Restoring landscapes across the Mount Alexander Region

Education Program 2013

Learning from experience and learning from each other was the focus for the 2013 program. Each event included a local perspective.

Sunday 10 February: Dja Dja Wurrung ‘Welcome to Country’ &  Local Reptiles – From the Backyard to the Bush

This Sunday afternoon event featured the launch the 2013 Education Program with a Welcome to Country from the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. An elder form the group gave the welcome, which included one of their own stories about reptiles.

Following the welcome, Peter Johnson (Senior Biodiversity Planner with DSE) gave a talk on local reptiles. He told us about some of the more common reptiles, including those you might find in your garden at home, through to some hidden away in special habitats that we don’t often get to see.

Soils workshop

Soils workshop

Sunday 17 February & Sunday 24 February: Forest Soils Workshop: The Science, Management & History of our Local Soils.

This workshop was held over two consecutive Sundays and aimed to give participants an insight into the science and management of ‘native’ soils. The first day was on general soil science and classification, including simple methods of identifying and describing soil types in our area. The day was led by Lesley Hodgson. Lesley lectures in Environmental Science and Outdoor Education at La Trobe University and has had a lifelong love of soils. Participants came away with an understanding of what soil is, how it was formed, and with plenty of it under their finger nails.

The second day focused on soil management and the history of soil in the Mount Alexander region since European colonisation. The first half of the day was led by local ecologist Damien Cook. After lunch Doug Ralph led an excursion on the history of soil in the Mount Alexander region. Doug is a long-time resident of Castlemaine whose broad knowledge of the local environment and its history is unique and well-regarded.

Kids Nature Discovery Afternoon

Kids Nature Discovery Afternoon

Friday 1 March: Nature Discovery Afternoon for Kids

This special family event included three nature discovery sessions in one afternoon for kids 9 – 12 years of age. It was held in the beautiful surrounds of Vaughan Springs Reserve. Each session was different and we were lucky to have Parks Victoria, Elaine Bayes (Rakali Ecological Consulting) and Tooko Wildlife Displays running a session each. More information here.

Wednesday 13 March: Environmental Weeds: Threatening Biodiversity from Maldon to Marrakesh

Participants found out why environmental weeds are not only a local threat but also a global biodiversity catastrophe from two interesting speakers. The first speaker was Geoff Carr. Geoff is a founding director of Ecology Australia and Vice President on the board of the Invasive Species Council. He has been a botanical consultant for 32 years and is a leading authority on environmental weed research, management and taxonomy in Australia. He spoke about the serious and perhaps underestimated threat that environmental weeds pose to biodiversity in Australia and around the world; what are the species, why are they a problem and what should the government’s response be?

His talk was followed by local Wheel Cactus Warrior, Ian Grenda, who shared his experience of managing a highly invasive species in the Maldon area. Ian is a co-founder of the Tarrengower Cactus Control Committee, a group of determined volunteers who have virtually become world experts in controlling the invasive wheel cactus, Opuntia robusta.

A member of the Tarrangower Cactus Control Committee injecting a large Wheel Cactus with specialised equipment.

A member of the Tarrangower Cactus Control Committee injecting a large Wheel Cactus with specialised equipment.

Wednesday 10 April: Designing a Wildlife Corridor: What Works & Why?

We were lucky to have two great speakers for the night:

Dr Rodney Van der Ree is a wildlife ecologist and senior researcher at the University of Melbourne. He provided recommendations on how to design effective wildlife corridors in our region, particularly for use by Tuans and Sugar Gliders. Rodney has also been involved in efforts to provide connectivity for these species across major roads, including the Calder and Hume Freeways; he summarised what the results of these efforts have been so far.

Philippa Schapper is coordinator of the Superb Parrot Project. The Project began in 1992 when a group of farmers in the Picola area of northern Victoria became concerned about the future of the Superb Parrot in their area. Their ongoing commitment to the Project has seen 20 years of revegetation, primarily on privately owned land, to the extent that the local landscape is significantly different.  She described how both the landholders and the local wildlife have benefited.

The evening offered some good ideas and inspiration to help with future works.

Sunday 28 April: Connecting Country Bus Tour: What Does Successful Landscape Restoration Look Like?

Connecting Country staff and North Central CMA Knowledge Broker Geoff Park on a bus tour of three properties that are undertaking landscape restoration projects. This was an opportunity to hear what landholders have to say about the work they’re doing on their properties, why they’re doing it, and perhaps see what might be possible on your place.