The bushfires of 2019-20 have overshadowed our recent summers and have had an enormous impact on environmental volunteers, who dedicate their time to its protection, and bring out stress and anxiety about the realities of climate change.

The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA has collaborated with the Mind Room to host an eco anxiety forum for volunteers and facilitators from Landcare and community groups in the Port Phillip and Western Port region.

Participants will discuss the impact of environmental events and disasters (with a focus on recent fire events) and share ideas on how to re-empower volunteers and groups in the face of real-life climate change. You do not have to have been directly impacted by the fires to attend.

The forum will be run online over two sessions on Friday 13 November, 10am – 1pm and Friday 20 November, 10am – 1pm. Participants need to attend both sessions.

The Mind Room has been developing tailored group workshops for a range of mental health topics and has been researching the effects of eco-anxiety.

20 places are available for this event. Individuals can express their interest in attending using the form below and the PPWCMA will select 20 participants that represent the widest range of geographical locals from across the region.

A waiting list will also be established, so if you cannot attend this event please still complete the EOI and you will be contacted if a second forum is arranged at a later date.

This event is funded by the Victorian Government and was developed in collaboration with Landcare volunteers and NRM professionals.

47 new jobs are on offer to help deliver PPWCMA projects funded by the Victorian Government’s Working for Victoria initiative.

The following positions are being advertised and shortlisted within the next few days so potential candidates need to act NOW by registering themselves on the Sidekicker platform.

Agricultural and Environmental Works Crew Supervisors

There will be 6 Works Crew Supervisor roles that will be employed by labour hire company, Chandler Macleod, on behalf of the PPWCMA.

Six crews will be undertaking field work on farms and public land around the Port Phillip and Western Port region. Three of the crews will focus on providing agricultural and environmental services on private land, and the other three will focus on providing environmental services on public land.

The three Agricultural Works Crew Supervisor positions will each manage a crew of four, and the three Environmental Works Crew Member positions will each manage a crew of nine.

The jobs will be full time for six months, and the crews will undertake relevant training at the start of the program. The start date for the crews will be determined in line with government announcements regarding restrictions.

Applications are being accepted via Sidekicker. Interested candidates need to register with Sidekicker and select the following category and sub-category to receive a notification and an invitation to apply when applications open.

  • Category – Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
  • Sub-category – Manager

Applicants are welcome to apply for both the Agricultural and Environmental Works Crew Supervisor positions.

Agricultural and Environmental Works Crew Members

There will also be 39 Works Crew Member roles that will be employed by labour hire company, Chandler Macleod, on behalf of the PPWCMA.

Six crews will be undertaking field work on farms and public land around the Port Phillip and Western Port region. Three of the crews will focus on providing agricultural and environmental services on private land, and the other three will focus on providing environmental services on public land.

There are 12 Agricultural Works Crew Member positions (four on each crew plus a supervisor) and 27 Environmental Works Crew Member positions (nine on each crew plus a supervisor).

The jobs will be full time for six months, and the crews will undertake relevant training at the start of the program. The start date for the crews will be determined in line with government announcements regarding restrictions.

Applications are being accepted via Sidekicker. Interested candidates need to register with Sidekicker and select the following category and sub-category to receive a notification and an invitation to apply when applications open.

  • Category – Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
  • Sub-category – Labourer

Applicants are welcome to apply for both the Agricultural and Environmental Works Crew Member positions.

Environmental Project Support Officers

There are 2 full-time Environmental Project Support Officer roles to be employed by the PPWCMA for six months with a focus on assessing remote camera images to assist the French Island feral cat control project.

Application for these positions have now closed.

For more information on the Working for Victoria initiative, including applying for jobs, visit the Working for Victoria website.

Golden Plains Shire, on the cusp of our region, has had two outbreaks of high pathogenic H7N7 avian influenza, and a third farm has had an outbreak of the low pathogenic strain H5N2 and tracing investigations lead to a poultry farm in Bairnsdale. A separate strain of low pathogenic H7N6 avian influenza has also been detected at an emu farm near Kerang. Decontamination of these four sites is underway to ensure all remnants of the virus are eliminated.

Please be aware of the requirements for a permit on the movement of poultry, poultry products and vehicles involved in poultry production within the restricted and control areas. Bird and poultry owners in adjoining Moorabool Shire should be aware of these detections and watch for symptoms such as respiratory distress, coughing or sneezing, rapid drop in food intake or general signs of unwellness.

Poultry farmers and backyard flock and bird owners are urged to report any cases of unexplained bird deaths to the 24-hour Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888, to your local vet or to Agriculture Victoria animal health staff.

More information and regular updates are available on the Agriculture Victoria website.

The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA is calling on farmers and schools in the region to express their interest in participating in this new education initiative.

Farms2Schools is an innovative program that will use school incursions and excursions with farms to provide students with an insight into how agricultural products get from the paddock to their plate.

The program will introduce students to farmers and agricultural industry workers from their local area, who will share information about farming through a range of visual and practical activities.

The program aims to deliver 180 incursions and 60 excursions in the next six months across the south east (Western Port and Mornington Peninsula catchments), north (Yarra catchment) and west (Werribee and Maribyrnong catchments) areas of the Port Phillip and Western Port region.

Three Farms2Schools Coordinators will work will schools and farmers to deliver the program.

For more information visit the Farms2Schools project page.

This project is supported by the Victorian Government.

Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development, Jaclyn Symes, announced on Wednesday 3 June that funding from the Victorian Government’s $50 million Agriculture Workforce Plan will go towards a number of projects to be initiated by Victoria’s Catchment Management Authorities. 

Collectively, these projects will create more than 80 full-time equivalent jobs that benefit the agriculture industry. These new jobs will focus on delivering projects that benefit Victorian farmers and the wider agricultural industry – a focus that is particularly important given the impacts of recent bushfires and seasonal conditions.

Two of the projects will be rolled out in the rural areas surrounding Melbourne and be delivered through the Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Management Authority (PPWCMA).

The first project will employ three new FarmSchool Coordinators to help connect kids with farming in the rural areas around Melbourne.

They coordinators will arrange and lead school incursions and excursions that enhance school children’s knowledge, understanding and appreciation of local farming systems through direct interaction with farmers and farm business operators.  

The coordinators will be initially employed for six months to undertake the program throughout the remainder of 2020. The incursions and excursions will involve various farms around Melbourne, tailoring the interactions to farming types that occur in a school’s nearby area.

The PPWCMA will soon begin communicating with farming enterprises and associated agricultural businesses, and with schools, to identify those interested in joining this innovative program. The incursions are anticipated to begin in August while excursions will likely begin later in the school year, depending on coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions.

In the meantime, farmers and schools can register their early interest with the PPWCMA’s Regional Agriculture Coordinator, Karen Thomas, at karen.thomas@ppwcma.vic.gov.au.

The second project will employ 15 new workers for six months (working in three work crew of five people) to directly assist farms with a range of sustainable agriculture services.

These services will include weed control, planting/guarding of new native vegetation and supporting bushfire recovery work in parts of the region, such as the Bunyip area which is in a recovery phase after major bushfire events in March 2019.

It is expected that the crews will operate in the peri-urban and rural farming areas of the western (Werribee and Maribyrnong catchments), northern (Yarra catchment) and south-eastern (Mornington Peninsula and Dandenong and Western Port catchments) areas around Melbourne – one crew per area. 

The PPWCMA will manage a process to select and roster the farms to be worked at and the work to be undertaken. This will involve consultation with farming organisations, such as agriculture industry associations, to identify potential sites.

The work may also include assisting other organisations, such as Landcare networks and groups, that have planned work on farms but are facing difficulties delivering them due to coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The crews are expected to begin work in August. Farmers in the proposed project areas can register their early interest with the PPWCMA’s Regional Agriculture Coordinator, Karen Thomas, at karen.thomas@ppwcma.vic.gov.au.

Workers for the new jobs created by these projects will be matched through Working for Victoria, the Victorian Government’s initiative to help job seekers find work and employers find workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. People interested in these jobs, and other jobs being created through various projects in Victoria, can register at vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria.

Things are looking promising for threatened species on French Island after the eight-week feral cat cage trapping program undertaken by French Island Landcare has yielded positive results.

A network of over fifty-five wire mesh cage traps were deployed along roadsides on the island and checked daily and 19 feral cats were removed as part of the program.

The program is part of ongoing monitoring and trapping works on French Island and is currently supported through the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA’s ‘Two Great Ramsar Wetlands’ project.

The Two Great Ramsar Wetlands project is working with land managers and communities to reduce threats to Victoria’s Ramsar-listed Western Port and Port Phillip Bay (western shoreline) wetland, including French Island, which is one of five island havens identified in the Threatened Species Strategy.

Since 2010, PPWCMA, Parks Victoria and French Island Landcare have been working collaboratively with landowners to manage feral cats. To date over 1,100 feral cats have been removed from the island, with an estimated population of between 100 – 200 feral cats remaining.

An Eastern barred bandicoot and Long-nosed potoroos found in traps then safely released.

In addition to the feral cats, long-nosed potoroos, water rats and bush rats, koalas, magpies, and ravens were all found, all of which were safely released.

Five Eastern-barred bandicoots were also found in traps placed near their introduction site on the south-east corner of French Island. This is a positive sign for the 70 Eastern-barred bandicoots released on the island by Zoos Victoria in October 2019.

On French Island many native mammal and bird species, including the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, Long-nosed Potoroo, King Quail and Lewin’s Rail, are at risk from feral cat predation.

Through a Responsible Pet Ownership program, residents and the community are also being supported to understand and reduce the impacts that cats have on native wildlife. A database of owned cats on the island has been established, allowing them to be returned.

Tortoise Head, French Island, is an important site for Fairy terns (Sternula nereis), which are vulnerable to feral cat predation.

PPWCMA has also developed a new app to assist Landcare, Parks Victoria and contractors to record trapping and remote camera data in real-time.

The application provides improved functionality for users via smartphone and tablet devices, consistency in data collection and sharing amongst multiple agencies, and produces extensive analytics to support accurate and timely reporting by project coordinators.

This project is supported by Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Eastern Barred Bandicoot image by Hayley Davis.

The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA, in partnership with Macedon Ranges Vignerons Association, AORA, GrapeLinks and Veolia, is undertaking a three-year trial into the financial and environmental benefits of composted mulch from urban green waste under cool climate Pinot Noir vines in high altitude vineyards of the Macedon Ranges.

Funded through the Victorian Government’s Wine Growth Fund, the project aims to assess ways of avoiding herbicide use and improving root conditions for vines.

The mulch was spread under 25 vines in September 2019, just prior to budburst (emergence of spring leaves on vines).

In February 2020, vines in the mulched rows at each of the three sites had grown past the top wire (see image below). In comparison, the vines in the control row (with uncontrolled weeds) were far less vigorous.

Samples of 100 petioles (the stalk that attaches a leaf to the plant stem) were taken for nutrient analysis from the mulched row and the control row at flowering in mid-December 2019. At the time, the results showed no significant difference in nutrient flow to leaves.

At one site, a burst dripper under one vine in the control row resulted in untypical growth and clearly demonstrated the competition for water from undervine weeds early in the season.

Aerial and soil temperature above and under mulch continue to be recorded and laboratory tested grape quality will be assessed in the next month.

Mid-season in the trial. Right row: mulch applied before budburst under 25 vines. Left row: control, no undervine management, weeds inhibiting vine growth except in one vine where a dripper had burst. Soil and aerial temperature loggers are inserted in both rows. Image courtesy of Darryl Ward.

This project is supported by the Victorian Government, Macedon Ranges Vignerons Association and AORA.

The concept is based on trials undertaken on the Mornington Peninsula between 2015 and 2018, which saw positive grape quality results from Pinot noir with recycled composted mulch under vine.

Related information

Landcare groups are the heart of our community, working to protect the natural assets on their properties and in their local district, and Landcare networks help nearby groups learn from and support each other and find strength in collaboration.

Today, the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA signed a partnership agreement with the Nillumbik Landcare Network. They are the fifth Landcare Network in the region to establish a formal agreement with the PPWCMA.

The Nillumbik Landcare Network (NLN) formed in 2013 and is made up of 11 groups covering 23,518 hectares within peri-urban Nillumbik Shire. The land supports extensive areas of well-connected remnant forests and woodlands, which in turn support a rich diversity of flora and fauna.

The network’s vision is for private land to be managed to protect and improve the biodiversity and agricultural values of Nillumbik. The network supports its Landcare groups to engage effectively with their respective landholders to promote well-informed land management decisions and actions.

This formal commitment between the PPWCMA and NLN ensures that we’re all on the same page, share the same values and are working towards the same goals to improve the natural resources in the Nullumbik area.

The agreement provides a framework for a collaborative and productive relationship between the PPWCMA and NLN and will be reviewed a minimum of every three years.

Landcare groups are the heart of our community, working to protect the natural assets on their properties and in their local district, and Landcare networks help nearby groups learn from and support each other and find strength in collaboration.

Today, the Port Phillip and Westernport CMA signed a partnership agreement with the Middle Yarra Landcare Network. This is the fourth Landcare Network in the region the PPWCMA has a established a formal agreement with.

The Middle Yarra Landcare Network (MYLN) was formed in 2007 and is made up of six Landcare groups. It covers an area of 12,000 hectares in the Yarra River subcatchments of Andersons Creek, Jumping Creek and Brushy Creek, and includes natural, rural, semi-rural, peri-urban and urban landscapes.

MYLN aim to preserve, protect and enhance the Middle Yarra Catchment by working with Friends and Landcare groups, individual landholders, government agencies and local businesses to achieve improved environmental and sustainable land management outcomes. The nursery of the Friends of Warrandyte State Park has provided indigenous plants to the area over the last 35 years.

This formal commitment between the PPWCMA and MYLN ensures that we’re all on the same page, share the same values and are working towards the same goals to improve the natural resources in the Middle Yarra area.

The agreement provides a framework for a collaborative and productive relationship between the PPWCMA and MYLN and will be reviewed a minimum of every three years.

The PPWCMA Board and PPWCMA CEO David Buntine with Middle Yarra Landcare Network Secretary Fritz Uhl, Treasurer Gray Arden and Faciliator Artur Muchow.
The PPWCMA Board and PPWCMA CEO David Buntine with Middle Yarra Landcare Network Secretary Fritz Uhl, Treasurer Gray Arden and Faciliator Artur Muchow.

The granitic peaks of the You Yang Ranges and surrounding low lying grasslands of the Werribee Plains are some of Victoria’s most ecologically significant landscapes.

The continual impacts of invasive weeds, rabbits and goats threaten the iconic flora and fauna species that live in this area, including Spiny Rice-flower, Button Wrinklewort, Eastern Barred Bandicoot and the Plains Wanderer.

Since 2017, the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA has been working with key organisations and private landholders to protect and enhance 7,000 hectares of this landscape through a range of monitoring and control efforts.

One such site is Mt Rothwell Conservation Reserve, a 473 hectare property located west of Melbourne, at the base of the You Yangs Regional Park. Mt Rothwell has partnered with the PPWCMA and Geelong City Council to implement rabbit control works across their grasslands and rocky outcrops.

You Yangs Regional Park
You Yangs Regional Park

Last month, representatives from Parks Victoria, Geelong City Council, Melbourne Water, Naturewest and the Port Phillip & Westernport CMA headed out to Mt Rothwell Conservation Reserve to view the progress of these works.

Five hectare sections have been fenced out with critter-proof fencing and rehomed dogs have been used to undertake low-impact rabbit eradication in each section. The dogs have been extensively trained to only pursue rabbits and not the endangered mammals living at Mt Rothwell.

This approach has proved highly successful, with the last remaining rabbits caught on camera at last count there were 2 rabbits remaining within the last enclosure.

Critter proof fencing

Foxes and cats have now been eradicated from the property, allowing for native species such as the Eastern Quoll, Brush Tailed Wallaby, Eastern Barred Bandicoot and the Spiny Rice Flower to be introduced.

The Peaks to Plains project is funded by the Victorian Government.

Mt Rothwell Conservation Reserve

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24 September 2020
Eco anxiety and environmental volunteering
The bushfires of 2019-20 have overshadowed our recent summers and have had an enormous impact on environmental volunteers,...
4 September 2020
47 new jobs to help deliver PPWCMA projects
47 new jobs are on offer to help deliver PPWCMA projects funded by the Victorian Government’s Working for Victoria initiative....
4 September 2020
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Golden Plains Shire, on the cusp of our region, has had two outbreaks of high pathogenic H7N7 avian influenza, and a third...
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This online workshop review the results of the on-farm demonstration into Integrated Pest Management...
Mental Health First Aid for NRM volunteers and professional
As part of the Our Catchments, Our Communities Regional Leadership Program, the PPWCMA is hosting mental...
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