Funding from Mount Alexander Council for FOBIF School Holiday Program

FOBIF is excited to announce that we have been successful in our Mount Alexander Shire Council Community Grant application which will fund the FOBIF 2016 Winter School Holiday Program.
This year has an indigenous peoples theme and we will be working with local Aboriginal people and presenters to develop three, two hour sessions for local primary school age children. The program will be held at the Fryerstown School in the first week of the June school holidays from Monday 27th June – Friday 1st July.
FOBIF gratefully acknowledges this support from council and volunteer organisers are so pleased to be creating a platform for education which celebrates local Aboriginal culture.
Look out for booking information closer to the end of June on the FOBIF website.
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More photos from May FOBIF walk

Noel Young sent these photos to us after we we had posted our walks article.  They provide a terrific record of the walk so we decided to post them in the gallery below. We are not one hundred percent sure of the identification of the fungi in the first photo. If anyone thinks our identification is incorrect please let us know. Click on the thumbnail image to enlarge.

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FOBIF Tree exhibition moves to Newstead


Click to enlarge.

The FOBIF exhibition, Trees in the Mount Alexander Region, is being held in 2 locations this year, TOGS and the new Newstead Railway Arts Hub. The TOGS show which finished recently was a great success with lots of positive responses and sales of photos. Now it’s time for the move to Newstead.

The show in Newstead will run throughout June. It will include the photos from the TOGS show and a slide show which will have at least one image from people who sent in photos for our Flickr site.

The Gallery will be open at weekends and the Queens Birthday holiday on Monday 13 June. Opening hours are 10am to 4 pm. The address is Dundas Street, Newstead (directly across from Railway Hotel). If you would like to view the exhibition outside these days/hours, or help with staffing the show, contact Bronwyn Silver on 5475 1089

The opening will be at 10.30 on Saturday 4 June. There will be refreshments and everyone is welcome. Bernard Slattery from FOBIF will open the show.

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Beautiful walk on a beautiful day

Sunday’s FOBIF walk started from The Monk car park and was led by Barb Guerin and Lionel Jenkins.  The weather was perfect, sunny and warm.

 Nineteen people came on the walk .  We saw and heard about many of the historic sites along the way. One of these was the Adit mine which is also home to the bent wing bat.

Adit mine 15 May 2016

Walkers gathering at the Audit mine. Photo by Harley Parker

We stopped for lunch at the Eureka mine car park.   From there we followed water races and traversed across country to see the remains of miner’s cottages along the way.  Our walk finished early afternoon having walked 9 kms. Everyone enjoyed it thanks to Barb and Lionel.

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Dominique Lavie to this great shadow photo of walkers near the race.

You can see more of Dom’s photos of the walk on her facebook page.


Photos by Liz Martin

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10 things we can all do . . .

In late 2015, a group of people came together at a symposium, called Managing Victoria’s Biodiversity under Climate Change, in Melbourne. More than 200 scientists and audience members with years of practical experience discussed the state-of-play and options for the future. The symposium was organised by VicNature 2050 which includes input from the Victorian National Parks AssociationThe Royal Society of Victoria and The University of Melbourne’s Bio21 Institute and is sponsored by the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Parks Victoria.

One outcome from the symposium was the development of a website called “10 things we can all do to help nature adapt to a new climate”. The suggestions are for everyone and include actions which consider people, nature, science and politics. Some of the “10 things” are new, some are old and Vic Nature 2050 are open to revision as we learn more and move into a new climate future. To view the site and find out more click here.

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There is another symposium tabled for June 7th this year titled ‘Our changing landscapes: acting on climate impacts’. This one day symposium will follow much the same format as last year’s symposium: a series of short presentations by experts in the field, followed by discussion periods to which all participants are invited to contribute.To register an interest in attending subscribe to the VicNature 2050 mailing list here.

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Biodiversity…mountain bikes…local provenance…kangaroos…enjoying nature…how does it all fit?

FOBIF has made a brief submission to the Biodiversity discussion paper. The substance of the submission is set out at the end of this post.

The discussion paper is worth a look, tossing quite a few provocative ideas. Among them:

‘Tourism Victoria and public land managers such as DELWP, Parks Victoria and local councils will work in collaboration with the community to ensure that our iconic natural and built assets keep offering opportunities to connect with nature. Recent projects like the Grampians Peaks Trail, the Harcourt Mountain Bike Trail and the Shipwreck Coast Master Plan represent a concerted effort to strategically look at opportunities to maximise access to nature.’ page 39

In Happy Valley: are kangaroos like rabbits? Is mountain biking a connection to nature? Should reveg projects move away from 'local provenance' plants?

In Happy Valley: are kangaroos like rabbits? Is mountain biking a connection to nature? Should reveg projects move away from ‘local provenance’ plants?

To help biodiversity adapt, the paper proposes to ‘Encourage gene mixing (where appropriate) to increase the genetic “fitness” of populations to adapt to a changing environment. This could lead to reduced emphasis on the use of “local provenance” material in revegetation projects or mean we are more likely to favour translocation of individuals between populations.’ page 50

‘Examples of native species that sometimes require management intervention to protect other biodiversity values include: Kangaroos, which in some rural areas have increased in numbers due to the increase in reliable water supplies (e.g. stock watering) and pasture for grazing. High numbers of kangaroos can exert high grazing pressure on native plants and wildflowers, a bit like rabbits, and can destroy habitat that ground-dwelling native animals may need to survive.’

Here’s the substance of FOBIF’s submission:

‘We support the directions this draft paper proposes. We are unable to respond to the questions proposed in the consultation paper, but wish to make the following general comments:

Continue reading

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Spare us the grandiosity

FOBIF has made a submission to the Water for Victoria Discussion paper. The substance of the submission is set out below:

Although we believe that there are many useful ideas in the document, we are disappointed in its tendency to indulge in grandiose statements at the expense of practicality. We are not impressed by statements like, ‘Victoria’s water sector will help transform Victoria’s cities and towns into the most resilient and liveable in the world.’

We would prefer to see the paper outline specific, practical objectives, like the following:

Continue reading

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Yet another fire enquiry

We had a parliamentary enquiry in 2008. And then a Royal Commission. And then an investigation into the effects of the Royal Commission’s recommendations. Now the Legislative Council has instituted an enquiry into fire preparedness. Perhaps all these enquiries are symptoms of the fact that the community has still not resolved the question: how do people and nature co exist? So, once again, the challenge for conservationists is to show how safety can be achieved without wholesale destruction of public land.

The terms of reference for the latest enquiry are as follows:

  1. 1)  the Environment and Planning Standing Committee inquire into and report on the preparation and planning for fire seasons by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and its agencies, including Parks Victoria and, in particular —
    1. a)  the amount and nature of preventative burning undertaken to date;
    2. b)  the measures in place to ensure preventative burning is undertaken safely;
    3. c)  the effectiveness of preventative burns in achieving community safety;
    4. d)  the impact of preventative burns on threatened species;
    5. e)  the impact of preventative burns on Ecological Vegetation Classes;
    6. f)  the impact of preventative burns on the climate;
    7. g)  the targeting of preventative measures state‐wide;
    8. h)  the resources available to ensure that adequate preparation is undertaken;
    9. i)  the co‐ordination of such planning and preparation with other departments and agencies across government;
    10. j)  the nature and level of emergency response;
    11. k)  the relevant administrative and organisational structures in place within the Department and with other relevant government departments and agencies;and
    12. l)  the impact of land tenure on the ability to provide fire prevention activities and the differences between types of land tenure such as National Park, State Forest, Regional Park and others;
  2. 2)  the Committee is to consider annual reports tabled by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and its agencies, including Parks Victoria, and any other relevant matter as determined by the Committee.

The committee will deliver its report in December.

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What do we know about all these burns?

Two of the terms of reference of the current enquiry [see above] relate to the environment. It’s fair to say that a recurring question–probably since Black Friday in 1939–is, how much fire can our environment stand before it starts turning into a desert? Proponents of maximum burning regimes don’t seem bothered by this question. We believe it’s central to the whole question of bushfire management. What’s the point of making ourselves safe if we end up living in a dust bowl?

For that reason it’s important to keep an eye on the long term effects of all Department burns. We believe that too little is known about this, and that many of the exercises previously known as ‘ecological burns’ had an element of farce: it has been virtually impossible to get any specific information from managers about the ecological point of the exercise.

mosaic burning project (787x1024)So the publication of the findings of the Department’s Box-Ironbark Experimental Mosaic Burning Project is important. This 42 page document is packed with interesting info about the effects of fire on the environment, a lot of it confirming anecdotal evidence: for example,

–frequency of burning is critical: the more frequent the burn, the more destructive the effect. As we’ve noted in the past, fire managers have been used to treating asset protection zones as ecological sacrifice areas: the ecology has been slowly destroyed to protect human safety.

–the larger the fire area, the more radical is the effect on the forest structure.

–bushfires of natural origin in this region are rare: most fires are lit by people. Readers will remember the startling statistic in the Mount Alexander Shire’s Municipal fire plan: historically there have been 53 fires per year on average in this region: of these, only 6, on average, have been ‘natural’ [ie, resulting from lightning strikes]. The rest have been caused by carelessness, technical malfunctions or arson.

There’s an important qualification to all this: the project ran for three years only–far too short a time to reliably decide on the long term effects of fire, especially since the three year period was  wetter than average. The report makes it quite clear that further monitoring of the effects of fire is vital. Will that monitoring happen? We’ll see. And there’s a further point: over the years the Department has produced numerous reports on the ecological effects of fire. You’d have to say that the knowledge buried in these reports has not always been heeded by fire managers too often driven by targets which give no importance to the environment.

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Stop press: Kalimna burn cancelled

The management burn planned for tomorrow in Kalimna Park has been cancelled. The Friends of Kalimna Park today received a note from DELWP as follows:

‘Fuel moistures have indicated that this burn would not achieve our burn objectives meaning burning will not go ahead this weekend and may not go ahead at all this Autumn.’


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