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Nicole Garfi

Atlas Of living Australia – Successful Applicants Announced

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Is your group passionate about management invasive species or are you interested in local biodiversity?

The Atlas of Living Australia is a free National citizen science mapping portal developed by the CSIRO. It that can be used to map, not only the distribution of gorse and other invasive species, but also the native biodiversity that shares the same ecosystem.

The Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT) would like to formally congratulate the 6 successful applicants from the recently run Expression of Interest for the opportunity to receive funding to host forums on the Atlas of Living Australia in Victoria in early 2019.

The successful groups are:

  • Indigo Shire Council
  • Bass Coast Landcare Network
  • Hepburn Shire Council
  • City of Greater Geelong
  • Moorabool Catchment Landcare Group
  • Southwest Environmental Alliance

With funding provided under the National Agriculture White Paper Project, the successful grant recipients have the opportunity to host a series of forums to showcase the applications of the Atlas of Living Australia in on ground operations and in strategic project planning, presented by Mr. Peter Brenton.

If you are interested in learning about an exciting, free and easy to use application that is available, please contact one of the above organisations to register your interest. It will assist in building capability, skill and confidence in employees/the community in the various applications the Atlas of Living Australia and how it can assist your local community.

Tax deduction entitlements for Primary Producers undertaking weed management

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Did you know that if you are running a primary production business on land in Australia you can claim tax deductions for various weed control?

Not everyone does and this prompted Lisette Mill, Network Facilitator at Basalt To Bay Landcare Network and outgoing committee member of the Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT), to champion the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to produce a clear fact sheet.

Lisette noted that farmers were asking about grants that used to exist, including for weed control in areas that are not deemed to have waterway or biodiversity values of public significance.

‘I had heard about the Landcare tax incentives, but couldn’t find an easy guide on the ATO website,’ said Lisette. ‘When I contacted them I was lucky to be passed on to the Director of Small Business and within 3 weeks of having a chat they had produced a fact sheet to explain what farmers could claim to establish shelterbelts, and my partnership with the ATO commenced.’

Since January 2017, four fact sheets have been created covering tree farming/forestry operations, Landcare and similar expenses, shelterbelts and fire preparedness. These fact sheets apply to any registered primary producer for tax purposes anywhere in Australia and can be found on the Basalt to Bay website here.

The most relevant fact sheet for the purposes of noxious weed control is entitled ‘Landcare and similar expenses for primary producers’. The fact sheet clearly outlines entitlement to claim income tax deductions for both capital costs and revenue expenses you incur on landcare, riparian and similar operations, including works for woody weed control.

The ‘Landcare and similar expenses for primary producers’ fact sheet and additional resources on gorse control can be found on the Gorse Management section of the VGT website.

Victorian Gorse Taskforce – Annual General Meeting 2018

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On Wednesday the 7th of November, the Victoria Gorse Taskforce (VGT) is holding their Annual General Meeting (AGM) at 1:30pm at the Ballarat Golf Club.

The VGT will conduct a short presentation outlining major activities and achievements that have occurred over the last 12 months and announce their 2018/19 grant recipients.

The VGT are also currently accepting nominations for committee positions in 2018/19, at which all current committee positions will be vacated, and a new committee will be formed.

The VGT are looking for highly motivated individuals, that have a passion for weed control and want to take positive actions to help local community groups implement integrated Gorse control programs across Victoria. As a member of the state-wide committee you will have a shared responsibility to oversee the coordination and implementation of the Victorian Gorse Control Strategy 2014-2019 (VGCS).

Nominations for the 2018/19 VGT committee will be accepted up until Wednesday 31st October 2018.

If you or your organisation are interested in attending, please RSVP to our Executive Officer, Paige McDonald on 0437 798 148 or by email to  info@vicgorsetaskforce.com.au  by Wednesday, 24th October 2018.

For more information about the VGT, visit the VGT web site to find more information and to view the Victorian Gorse Control Strategy.

Hepburn Extension area.

Extension Program commences in Hepburn

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The Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT) have begun their second community extension program in the Hepburn Shire, focused around the townships of Blampied and Kooroocheang, in partnership with community groups, Hepburn Shire Council and the State Government of Victoria.

The extension program is aimed at raising awareness of the detrimental impacts of gorse and promotion of best practice management in Victoria through a community-led approach.The aim is to provide landowners with resources to confidently and voluntarily manage infestations of gorse on their property, as well as gain an understanding of the extent of gorse infestations in the region.

According to the Blampied Kooroocheang Landcare Group, the targeted region is traditionally a farming area that is seeing a shift towards smaller lifestyle blocks. New landowners may be unaware of the detrimental impacts of gorse and over-all weed management. An extension program is ideal to provide them with the advice needed to confidently manage gorse.

“A shift in land use can be positive and is an ideal time to target an extension program as it could lead to a reduction in gorse in the region,” said Heidi Snow, Communications, Community Engagement and Extension Officer for the VGT. “But this will only be achieved if the whole community gets on board.”

There have been a number of gorse control works in the area in recent times, including programs administered by the Blampied Kooroocheang Landcare Group utilising funding from the VGT and other sources to tackle gorse on private land. Additionally, Hepburn Shire Council have reviewed their roadside weed management plan and are undertaking control works.

“The extension program is timely as it is being coordinated with Hepburn Shire’s roadside weed control”, said Brian Bainbridge, Biodiversity Officer at Hepburn Shire Council. “This will reinforce the outcomes of both programs”.

Landholders within the target area have been offered free property assessments, which includes an aerial property map detailing  gorse infestations located on their property and tailored advice on gorse management. In addition to letters, the VGT also attended the Daylesford Sunday Market to promote the program to the wider community.

Landholders are encouraged to contact Heidi Snow, VGT Extension Officer, on 0428335705 or info@vicgorsetaskforce.com.au, to be a part of this valuable community project.

Additional resources on gorse control can be found on the Gorse Management section of the VGT website.

Hepburn Extension area.

Victrack supporting community led gorse action

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In 2011, in my then role as a gorse project officer for the St Helens Landcare Group, I was contacted by a farmer who wanted to get some action on gorse adjoining his land at Koroit. The land in question was a 37m wide strip of former railway line. If I had known what a window into my future employment and project works this meeting would have – I might have taken more photos. But as it was then, I went through the process of confirming who the landholder was (Victrack) and seeking a control on the gorse that was at that time over 9 feet tall and infesting over 10 ha of crown land set aside for railway purposes back in 1890.

Gorse has a long history in the district of Koroit. An almost equal measure of gorse was present on the private land to the west of the railway land. Arguing about who was responsible for infesting what would have been pointless. The issue was how to control what was there and work a plan to keep it controlled over time.

Looking back at the photos I did take (especially one where the farmer demonstrates to senior Victrack staff who visited the site in 2013 how he used the prevailing wind to drift his spray across the top of the railway gorse to keep it off the fence line) I see a moment in time when people from many parts of the issue came together and agreed to resolve a problem that requires a long term effort. Since 2011 Victrack have paid for ongoing control of the gorse on their land at Koroit. As an organisation they have also made it very easy for people unsure about where Victrack managed land is to identify it by using the free Google Earth layer available following the link below the article.

But more importantly, the gorse site and a further 30km of former railway line running north between Koroit and Minhamite has become a significant biodiversity project of my employer since 2012 The Basalt to Bay Landcare Network. This project called “The Green Line” represents a milestone in many ways. First it established a connection between problem solving and Landcare in Moyne Shire with Victrack. That effort then resulted in The Green Line becoming one of Victracks’ foremost investments in biodiversity protection under their sponsorship of Landcare.

While Lot 36 Koroit will never be free of gorse, it does now have a chance of becoming what many thought it would never be – an integral part of restoring degraded land so other can learn how to do that using Landcare methods.

My thanks to Victrack for being involved and staying involved.

Rail land in geographic data form. This downloadable KMZ file is a snapshot of VicTrack’s land holdings in geographic data format viewable in Google Earth. To use it, please install Google Earth first, then download our KMZ file, unzip it and then install. The data shows only the rail corridor boundaries and does not show any lease boundaries, title references, buildings and platforms, third party utilities, tracks or bridges. It is a correct record as at July 2015. Please contact VicTrack directly to clarify any issues related to land use within the rail corridor.

Lisette Mill, Facilitator for The Basalt to Bay Landcare Network, SW Victoria.

Using herbicide for control of gorse

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There are many options available to attack gorse but what method you choose will depend on some of the following circumstances;

  • Machinery availability i.e. mulching equipment, spray unit, knapsack
  • Own expertise and labour available
  • Access to the treatment area i.e. terrain
  • Amount of money you have available to allocate to the job
  • Amount of area to be treated

The above photo shows the effectiveness of herbicide used on a large infestation of gorse that was sprayed in December 2016 by a contractor. The size of the plants were generally between 0.6 to 1.5 meters tall. Overall excellent results with 99% kill rate of gorse.

I have had experience in using both spraying and mulching control methods. I have found that generally there is only need to spray new seedlings  annually after the larger infestations are reduced or removed from the property. When undertaking gorse spraying I usually contact my local Landcare Group and borrow their high volume spray unit.

To get an effective kill of gorse you need to follow the directions for use of the chemical as detailed by the manufacturer, paying particular attention to rain events and the volume of the mix i.e. chemical to water ratio.

I have always mixed a red dye into the spray unit as you can readily see what you have sprayed. In areas where there are many gorse seedlings you can easily miss treating a few. If you miss it this year it will be most likely be twice as big next year and you will need to use more chemical.

The below photo shows gorse that has not had a 100% kill rate and one contributing factor may be that spray coverage over the gorse plants was not thorough enough. Herbicide manufacturer’s instructions for woody weeds are to provide: ’Thorough coverage of foliage to the point of run-off is essential, however avoid excess spraying which is wasteful of chemical’.

Brian Rowe – VGT committee member

Mulching as the first step in controlling gorse

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One of the dilemmas one faces when confronted with a head high impenetrable wall of gorse is …where do I start? As demonstrated at the field day conducted by the Tylden Landcare group the use of the eco blade technology in which the gorse is mulched and the trunks painted with herbicide is one way to start.

The accompanying photos show a roadside at Glenlyon where the Hepburn Shire has undertaken mulching with swinging head mulcher attached to a tractor to reduce dense gorse to a manageable level and a paddock on private property where an impenetrable wall of gorse has been returned to a lawn by initial mulching with heavy equipment followed by regular follow up with a ride on mulcher.

In both instances the stumps of gorse and the seedbank are still in the ground the areas will require  follow up treatment generally involving the use of herbicide on the freshly germinated plants or combined with the mulching to have a long term impact.

The National Best Practice Manual for Gorse published by the Australian Government in partnership the Tasmanian Government provides examples of the various options to return gorse infested land to production and emphasizes the importance of conducting follow up for at least two years before revegetating the land with grasses or shrubs.

John Cable – VGT committee member