Faced with bushfires, drought and floods, and the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Landcarers across Victoria have endured unparalleled challenges in recent years.
Despite this, Landcarers have stayed active – rebuilding communities with projects including habitat restoration for threatened species, bushland regeneration, wellbeing and mental health activities, and engaging volunteers who want to contribute.
The work of the Landcare individuals, groups and networks in the community should be celebrated.
The 2021 Victorian Landcare Awards are an ideal opportunity to recognise our Landcarers and environmental volunteers. The awards span urban and rural communities excelling in sustainable agricultural practices, environmental protection, conservation of land and waterways, coastlines and biodiversity.
I invite you all to make nominations for the awards, which recognise people and community groups for their outstanding contributions to preserving the unique Victorian landscape.
The stories in this edition focus on invasive plants and animals. The magazine has returned to this theme regularly over its 25-year history because it is such an important issue for Landcare across the state.
Invasive plant and animal control is costly and can be hard, physical work. Making evidence-based decisions and ensuring activity is targeted in the right areas is crucial.
The Southern Ark project, funded by the Victorian Government’s Weeds and Pests on Public Land and the $51.5 million Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery programs, was expanded after the 2019-20 bushfires in East Gippsland destroyed habitat and put native animals at further risk from foxes.
Southern Ark land managers used the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s decision support tool, Strategic Management Prospects, to decide where to expand fox control efforts.
Around Ararat, native vegetation is now flourishing following control of one of Victoria’s worst weeds, gorse. The Upper Hopkins Land Management Group and the Ararat Landcare Group have worked together to control gorse in their area for more than 20 years.
The vigilance of these two groups has restored the once gorse-choked Cemetery Creek, which runs through Ararat. A creek-side walking track now allows locals and visitors to experience the wildflowers nearby.
In the Yarra Valley, the Round the Bend Conservation Co-operative, a group of residents who live on a 132-hectare property at the Bend of Islands, identified that panic veldt grass was spreading from their house sites into the bush, creating a significant biodiversity threat.
The residents set about identifying, surveying and hand-pulling this invasive weed with a five-year target to control it. They met this target in September 2020 and have almost eradicated it.
The Southern Otway Landcare Network is targeting emerging weeds in its area, aiming to eradicate them before they take hold. The network has held successful working bees to control tree dahlia, which has escaped gardens and spread quickly down the Barham River.
This issue also features a story on new approaches to deer control in the Mitta Valley. Victorian Government funding and our $19.2 million Victorian Deer Control Strategy is helping landholders and communities to reduce the impact deer are having across the state.
I hope you enjoy this issue of the magazine. I look forward to celebrating the achievements of the nominees of this year’s Victorian Landcare Awards.
The Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change
Minister for Solar Homes