Advisory Group Report (s)

 

Margo

The AG has met twice since our last newsletter.

In October we looked in some detail at some of the challenges to  the environmental values of the Park.

The Brushtail Rock Wallaby Recovery Team gave us a depressing summary of the programme since it started in 2008. Although 39 animals have been released at the site, there are currently only 4 adults. Of the 9 births on site, none have survived to reproductive age. The causes of the deaths are not clearly understood; some probably predation, genetic weaknesses in the animals have been identified and new genetics introduced in more recent releases, and it is suspected that introducing new individuals to the group each time may have resulted in stress. The upshot is that no new releases will be made at the Moora site. For the next 10 years the team will concentrate on the wild population in east Gippsland, and on maintaining a captive population of genetic value. If all goes well they may establish a second release site well away from the Moora site.

In the meantime monitoring of the remaining animals will continue, along with fox control. Maybe coincidentally, now that reintroductions have ceased there are more young around than ever before, but whether they will make it to adulthood remains to be seen. I know that Ryan and his team have been active in their fox patrols over summer. They shot 3 quite recently, but there’s one wily one appearing on camera that they haven’t managed to deal with yet.

That was followed by Ryan updating us on his areas. There’s been some good news on new findings of squirrel glider and sugar glider sites, there’s the daunting task of dealing with the sallow wattle invasion, there’s the need for an increased focus on grazer management (deer, goat, rabbit) , with thought needed on whether macropod grazing is a problem as well. Unfortunately although there is work being done on a specific cat poison, it is not ready for trials.

Ryan is also responsible for cultural programmes and there has been quite a bit of work done on recording and examining new sites as well as conserving existing ones, with graffiti being a problem at some sites.

Claire Evans gave us an update on Fire Recovery activities, what’s complete, what’s in progress, what has yet to be started. The Northern Grampians fire was so severe, and the weather has been so dry, that some areas are still to fragile for visitation. MacKenzie Falls is quite a dilemma; it is open, but what buildings, parking areas, paths etc are needed all need careful planning.

Mike Stevens took us back to considering how best to plan for our parks into the future. For a couple of years already, Mike – although sitting in the Halls Gap office – has had a wider role across the state. He is working on developing a decision making process based on defining a landscape’s attributes and the needs arising from those attributes. The Greater Grampians is the first landscape (out of 16 across the state) to be studied in this way. Five key attributes have been identified: our floristic diversity, small mammals, habitat structure, aquatic values, arboreal mammals. During the process the big impact of grazing on the parks became clear and the need for more resources to deal with this. (I found this really interesting, I had forgotten how important things we don’t often see, like the crayfish and other aquatic plants and animals are.)

We finished off the meeting with brief discussions on: changes in the landscape – increased tree coverage, burning regimes; increased rubbish in the Park; campfires; how the AG (and individuals) can advocate and influence public discussions on things like chairlifts, helicopter flights; thanks to the Dunkeld community for the volunteer work to rebuild Strachan hut.


 

Our December meeting in contrast had just one main theme – education.

Grampians Education Strategy

  • Recent changes to the Brambuk Agreement have resulted in Education services not being exclusively delivered through Brambuk.
  • PV Education team(Melb) have offered some funds and capacity to undertake a rapid Ed Strategy.
  • Agreed the importance of reviewing the current content on offer and make it contemporary to curriculum needs
  • Each youth education sector has been identified, categorised and objectives for engagement set. The sectors are: school camps (mostly yrs7-9 focusing on team building and activities), visiting school groups (some VCE subjects related), local primary schools and local preschools.

We then drove down to Dunkeld to hear about the Bush Kinder and to look at the site they use. Deb Millard (preschool teacher and AG member) described the bush kinder concept and invited us out on site for a discussion.

General comments: simple, effective, investment in the future.

A very short General Business followed:

The Management Plan Review is overdue and emerging as the next on the corporate list. Challenge around resourcing it to the required level to get the outcomes needed.

Note: 2016-17 priority with input from the Advisory Gp

Future topics for AG meetings in 2016: Peaks trail, Fire and burn planning, Management Planning, Interpretation, Cultural Heritage, Heritage Day, Marketing.

Finally, Barry Clugstone and I were invited as part of the Advisory Group to meet the new PV CEO Bradley Fauteux in December and to accompany him on a whirlwind visit to the Park. We walked into the Grand Canyon part of the Peaks Trail to show him what has been done there, then the Bugiga hiker camp, then on to Reid’s Lookout to discuss natural values and cultural heritage, and at McKenzie Falls to look at fire and rebuilding issues. Barry and I were the only civilians around, and as we travelled in the same car as Bradley and Dave had a good opportunity to promote our views.

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