2005 Presidents Report

It with much pleasure that I bring to you the President’s report for 2005. As President I have experienced a very rewarding and challenging year in identifying and establishing the priorities for the Otway Barham Catchment with our Executive and our landcare members and also with the Otway Barham Catchment Community.

My report will visit our Priorities, Projects, Programs and Trials with a view to the future

Priorities:

  • Identifying the needs of and interests of members in Landcare. The membership of our Landcare Group is extremely diverse with different landuses and land capability determining landholders needs and interests. To date identifying and meeting these needs and interests have developed from landcare meetings and associated activities. Members attending expressed the wish to meet quarterly and integrate the meetings into relevant activities to the group. We now need to broaden the input to ensure we are meeting members needs. I am hoping that the new Executive will take the opportunity to develop a survey that could be forwarded to all members so that we cater for the needs and interests of our members.
  • Developing “neighbourhood links” between past and future Landcare projects. Over the past years we have seen a range of landcare projects being undertaken by landcare members within the broader Otway Barham. Many of these are highly significant individually and have beneficially contributed to the health of our catchment. If we were to map these we would find them isolated over the catchment, what we don’t see is the linking of these projects to have a real impact on catchment health. We need to be creating these conversations of “project linkage” with our neighbours. An exciting project is currently being shaped at Alice Court with a number of landowners joining together to undertake a “neighbourhood project”. In the past just getting landcare projects identified and completed has been our focus. With the growing maturity of our group we began developing priority areas and have used these to provide direction to our Landcare Group and its members. This has assisted us to take a stronger look at what we have achieved in the past- for the future however, I hope that a more singular focus will strengthen this direction, a direction that will pick up the successes of the past, the priorities of 2005 and provide us with a real context for the future. Simon Pockley will be addressing us this morning and we will have the opportunity to further discuss this.
  • Recording and mapping all Landcare projects undertaken in the life of the Otway Barham Catchment Our files and the files of the Southern Otway Landcare Network identify many projects that have occurred over the years. Visually we may be able to see some of these projects on the ground however, the mapping held by SOLN suggests that there is a lot of work to be done in this area. I have discussed this priority with our new co-ordinators and we hope in the near future that a detailed catchment map will become a “monitoring tool” for our Landcare Group. Other agencies such as Barwon Water, the CCMA and the Colac Otway Shire will also be providing valuable assistance here through our projects such as the Adopt- the Barham Valley Roads -Project, the Special Water Supply Catchment Area. In addition I have discussed with our co-ordinators the desire to have all landholders within our landcare group have a map of their property which is large enough for them to be able to get a more “global” view of their properties. To this end we will be providing all landcare members with property in the Otway Barham with a “tool kit” that will include “what is a landcare project?” a map of their property, a Project Expression of Interest and a document on the Otway Barham Catchment Landcare Group Priorities. The Otway Barham Catchment Landcare Group document is being developed for a package being provided to potential landcare members at the Apollo Bay and Otway District Agricultural Show on the 21st January. As we progress further maps will be provided reflecting a more “neighbourhood” focus- allowing us to identify links within areas.
  • Developing and implementing a concept of conservation that brings together all landholders and landusers in the catchment through education The diversity of philosophies and actions within our Landcare Group members in the past has seen some “black and white” opinions about conservation with little regard to the needs and interests of other “groups”. Our Landcare Group represents farmers, absentee landholders, tourist accommodation providers, developers, large and small landholders, new and old landholders … this diversity and range of experience is our “wealth” and we need to develop a concept of conservation that this shapes. With a more consolidated focus as a Landcare Group I believe this will happen. Our landcare group members have an enormous amount of experience to be “shared”. In more recent issues I have become very aware of how few people know each other within the catchment. Until we start getting to know each other and have a group that really reflects the needs and interests of all within we won’t be able to share this wealth of experience. In 2005 we had intended to run an Otway Barham Valley Landcare Tour- this was distracted by the Special Water Supply Catchment Area. It is important that activities such as these are held so experiences can be shared. In September our Landcare group facilitated a Wetlands Workshop with Nick Romanowski- a renowned specialist. Our thanks to John and Avis Coles, Joe DiCecco, Rod and Joan Buncle, Jo Davies and Jock Williamson for providing discussion sites for this day. A great social day that assisted us to develop a much stronger understanding of wetland habitats. We now need to take our “learning” into our Catchment to determine the real success of the day. It is hoped that we will be able to have Nick back to work with our Landcare Group to initiate the Backwash project in the future.
  • Raising awareness of landcare strategies appropriate to the requirements of the Special Water Supply Catchment and the Adopt-the Barham valley Roads- Project 2005 will certainly be remembered as the year of the Special Water Supply Catchment Area! Beginning at a Catchment Meeting on March 12th 2005 we saw 42 landholders commit to a goal- a goal which has been the driving force since then and will continue into the future. That we seek to develop a positive model for a community partnership with Barwon Water which would be a win/win model- a win for landholders having the right to a voice and to negotiate and participate in an agreed arrangement and a win to Barwon Water to conserve and enhance the water quality and protection of the catchment environment. This model could be a “showcase model” of how a catchment area and a community can come and work together.A Spokes Team was identified and it has been this Team, among consultative meetings with the broader Catchment Community, that has paved the way for a new project area- the Special Water Supply Catchment Area. This Special Water Supply Catchment Area is landcare, the model focuses on a “landcare strategy”. On Friday a meeting was held for the Otway Barham Catchment Community Spokes Team to develop a view on the recommendation to be put forward at the Special General meeting which follows. The future of the Otway Barham Catchment Community as a group was discussed and it was agreed that as an isolated group to our Landcare Group it had perhaps “done its job”- the landcare strategy is the role of all who live in the catchment, but is best implemented by the Otway Barham Catchment Landcare Group. It does, however, require a Team to continue negotiating the shaping of the Declaration of the Special Water Supply Catchment Area. I would like to suggest that the this meeting consider endorsing the Special Water Supply Catchment Area as a major project and that the people who made up the Spokes Team, Bruce Costin- Frank Buchanan- Bruce Andrews- Simon Pockley and Denise Hooke- continue as a Working Party/Focus Group to further progress the work in this area in consultation with our landcare members. Prior to this meeting all landholders within this Special Water Supply Catchment Area were contacted and advised that the following Special General Meeting would be taking place making a decision as to the supporting of this declaration. They have also been invited to become members of the Otway Barham Catchment Landcare Group. To this end I will be making three recommendations for endorsement at the end of this report. In September 2005 successful negotiations were held between SOLN and Barwon Water with Barwon Water agreeing to cover the costs of .5 of a landcare co-ordinator time to assist with the development and implementation of the landcare strategy.

Projects

Adopt-the Barham Valley Roads- Project:

At a workshop of our landcare group members on August 7th at the Blue Olive the Adopt- the Barham River Roads Project unfolded. Past President, John Lindsay detailed his vision and from the discussion the Action Plan was born. Using a Lotus Plan members identified key components of the Plan and began the detailed work of prioritising the tasks. Our members identified the following as key areas:

  1. Weeds- develop a focus on weed infestations through identifying manageable “environmental” weeds; prioritising these weeds; mapping these infestations; charting progress with the Willow Strategy; developing links with other agencies who have a shared interest in combating environmental weeds; develop a Desirable Road Vegetation Plan; identifying key methods of weed spread and providing “Weed Buster” education. Progress to date:
    • Following the workshop two car loads of members took on the task of mapping the roads and identifying and photographing the weed infestations. David Churchill has compiled this into a report documenting methods of eradication
    • The Willows Strategy is being developed by the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority and will be implemented through SOLN
    • Many funding opportunities are becoming available and our group will develop a “planned” approach
    • Links have been made with the CCMA and the Colac Otway Shire
    • Planned weed identification activity through Weed Buster Week
  2. Developing an Action Plan
  3. Developing an Action Plan - Action Plan has been initiated through a community workshop
  4. Incorporate a Weed focus into existing landcare projects
  5. Develop a develop a Desirable Revegetation Plan
  6. Research and review the Barongarook Project
    A visit is being planned for interested members who will report to our Landcare Group to look at the “what” and “how” of their project
  7. Work with the Colac Otway Shire Environmental Officers to establish Roads Ownership - Research is continuing
  8. Establish areas of funding
  9. Launch of the Adopt-the Barham Valley Roads Project.

I would like to thank John for the vision for this project and for the team of people who shaped it at the workshop on August 7th, the subsequent team who completed the mapping and weed identification and David Churchill who is working with the photos and construction of a report of this initial work. Today we will receive the first of the documents for this project. Rob Baldor-Bull, a Wongarra Member to SOLN, is currently chairing a Weeds Working Party with membership across the landcare groups- our group is currently not represented, yet we have done the hard yard! This Working Party has the focus to determine the issues and needs on Weeds for the Network and make application for funding to meet these needs. The Adopt-the Barham Valley Roads Project needs a Team to be able to work together and drive the progress of the project to maintain its momentum. I ask that you consider your skills, experience and interests and see whether you can give any short term commitment to such a project.

Fox-Off Program:

For the past few years the Webber family, Michael and Denise Hooke, Bruce Costin and Alan and Leslie Huggins have participated in the fox-off program with the hope of reducing fox numbers in our catchment. Whilst these people are all sheep farmers and have an interest in reducing fox numbers that impact on lambing- we also need to be considering the impact foxes have on the conservation of wildlife. Whilst the program has met with some success it continues to lack the context of a formal meaningful program. Muroon, near Deans Marsh, has operated a most successful program that has driven community action. Gathering data and analysing results has proved useful to the community and provide a guide to subsequent programs. Stronger leadership of this program needs to come from SOLN. Our new co-ordinator, Lucas Oram, has a background in feral animal control and we have already had an initial discussion with him to develop a more formalised program that will contribute meaningful data our catchment.

Trials:

For the past two years Alan and Leslie Huggins have been undertaking work in the Dung Beetle Trials meeting with some success. The project will continue and should be formally recognised as an activity for the Otway Barham Catchment Landcare Group so that assistance can be provided if required in the future.

Our activities in 2005 continue to be very varied providing opportunities for those interested in these specific activities to be involved. It is not assumed that everyone will be involved in all activities and thus drain our members energies- what we want is to meet the needs and interests of our landcare members.

SOLN

The Southern Otway Landcare Network Committee of Management is comprised of members from the four landcare groups- each having three members. Our Landcare Group Delegates for 2005 have been Alan Huggins, Joe DiCecco and myself. SOLN employs two full-time co-ordinators, Lucas Oram and Greg John, who replaced our previous Co-ordinator, Lisa Deppeler. Lisa was very supportive of landcare members within our catchment- networking with agencies to achieve the best funding arrangements to make projects happen and linking landowners with people with specialist expertise. Lucas and Greg bring new skills and experience to our network. I encourage all landcare members to pop your head in the door and meet our co-ordinators and discuss your project needs and interests in landcare. I have now taken Greg and Lucas on a tour of our catchment endeavouring to give them an insight into the landscape and its issues.

SOLN itself is becoming a much more sophisticated organisation- its strength depends on the health of its Landcare Groups. It is very important that we identify our landcare issues and continually feed this into the SOLN Committee of Management monthly meetings so that our needs and interests are being considered in funding applications. SOLN’s success in this area is very much based on opportunities for community capacity building- providing “footprints”/stories of what we have achieved and documenting what we do. Without our network many of the projects we have would not be able to happen. I would particularly like to draw your attention to the leadership of Bernie Moylan to SOLN- due to ill health Bernie has had to resign from the President’s position- his contribution has very much redeveloped the foundations of SOLN. Vice President, Bruce Costin has now taken up the position. The SOLN Committee of Management, as I see it, has been a very committed team and, along with our two new co-ordinators, we look forward to a strong conservation and enhancement of our network catchment.

Thank-You!

I feel we should be very proud of our achievements in 2005, but these achievements just don’t happen on their own. I would like to sincerely thank the work and commitment of the following people who take up the positions (more often than not when no-one else will!)

Leslie Huggins:

Leslie for some years now has been either Secretary or Treasurer but in the last few years has been both. She has taken on the responsibility of passing information onto our members (she just loves those email addresses and the send button!) from our co-ordinators, she liases with agencies on our behalf and knows how to apply the pressure when it is needed, she completes the correspondence, she ensures we have the correct processes are in place, she maintains our membership listings and renewals, she maintains our treasurer files, is excellent at organising activities and is very diplomatic at giving the President a nudge if she appears to have slackened off at the wrong time! All the behind the scenes “stuff” that just seems to happen! And to top it off she is a great landcarer also. I sincerely thank for her commitment, her energy, her knowledge and expertise and very much respect her need to have to finish as Secretary. Thank you Leslie.

Joe DiCecco:

Joe has been a delegate to SOLN and had to grapple with the commitments of being a Colac Otway Shire Councillor and a delegate with commitments more often than not on the same night! He has been the Vice President of our Landcare Group and has been our representative on the Projects and Funding Sub-Committee of SOLN- the role of this Committee is to approve projects, identify funding needs, planning and issues and investigate and apply funding. Joe has been able to bring another perspective to landcare and assist both SOLN and our Landcare Group to better understand planning issues. Thank you Joe for your commitment and expertise.

Alan Huggins:

Alan has been a staunch supporter of our Landcare Group for many years and very engaged in the shaping of our landcare philosophy. Alan has been our third emergency delegate to SOLN and has made a valuable contribution to the discussions on a broad range of issues within the network. Alan has also been our representative on the Weeds Reference Group and was instrumental in getting this representation to become a SOLN responsibility. Weeds affect us all and across a network more action and funding opportunities can maximise the impact. I would also like to congratulate Alan on his work with the Dung Beetle trials and bringing a new dimension to our landcare group. President’s role in 2005:

I have very much enjoyed my year as your President. I have been a delegate to the Committee of Management of SOLN and have immensely enjoyed the discussions and debates on the issues that come to the SOLN Meeting table; I have been Chairperson of the Human Resources Committee for the past two years- the role of this Committee is to employ the Landcare co-ordinators from selection to appraisal and meet the needs of the landcare groups and their delegates; I am one of the four Presidents who form the SOLN Strategic Planning Committee- the role of this Committee is to determine the Strategic Direction of SOLN; I am one of three members of the SOLN Otway Barham Catchment Working Party and have also worked with the Otway Barham Catchment Community as an authorised Spokes Team Member.

It has been a very challenging and rewarding year and one that I hope will have laid solid foundations for the health and wellbeing of our catchment and those that reside within it. Congratulations everyone!

Recommendations:

  1. That a Vote of Thanks be extended to Leslie Huggins for the great work she has undertaken in the past years as Secretary and Treasurer.
  2. That a Vote of Thanks be extended to the outgoing Executive Team for 2005.
  3. That a Vote of Congratulations be extended to all landcare members in the Otway Barham Catchment Landcare Group for their involvement in our Priorities, Projects, Programs and Trials in 2005.
  4. That the Special Water Supply Catchment Area become a major project area of the Otway Barham Catchment Landcare Group (in addition to the Adopt- the Barham Valley Roads Project)
  5. That the Otway Barham Catchment Community be integrated into the Otway Barham Catchment Landcare Group.
  6. That the current Otway Barham Catchment Community Spokes Team, along with any other interested landcare members, become the members of a Working Party/Focus Group on behalf of the Otway Barham catchment Landcare Group.

Denise Hooke
President Otway Barham Catchment Landcare Group AGM
January 15th 2006



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