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Nicole Garfi

Demonstration field days a success for Gorse management

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The Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT) hosted four demonstration field days across April and May where members of local communities came to learn about gorse management. Demonstrations where held in Portland, Daylesford, the Bellarine Peninsular and the Bass Coast and saw 70 people in attendance. The field days also saw a number of environmental organisations represented including local councils, CMAs, Parks, Landcare groups and the CFA.

The field days were a great success with members of the public being able to talk to relevant environment professionals about their own gorse journeys and watch a demonstration of best practice gorse removal. Information about the annual community grants program was also discussed at length and the field days acted as a networking opportunity for those interested in applying together. “Great to see everyone at the Gorse Management field day… it was a great opportunity to catch up and network. The demonstration by John with his EcoBlade generated a lot of interest,” said Margaret Thomas who attended the field day in Daylesford.

The VGT would like to thank the landowners, Landcare groups and contractors involved in the demonstration days including Southwest Environmental Alliance, Westvic Earthmoving, Tony Demarco from The Farm Daylesford, Regional Vic Farm Services, VGT committee member John Cable, the Bellarine Landcare group, Precision Slashing & Groundcare, the Bass Coast Landcare group and McFee Tree services. These knowledgeable individuals and organisations made each field day possible. The VGT is very thankful.

There are no more field days planned for 2019 but there are still 3 days left for grant submissions. For further enquiries, please contact Brydie Murrihy, Communications, Community Engagement and Extension Officer, Victorian Gorse Taskforce on 0428 335 705 or at vgt@cva.org.au

Upcoming field days to assist community members with controlling Gorse

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The Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT) has released the upcoming dates and locations of the Gorse management field days being held across the state in April and May 2019. The four locations include Portland, Daylesford, the Bellarine Peninsular and the Bass Coast. All field days will occur between 10am – 12pm with complimentary food and drinks to finish. There will be a practical demonstration of best practice gorse removal, information on the annual community grants program opening in May and time to talk with industry professionals.

“The field days are an important opportunity for local residents to learn everything they need to know to manage their gorse,” said Peter Everist, the chair of the VGT Committee. “It’s also a time to discuss our community grants program where they can apply for funds to help support their individual projects.”

The dates of the field days in order of occurrence are as follows:

  • Portland: Tuesday the 30th of April at the back of the BP OPT on the corner of Wilsons Road and the Henty Hwy
  • Daylesford: Thursday the 2nd of May at ‘The Farm Daylesford’ at 626 Daylesford-Malmsbury Road
  • Bellarine: Saturday the 11th of May at 135 Pt Richards Road in Portarlington
  • Bass Coast: Tuesday the 14th of May at the southern end of Gap Road on Phillip Island (across from the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit)

Registration for the field days are encouraged and are completed via this link: https://vgtfielddays.eventbrite.com.au

For further enquiries, please contact Brydie Murrihy, Communications, Community Engagement and Extension Officer, Victorian Gorse Taskforce on 0428 335 705 or at vgt@cva.org.au

Gorse Best Practice Guide and Glovebox Identification Guide released

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The Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT) has recently produced two resources to assist people in the identification of gorse and on best practice management. An updated ‘Gorse Best Practice Guide’ and the creation of a ‘Gorse Glovebox Identification Guide’ join the resources available for the community. These resources will be available at up-coming field days and the upcoming ‘Gorse control demonstration days ’to be held by the VGT around Victoria.

The Gorse Best Practice Guide details information on plant biology, noxious weed classification, landholder responsibilities, impacts and control methods of gorse. With detailed descriptions of plant biology of gorse with photo references and a map of Victoria indicating the noxious weed classification for each catchment. These have been detailed from the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 (CaLP Act). Most importantly, the guide explains the main components of a successful gorse control program and the various best practice control methods. The Gorse Best Practice Guide is a perfect tool for concerned Victorians who have the gorse on their properties or in their community.

The second resource is a Gorse Glovebox Identification Guide that compares gorse with common Victorian native plants with similar characteristics. For simplicity, clear pictures of gorse is compared to 4 native plants including the flower, seed pod, leaves/thorns and seedling stages. The native plants include the Hedge Wattle, Prickly Moses, Sweet Bursaria and the Tree Violet. This guide is a quick and simple way for the community to identify gorse in the field.

Community lead action first starts with education of the problem. The VGT is confident that these resources will improve general knowledge of gorse and confidence in the community of appropriate control methods of the noxious weed.

Both resources have been offered and distributed to all local Councils in Victoria for knowledge and distribution. They are also available electronically on the VGT website: https://www.vicgorsetaskforce.com.au

For further enquiries or to receive hard copies of these resources please contact Brydie Murrihy, Communications, Community Engagement and Extension Officer, Victorian Gorse Taskforce on info@vicgorsetaskforce.com.au

Progress Report 2017/18 released

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The Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT) distributed over $90,000 through our Community Grants Project in 2017/18 to 15 local projects across Victoria tackling gorse. These local projects saw 90 properties take up gorse control with on ground incentives, resulting in 309 hectares of gorse works completed over the year. Additionally, 85 new landholders signed up to 3-year Voluntary Management Agreements.

With funding support provided by the National Agriculture White Paper Project, the VGT expanded their capacity to promote and support gorse control works in 2017/18. Results accomplished through this funding include:

White Paper funding support also saw a pilot mapping project undertaken on the Atlas of Living Australia to collate and ground truth records of gorse in the Moyne and Warrnambool local government areas. This project will be expanded in 2019 across Victoria through a series of community forums that aim to introduce the Atlas of Living Australia to communities as a powerful tool in biodiversity projects, both for on ground operations and project planning. This will allow the VGT and local communities to further define the extent of gorse within Victoria.

The VGT welcomed Heidi Snow as their first-ever Communications, Community Engagement and Extension Officer.

Heidi undertook a series of tasks to raise community awareness of gorse and support integrated gorse control across Victoria, including:

  • Representing the VGT at expos and field days.
  • Updating resources and releasing the new VGT Gorse Best Practice Guide.
  • Developing and publishing two issues of Gorse Talk, the new VGT biannual newsletter.
  • Liaising with and supporting stakeholders.
  • Launching 2 pilot VGT Extension Projects on the Bellarine Peninsula and in the Hepburn Region.

The aim of the Extension Projects was to build the capacity of landholders and the community to confidently manage gorse. Extension Projects were run in partnership with local Landcare networks and councils to facilitate community connections and create ongoing support networks following the end of the projects.

Landowners in the target areas were sent material inviting them to visit a drop-in information session where they could discuss the project, access resources on gorse management, meet the extension officer and request a free property visit and gorse assessment. On request landholders received a brief property appraisal containing a map noting any gorse found on the property and tailored advice to their particular circumstances. Gorse was also surveyed for and mapped where present on areas of public land, with findings provided back to relevant public land managers.

The VGT Progress Report 2017/18 has been published and is available for download.

For further enquiries please contact Paige McDonald, Executive Officer, Victorian Gorse Taskforce on info@vicgorsetaskforce.com.au.

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