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DANDENONG RANGES WILDLIFE RECOVERY, WEED CONTROL AND FUEL REDUCTION PROGRAM

CELEBRATING our ACHIEVEMENTS 2015-17 —

PORT PHILLIP & WESTERNPORT CATCHMENT MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY


Celebrating our Achievements: Dandenong Ranges Wildlife Recovery, Weed Control and Fuel Reduction Program Published by Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, Frankston, September 2017 03 8781 7900 www.ppwcma.vic.gov.au Copyright Š The State of Victoria, Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, 2017 This publication is copyright. Copying for noncommercial/non-profit purposes is permitted subject to the publication being copied entirely. The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA believes that the information contained in this publication is accurate and reliable at the date of printing. It is the responsibility of readers to avail themselves of the latest information and advice in respect of the information contained in this publication after this date. Any financial projections in this plan are intended to provide a simple forecast of estimated finances, costs and expenditure. Disclaimer: this publication may be of assistance to you but the State of Victoria and its employees do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication. If you would like to receive this publication in an alternative format, please contact the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA on 03 8781 7900 or enquiries@ppwcma.vic.gov.au. This document is printed on uncoated, 100 per cent recycled stock using vegetable-based inks and water based glues.

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CONTENTS

Introduction

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Foreword

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Program overview

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Project highlights

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Trust for Nature: Protecting Properties Connecting People

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Sherbrooke Lyrebird Survey Group: Protecting the Lyrebird in Sherbrooke Forest

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The Country Fire Authority: New life for Macclesfield

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Friends of Glenfern Valley Bushland: Glenfern Valley Bushland brought back to life

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Friends of Holly Hill: Ferny Creek revitalised

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Cardinia Shire Council: Council and Landcare working together

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Sherbrooke Community School: School creates a different kind of corridor

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Community champions making a difference to the Dandenong Ranges

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Wurundjeri Tribe Land, Compensation and Cultural Heritage Council: Bullen Bullen Cultural Tours

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Community Weeds Alliance of the Dandenongs: Weeds Without Borders

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INTRODUCTION

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FOREWORD The rolling hills, weathered gullies and dense rainforests of the Dandenong Ranges conjure fond memories of Sunday drives and weekends away for millions of Melbournians. It is the closest cool temperate rainforest to Melbourne and attracts visitors from all over the world.

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hat many people don’t realise is that the rainforest we’ve grown to love is under threat.

Introduced pest plants and animals are degrading the native environment. What may look like an abundance of new plant and animal species is actually a life threatening infestation. Weeds like Sycamore Maple, Cape Ivy, Radiata Pine Trees and English Holly can be beautiful in their natural environment. But in the Dandenong Ranges, they dominate and smother the fragile native vegetation, taking away food sources and habitat for native animals. They slowly eliminate a wide variety of native plant and animal species, threatening this entire unique ecosystem. As well as being a threat to the biodiversity, many of these weed species pose a serious fire threat to nearby communities. The Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority (PPWCMA) works to protect 1.4 million hectares of Victoria’s natural environment including the Dandenong Ranges. Collaborating with local stakeholders, the PPWCMA designed a community-led program focused on wildlife recovery, protecting threatened species, and controlling weeds and pest animals, as well as reducing fire risk to communities.

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With funding of $3 million over three years from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme, the PPWCMA and many other community groups and organisations delivered the Dandenong Ranges Wildlife Recovery, Weed Control and Fuel Reduction Program. The program provided grant funding to empower passionate and motivated community groups to undertake activities including extensive and largescale weed removal, planting of native species and fuel reduction burning, as well as community events and training, in areas that were priorities for local action. In these pages, you will find a snapshot of the stories of success, as we celebrate the incredible efforts of dedicated friends groups, community groups, councils, local CFA brigades, Landcare networks and groups and the Wurundjeri Council, who all worked together with a shared vision to protect the Dandenong Ranges. Because as this program shows, it is not just the role of one person, one agency or one organisation to find one quick fix. What really makes a difference is when we all work together.

— Stephen Thuan, Project Manager, Dandenong Ranges Wildlife Recovery, Weed Control and Fuel Reduction Program.

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PROGRAM OVERVIEW For the past three years, the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA has been coordinating the Dandenong Ranges Wildlife Recovery, Weed Control and Fuel Reduction Program.

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he program was funded by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme that provided $3 million over three years, with specific requirements for environmental improvement and bushfire risk reduction.

The community grants component was the largest part of the program and were categorised to reflect the range and scale of works that groups could undertake.

The program aimed to improve the health of the Dandenong Ranges through the delivery of community-based environmental projects for wildlife recovery, weed management and bush fire fuel reduction projects.

• $50,000 and above (projects addressing

It also aimed to educate and inform the community on bushfire risks, weed identification and removal, Indigenous cultural heritage, and protection of the unique Dandenong Ranges environment. The program consisted of the following three components:

• $2,040,000 over three years for 63 community • •

grants (Dandenong Ranges Environmental and Bushfire Reduction Community Grants) $450,000 over three years for a large-scale project by the Community Weed Alliance of the Dandenongs $150,000 for a project to develop and market the Bullen Bullen Cultural Tours

These were: large-scale issues over multiple years)

• $10,000-$50,000 (medium-sized projects addressing a range of issues)

• Under $10,000 (small on-ground projects under 12 months)

The program was truly collaborative, involving all levels of government, Traditional Owners and the community. PPWCMA provided the coordination and expert advice and the community took ownership of each project, leading the way in achieving outstanding outcomes. The PPWCMA would like to acknowledge all the Landcare networks and groups, community groups, councils, government agencies and departments and local CFA brigades that contributed through the delivery of the 63 community grants. Together they achieved vital on-ground action and community capacity building to improve the environment and reduce the risk of bushfires. The PPWCMA would also like to acknowledge the effort of the Federal Member for La Trobe, Jason Wood MP, in supporting this program to be a great success.

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PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS

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PROTECTING PROPERTIES CONNECTING PEOPLE A unique Trust for Nature project has helped to protect native vegetation and endangered wildlife across more than 100 hectares in the Dandenong Ranges, by removing more than 20 species of noxious weeds.

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ative orchids, Powerful Owls and Bandicoots, which are often indicators of healthy ecosystems, have been spotted at several properties since the work was completed. The ‘Protecting Properties, Connecting People’ project aimed to help at least 10 property owners with permanent protection covenants in the Dandenong Ranges improve their biodiversity values and reduce bushfire risk by controlling high-threat weed species. With a $70,000 grant, Trust for Nature went above and beyond their target, treating weeds at 17 covenanted private properties and two nature reserves across the Dandenong Ranges in Yellingbo, Monbulk, Emerald, Olinda, Belgrave South, Selby and Lysterfield. The project engaged the expertise of the Traditional Owners of the Dandenongs, the Wurundjeri Council and their Our Country or ‘Narrap’ team, who undertook specialised weed removal and revegetation works. Trust for Nature Regional Manager for Port Phillip and Western Port, Ben Cullen, said the funding has had a meaningful impact to both the environment and communities in the Dandenong Ranges.

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“I’ve worked in the Port Phillip and Western Port area for almost 10 years and it is some of the most positive feedback from landowners we’ve ever had. They were so grateful for the quality of work and knowledge shared,” Ben said. Ben added that landholders are sometimes new to the area and need help to identify weeds and protect endangered species.

“MANY PEOPLE WHO COME FROM THE CITY AND BUY A PROPERTY IN THE DANDENONG RANGES DON’T HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE OF WEED CONTROL OR SENSITIVE SPECIES ON THEIR LAND. WE HELP BY GIVING THEM THE SUPPORT AND EDUCATION TO IMPROVE THEIR LAND, PROTECTING THE NATIVE PLANTS AND ANIMALS OF THE AREA.” Trust for Nature plans to expand the project and has identified 120 properties in the area where they can continue the project.

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PROTECTING THE LYREBIRD IN SHERBROOKE FOREST A $50,000 project to reduce the impact of wild Sambar Deer in Sherbrooke Forest has helped to protect one of the Dandenong’s most loved birds, the Superb Lyrebird.

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ed by environmental scientist and president of the Sherbrooke Lyrebird Survey Group, Alex Maisey, the project was designed to protect the cool temperate rainforest, which is the habit for Superb Lyrebirds, from being destroyed by wild deer. “The damage caused by deer in Sherbrooke Forest is not only threatening the Lyrebird habitat, but the entire rainforest and waterways of the Dandenong Ranges,” Alex said. “Old Sassafras trees are slowly being destroyed by wild deer as they rub their antlers on the bark, ring-barking the trees until they snap and fall over. The Sassafras trees are a vital part of the cool temperate rainforest as they form the top canopy. If the canopy is lost it threatens the whole vegetation community. “Something had to be done to alleviate the stress on the Sassafras trees and conserve the threatened vegetation community.” The deer are destroying creek beds as they roll on the ground creating wallows and trampling sensitive vegetation. The creek banks are the breeding area for the Lyrebirds, who nest in the protected trees and ferns.

“It is shocking to see the extent of the damage to the Sassafras trees and creek beds,” Alex added. The focus of the project was to protect the salvageable Sassafras trees and cool temperate rainforest in Sherbrooke Forest. Works included building fences around 15 bushland plots to protect the trees, constructing tree guards around other sensitive rainforest tree species such as Mutton wood (Myrsine howittiana) and removing woody weeds that are overtaking native communities, including Ivy and Pittosporum.

“AS A GROUP OF VOLUNTEERS, WE COULD NEVER HAVE ACHIEVED THIS LEVEL OF WORK WITHOUT THE GRANT FUNDING.” The group hopes to continue monitoring deer with Parks Victoria, to measure the impact of control efforts. They also plan to continue to survey fauna and complete detailed mapping of the threatened Slender Treefern population, with complimentary weed control.

“This is a 300 kilogram animal running through a sensitive environment that is not evolved for an animal of that size. DANDENONG RANGES | CELEBRATING OUR ACHIEVEMENTS 2015-17

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NEW LIFE FOR MACCLESFIELD Powerful Owls, Echidnas, native Orchids and wildflowers have returned to a bushland area north of Macclesfield, thanks to a CFA and Macclesfield Landcare Group project designed to reduce the risk of bushfire and increase native biodiversity.

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he 53 hectare property was infested with weeds, including Ragwort, Spanish Heath, Holly and Pine trees (Pinus Radiata). The weeds were taking over the native vegetation and creating a fire risk to the Macclesfield township, especially the nearby school, church, hall and fire station.

The site has been constantly monitored by the CFA with outdoor cameras to observe the area. Jess feels that the project has made a huge difference to the biodiversity of the area.

Interestingly, within the 53 hectare property were pockets of pristine bushland supporting rare native plants and animals.

WALLABIES, ECHIDNAS, FROGS,

Environmental scientist and CFA volunteer, Jess Merritt, said the landowners took over the property because of its significant ecological value, but they needed a lot of help and support to manage the land. “From our point of view, we needed to reduce the bushfire risk to the community and protect threatened species,” Jess said. The CFA developed a program of controlled burning, specialised weed removal, revegetation and monitoring of the site. With the help of Landcare, they removed significant weeds including Pinus Radiata, Pittosporum and Holly and revegetate the site with native grasses.

“WE’VE PHOTOGRAPHED OWLS, KOOKABURRAS AND A WIDE VARIETY OF NATIVE PLANTS AND GRASSES. WE’VE BEEN SO EXCITED TO SEE NATIVE PLANTS SPRINGING UP THAT WE’VE NEVER SEEN ON THE PROPERTY BEFORE.” “ONCE YOU REMOVE THE WEEDS THAT ARE DOMINATING THE ENVIRONMENT, IT IS AMAZING HOW QUICKLY THE NATIVE VEGETATION RETURNS.”

The controlled burning also allowed native trees that rely on burning to regenerate, such as Wattle and Banksias.

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GLENFERN VALLEY BUSHLANDS BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE A $34,000 grant has helped the Friends of Glenfern Valley Bushlands bring new life to Glenfern Valley Bushlands and protect the work they’ve been doing over the past 16 years.

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he Friends of Glenfern Valley Bushlands have been working on the 40 hectare reserve in Upwey for the past 16 years, slowly transforming the area. What was once a neglected site, dense with woody weeds, is now a thriving native forest. Wallabies and Kookaburras have been spotted in the area and Yellow Box and Eucalyptus trees are sprouting through the native grasses. The community grant allowed them to remove the largest thicket of Sweet Pittosporum remaining in a section of the reserve as well as Boneseed, which is a weed of national significance. It was an important project, as the Pittosporum and Boneseed were spreading seeds into areas where weed removal had been completed in the past and was reinfesting the rehabilitated bushland. The grant also funded the revegetation of the reserve, with 450 locally sourced indigenous plants. The Friends Group coordinated a planting day with Trinity College students and volunteers to plant trees and will continue to monitor the site to ensure any emerging weeds are removed. They also provided community education, sharing information at the local market and through their website.

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“This reserve was once covered in dense Pittosporum thickets and Boneseed bushes, which smothered the native forest, leaving the ground storey barren,” Vice President of the Friends of Glenfern Valley Bushlands, Andrew Fullagar said.

“SINCE REMOVING THE WEEDS, WE HAVE SEEN YELLOW BOX TREES FLOURISHING AND NATIVE GRASSES AND HERBS GERMINATING. NATIVE WILDLIFE LIKE WALLABIES AND WOMBATS HAVE ALSO RETURNED TO THE AREA.” Removing the heavy infestation of Pittosporum trees also reduces the fire fuel load in the reserve, helping to protect the nearby community. The group plans to produce an information brochure for the community in collaboration with StopPitt and the Southern Dandenongs Community Nursery. The brochure will raise awareness of how to identify and treat Pittosporum in the area, with suggestions on suitable native trees to plant in gardens.

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FERNY CREEK REVITALISED When the founders of the Friends of Holly Hill, Lyn and Peter Witt, saw Mountain Ash trees being slowly choked by Ivy in the national park near their home, they knew they had to do something.

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he Dandenong Ranges National Park at the headwaters of Dobson’s Creek in Ferny Creek was so overgrown with weeds there was no native vegetation able to grow. “It was impenetrable. You couldn’t walk through it or see anything. It was just black,” Lyn said. “The area was dense with woody weeds like Sycamores, Cestrum, Holly and Sweet Pittosporum. At the top were Mountain Ash that were going be killed by the Ivy.” The Friends of Holly Hill have been removing weeds from the park by hand for many years, but there were two areas on the other side of the creek that they could not access. “We were concerned about the biodiversity of Indigenous species and the fire danger. We wanted to address both issues,” Mrs Witt said. The group were successful in receiving two grants totalling nearly $90,000 from the PPWCMA to coordinated expert contractors to remove weeds from two sites they could not easily access. Six hectares of the park was cleared of woody weeds including mature Holly trees, Sycamore Maples, Cestrum, Sweet Pittosporum, Wild Tobacco and the Ivy that was choking the Mountain Ash trees. Once the area was cleared of weeds, the group could access the sites to maintain them.

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“What is amazing is we have such lovely regeneration of Indigenous vegetation. Ferns, fungi, Forest Starwort, Sassafras trees and native orchids have been able to grow and have emerged in abundance,” Lyn said. “We also rescued nearly 40 tiny Sassafras seedlings which were in a very vulnerable position, nurtured them for two years, and they’ve been planted along the creek.

“IT IS NOW A LOVELY NATIVE FOREST AREA AND IT LOOKS BEAUTIFUL.” With the small and middle storey weeds removed, it has reduced the fuel load in the park, which helps to reduce the intensity of bushfires. The group has also observed an increase in native wildlife in the area, with Yellow Breasted Robins, wallabies and wombats in the park. “Our initial aim 20 years ago was to be able to access and improve both sides of the creek. With this funding, we could completely remove the infestation of woody weeds and help to revitalise the area. We’ve also been able to protect the original site from being re-infested with weeds.”

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COUNCIL AND LANDCARE WORKING TOGETHER A $50,000 project to remove weeds and revegetate three significant Cardinia Shire Council reserves has helped to reduce bushfire risk, improve biodiversity and raise awareness of weeds issues in the Dandenong Ranges.

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ardinia Shire Council and Landcare groups worked together to improve areas of Emerald Lake Park, Clematis Bushland Reserve and Wattle Creek Bushland Reserve. Cardinia Shire Council’s Natural Systems Officer, Marianne Sawyer, said that they saw working with Landcare groups in their reserves as an opportunity to really extend the scope of the work and make a significant impact. “The reserves have high biodiversity values, are visited by a lot of tourists and surrounded by neighbouring communities. They were infested with weeds, which poses a fire risk and puts a big strain on native plants and animals.” “The overhead canopy and middle story of weeds was stunting the growth of native vegetation.

“A LOT OF NATIVE SPECIES NEED QUITE A BIT OF DAYLIGHT TO GROW. SINCE WE OPENED UP THE FOREST THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF NEW GROWTH AND NATIVE ANIMALS RETURNING TO THE AREA, WHICH HAS BEEN WONDERFUL TO SEE.”

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The next step for Cardina Shire is to maintain the sites with the help of Landcare groups and continue removing weeds in other reserves. Below is an overview of the work undertaken in each reserve. EMERALD LAKE PARK At Emerald Lake Park, a 52 hectare park where Puffing Billy travels through, there were infestations of mature Sycamore Maple, Red Cestrum and Sweet Pittosporum. The trees and shrubs were dominating the middle story and canopy structure and spreading seeds through the park and neighbouring properties. The dense weeds were also posing a fire risk. With the help of a contractor, Cardinia Shire removed seed baring weeds throughout the park. The Friends of Emerald Lake Park then worked with the contractor to revegetate the sites and maintain the areas: ensuring the weeds did not return. The work was part of a 10 year plan that Cardinia Shire developed with the Friends of Emerald Lake Park. As grants become available they can continue the work with the goal of restoring the biodiversity values of the park.

The aim of the work was to protect the habitat from weed invasion taking over native bushland. The weed species were removed and replaced with good canopy species that would create roosting sites for the Powerful Owl and other species. Native vegetation was planted around the waterways to help the quality of the water. The Johns Hill Landcare Group were involved in the project, running weed workshops to educate the community and regular working bees. CLEMATIS BUSHLAND RESERVE Clematis Bushland Reserve is a unique reserve containing endangered tree fern varieties. Weeds including Sycamore Maple, Sweet Pittosporum and Himalayan Honeysuckle had infested the reserve and spread to neighbouring properties. Contractors removed the mature trees and bushes from the reserve and the John Hill Landcare Group complimented the work in neighbouring properties by removing weeds and revegetating with native vegetation.

WATTLE CREEK RESERVE In Wattle Creek Reserve, there is a critical wildlife corridor that runs between Emerald Lake Park and Wrights Forest. It is used by the Powerful Owl as a breeding and feeding area.

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SCHOOL CREATES A DIFFERENT KIND OF CORRIDOR Being so close to the Dandenong Ranges National Park, teachers from the Sherbrooke Community School were inspired to help improve the health of the surrounding environment and reduce the risk of bushfire.

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ith the help of students and parents, teachers from the school co-ordinated a project to expand a wildlife corridor between the Dandenong Ranges National Park and the Sassafras Creek reserve.

Denise added that the project has been a great way to educate the wider community.

“THIS HAS BEEN A GOOD LEARNING OPPORTUNITY FOR THE STUDENTS

With a $35,000 grant from PPWCMA they were able to reduce the threat of Sycamore Maple trees, remove rubbish and plant Indigenous vegetation.

AND PARENTS, AS WE HAVE BEEN

Sherbrooke Community School teacher and project co-ordinator, Denise Dempsey, said that since removing the weeds, a diverse variety of native vegetation has also naturally regenerated and native birds and animals have been spotted through the wildlife corridor.

AND THE STEPS INVOLVED IN CARING

ABLE TO EDUCATE THEM ON THE DAMAGE THAT THESE WEEDS CAN DO FOR THE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT.”

“The highlight for us was seeing a Lyrebird using the wildlife corridor,” Denise said. “Many areas of our grounds were choked with weeds. We felled 30 Sycamore maple trees, some of which we left to create habitat trees for microbats and nesting birds that use hollows. We have added to the natural revegetation with indigenous plants and it’s lovely to see them growing profusely.”

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COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS MAKING A DIFFERENCE When it comes to community led projects, it is often a small number of people that create and sustain momentum, encouraging others and leading the way. Some great examples of this were shown in the delivery of the Dandenong Ranges project.

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onbulk resident, Bill Incoll, is one of these people, and has turned improving the environment in to a lifelong passion that is making a significant impact in the Dandenong Ranges.

Bill has been working tirelessly to restore and protect the Dandenong Ranges for the past 25 years and is now part of five different groups, including Landcare groups, friends of groups and CWAD.

Mr Incoll was instrumental in securing 12 community grants totalling nearly $140,000 and was also part of implementing the $450,000 Community Weed Alliance of the Dandenongs (CWAD) project.

He has been fighting the battle against weeds in three ways: getting his hands dirty and removing weeds; advocating to the community, agencies and politicians to provide solutions to the issues and securing community grants for extensive weed removal and revegetation work.

Each of the community grants aimed to remove environmental weeds and revegetate the Dandenong Ranges with native vegetation; to improve biodiversity, restore native habitat and reduce bushfire risks. “What we are trying to do is to rehabilitate biodiversity. The weeds simplify the diversity of plants growing in the Dandenong ranges which can be devastating for the ecology of the whole area,” Bill said.

“IT IS AMAZING WHEN WE CLEAR WEEDS LIKE SYCAMORE MAPLE, ALMOST IMMEDIATELY, WE GET NATIVE VEGETATION COMING BACK. PIONEER SPECIES COME UP FIRST AND TAKE

“Community grants are often the most effective way to get work done,” Bill said. “ We can access the expertise of contractors who can remove weeds quickly and effectively across large areas. We can then follow up their work with weed removal maintenance and planting of native vegetation. It helps us to get on top of the problem more effectively.” “Given the sheer geographical size of the Dandenong Ranges and the amount of weeds present, it can seem overwhelming to tackle the problem. However, when you have multiple projects addressing the issues, collectively each project contributes to making a big difference to the biodiversity of the area.”

ADVANTAGE OF THE NEW CONDITIONS. AS TIME GOES BY, MORE AND MORE NATIVE PLANTS COME IN TO CREATE A NEW AND DIVERSE NATIVE FOREST.” DANDENONG RANGES | CELEBRATING OUR ACHIEVEMENTS 2015-17

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OPENING OUR EYES TO THE SPIRIT OF THE DANDENONGS The Wurundjeri Council’s Bullen Bullen Cultural Tours are using Indigenous storytelling to teach the community how to care for the environment.

“B

y simply pulling off the sap as it falls you can eat it like honey ... along with the water found in fern roots you could easily survive in the bush for a few days.”

At the Bullen Bullen Cultural Tours, 20-year-old Wurundjeri man, Jayden Mills, explains how the sap of the Mountain Ash tree is a great source of food if you find yourself lost in depths of the Australian bushland. With guidance from Wurundjeri Elder Diane Kerr, Jayden walks participants through the rich biodiversity of the Sherbrooke forest, explaining how his ancestors lived from and respected this bushland.

“THE TOURS PROVIDE MEANINGFUL

The Bullen Bullen Cultural Tours were created by the Wurundjeri Council with support from The Port Phillip and Westernport CMA. The Bullen Bullen Cultural Tours, held through Sherbrooke Forest in the Dandenong Ranges, were designed to educate visitors on Indigenous culture and Australia’s biodiversity. The Council received a $150,000 grant to develop, run and market the tours.

TO SHARE THAT THEY ARE PROUD

Michelle Mills from the Wurundjeri Council said that the tours are about sharing knowledge which has been handed down from their ancestors. “We’ve always spoken about caring for Country: if you care for Country, Country looks after you. That is the way we see it. We want people to understand, respect and protect this Country,” Michelle said. DANDENONG RANGES | CELEBRATING OUR ACHIEVEMENTS 2015-17

The tours address conservation, biodiversity and Indigenous storytelling, sharing the cultural and environmental values of the Dandenong Ranges bushland. They aim to teach visitors about the environmental, cultural and spiritual values of the area, through the eyes of the original owners: the Wurundjeri. They also provide an opportunity for the Wurundjer Elders to pass on knowledge to younger members.

EMPLOYMENT AND ARE A GREAT WAY TO INVOLVE OUR YOUNG PEOPLE. IT GIVES THEM SOMETHING OF. THEY LEARN SO MUCH FROM THEIR ELDERS AND SHARE THIS GIFT OF KNOWLEDGE WITH THE COMMUNITY.” The tours run three times a week from the Grants Picnic Ground in Sherbrooke Forest. Special tours are offered for school groups with activities including painting with locally sourced Ochre. For details visit wurundjericulturaltours.com.au

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WEEDS WITHOUT BORDERS A $450,000 project that took a holistic view of the weed problem in the Dandenongs has helped native plants and animals flourish.

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o-ordinated by the Community Weed Alliance of the Dandenongs (CWAD), the project involved assessing the extent of the environmental weed problem in the Dandenong Ranges and tackling the issue from many angles, to make a significant difference to the biodiversity of the area. The project addressed weed infestations across the Dandenong Ranges by mapping threatened Cool Temperate Rainforests, mitigating the threat of the environmental weeds along waterways, extensive revegetation of native trees and plants, community education and working with 120 private land owners to help them remove weeds from their property. CWAD Secretary Anne Elizabeth said that although government agencies were doing some fantastic weed removal programs in the Dandenongs, it could be nullified by re-invasion of weeds from neighboring private properties. “Weeds don’t have any borders and nature doesn’t have any boundaries. As far as nature is concerned it is all one picture,” Anne said. CWAD worked with local councils, Parks Victoria and private landowners to treat weeds including Tradescantia fluminensis (also known as Wandering Trad), Ivy, Holly, Red Cestrum, Sycamore Maples and Sweet Pittosporum.

DANDENONG RANGES | CELEBRATING OUR ACHIEVEMENTS 2015-17

To understand the extent of the weed problem, CWAD started by mapping places where the endangered Ecological Vegetation Class, Cool Temperate Rainforest was threatened by Wandering Trad: an environmental weed that forms thick mats of leaves and stems along stream banks, suppressing the growth of all other plants.

“WANDERING TRAD IS THE BIGGEST THREAT TO THE CREEKS IN THE DANDENONGS,” ANNE SAID. “IF THE CREEKS ARE UNHEALTHY NATIVE ANIMALS LIKE PLATYPUS CAN’T SURVIVE AND IN THE LONG TERM IT WILL AFFECT THE HEALTH OF ALL WATERWAYS IN THE PORT PHILLIP BAY CATCHMENT.” CWAD mapped infestations in cool temperate rainforests along 55 kilometres of creeks and waterways including Sassafras Creek, Perrins Creeks, Clematis Creek, Ferny Creek, Menzies Creek, Hardy Gully, Monbulk Creek, Pound Creek, Gully Creek and Monbulk Creek to Birdsland Reserve: many of which crossed private land.

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An interactive digital map was created, to show the extent of the infestation within the cool temperate rainforest of the Dandenong Ranges (see the website: www.cwad.org.au). Once the infestation was assessed, the Wandering Trad was targeted and treated on both public and private land. “We realised to protect the creeks that we needed to stop environmental weed infestations from both public and private property owners,” CWAD Treasurer Jane Hollands explained. CWAD coordinated a program to work directly with landowners, helping them to identify and treat the weeds and understand the significant vegetation and native habitat on their property. They also provided detailed weed reports and support in treating and removing weeds.

“THE WEED PROBLEM IS SO OVERWHELMING FOR MANY PRIVATE LAND HOLDERS SO THIS GRANT HAS BEEN FANTASTIC,” MS HOLLANDS SAID. “IT’S AMAZING HOW MANY

The result has been an immediate return of native vegetation such kangaroo apple and prickly currant-bush and Victorian Christmas bush. CWAD also observed Powerful Owls, wombats, ringtail possums and echidnas in the area. “I used to drive around the Dandenongs and say why doesn’t someone do something? And now I am part of doing something,” Ms Elizabeth said. “It has been an education on how to tackle these problems as a member of the community and how you can affect change. You can achieve amazing things if you all work together.” The next step for CWAD will be to continue monitoring the success of the project, continue working with landowners to remove weeds, extend community education programs and support the CSIRO in the release of the biological control for Wandering Trad. “This weed problem has been 100 years in the making in the Dandenongs so there is no quick fix. It requires a long-term vision and to good cooperation between agencies and the local community,” CWAD President Bill Incoll said.

PEOPLE ALREADY REALISED THAT THERE WAS A PROBLEM BUT DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO PUT THAT NEED TOGETHER WITH PRACTICAL ASSISTANCE.”

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— PORT PHILLIP AND WESTERNPORT CATCHMENT MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY LEVEL 1, 454-472 NEPEAN HIGHWAY, FRANKSTON, VIC, 3199 03 8781 7900 WWW.PPWCMA.VIC.GOV.AU ENQUIRIES@PPWCMA.VIC.GOV.AU

Dandenong Ranges Wildlife Recovery, Weed Control & Fuel Reduction Program Achievemen  

The rolling hills, weathered gullies and dense rainforests of the Dandenong Ranges conjure fond memories of Sunday drives and weekends away...

Dandenong Ranges Wildlife Recovery, Weed Control & Fuel Reduction Program Achievemen  

The rolling hills, weathered gullies and dense rainforests of the Dandenong Ranges conjure fond memories of Sunday drives and weekends away...

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