Another hunting riddle: the state government and duck shooting

A couple of years ago we expressed surprise at the apparently supine attitude of the state Labor government before the hunting lobby. It’s so called ‘deer strategy‘, for example,  was ‘more concerned to gratify the hunting lobby than to respond to an increasingly evident environmental mess. It is puzzling and depressing that the state government should be concerned to pander to this lobby, whose allies are actively campaigning against it in the state election.’

Another matter on which the government seems to be paralysed is duck shooting.

Recreational shooting of birds is banned in NSW, Queensland, WA and the ACT, but not in Victoria. FOBIF has lent its support to the letter below, signed by 42 conservation related groups:

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At their November 2019 conference, the Victorian Labor Party committed to review recreational native waterbird shooting in Victoria.

We call on the Andrews’ Government to honor their commitment.

Here’s why.

Cruelty. Numerous studies including by ballistics experts, show at least one in four of the hundreds of thousands of birds shot each year in Victoria will not be killed outright. Many will flap away to die a slow painful death elsewhere. Many others will live to suffer permanent injuries.

Sustainability. Populations of our native waterbirds – many species unique to our country – have been decimated. Allowing recreational native waterbird shooting is irresponsible if we care about biodiversity or leaving the next generation any hope of enjoying the birdlife we do today.

Biodiversity. Significant numbers of threatened and protected species are killed as collateral damage of Victoria’s recreational duck shooting seasons including Australia’s rarest waterfowl, the Freckled duck.

Safety. It is not possible to monitor the thousands of public waterways where recreational waterbird shooting is allowed, placing our wildlife and the public at risk. More people live around the waterways now than they did in the 1950’s and many have expressed fears about their personal safety during duck shooting.

Economics. Studies show there would be an economic benefit in banning the activity in Victoria, as it has already been banned in other states. With rural communities crying out for a financial lifeline and 866,000 domestic tourists engaging in birdwatching last year, it makes sense to protect our natural assets not kill them off.

Democracy. Less than half of one percent of the population shoot ducks. Meanwhile professional polls continue to show that the majority of Victorians – city and country – want duck shooting to end.

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Zoom in to the FOBIF AGM

FOBIF has decided to have a Zoom AGM on Monday November 9 at 7.30. Members and supporters are cordially invited to attend. You’ll need to register to do this.

Those who register will be sent a log in link, in the manner of the many  Zoom meetings we’ve had to become used to over these last months.  To register, simply email a request with your email address to info@fobif.org.au

FOBIF’s financial report will be delivered at the meeting, as will the President’s report on the year’s activities. We have decided, however, not to have a guest speaker. We hope to be able to have a ‘live’ meeting early next year, where members will be able to share the same area, in the traditional way. At this meeting , we plan to launch one of our new publications: watch this space.

Nominations are now open for the FOBIF committee. A special form is not required: a sheet of paper containing the nominee’s name,  the signatures of two nominators (both FOBIF members), and the signature of the nominee accepting the nomination, is all you need. You can send it to Box 322 Castlemaine, give it personally to a committee member, or email us at info@fobif.org.au, and we’ll come and pick it up…assuming you’re in the Mount Alexander Shire.

Positions open are: President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and ordinary committee members.

To vote at the meeting you will of course need to be a member.

If you have a special interest in our local bushlands, and a bit of energy to spare, we urge you to consider standing for the committee: there’s a place for you!

Our monthly FOBIF walks have now been going for more than 20 years. This is a photo of the March 2009 bushwalk led by local geologist Clive Willman. Liz Eagar is holding up the map and Margaret Panter, former walks organiser, is taking notes.. Clive is still leading walks for FOBIF but unfortunately his 2020 excursion had to be postponed. We hope to run it next year.

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Last FOBIF walk for the year

Twenty walkers in two groups set off last Sunday for a delightful walk along the Coliban Water Reserve in Kennedy’s Lane where the old Harcourt Channel runs through remnant wetland on the outskirts of the Chewton Bushlands.

The pace was leisurely with walkers enjoying the many wildflowers in open bird-rich forest among old river red-gums. After leaving the Reserve walkers followed several Chewton Bushland tracks with even more wildflowers. Highlights included finding an uncommon native pea for our area, Creeping Bossiaea Bossiaea prostrata, an unexpected climbing Hill Flat-pea Platylobium montanum and a wonderful display of Hoary Sunray Leucochrysum albicans var. albicans at Antoinette’s home where one group had lunch.

Thanks to Antoinette Birkenbeil and Karen Baker for leading the walks and all the people who sent in their photos to FOBIF. Our next walk will be in March 2020 and new walk’s program will be distributed in January.

If you missed out this walk you might be interested in a wildflower walk in Chewton next Sunday on the track between Railway Street and White Gum Track also led by Karen and Antoinette. The walk starts at 11am. Contact Antoinette for more details: antoinettebirkenbeil@icloud.com

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New from old: an indigenous management plan for Kalimna

A new management plan for Kalimna Park will be released for consultation before the end of the year. The plan, part of the Balak Kalik Manya (Walking Together) project, is part of ongoing indigenous co management  in the park.

Not surprisingly, surveys have shown that Kalimna Park is mostly used for exercise and immersion in nature. Although rubbish dumping is a recurring problem, the park is relatively free of nuisances like rogue trailbike riders and destructive four wheel drive activity. This may be a function of the fact that the park is extremely popular, and it’s rare that you go there without seeing someone mooching about.

Well attended Zoom meeting on September 29 was briefed on progress so far on production of the management plan. Project co-ordinator Harley Douglas answered questions from attendees on issues including significant indigenous heritage sites, weed and fire management, the implications of a push to World Heritage status for the goldfields, and resourcing. The project has been funded from a grant designed to cover a similar management for Wildflower Drive in Bendigo.

The Balak Kalik Manya project forms an important part of the introduction of Indigenous co-management on public lands in Jaara country–itself part of Traditional Owner co-management statewide. The following article on this important trend is from the VNPA Parkwatch magazine, and is written by Phil Ingamells:

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Victoria has been quietly undergoing a radical change in management arrangements for our finest remaining ‘natural’ areas. Most of our national parks now have formal, or sometimes informal, joint management agreements with Victoria’s various Traditional Owner groups. In August this year, the Victorian Government reached a settlement agreement with the Taungurung people of central Victoria. It gives the Traditional Owners the right to jointly manage one of Victoria’s oldest national parks, Mount Buffalo National Park, as well as part of the Alpine National Park and Kinglake National Park, all of Heathcote Graytown National Park, Lake Eildon National Park, Mount Samaria State Park, Cathedral Range State Park, and some smaller reserves.

Settlement agreements have now been reached with many Aboriginal communities across Victoria, and they have been engaged in the development of joint management plans for some time.

Continue reading

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Supermarket objection

FOBIF has submitted an objection to the planning  permit application for a new supermarket in Duke Street Castlemaine. Our submission is essentially a repeat of our objection to a previous version of this permit application. We said at the time that ‘ we have no opinion on the wisdom of a second large supermarket in the town, or its location, or its design: we have to trust to the competence of council on these matters.

‘Our objection is solely related to the proposed landscape plantings for the development’.

Our second objection states: ‘FOBIF objected to a previous version of this application in July, on the grounds … that the landscaping proposal included the planting of several environmental weeds, something we have enough  of already.

‘The new application seems to have deleted one of these plants—the Peppercorn—but left the others.

‘We therefore repeat our objection: this proposal should not be approved until the proponents accept a responsible practice on the matter of landscape planting. This should not be hard to do, and we’re at a loss as to why the proponents appear reluctant to do it.’

And we are at a loss. You would think that respect for ecology would be a basic part of the formation of a landscaper…but it seems this is not always the case.

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Investing in public health

‘Environmental infrastructure’ is one of those phrases that makes the eyes glaze over, but actually, all it means is: things that help you enjoy good places. That is, bush tracks, ways of enjoying parks and gardens, and so on. As we’ve suggested many times, money spent on such things is not a cost, it’s an investment. If COVID 19 has made anything clear, that’s it: healthy natural places are essential for people’s mental and physical wellbeing, and it’s about time government budgets acknowledged this fact.

Castlemaine to Maldon walking track: money spent on providing access to healthy environments is an investment, not a cost.

FOBIF has made a short submission to Parliament’s enquiry into ‘environmental infrastructure.’ The gist of our submission is below:

Given the emphasis on population increase in the terms of reference, we note that the population of Victoria has increased by over a million in the last 12 years. In that time, Parks Victoria’s staffing has remained more or less frozen at 2008 levels.  Though the situation at DELWP is more complex, given its fire control responsibilities, we believe that as far as constructive management of bushland is concerned the situation is similar. We urge the committee to seriously examine the nature of funding of public land management.

Funding for public land managers is a key factor in the quality of environmental infrastructure close to townships, for very simple reasons:

  1. Management of tracks and trails has to be more intensive: our observation is that road management by Parks Victoria and DELWP is often crude and destructive of adjacent bushland. We are forced to believe that this is a consequence of using untrained, unsupervised or simply uninformed personnel. Of course, the cure for this is increased funding.
  2. Environments near townships need very careful management for fire prevention and mitigation: it’s not possible to light a large area ‘fuel reduction burn’ and let it do its thing inside the fire perimeter, because proximity to houses always poses a risk, and in any case large burned areas are a negative effect on amenity. The solution to this is treatment in much smaller patches…which costs money.
  3. Nuisance behaviours like rubbish dumping and rogue trail bike riding are on the increase. Without a more frequent ranger presence these are bound to increase. Ranger numbers are deplorably low.

We have two further points:

  1. Landcare groups in Castlemaine and Campbells creek have engaged in ambitious revegetation programs over the last two decades, with spectacularly successful results, including two widely used Creek trails. These groups need support.
  2. We support the introduction of indigenous co management into our public lands, and specifically the ‘Walking together’ program designed to reform the management of Kalimna Park, adjacent to Castlemaine.
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More on October walk with FOBIF

Twenty people have registered for our October FOBIF walk. This is the maximum number of people we can have in two walking groups with current regulations. There maybe some people who end up withdrawing so still let us know if you are interested and we can put you on a reserve list.

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FOBIF’s October walk

As mentioned in a previous post there will be a FOBIF walk on Sunday 18th October in the Chewton Bushlands led by Antoinette Birkenbeil and Karen Baker. (We briefly had the wrong date for the walk but now corrected.) On the walk we will be divided into 2 groups of 10 or under, social distancing and wearing masks.

Contact FOBIF by email (info@fobif.org.au) or by phone (Bronwyn Silver: 0448 751 111) by 16th October if you would like to register for the walk. 

Also check this website closer to the date in case the lockdown regulations have changed by then.

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More lockdown reading!

The September issue of Wombat Forestcare newsletter is now out, and can be found here

As usual, it’s a great read, containing articles about owls, the continuing uncertain status of the Wombat Forest, bird calls, fungi, and a very sobering article on the legacy of mining in the Wombat.

In the light of extensive advertising in the local press of mining exploration in central Victoria, readers may be interested in an online petition run by  Blackwood group No Wombat Gold against mining the Wombat. It can be found here. Recent community action led by comedian Tom Gleeson stopped mining exploration activity in the Macedon Ranges, so these exploration proposals should not be seen as foregone conclusions.

It seems that the lure of gold never weakens. It’s very hard to assess the value of ventures which are periodically launched in this part of the world: all we can say is that many have launched, and many have sunk without trace. That is no cause for complacency.

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Add your view on Kalimna Park

Community members are being invited to participate in a Zoom workshop session, facilitated by Djandak (Dja Dja Wurrung Enterprises), to discuss values, threats, priorities, and opportunities associated with Kalimna Park- as part of the Walking Together- Balak Kalik Manya Project. The workshop will take place this coming Tuesday, September 29, from 7pm to 9pm.

For more information on the project please see this short video- https://vimeo.com/441201115

Here’s the invitation to the online workshop, from Harley Douglas, Project manager at Djandak:

‘We need the community’s intimate knowledge of Kalimna Park to begin prioritising management recommendations that will be listed within our site-specific management plan. It is unfortunate that we are unable to meet face-to-face given the current restrictions surrounding COVID-19, but we are pressing forward in the form of an online workshop. Through this session, community members will have the opportunity to discuss all things Kalimna Park; including the things they like and dislike, along with any other relevant comments.

‘We will be running our workshop on the 29th of September with the assistance of Conservation Management. The workshop will commence at 7:00pm- 9:00pm. To be involved you will need to have access to a computer, with an internet connection, in your own home.

‘Here is the link to our online workshop- https://zoom.us/j/93302389412

‘I hope to hear from you and see you at our online workshop!’

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