Parks Victoria: a recipe

FOBIF has made a submission to the Strengthening Parks Victoria consultation. The essence of the submission is set out below:

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We welcome the opportunity to participate in this process, and offer our views under the headings supplied in the workbook.

Topic #1 – Connecting people and parks

Question prompt: How do you and your communities enjoy parks? What barriers prevent you from enjoying parks more? How can we create parks that are welcoming and inclusive for all Victorians and our visitors?

Our members enjoy parks for their natural and cultural values. Barriers to this enjoyment include destructive trail bikes, rogue prospecting, rubbish dumping and rampant environmental weeds. All of these are a problem partly as a result of the serious understaffing of Parks Victoria resulting in lack of supervision, inadequate monitoring and non existent or weak feral plant and animal controls.

Other barriers include over management of tracks by operatives with little or no appreciation of roadside vegetation, and some fuel management programs conducted without proper reference to ecological values.

How to overcome these barriers? Adequate resourcing would be a necessary start.

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Big turnout for Eucalyptus book launch

The Eucalypts of the Mount Alexander Region book is now launched and more than 200 copies were sold on the day. Bernard Slattery, Ern Perkins and Bronwyn Silver signed many copies and buyers also received 2 bookmarks with photos from the book as well as a FOBIF fungi poster.

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Geoff Park (Photo by John Ellis)

We heard Geoff Park talk about how wonderful it is that we are able to put the collective local knowledge and expertise of our natural environment into a guide such as this and he congratulated the authors. Many people contributed to the book’s publication and are delighted with the finished product.

 

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Noel Muller (Photo by John Ellis)

 

 

Local Parks Victoria Ranger, Noel Muller, outlined how the local community could respond to the current Parks Victoria survey – what do you love and value about our parks, and what could be improved? An opportune time to let the managers and government know the value we place on the natural environment with eucalypts being integral to its health.

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Ern Perkins (Photo by John Ellis)

 

 

Bernard then spoke about Ern’s latest guide to native plants of our area – and Ern explained how to use the program.

 

 

 

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People stayed to catch up, ask questions, find out about the latest happenings and to enjoy morning tea.

John McMahon sent us the following comment:

I ducked into the library yesterday to get a copy and was amazed at the huge turnout. After reading the book I am no longer amazed, it is of excellent quality and I can see that a lot of care and love has gone into it. Your work is exceptional and you should be proud of it, the photos, the descriptions, the local information is accurate and well put together – well done. It’s probably too cheap though!

The guide is now available for $10 at Stonemans, the Market Building, the Enviroshop (Newstead) and the Guildford Store. It can also be purchased through Paypal ($13 including postage).

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Update to FOBIF Chewton walk

Elaine Bayes and Damien Cook who were the leaders on our recent Chewton bush walk showed us that by looking closely at a small area you can often see an amazing number of plants. They identified 25-30 in the square metre they selected. A couple of FOBIF members decided to return to the area a few days later to see how many plants mainly in flower they could photograph on a small hillside. This is the result.

Our October walk will be led by Alex Panelli in the Fryers Ranges. We are meeting at Continuing Ed at 9.30 on October 16.

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Strengthening Parks Victoria [1]: it’s the money, stupid

What can be done to strengthen Parks Victoria? Currently Parks is running a community engagement campaign designed to elicit new ideas about how our parks system can run better.

You can find details about the campaign, and how you can participate here .

This sign was found by FOBIF members buried under debris: the spider tells the story. We propped it against a tree. Understaffing and poor resources means basic Parks infrastructure and maintenance are neglected.

The spider tells the story: this sign was found by FOBIF members buried under debris… We propped it against a tree. Understaffing and poor resources means basic Parks infrastructure and maintenance are neglected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The campaign is backed by a discussion paper, Strengthening Parks Victoria, which is full of good ideas and info about our Parks System. We learn, for example, how Parks can improve people’s health, how they can protect biodiversity, how they’re vital in maintaining our water supply, and how they can increase the community’s understanding and appreciation of nature. None of this is new.

Almost the only thing missing from the document, in fact, is the information that our Parks are seriously under resourced. This puts a double question mark after most of the excellent aspirations in the document.

The entire exercise has a feel good quality: lots of photos of happy people and healthy animals doing their thing, under the benign eye of a well paid ranger. This can have a slightly cloying effect on the reader, as we pointed out in our post on the PV Annual report this year. This document, as readers will remember, essentially told us that the world was crashing around Parks Victoria’s ears, but that God was in His Heaven, and All was Well: although savage budget cuts had gutted PV’s ‘core operations’, a new era of ‘excellence’ was dawning.

For a grimmer account of the state of our park system, we recommend the March edition of Parkwatch magazine, available online here: The gist of this is something readers of this site will be familiar with: Parks need more money.

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Strengthening Parks Vic [2]: have your say!

For this reason, we believe it would be good if a lot of people responded to this consultation process.

It doesn't look much: a pile of lawn clippings dumped in the Castlemaine Diggings NHP: dumping of garden rubbish is actually worse than more unsightly junk like computers and the like, because it has the capacity to spread weeds into bushland. The answer is more active education, and better supervision. Both cost money.

It doesn’t look much: a pile of lawn clippings dumped in the Castlemaine Diggings NHP at Glenluce: dumping of garden rubbish is actually worse than more unsightly junk like computers and the like, because it has the capacity to spread weeds into bushland. The answer is more active education, and better supervision. Both cost money.

You don’t have to take a lot of time about it. Click here  and tell Parks what you think: or, by clicking on the heart icon on the feedback page, you can just give a vote to one of the opinions already on there. By doing so, you’re also talking to the State Government, and this is the real nub of the matter. We are told that the State has some money from the sale of the Port of Melbourne. Let’s put some pressure on the government to spend some of this on the proper management of our most precious resource: the environment.

If you want to be more ambitious in your response, you can download and fill in the workbook supplied by the project.

Responses are due by noon on October 7.

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Strengthening Parks Vic [3]: we hope this phrase isn’t sinister

The consultation project will culminate with the production of a final report, which will focus on:

  1. A community vision for parks
  2. Legislative and policy reform
  3. A modern business in government.

We haven’t been able to find out what the last of these means: but we hope it doesn’t prefigure yet another effort to turn this public service enterprise into a profit making business. We know that the parks system already generates $1.5 billion a year to the Victorian economy. We can do without projects to commercialise public assets via tourism infrastructure projects inside our parks.

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Victoria’s parks burning: an intriguing statistic

Some of the info revealed in the Parks Victoria discussion paper is predictable. Some is quite disturbing: for example, we learn that Parks Victoria administers 18% of Victoria—but contributes 50% of the planned burning target. This is an eloquent reminder that our parks bear the brunt of systematic burning, even though authorities repeatedly talk about how fuel reduction should be ‘tenure blind’—that is, that it should be concentrated where it is needed, whether on private or public land.

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Reminder: Launch of FOBIF Eucalyptus ID book on 24 September

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click to enlarge

Next Saturday (24th September) the new FOBIF publication, Eucalypts of the Mount Alexander Region, will be launched by Geoff Park in the Castlemaine Library foyer at 10.30. Refreshments will be provided and everyone is welcome.

The book is a community project that has been two years in the making. See our earlier post to find out more.

For a preview of the book, have a look at the double page spreads below on Grey Box Eucalyptus Microcarpa. Click on each one to enlarge.

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Brilliant walk despite the weather

Our September FOBIF walk was led by local environmentalists, Elaine Bayes and Damien Cook, in the Chewton area off Dingo Park Road. Although the weather didn’t look promising, the rain held off and walkers enjoyed slowly wending their way through masses of Early Nancies and other flowering plants. The damp conditions made the fungi, moss and lichen look especially colourful.

Among the highlights was finding at least a dozen orchid species including several Castlemaine Spider-orchids Caladenia clavescens. Orchid expert, Geoff Neville, was able to give a detailed account of the pollination of these orchids.

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Two Castlemaine Spider-orchids discovered during the walk.

Photos are by Win Jodell and Bronwyn Silver.

Thanks to Elaine and Damien for once again leading a terrific walk and sharing their extensive knowledge of plant life and the environmental history of this area of our Box-Ironbark forests.

The last walk for the year will be led by Alex Panelli in the Fryers Ranges.

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OK: Now it’s a lake, sort of…

Another 40 millimetres of rain on Monday, added to the previous week’s drop, gave a bit of extra push to local waterways, which at the time of writing had approached, but not quite reached, the levels of the flood years. With forecasts suggesting we could have more rain, and a section of Gingell Street Castlemaine under water this morning, the future looks…interesting.

Forest Creek, September 14: forty millimetres of rain the day before gives it a quite respectable volume...

Forest Creek from Happy Valley Road, September 14: forty millimetres of rain the day before gives it a quite respectable volume…

One interesting feature of the flood waters this time, as in many previous such events, is the amount of soil carried in the water. In the case of Forest Creek, this seems to be sourced partly above Expedition Pass [the reservoir was quite brown on Wednesday], partly from sources in the Chewton Bushlands and Fryers Forest, and partly from unsealed roads in Castlemaine itself. In any case, the washaways suggest poor vegetation coverage in our catchments.

Already, there has been the odd whisper that floods are caused by too many trees along the creeks and rivers, which, it is claimed,  ‘need cleaning out.’ Those interested in this old furphy might want to have a look at our previous posts on the matter, here, here and here.

Here are a few more flood photos:

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