Minutes (draft): Action Plan Forum 12th August 2006

Present:

Joe Di Cecco, John Coles, Denise Hooke, Phil Lawson, Roger Hardley, Alan and Leslie Huggins, Greg John, Fiona Nelson, Rowan Mackenzie, Shane O’Carroll, Simon Pockley, Toby Somerville, John Turner, Danni Urgers, Tony Webber

Apologies:

Bruce and Liz Andrews, Paul Boyd, Avis Coles, Josh Feldman, Michael Hooke, Susan Pockley, Phil and Elizabeth Smith, John and Alice Webber.

Summary of actions

Please Note This is a draft record of the forum for your comment. Please send any suggested improvements, additions, subtractions, comments via email or via the comments box below.

  • Revised copy of Action Plan to be sent our to all OBCLG members
  • Another opportunity for comment onn the Actiuon Plan will be provided to OBCLG members
  • Action Plan map to include locations of plantations, National Park and Private Land
  • Add a water saving objective to the Action Plan
  • Add dates to supporting documents
  • Add some reference to the people involved in working on the improvement of the catchment to the assets list
  • Add a reference to fire to the list of threats
  • Replace fencing off the river as a priority objective with ‘restrict access’.
Action Plan Forum

Introductions

Denise Hooke (President OBCLG): Thanked everyone for taking time to come. Most people knew everyone except for Phil Lawson who said he was representing himself and the National Park.

Denise then outlined the history and context and underlying purpose of the Action Plan: In summary:

to enhance, protect, and restore the Barham River (and its Catchment) from source to sea.

Greg John (Landcare Co-ordinator): introduced the Action Plan and explained how it approached the total catchment.

Purpose of the Plan

Simon Pockley: (Secretary OBCLG) asked what % of the Catchment would be under the custodial reach of the OBCLG.

Greg John: Don’t yet have exact figures but probably slightly less than 50% the rest being National Park and timber plantations

Simon Pockley: Asked if the Action Plan as just words

John Turner (CCMA): explained that the Action Plan provided a framework for Landcare activities and was an integral part of the process.

Roger Hardley (President SOLN): The Action Plan gives us focus from which to move forward. It is part of the methodology of Landcare.

Leslie Huggins: If the Action Plan is an evolving document then how will it evolve?

Denise Hooke: The process allows for changes to made through the OBCLG representation on SOLN.

Greg John: Funding bodies will be able to see how an individual project fits into the overall plan. This is primarily a community driven exercise.

Discussion and agreement followed (Denise Hooke and Roger Hardley) that individual property plans were really tools that allowed people to see how their project was able to fit into the whole-of-catchment plan

Denise Hooke: It also is important to try to find a landholder whose project does NOT fit into the plan in order to see how the process can work.

John Turner: This is a significant community action because this is the first time that such a plan (The Action Plan) has been developed to complement the process of funding individual projects.

Leslie Huggins: The Plan has really evolved out of the activities and practices of the OBCLG over the years. It reflects community concerns, issues and best practice.

Alan Huggins: How would you (Greg John) define ‘best practice’.

Greg John: Best practice is practically what we think is right at the time.

General discussion followed about the range of issues that were being faced by the group including increased pressure from urban development, tourism, river frontage leases.

Roger Hardley: Re. tourism and the National Park. The Minister is setting up a consultative Committee to act as a conduit into the Management of the National Park. The Action Plan is a good vehicle for having an input into the Management of the Park.

John Turner: Perhaps a healthy estuary should be highlighted as part of the whole system?

Discussion followed where it was agreed that the ‘healthy river from source to sea’ objective adequately covered the estuary and that there was little/no chance that the health of the estuary would be overlooked.

Status of the Catchment

Greg John: Spoke to the overall Catchment Condition and that the problems were mainly in the lower reaches that were described as being in poor condition. The main point being that the Plan was the sum of all activities and that we should always be thinking of the total picture.

General discussion followed about the importance of maintaining the parts of the Catchment that were described as being in good condition.

Roger Hardley: Governments are prepared to put money into hanging on to what may be considered as the best of the best and parts of this Catchment were in fact the best of the best.

Greg John: Canvassed the range of supporting documents (displayed on a table) that underpinned the Action Plan.

Phil Lawson: Does this mean that we will talking to the plantation owners about the impact of their activities?

Greg John: Having an endorsed Action Plan gives us the authority to be able to enter into such discussions.

Fiona Nelson (Otway conservation): expressed concern for what was happening with pine plantations.

General discussion followed about issues associated with commercial plantations, including, impact on the catchment of spraying, statutory responsibilities, legal enforcement, River as an indicator of the health of the catchment…

Simon Pockley: This is why the river indicator project is important. That it builds awareness and makes problems visible in real time.

Greg John: Explained how the water watch kits were a component of getting people involved in maintaining and understanding the health of the river.

Roger Hardely: I sense that what Phil Lawson is talking about is a proactive approach to industry.

Phil agreed and there was general discussion about how to include engagement with industry in the Action Plan.

Tony Webber: Suggested that we include pine plantations on the map in the Action Plan

Rowan Mackenzie (Barwon Water): We could improve the map if we show the plantations, National Park and Private Land.

Greg John: It is important to bring in the plantation owners as stakeholders.

Alan Huggins: One way of promoting awareness of the Action Plan would be to indicate to the community that if they did not get involved in water conservation activities they might end up having their water mixed with treated effluent as in Towoomba.

Rowan Mackenzie: At this stage Barwon Water would not be able to support the threat of Apollo Bay having to drink treated sewage. Greg John: Outlined the main objectives of the Action Plan.

Objectives

Toby Somerville: We should add that we want to reduce the amount of water that people are using – a water saving objective.

Rowan Mackenzie: Education is part of water conservation but it is more complex because just because people know what to do doesn’t mean that they do it. It might mean that we need to develop new skills that support water saving.

Denise Hooke: Can we date the supporting documents?

Greg John: Outlined the assets and threats section of the Action Plan.

Leslie Huggins: Can we add to this group?

Greg John: Yes, through the Reference Group.

Rowan Mackenzie: A significant asset that you could consider including is the people sitting around this table who are prepared to work on the Catchment. It is important that this asset is defined.

Tony Webber: Can we put urban development as a threat to the estuary? I think the estuary is under threat.

Joe Di Cecco: Bad property management is significant threat that could be included?

Greg John: Urban development is probably dealt with under infrastructure and management under knowledge gaps.

Denise Hooke: We need to ensure that proposed and future developments fit into the Action Plan (Roger Hardley suggested a term used to describe this was Peri-urban)

Rowan Mackenzie: Fire is missing.

Break

Morning tea. Maps of propeties were laminated and distributed to members present.

Threats and terminology

Denise Hooke: I find that the table of threats is difficult to follow.

General discussion followed about the importance of actions that should flow from a threat matrix. This led back to a discussion about the use of the Action Plan as a contextual tool for accommodating individual project plans. There was further discussion about prioritisation and how specific targets would be identified.

John Turner: Perhaps the confusion is being caused by the terminology where ‘Management Actions’ are really ‘Directions’ and any actions should flow from the directions.

Danni Urgers: The word should be ‘Objectives’.

Simon Pockley: ‘Objectives’ should be ‘Directions’ and ‘Actions’ should be ‘Objectives’.

Following discussion about terminology Greg John point4ed out tht the Action Plan had been written using the terminology of the higher level documents from the funding agencies.

Funding and durability

John Turner: Funding is available for projects that are clearly supported by the Action Plan.

Roger Hardley: Would you (John Turner) ensure that the Action Plan is completely aligned with the River Health Strategy?

Rowan Mackenzie: Barwon Water’s funding is tied back to the River Health Strategy so if project is consistent with this then it should be funded.

Toby Somerville: Back to fencing off the river as a priority, could we replace this with ‘restrict access’ as we should not be compelled to use fences.

Leslie Huggins: What happens to the Landcare projects when you sell a property? Should we have covenants over the property as a funding condition?

General discussion about the pros and cons of covenants.

Denise Hooke: I think we should take the matter of covenants to the Reference Group.

Leslie Huggins: I think that the Group should endorse the Action Plan.

General discussion followed about how endorsement should proceed, the need to send out copies of the Action Plan to OBCLG members, the need for more visible community involvement.

Action and a warning

Denise Hooke: I propose that a revised copy of the Action Plan be sent out to all members and that an opportunity for comment be provided.

The action was agreed to after general discussion about how to do this and the need to keep it very simple.

Jack Coles: It worries me that we might return to our old climate. What you are doing here could easily crate serious damage if/when the catchment floods.

General discussion followed about climate change.

Roger Hardley: We should promote the Action Plan through a press release of the summary that Greg has provided.

The Forum closed at 1:45 pm



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