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Queenscliffe Herald Article - January 2008

Swan Bay Integrated Catchment Management Project

Sue Longmore, Coastal Officer, Swan Bay Integrated Catchment Management Committee

Swan Bay Integrated Catchment Management Committee (SBICMC) is a network of groups protecting the Bellarine Peninsula and marine environments through catchment care. Each month this column will showcase different groups in the network, highlighting their participation in the Swan Bay Integrated Catchment Management Project (SBICMP).

Parks Victoria has been a staunch supporter of SBICMP for the past ten years, providing technical advice, practical support and meeting room facilities. Parks Victoria manages Swan Bay and a number of coastal reserves on the Bellarine Peninsula including Edwards Point Wildlife Reserve, Lonsdale Lakes Wildlife Reserve and foreshore reserves abutting Swan Bay’s western and south-western shoreline.

Parks Victoria and SBICMC have jointly undertaken many Swan Bay protection projects over the years, sharing expertise and resources, and involving community. In 1999 approximately eight kilometres of saltmarsh vegetation along the western foreshore of Swan Bay was fenced to exclude stock, protecting critical winter habitat of the Orange-bellied Parrot, an endangered species. Within two years a lush carpet of Beaded Glasswort and other saltmarsh herbs had recolonised the degraded areas, increasing the winter food source available to Orange-bellied Parrots and providing good summer habitat for Golden Plovers, migratory waders from the Arctic Circle.  Woodland plants were planted on the ridge line behind the saltmarsh to increase safe roosting sites for Orange-bellied Parrots. A boardwalk was built over saltmarsh at Edwards Point and interpretive signs were installed at Swan Bay Jetty and Edwards Point, providing information about migratory waders, saltmarsh plants and Orange-bellied Parrots.

Many people made this happen. Landowners assisted with the fencing and a Green Corps team built the boardwalk under the guidance of Parks Victoria Ranger, Lachie Jackson who is also the Parks Victoria representative on SBICMC. School children and volunteers from the Queenscliff Community Nursery propagated the indigenous plants and local artists designed the interpretive signs. Many grant applications were written and funding secured from a variety of places -Tree Victoria, Alcoa, Parks Victoria, Coast Action/ Coastcare, Threatened Species Network and the Orange-bellied Parrot Recovery Program. All in all a great partnership project, with far-reaching environmental benefits.

Currently Parks Victoria and SBICMC are working together on further shorebird protection projects at Swan Bay.

Coast Action /Coastcare has been represented on SBICMC since its inception. The Department of Sustainability & Environment’s Coast Action/ Coastcare Coordinator for Port Phillip West, Dianne Moore, brings a strategic and regional perspective to our Committee and offers technical advice, ideas, training and funding opportunities, giving valuable support to our projects and SBICMC staff.

Community Support Grants facilitated through the Coast Action/ Coastcare Program have enabled many SBICMP community awareness projects to proceed. Hooded Plover signs installed on key beach access tracks, several years ago, were provided through this program. The Hooded Plover is a threatened shorebird species that lives along our surf beaches. The signs provide practical ideas for beach-goers that will help this diminishing shorebird population to survive. The very popular ‘Coastal and Inland Plants of the Bellarine Peninsula’ booklets produced by SBICMP in 2006 were funded with assistance from Coast Action /Coastcare and Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, as were the recently launched ‘Fauna of the Bellarine Peninsula’ brochures. New Swan Bay interpretive signs at the viewing platforms along the Swan Bay Environment Trail at Queenscliff are on track for installation in autumn 2008 - yet another example of assistance from Coast Action Coastcare, coupled by a generous donation from Swan Bay Environment Association, another SBICMC group member.

Department of Primary Industries (Geelong) also has representation on SBICMC. Support and technical advice in Environmental Best Management Practice for many of our rural projects has been generously given by our DPI contacts including David Lean. Workshops and field days focussing on Sustainable Agricultural Practices and Whole Farm Planning have been jointly organised for broad-acre farmers, small hobby farmers and those living on the rural fringe.

SBICMP thanks the agency groups for the contributions they have made to the Swan Bay Integrated Catchment Management Project over the past ten years and looks forward to a long and continuing partnership in environmental protection on the Bellarine Peninsula. The next Local Environment Column will feature SBICMP partnership activities undertaken with Barwon Coast, City of Greater Geelong and Borough of Queenscliffe. For further information about SBICMC contact Sue Longmore, Coastal Coordinator 5258 1836.

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