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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.

Expression of Interest (EOI) – Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) Forums

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Opens: Tuesday 31 July 2018

Closes: Tuesday 4 September 2018

Is your group passionate about management invasive species? Are you interested in local biodiversity? Is your organisation involved in planning that needs to consider the natural ecosystem?

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

With funding provided under the National Agriculture White Paper Project, the Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT) is seeking to engage service providers/contractors to host a series of forums geographically across Victoria during early 2019 to showcase its applications in on ground operations and in a strategic project planning role.

Applicants can be councils, community groups, public sector or business that are interested in learning about an exciting, free and easy to use application that is available. It will assist in building capability, skill and confidence in employees/the community in the various applications the ALA can assist with.

If you’re interested in the opportunity to host a forum, please call or email VGT executive officer, Paige McDonald on 0437 798 148 or paige.mcdonald@ecodev.vic.gov.au.

Submit your application to paige.mcdonald@ecodev.vic.gov.au or info@vicgorsetaskforce.com.au by the end of business day on the Tuesday 4 September 2018.

Guidelines and applications can be found here.

VGT Extension Program commences on the Bellarine Peninsula

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The Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT) are running a community extension program on the Bellarine Peninsula in partnership with local community groups, the City of Greater Geelong and the State Government of Victoria.

The extension program will assist towards the goals of the Victorian Gorse Control Strategy 2014-19, raising awareness of gorse and endorsing the community-led approach to weed management. The aim of the extension program is to provide landowners with resources to confidently and voluntarily manage infestations of gorse on their property.

Despite the Bellarine Peninsula having had a steady decline in the amount of gorse over the years, there are still properties with moderate to high infestations. This has identified the area as a good target for extension services to keep up a steady reduction.

A contributing factor in the decline of gorse is the City of Greater Geelong, Bellarine Bayside Foreshore Committee of Management and VicRoads leading the way in treating gorse on public land. It can also be largely attributed to changing land use practices on private property (e.g. a growing viticulture industry and housing development), as well as strong community advocacy of the Bellarine Landcare Group, Bellarine Catchment Network and local ‘Friends of’ groups who have gorse removal as a top priority for their activities.

It is hoped that the addition of extension services will lead to an even greater reduction in the extent of gorse on the Bellarine Peninsula.

The extension program will offer landholders within the target area free property assessments, including an aerial property map detailing any gorse infestations located and tailored advice on gorse management for their land. A series of open community information sessions will also be offered to provide guideance to the broader Bellarine Peninsula community.

A second extension project is due to start in the Hepburn Shire in coming weeks. Keep an eye on our website or Facebook page for updates.

Targeted extension programs have been run by the Victorian Serrated Tussock Working Party for a number of years, and have proven to increase landholder capacity and voluntary control of noxious weeds.

If you would like to be involved in the project, please contact Heidi Snow, VGT Extension Officer, on 0428 335 705

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

Biological Control

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Biological control (or biocontrol) uses specialised natural enemies (biocontrol agents), to help control invasive species. Biocontrol is not a “silver bullet”, but it can play an important role in the integrated management of gorse. Farmers, natural resource managers, community volunteers and others contribute to biocontrol efforts by identifying infestations suitable for biocontrol, releasing biocontrol agents, monitoring biocontrol agent release sites, and recording field observations of agents as they spread across the landscape. Four biological control agents have been released for gorse:

  1. Gorse seed weevil Exapion ulicis
  2. Gorse spider mite Tetranychus lintearius
  3. Gorse thrips Sericothrips staphylinus
  4. Gorse soft shoot moth Agonopterix umbellana

In the long term, these four agents are expected to reduce gorse vigour and reproduction. The first two, gorse seed weevil and gorse spider mite are now widespread. Gorse thrips has been widely released, but population growth and dispersal appears to be slow.

The fourth biocontrol agent to be introduced, gorse soft shoot moth, is now established and abundant at several sites in Tasmania. Recent efforts involving scientists, farmers, public land managers and volunteers, has focused on collecting and releasing gorse soft shoot moths from Tasmania to supplement mainland releases.

To support ongoing biocontrol efforts, Agriculture Victoria and the Atlas of Living Australia have developed an on-line resource and smartphone app; the Australian Biocontrol Hub. The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) is a national on-line biodiversity database that contains tens of millions of user-submitted species occurrence records from field observations, collections and surveys. This resource has tremendous potential for biocontrol, as anyone is able to:

  1. record biocontrol agent release and establishment data;
  2. capture observations of biocontrol agent spread;
  3. ensure biocontrol agent distribution data is readily accessible, and
  4. access biocontrol information and references to support local biocontrol efforts.

A custom-made Biocontrol Hub app for Apple and Android phones facilitates the collection of data from the field, and makes the resources of the ALA readily available on smartphones.

To learn more about the gorse biocontrol project, or any of the other 27 weed biocontrol projects, go to https://biocollect.ala.org.au/biocontrolhub, and click on the “Go to biocontrol projects” button on the Hub home-page.

To download the Biocontrol Hub app go to Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=au.org.ala.biocontrolhub&hl=en

or the App store:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/biocontrol-hub/id1294139917?mt=8

 

The Australian Biocontrol Hub is supported by the Atlas of Living Australia, and is funded by Agriculture Victoria, Meat and Livestock Australia and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit Programme.

Participate in the VGT Gorse Survey and WIN!

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The Victorian Gorse Taskforce (VGT) has developed a survey to gain an understanding of the types of support that communities need from VGT to manage gorse in their local area. The VGT uses government investment to establish and support community-led projects, which aim to eradicate gorse where possible across Victoria. Gorse is a highly invasive weed. It can adversely impact on agriculture, waterways, amenity and native vegetation, as well as harbour pests such as, rabbits and foxes.

In Victoria gorse is:

  • Regionally prohibited in the East Gippsland catchment
  • Regionally restricted in the Mallee catchment
  • Regionally controlled in all other Victorian catchments

RM Consulting Group have been engaged by VGT to run the survey, which seeks information about work done on your property to control gorse.

The results from this survey will help the VGT identify opportunities where we can provide better support to you or your networks. If you know or suspect gorse on your property please take five minutes to fill out the survey so the VGT can work to provide the right support.

The survey should not take any more than 5 to 10 minutes to complete and you can go in the draw to win 1 of 3 $50 Woolworths vouchers. The survey can be accessed via this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VGTsurvey

 

This survey will close 5pm, 19 March 2018.

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.