to set up independent clusters of neighbours who will work together on integrated rabbit abatement projects.
Other possibilities come in less obvious forms. The governments are concerned about unemployment so they are giving money for Green Armies to engage the unemployed and simultaneously make workforces available to organisations like Landcare. They have offered significant money and professional help to support Landcare agencies who have shown interest in protection of threatened species, helping them use crowd-funding and the Internet. They have combined previous funding activities to force the partnership of agencies and thus reduce the government’s costs while motivating efficiencies in management for agencies themselves.
Understanding the new way of working is challenging: ‘doing’ is satisfying and has led to great achievements in the past but now the game is about getting others ‘doing’. This is a new role for many, an unfamiliar role, but well-supported it can be very effective.
Our facilitators have embraced an initiative this year, the Blitz. These are events that are slowly being recognised. They involve small numbers of people on private tasks that can be managed by landholders. Hopefully they will soon be self-organising and another credit to our facilitators’ efforts.
Our facilitators have engaged with other agencies to work together, an important step in the process of developing vital links that can be used in the future for funding applications, in whatever form the ‘funds’ are offered.
We are not there yet - we are still in a confusing phase where we often seem to be competing with our colleagues, and they with us, for the meagre offerings available. We are not sure about raising the managerial status of our facilitators and formally committing
I would particularly like to thank the facilitators Emma and Sophie, and Barbara Henry and Sue Wilks for their help with the preparation of funding applications this year. We got good reports for a number of them and encouragement to fix the details and re-submit them this year. It will be up to the new Committee to see what we do.
Chair, Funding Sub-Committee