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Catchment News

25 July 2013

Community plans a win for the environment

COMMUNITY LAUNCH: from left Corangamite CMA CEO Gareth Smith, Corangamite CMA board chairman Alice Knight and Victorian Environment and Climate Change Minister Ryan Smith.

A team effort has produced two new plans for future environment management in the region.

Community environment networks, indigenous groups, government agencies, industry representatives and local landholders have worked together to produce the Corangamite Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS), and the Corangamite Landcare Support Plan, one of the strategy’s first actions.

Environment and Climate Change Minister the Hon. Ryan Smith, at the RCS community launch in Geelong, thanked the many people involved for their contribution in developing the strategy and plan, and said fundamental to managing and protecting our natural resources was community connection and involvement.

The RCS 2013-2019 is a blueprint for environment management in the Corangamite region for the next six years, and the Corangamite Landcare Support plan is the strategy's first action completed.

Mr Smith said teamwork at all levels of government and the community had pulled together to produce these plans to support the environment action happening on the ground.

“In developing its RCS the Corangamite CMA invited input from the community. As a result, this document highlights the importance of the working together on joint priorities in natural resource management.

“Integrated catchment management brings together people, ideas and practices across land tenure boundaries to improves the coordination of on-ground action to maximise the benefit to the environment.” he said.

In recognising its role in supporting Landcare and community environment groups the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority has developed a five-year Landcare Support Plan.

This plan supports the 150 regional Landcare groups, with approximately 4000 members, carrying out work on the ground. A community survey conducted as part of developing the plan determined four outcomes the groups want to achieve in the next five years. This included strengthening partnerships, increasing investment, group membership, skills and knowledge.

The Corangamite RCS and Landcare Support Plan are on the Corangamite CMA website.

Vision for our catchment released

Corangamite CMA chairman Alice Knight wants everyone behind a vision for the region’s natural resources, outlined in the new Regional Catchment Strategy 2013-2019 (RCS).

Ms Knight said community involvement was vital to achieving its vision - a healthy Corangamite catchment valued by engaged communities.

“At the heart of the strategy is the need to encourage the community to participate in the protection, restoration and enhancement of natural resources across the Corangamite landscape,” she said.

“A motivated community, combined with sound science, increased knowledge and adequate resources, is essential for improving the catchment’s health and productivity. More than two-thirds of the catchment is private land managed by rural landholders, and their participation, investment and knowledge is vital.”

Ms Knight said she hoped the strategy encouraged investment by other stakeholders to leverage government and private investment.

“We are inextricably linked to our catchment and we have a shared responsibility to act to ensure that the environment is healthy and supports our prosperity and wellbeing, and that future generations can enjoy the benefits. Together we will make a difference.”

Click here to download Corangamite RCS 2013-1019 or for more information phone 5232 9100.

New regional plan for Landcare

A new plan for Landcare in Corangamite supports the aims of community involvement and landscape change, as outlined in the Corangamite RCS.

The Corangamite Landcare Support Plan 2013 is a five-year strategy to support Landcare and community environment networks in our region, consisting of 150 groups and 4000 members.

The plan was developed in consultation with the community a four broad goals have become the focus. These are:

• strengthening partnerships
• increasing investment
• increasing membership
• increasing skills and knowledge.

The plan is available on the Corangamite CMA website.






Bypass gives native fish a new lease on life

FISH BYPASS: A new fish passage in Geelong's lower Barwon River is helping fish access the river's upper reaches by bypassing a weir built more than 75 years ago.

Fish can now access more of the Barwon River thanks to a specially engineered passageway in Geelong’s lower Barwon River.

Corangamite CMA has completed a vertical slot fishway at the lower tidal barrage to enable fish to migrate upstream for breeding.

The barrage was built more than 75 years ago to prevent saltwater moving up the river. But the large concrete weir has also prevented migratory fish from accessing the upper reaches of the river, until now.

The fish passageway is made of a series of cement culverts and runs through a newly cut channel in the river. Fish are attracted to running water at the opening designed to entice them to enter.

Corangamite CMA senior river health officer Denis Lovric said smaller native fish like estuary perch and black bream would hopefully spread upstream, while surveys have already shown mullet, tupong and galaxids using the passageway.

“Fish were observed moving upstream within an hour of turning the fishway on so we’re really excited about this project,” Mr Lovric said.

“Upstream fish passage is an essential biological requirement for most native fish species and is particularly important at tidal barriers for juvenile fish to move upstream and away from predators,” he said.

Surveying will continue later this year to further determine the effect of the new fish passage.

The project, which was two years in the planning and took two weeks to construct, was funded by the Victorian Government and Fisheries Victoria, with support from VR Fish and Parks Victoria.



Young environmentalist joins advisory group

SHAPING OUR REGION: Lizzie Corke is on Corangamite CMA's new community advisory group.


A past winner of the Prime Minister’s Environmentalist of the year award will join the Corangamite CMA’s new Community Advisory Group.

Lizzie Corke is one of 12 members on the new committee established to help inform natural resource management decisions for the Corangamite region.

Ms Corke owns and operates the Great Ocean Ecolodge and Conservation Ecology Centre at Cape Otway, which has a world renowned wildlife conservation program and won awards for eco tourism and education.

The group, which will meet up to four times a year, also includes NRM community members and CMA board members, and representatives from Landcare, WestVic Dairy, Wathaurong Aboriginal Cooperative, and Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

Ms Corke said she looked forward to meeting and sharing ideas with fellow industry representatives to have a say on the region’s future.

“I think this region has been really good at working together in a strategic way, and I think this group will continue to support that good work,” she said.

“It’s a chance to learn from so many others who are also keen to make some good things happen for our region, so I’m really excited about being part of that.”

Ms Corke said her interests were in community engagement, pest plant and animal control, establishing wildlife coridors, and developing a coordinated approach to conservation.

With husband Shayne Neal, Ms Corke started their vision for the Cape Otway ecology centre in 2000 after taking over a former dairy farm and out paddock.

The centre started running conservation programs in 2005 and has since grown to include koala and tiger quoll protection projects, habitat restoration projects, a wildlife rehabilitation facility and more recently, the Manna Gum Reserve aimed at creating a habitat corridor for Australian wildlife.

Corangamite CMA board chairman Alice Knight said the advisory group would allow the authority to tap into invaluable community, agency, industry and specialist knowledge.

“The group’s responsibility will be to work in partnership with the Corangamite CMA, community members and other organisations to implement the authority’s Regional Catchment Strategy and various supporting strategies and plans,” Ms Knight said.

“We’re keen to improve how we work with the community, and establishing this group is part of strengthening community relationships and involvement in natural resource management.”




Regional Landcare champions recognised

RECOGNITION: Award winners, with Corangamite CMA chairman Alice Knight and Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay.


Innovative Cobden farmers, a passionate coastal ambassador and a school keen to develop environmentally conscious students all featured among this year’s Corangamite Landcare Award winners.

The annual awards recognised nine winners from all parts of the catchment during a presentation at Warncoort.

The award for innovation in sustainable farming went to Cobden’s Craig and Tania Davis. The couple has developed an effluent management system for their 600-cow dairy farm, significantly improving their soil health and reducing their reliance on fertiliser.

Surf Coast and Inland Plains Network coordinator Many Coulson received the Corangamite Landcare Coordinator Award for her contribution to the network, as well as the Victorian Serrated Tussock Working Party.

Birregurra Primary School won the Junior Landcare Team Award. The school’s Landcare Champions group is involved in testing water in Barwon River and Birregurra Creek, learning about the effects of grey water runoff, and has also created activities around littering and the region’s endangered animals.

The year’s top individual Landcare honour went to Moorabool Catchment Landcare Group president Simon Cook, who has helped quadruple his group’s membership base since taking over in November 2011 and was instrumental in gaining federal funding for pest plant control and biodiversity projects along the Moorabool.

Other winners are listed below and a booklet is available with information about each winner – click here.

Member for Western Victoria Simon Ramsay recognised the nine award winners and two honour roll inductees at the event. He also thanked volunteers who chose to avoid the spotlight.

"The efforts of those quiet achievers are more than worthy of recognition and I thank those volunteers for their dedication and commitment to improving and protecting our environment. Landcare would not be the same without them,” he said.

Winners were:

Individual Landcarer Award – Simon Cook
Landcare Innovation and Sustainable Agriculture Award – Craig and Tanya Davis
Young Landcare Leader Award – Ammie Jackson
Corangamite Landcare Coordinator Award – Mandy Coulson
Junior Landcare Award – Birregurra Primary School Landcare Champion Club
Corangamite Community Group Award –Moorabool Catchment Landcare Group
Corangamite Landcare Network Award – Woady Yaloak Catchment Group.
Coastcare Community Award – Bellarine Catchment Network, Swan Bay Environment Association and the Borough of Queenscliffe
Landcare Agency Partnership Award – Barwon Water
Corangamite Landcare Honour Roll Inductees – National Landcare Network’s Roger Hardley and Bellarine Landcare Group’s Geoff McFarlane.




The people behind the Gellibrand River

BOOK: A new book showcases the people and projects helping protect the mighty Gellibrand River.

Judy Spafford has arguably spent more time beside the Gellibrand River than anyone else in the Corangamite region.

She knows its twists and turns, its changes depending on the tide, and more importantly, its fragility as a water system without people behind the scenes caring for it.

Ms Spafford is a volunteer EstuaryWatch monitor and one of the many local faces of this important Otways waterway who feature in a new book, The Gellibrand River: A community story.

The book highlights the community members who devote their time, energy and passion to the Gellibrand River to ensure it remains healthy and flowing for future generations. People like Chapple Vale dairy farmer Jeff Jennings, Princetown tourism operator Matt Bowker and the Carlisle River Community Group and primary school.

The Gellibrand River has been a focus of the Corangamite CMA’s waterway restoration efforts since early 2000, working with landowners to remove weeds and willows, fence off the river to cattle and replant native revegetation.

The results have included happy farmers who can see the production benefits for their properties and business, indications of a native fish resurgence in the river, and improved water quality.

Download The Gellibrand River: A community story to read more.

Landowner protects coastal vegetation

PROTECTING SALTMARSH: Corangamite CMA Coastal Project Officer Jannes Demetrious with Bremlea landholder Russell Mumme.

For years, Breamlea property owner Russell Mumme has been unsure how best to make use of his unique piece of land along the coast.

Much of his 80 hectares on the Thompson River is covered in saltmarsh vegetation and is not suited to traditional farming pursuits because of its swampy and salty nature.

This unique feature prompted Mr Mumme to consider other options and led him to Corangamite CMA’s Saltmarsh Protection Project.

This project provides funding to private or public landholders who have the threatened saltmarsh on their properties and are willing to sign an agreement to maintain and protect their vegetation for the next five years.

The project, running along Victoria’s coast from the Glenelg-Hopkins region in the west to the Gippsland region in the east, involves 49 sites and 1132 hectares. The aim is protecting the vegetation known to be a critical habitat for the endangered Orange-bellied Parrot.

Mr Mumme said he knew there was saltmarsh on his property but was interested to learn more about the different varieties Corangamite CMA staff found.

He said protecting the site was an easy decision given the saltmarsh areas had little production value otherwise.

“We tried growing some native trees in a couple of sections of the saltbush but have never been successful. One of the problems was we couldn’t get freshwater down to the area often enough,” he said.

“We’re pretty enthusiastic but the farm has never really been productive for grazing cattle, less than half is probably pastoral land,” he said.

Mr Mumme shares the property with his mother Rene Wolfe, who has planted 2000 trees and is also passionate about preserving the property’s conservation value.

As part of the management plan they have already fenced 500 metres of saltmarsh next to the main road and erected signs about protecting the area.

Mr Mumme’s long-term vision is for a tourism venture, with bungalow-style accommodation where visitors can stay and appreciate the area and the saltmarsh vegetation.

He said there were hidden parts of his property worth exploring.

“The creek meanders in through the Saltbush and we’ve been out on the dinghy and seen it, it’s just beautiful, there’s lots of different colours,” he said.




Major General launches regional soil plan

LAUNCH: Former Australian Major General Michael Jeffery, centre, with Woady Yallock Catchment Group's Danny Laffan, left, and Rod Kennedy at the launch of the new south-west soils plan.


Former Australian Governor General Michael Jeffery was in the Corangamite region to meet farmers and help promote a new soils plan for the south-west.

Major General Jeffery is now the Federal Government Advocate for Soil Health, promoting the critical role soil plays in sustainable farming and the environment.

The new South-West Victorian Agricultural Soils Plan is a document to help the region’s farming community. It identifies landowners’ needs in striving for robust, productive soils, with the goal of improving agricultural productivity and biodiversity to help landscapes withstand climate change impact.

Major General Jeffery’s visit, coordinated by the Corangamite CMA, included a stop at Geelong’s Marcus Oldham College before heading to Troy and Paula Missen’s Werneth property, the site of a soil health trial between local farmers and industry groups.

Speakers included representatives from Landcare, farming and industry groups, universities and government agencies who share a goal to improve the condition of agricultural soils in south-west Victoria.




Project generates unexpected benefits

BEFORE & AFTER: Weed removal was a success around a disused weir on the eastern Moorabool River.


A project in our catchment’s northern corner has sparked the interest of landholders living along the Moorabool River.

Property owners on the Moorabool’s eastern branch are keen to take part in waterway improvement projects after seeing the outcome of a weed removal project around a weir on the Moorabool River at Bunding.

The Corangamite CMA partnered with Barwon Water on the weir rehabilitation project. Barwon Water manages the land around the weir, known as Railway Weir, presumably for once supplying water to steam engines.

Corangamite CMA river health officer Wayne McLaren said improving three hectares around the weir was a great outcome, with landholder interest an unexpected bonus.

“Everyone around that area has seen the work and how good it looks and they want to get on board with it now – landholders that have previously been hard to reach,” he said.

“It’s a really good result because we’ll be able to establish links further upstream by improving the streamside with the native vegetation.

Clearing the weeds will make way for the thick native understory to thrive and spread, with the aim of improving the river’s water quality and establishing wildlife habitat.

This work is in addition to other fencing and revegetation projects the Corangamite CMA has completed with private landholders in the East Moorabool catchment, amounting to six kilometres of restorative work.

Barwon Water helps fund these types of projects annually to improve water quality and waterway health within its water supply catchments.

The Corangamite CMA is also looking to form a partnership with Moorabool Catchment Landcare group for future projects.




Budding artists inspired by our environment

ART: Alvie Primary School's Erica Winiata won the upper primary section of the Corangamite CMA Waterwatch art competition. She is pictured with art teacher Jess Gibson.


An artwork exhibition coinciding with World Environment Day had close to 3000 visitors during its month-long display in Colac.

The competition, through Corangamite CMA’s Waterwatch program, inspired more than 250 entries in just its second year.

The water-themed exhibition - Anything and everything to do with water – encouraged many schools to get involved, enabling students to portray their local environment through art. The competition also included an open section

Colac and district primary schools’ art program coordinator Jess Gibson said students focused on local river ecosystems and ideas from their local environment to create mixed media artworks.

“They discussed their local environment and some of the older children extended the theme to take on a global message. One boy’s work was penguins on a piece of ice, a reference to global warming.

“I like to involve the children’s work in public exhibitions. Exhibiting their work publicly is exciting and for them it’s the perfect location to show off their artwork to the local community,” she said.

Competition winners were:

Open section: Shirley Drayton – Underwater scene

Primary section: Delacombe Primary School, Ballarat – Many journeys, many waters

Primary section individual winners:
• Erica Winiata Alvie Primary School – Anything and everything to do with water
• Indigo Dixon Deans Marsh Primary School – Anything and everything to do with water.


For more photos, visit our Facebook page




Community profiling survey

The Corangamite CMA now has a better understanding of the people and groups it works with in driving environmental change.

Consultants for the authority have finished assessing the views of more than 600 rural landholders through a phone survey designed to determine landholder views on their natural environment.

The survey inquired into participants’ farm activity, environmental assets, concerns for the local environment, and plans to improve their natural environment, among a host of other questions.

Corangamite CMA chief executive Gareth Smith said focus groups would discuss the responses in more detail to ultimately help staff and stakeholders design and implement their projects.

“The more we know about our rural landholders, their properties and their views, the better we can support them in protecting and enhancing our natural resources,” Mr Smith said.

The previous community profile study took place in 2006.




Coastal program in line for award

Corangamite CMA’s EstuaryWatch program is in contention for a Keep Australia Beautiful Victoria award.

The coastal monitoring program is up for the Community Government Partnership Award in recognition of the working relationship between EstuaryWatch volunteers and Corangamite CMA staff.

EstuaryWatch coordinator Rose Herben said the program was a prime example of how a partnership between the community and a government agency could achieve positive environment outcomes.

A judge for the awards toured the Princetown area, including the Gellibrand River, and learnt about the Princetown EstuaryWatch group’s monitoring program.

Winners will be acknowledged at an awards ceremony in Wycheproof on October 12.

To find what else is happening around estuaries in our catchment, see the lastest edition of EstuaryWatch news.




Look at what we do...

Find out more about Corangamite CMA projects and our goals for protecting and improving the health of our region. Our website also has lots of other brochures with information on what we do and how you can get involved in helping protect our beuatiful part of the world.


Corporate Plan


Projects Brochure




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