Above Wallflower orchid (Diuris orientis) at Tarwin Cemetery.
Funding from the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust has enabled the South Gippsland Landcare Network (SGLN) to appoint Julie Murray as a part-time Biodiversity Protection Officer to collaborate with key stakeholders in South Gippsland and prepare a draft Biodiversity Protection Plan for community consultation.
The planning process involves pulling together information on native species and habitats from existing recovery plans, local flora and fauna surveys and management plans, and seeking advice from the region’s Traditional Owners, the Bunurong and GunaiKurnai. The draft plan will include a climate change risk assessment and will identify effective biolinks to help SGLN and the community make sound management decisions to enhance and protect South Gippsland’s biodiversity.
Former SGLN Board member Libby Anthony was responsible for the grant application, which supports many of the goals and objectives contained in the SGLN Strategy 2020–2030. Libby recognised that although SGLN had invested substantial work in restoring native vegetation and habitat on a site scale, addressing biodiversity decline required coordinated action across the landscape.
"To protect our biodiversity, we need to have accurate data on what plants, animals and habitats actually exist in the region, and where they are located." - Libby Anthony
"Many individuals, community groups and natural resource management organisations have done work in this area, but the information has not been collated. Our knowledge, therefore, is fragmented. Finally, in order to develop effective strategies for protecting biodiversity, we need to identify and understand the processes that threaten its existence,” Libby said.
SGLN has appointed a Scientific Advisory Committee to guide the development of the plan. The committee comprises four environmental experts who live in South Gippsland and are generously volunteering their time. Peter Gannon and Thomasin Bales are professional ecologists, Dr Christine Connelly lectures in Environmental Science at Victoria University and Mark Brammer is a Natural Environment Program Officer with DELWP.
We will be drawing on the knowledge and expertise of our Landcare community, Friends of and conservation groups, regional natural resource management organisations and Traditional Owners. Our engagement activities will include workshops and round table discussions – ideally in-person, but online if necessary.
SGLN’s recently launched citizen science project – building a volunteer workforce to record wildlife and pest animals on the Bunurong Coast – will also provide valuable data for the plan. This camera-trapping project, which is supported by the Victorian Government through a 2021 Community Volunteer Action Grant, will help us understand what native animals exist in bushland on the Bunurong Coast, and how threats like foxes and deer move across the landscape.
Our aim is to create a long-term plan for SGLN, to ensure we direct our resources effectively. We also hope the plan will be a valuable reference for other natural resource management agencies, and that it will inform future planning and development decisions for South Gippsland.
Jillian Staton is Chair of SGLN. Julie Murray is Biodiversity Protection Officer for SGLN.
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