Cradle to C oast l i n e s Edition 2â€˘ 2017
Newsletter of the Cradle Coast Natural Resource Management Committee
In this issue: Clean-up at Macquarie Harbour 2 Managing soil health
Counting on bird watchers
Image by: Sally Simco, Macquarie Harbour Shoreline Clean-Up
Macquarie Harbour benefits from BIG clean-up Organisers of the 2017 Macquarie Harbour clean-up were certainly thinking big when they laid plans for a five-day event to remove litter and marine debris from 80 kilometres of shoreline, but they had no idea of the massive volume and variety of waste that their efforts would actually uncover. “A clean-up on the scale of the Macquarie Harbour event has not taken place on the west coast before,” said Anna Wind, Coastal Coordinator at Cradle Coast NRM. “The aquaculture farms have adopted sections of shoreline that they regularly clean-up, but this event covered a bigger area and involved not only the aquaculture and tourism industries, but also community members, school students, Conservation Volunteers Australia, Wildcare and Parks and Wildlife staff. There were more than 100 people taking part.” Some of the beaches included in the clean-up area had many years of accumulated marine debris. A staggering 55 cubic metres of litter and debris was removed from the entire clean-up area and then sorted to provide an understanding of the source and potential reduction strategies. Most frequently found items were rope, plastic bottles, glass bottles and cans.
The aim of the project was to remove marine debris from around the Harbour and create a baseline level for ongoing monitoring. “We can now continue with periodic clean-ups and gauge the type and amount of new debris being washed ashore,” said Anna. The area of west coast Tasmania where the clean-up took place includes iconic tourist destinations, World Heritage Area beaches and significant aquaculture operations. “The importance of protecting this environment and marine life cannot be understated,” said Anna. People of all ages and backgrounds became involved in the project. A Community Clean-Up Day held within the broader event included school students and residents removing rubbish and marine debris from Strahan’s Meredith Street boat ramp and foreshore.
“I never expected we would collect this volume of marine debris,” said Anna.
The majority of items collected in this urban area were bottles and cans but across the entire clean-up, other items included polystyrene, tyres, garden chairs, poly-pipe, buoys and even an anchor.
“There was a small mountain of bags to sort through; it highlights how much marine debris can be washed ashore and accumulate over time.”
“There was also a large eye-wash unit collected which makes you wonder how that substantial piece of equipment could end up on the shore.”
CLEAN-UP NUMBER CRUNCH • Marine debris was collected over five days from 1 – 5 April 2017.
• Three 15 cubic metre skip bins were filled with collected debris.
• 80 kilometres of shoreline was included around Macquarie Harbour, Ocean Beach and Strahan.
• 1734 plastic bottles and 540 glass bottles were collected.
• 5290 pieces of rope were removed from the shoreline (5 cubic metres of rope was sent for recycling).
• 678 cans were picked up and removed. • More than 100 people took part in the clean-up event – THANK YOU!
People power Such a large-scale project wouldn’t have been successful without the help and support of Conservation Volunteers Australia, Wildcare, the Parks and Wildlife Service, Tassal, Petuna, Huon Aquaculture and the enthusiastic participation of the west coast community. Partnerships were also formed with participants from Gordon River Cruises, Strahan Village, Active Strahan, Tasmanian Seafood Industry Council, West Coast Yacht Charters and the West Coast Council. Here’s what some of the participants had to say about the experience” “I believe we made a good impact on reducing the threat to wildlife and the environment.” “I hope momentum for this type of activity and prevention strategies might increase.”
“Ingestion of plastic is a major hazard to marine mammals and shorebirds. Entanglement is also a threat to these marine species. By removing (the) debris, we are helping out local wildlife.” “With the large amount of plastics and rope collected, the threat to wildlife will be reduced, especially to penguins, dolphins and shorebirds.” “We plan to coordinate another clean-up in 2018 that builds on the momentum of this year’s event,” said Anna. “This event was seven months in the planning and it has enabled us to understand the various logistical challenges of conducting a big clean-up activity. What we’ve learnt will help create an even bigger and more beneficial outcome for the Harbour environment in the years to come.”
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT MARINE DEBRIS? Participants in the Macquarie Harbour clean-up were so inspired by what was achieved that they’ve shared their own suggestions for reducing marine debris in our marine environments: • Educate tourists and locals. More bins around popular spots. • Locate the source of debris and provide information on how it affects local wildlife and habitats. • Educate harbour users to reduce litter in the water. • Encourage recycling. Want to see more of the Macquarie Harbour clean-up? Search online for ‘Cradle Coast Macquarie Harbour’ to find and view our YouTube clip.
Image by: Sally Simco
Coastal frontiers: saltmarshes and mangroves When you think about mangroves, saltmarshes and coastal wetlands, a tropical setting is often the first to spring to mind. But did you know that the Cradle Coast region is also home to vast areas of coastal saltmarsh wetlands? Attendees at the Australian Mangrove and Saltmarsh Conference held in Hobart in March heard first-hand about Duck Bay near Smithton and the saltmarsh protection work being undertaken there by the Circular Head Landcare Group. Group volunteer, Sue Jennings, delivered an informative presentation to delegates. It outlined four years of diligent effort by the Group towards eradicating the rice grass weed which is threatening to displace saltmarsh and restrict river access for local recreational users and the aquaculture industry.
Four volunteers from the region were sponsored by Cradle Coast NRM to attend the five-day conference where they joined more than 100 scientists, citizen scientists and students from around Australia and the world. Participants learnt of weed and climate change management strategies for these important ecosystems and were able to bring back ideas and skills for application in their local communities. How important are wetlands for biodiversity? Conference presenter and researcher, Christina Adams, shared the results of her study on invertebrate distribution in saltmarsh wetlands which revealed:
• • • • •
Margaret Bennett, Pat Ellison, Vishnu Prahalad(UTAS), Ian Cresswell (CSIRO), Hazel Britton and Sue Jennings
17 species of molluscs 29 species of ants 29 species of beetles 27 species of spiders, plus A new species of spider, previously undiscovered.
An impressive result and strong evidence of how active and essential these natural areas are to our region’s environmental health. Cradle Coast NRM, NRM North and NRM South supported the conference which was a joint initiative of the University of Tasmania and CSIRO.
Hazel Britton and Christina Adams searching for invertebrates.
“What we’re asking is for farmers that have an interest in their soils to get on board, have a say, ask questions and share what they know.” - Dave Roberts-Thomson, founding member of Soil First Tasmania
Image courtesy of: TT & David Roberts-Thomson
A connected network building soil health Long-term research projects into the health of Tasmanian soils provide essential insights for our region’s food and fibre producers. But while the studies continue, a group of Cradle Coast farmers are filling knowledge gaps with a networking group and Facebook page known as Soil First Tasmania. Like a lot of good ideas, Soil First Tasmania grew from the passion and curiosity of a few land managers. Within their own farms, they sensed that they were facing soil health issues and trying soil improvement practices that others may also find relevant. Instead of just turning to the published research, they’ve begun turning to each other for tried-and-tested ideas and on-ground experience. One of Soil First Tasmania’s founders, Dave RobertsThomson of Van Diemen Quality Bulbs at Table Cape developed the idea for the networking group after he held a cover crop demonstration trial and field day on his property. The trial and event were supported by Cradle Coast NRM and attracted many primary producers from different sectors to Dave’s farm. The level of interest
shown in soil health and the quest for knowledge in new practices inspired him to create Soil First Tasmania. Other field days have followed and the informal group continues to collate and share news and experience on soil management. Any topic related to soil health indicators are open to discussion and trials, with a minimum tillage field day next on the group’s radar. Discussions on the Soil First Tasmania Facebook page have also focused on bio-fumigants, production and integration of composts, cover crops, and soil microbes - including an interesting burial of cotton underwear to monitor decomposition! The social media platform allows easy sharing of images and video and encourages readers to ask questions and have them answered by others within the network. Cradle Coast NRM, NRM North and NRM South are assisting Soil First Tasmania to host the minimum tillage field day on 20 July. In addition to paddock assessments, there will be international farmers presenting their own experiences and results. For details, including RSVP instructions, keep an eye on the Soil First Tasmania Facebook page.
Celebrating our Shorebird Monitoring volunteers Volunteers in one of the region’s biggest citizen science monitoring projects came together at the end of May to share their passion for shorebirds and hear from prominent BirdLife Australia member, Dr Mike Newman. The event was organised by Cradle Coast NRM to say a big ‘thank you’ to project participants who twice a year take to the coast between Stanley and Narawntapu National Park to identify and count shorebirds such as the Hooded Plover, the Red-capped Plover, the Pied Oystercatcher and the Sooty Oystecatcher. The invaluable data collected by the volunteers contributes to Tasmanian Natural Values Atlas and BirdLife Australia. Trends discovered in the counts help inform shorebird protection and community education activities. The Pied Oystercatcher was the focus of the presentation delivered at the event by Dr Newman. Dr Newman has had an interest in the species for nearly 40 years and had participated in early nest survey programs collecting basic breeding data. “The Australian Pied Oystercatcher is not a numerous species,” Dr Newman said.
“There are about 15,000 birds distributed around the Australian coastline, of which approximately one third occur in Tasmania, arguably its stronghold.” Dr Newman notes that it is difficult to determine an accurate population estimate. The counting efforts of the Cradle Coast shorebird monitoring volunteers help provide a gauge of species distribution and numbers, and an indication of the impact that threats may be having on the species. The main determinant of shorebird population size is the decreasing number of suitable breeding territories. “The prime factor impacting breeding territories is disturbance to beaches,” said Dr Newman. “The Australian species is an obligate beach nester and breeding success is highest when it breeds at or near the high tide mark and can take its young, which are flightless for seven weeks, out to the water’s edge at low tide to feed them.” “Increasing sea levels and the frequency of storm-driven high tides also contribute to decreased viability of territories by inundation of nests during the four week incubation period,” Dr Newman said.
HAVE YOU SEEN A PIED OYSTERCATCHER? Next time you’re at the beach, keep an eye out for the Australian Pied Oystercatcher. Its striking plumage makes it relatively easy to identify and they can be found on sandy beaches and mudflats around Tasmania. Here’s a description from the BirdLife Australia website to help in your search:
Image by: Els Haywood
“The Pied Oystercatcher is black with a white breast and belly. All oystercatchers have a bright orange-red bill, eye-rings and legs and a red eye. Young birds are similar in appearance to the adults, but lack the intense red-orange colours and are brown rather than black. The Pied Oystercatcher is shy of humans and seldom allows close approach.” - www.birdlife.org.au
Final Natural Connections projects underway Cradle Coast NRM’s Natural Connections Community Group grants program has been inspiring and nurturing environmental on-ground projects across North West Tasmania for more than four years.
Meet the team: Hannah Sadler In this edition of Cradle to Coastlines we say hello to Hannah who became a Project Officer in the Cradle Coast NRM team in January 2017. What does your role as Cradle Coast NRM Project Officer entail? It’s varied, which is one of the best aspects of the job. I’ve organised a Kids Teaching Kids Conference at Camp Clayton for 250 primary students from across the region. I also compile details of agricultural trials supported by Cradle Coast NRM, including video interviews and data. As a Project Officer, I also support grant rounds for community groups and farmers by doing assessments and onsite visits. What is your favourite place in the Cradle Coast region? At the moment I am in awe of the moody skies contrasted with the rolling paddocks and coast between Wynyard and Rocky Cape. It’s an amazing time of the year in North West Tasmania. What do you like most about working in natural resource management (NRM)? Every day I work with people that inspire me me. The diversity within the realms of NRM is fascinating. What do you think is the most important natural resource management issue facing the region? There are a few, but the one that is currently top of my mind is soil biology. Protecting, nourishing and utilising healthy soils to improve soil resilience and farm productivity is essential. Another big issue is plastic and the single-use nature of so many things we use daily. What NRM project are you most looking forward to getting involved with in the future? Working with the Soil First Tasmania farmer group to develop informative videos on understanding soil health so we can spread the word. What is your favourite season? Spring, the days get longer and everyone is fooled into being outside more, even though you are often at risk of getting blown off your feet or chilled to the bone!
The final three grant recipients were recently announced, wrapping up an impressive program of support which saw a total of 23 grants awarded to 20 community groups and injecting $160,000 into local projects, citizen science initiatives and community education activities. The Program is ending on a high note, with the final three recipients committed to improving the health of the region’s habitats for some of Tasmania’s most iconic fauna species. Andrews Creek Primary School is regenerating a neighbouring patch of native bush via weed control and planting to improve the habitat of threatened species including the Northern burrowing crayfish, Eastern barred bandicoot, green and gold frog, spotted tail quoll and Tasmanian devil. The Giant freshwater lobster is also benefitting from the National Connections Community Group grant program with $5000 being allocated for the development of interpretative signage for education purposes for display at the Lobster Ponds at Flowerdale. This growing tourism and educational facility is one of the key places where visitors and residents can see and learn about these typically shy creatures. The Friends of Burnie Penguins grant, to establish plant species, will enhance nesting sites at the Little penguin viewing area at Parsonage Point. Over the life of the popular Natural Connections Community Group grants program, Cradle Coast NRM staff have supported applicants in the implementation of a wide variety of project ideas. With the allocation of the final grants, the Cradle Coast NRM team is now turning its attention to new grant program initiatives arising from the next round of National Landcare Programme funding. Registered community groups can continue to receive sponsorship of $500 per annum for approved projects and purchases. Interested in finding out more? Contact Anna Wind or Dionna Newton on 6433 8400 to request an application form.
Your Cradle Coast NRM Team R ichard In gram M anage r, N R M
Upcoming Events July
G ra nt P e arc e Opera ti on s M an age r Anna Win d C oordi nato r: Co asta l
Build a Bat Box When: Where: Info:
Di o nna N e w to n Project Officer: Coastal, Estuarine & Marine M ark Wi s n i e w sk i Pr o j ect Of f i c e r: G IS a nd N R M S pencer G i bbs C oordi nato r: Pro du c t iv e L a nd s c a p e s
The Business of Soil When: Where: Info:
Tom O’M al l e y R egi ona l L an dc are Fa c ilit a t or Ha nnah S adl e r Pr o j ect Of f i c e r
14 July, 10-11am East Devonport Child & Family Centre, 40 Drew St, East Devonport Lean about Tasmanian’s bats and their habitat requirements. Make your own Bat house /bird house to put up in your own backyard in this FREE workshop. Suitable for children in grades 3-6 and their parents / caregivers. All materials supplied. Bookings required: Phone 6478 4337 Email firstname.lastname@example.org July 20 Location TBC Presenters include Farmers from the US, Victoria and Tasmania including the Australian Farmer of the Year 2015. Discussing systems to improve soil health, increase soil biodiversity and the bottom line. For more information contact Soil First, Dave Roberts-Thomson on: email@example.com
Contact and follow us: ( 0 3 ) 6433 8400 nrm@c radl e c o ast . c om
FREE Living Lightly Workshop – Edible Tasmanian Native Plants When: Where: Info:
w w w . c radl e c o ast nr m . c om facebo o k . c o m /C r a d le C oa s t N R M
24 August, 10am – 12pm Devonport Community House, 10 Morris Avenue, Devonport Join Rees Campbell in her exploration of Tasmania’s botanical larder. Rees is the author of a soon-to-be-published book, Eat Wild, which documents over 120 edible Tasmanian native plants. Along with sharing Rees’ plant insights enjoy tastings of native plants and products made with them. No bookings required. Further information: Phone 6424 0511 firstname.lastname@example.org www.devonport.tas.gov.au
September Cradle Coast NRM Kids Teaching Kids Conference When: Where: Info:
8 September, 2017 Camp Clayton, Turners Beach For more information email Hanna Sadler on: email@example.com
October Shorebird Monitoring event Unless otherwise acknowledged, this publication and the projects featured are supported by Cradle Coast NRM, through funding from the Australian Government.
When: Where: Info:
Saturday, October 21 – Saturday, November 18 Cradle Coast region Shorebird counts are scheduled from Saturday 21 October to Saturday 18 November 2017. To get involved email Dionna Newton: firstname.lastname@example.org
Postage Paid Australia
Cradle Coast NRM 1-3 Spring Street PO Box 338 Burnie TAS 7320
ph: 03 6433 8400 fax: 03 6431 7014 email: email@example.com Cradle Coast NRM is an independent committee hosted by the Cradle Coast Authority
Cradle Coast NRM's newsletter, Cradle to Coastlines. Edition 2, 2017.