Victorian Landcare Magazine - Winter 2021, Issue 81

Weed warriors of the south west

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Victoria’s south west boasts a breathtaking coast, vast stands of native forests, heathlands and swamps, and many productive farm enterprises, but for those of us who recognise pest plants it can be hard to stay positive and focus on the beauty. The rapid rate at which pest plants are marching down the highways and through the back roads of our farmland and on towards our greatest assets can feel overwhelming.

Our catchment is most likely just like yours – full of energetic people committed to partnerships and projects aimed at protecting and restoring the biodiversity of our landscapes for our communities to enjoy now and in the future. This is a brief roundup of some of the weed warriors of the region.

Southwest Environmental Alliance (SEA) is the Landcare, Coastcare and Friends network in the Portland basin. SEA meets six times a year and encourages groups to get organised, plan ahead, apply for funding collaboratively and to stay positive.

SEA provides a platform for networking and producing media content for the catchment that benefits all the environmental groups who are working together to create positive environmental change. Together we have developed and maintained some great partnerships and are always looking for opportunities to work with new groups and organisations.

Over the past six months SEA worked collaboratively with the Glenelg Shire Council to produce 10 new weed flyers for the region. The flyers aim to inform, educate, and motivate the community to control weeds in their gardens and local bushland environments. In March 2021 SEA undertook a 10-week campaign called Monday’s Mongrel to raise awareness of each weed.

For more information follow SEA on Facebook or go to www.sealliance.org.au

Southwest Woody Weed Action Team (SWAT) is a group of 30 energetic volunteers who have been working together for the past two years in the Cobboboonee forest and surrounding roadsides. 

 

Before: Blacks Road near Portland had been infested with sweet pittosporum for many years.

Above: Before: Blacks Road near Portland had been infested with sweet pittosporum for many years.

SWAT’s executive committee has forged partnerships with private landholders and DELWP to control sweet pittosporum on roadsides, private property, crown land and in blue gum plantations.

After: Blacks Road Portland after the Southwest Woody Weed Action Team clean up in 2021. Dramatic improvements in roadside character have motivated many new members to join the group.

Above: After: Blacks Road Portland after the Southwest Woody Weed Action Team clean up in 2021. Dramatic improvements in roadside character have motivated many new members to join the group.

SWAT has many knowledgeable and weed-savvy members including former DELWP staff, weed contractors, farmers and bush enthusiasts. They have expertise in weed control techniques, plant identification
and an understanding of fire and ecology. The mix of skills in the team is proving to be a great asset.

SWAT holds a weekly working bee at a pre-determined site. Letterbox drops to landholders surrounding the project site are conducted a week prior to the team’s arrival. This is a great way of picking up new members and interest from surrounding landholders.

SWAT is headed by local fisher and farmer Garry Kerr. Garry and his team have worked on SWAT’s project outcomes and goals and developed the group’s occupational health and safety policy and procedures. Last year the group undertook a chemical user’s course and a chainsaw course. These qualifications are necessary for some of the agencies they are working in partnership with and are also a benefit for insurance cover.

Portland Coastal Cliffs Incorporated (PCCI) community group has made a sustained effort to control highly invasive sea spurge on Portland’s main beach. PCCI has been running a ‘purge the spurge’ campaign for two years.

The group, led by Debbie Oakley, who has been involved since 2006, has a fierce work ethic and a can-do attitude. The results of the sea spurge control campaign have been fantastic. After lots of hand weeding, mainly in among the native plants, and hand spraying in the open
dune areas, the endemic native hairy spinifex is now making a comeback.

PCCI has garnered community support through being active on Facebook and posting regular updates. A volunteer who is part of the work-for-the-dole program regularly assists the group and Debbie has used her liaison skills to pursue and maintain many successful partnerships.

Participants from the Scripture Union Family Mission and PCCI member Nikolaus Oakley beside an enormous pile of hand weeded sea spurge that was removed in January 2021.

Above: Participants from the Scripture Union Family Mission and PCCI member Nikolaus Oakley beside an enormous pile of hand weeded sea spurge that was removed in January 2021.

In 2020, the group secured funding through Pacific Hydro to produce a digital story and webpage.

For more information go to www.portlandcoastalcliffs.com/membership

All the successful weed warrior groups and projects in south west Victoria demonstrate strong leadership and good communication skills.

The drive and passion of the individuals involved to improve the biodiversity of our coasts, bushlands, wetlands, parks, farmland and roadsides is inspiring.

Kristy Brewer is Landcare Facilitator for Southwest Environmental Alliance. Kristy’s position is funded through the Victorian Landcare Facilitator Program.

For more information email facilitator@sealliance.org.au

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By Kristy Brewer

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Southwest Environment Alliance