Annual reports

2017-18 Annual General Meeting
9 November 2018 at Okines Community House, Dodges Ferry
Gwen Egg – President

This is our 27thyear!! of caring for coast and country in Southern Beaches. We set out to engage with community and involve them in care for the local environment and we did!  

Social Media: Our Facebook page has expanded our ability to inform local people about our activities. Many new people have moved to Southern Beaches attracted by the coastal environment and they want to learn how they can contribute to looking after it. Thanks is due to Sharon, Melinda and Marina for posting our activities on Facebook and telling our story on our website under the headings ‘Precious Places’, ‘Wicked Weeds’, ‘Events’ and ‘Partners’. Our Facebook posts are automatically recorded on the website. There is still a lot of our pre-digital story yet to be recorded on the website. 

Working Bees: We have experimented with different working bee times and this has attracted new participants. Summer evening ‘Pop Up’ working bees to remove Spanish Heath and Sea Spurge at Carlton and Cumbungi at Blue Lagoon have prevented these highly invasive weeds regaining ground in the areas where we have been working to eradicate them for years. Both these events attracted new volunteers keen to contribute to looking after their local patch. If we can recruit more core capacity to organise working bees I am convinced we will have no difficulty attracting volunteers to do the job on the day. 

Grants: During the reporting period we received a $500 Youth and Community grant from Sorell Council which I will report on under ‘Partnerships’ and we received two Naturally Inspired Bite size Grants through NRM South. The first allowed us to further develop our website. The second funded us to engage a contractor to undertake follow up treatment of Blackberryinfestations on the riparian reserve on China Creek at Jacks Flat. Thank you to Marina and Sally who wrote the grant applications and acquittals, a big thank you to Karen who once again went above and beyond to control the Blackberries and Melinda for her thoughtful and informative writing about activities and issues in the local environment.

Thanks to a Naturally Inspired Extension grant through NRM South we were able to follow up our very successful event ‘A Day on the Marsh’ with the installation of an interpretive sign in River Street Carlton at the entrance to the Conservation Area which reminds and informs people about the significant values of the Carlton River estuary. Sharon did a fabulous job developing the content, sourcing illustrations and liaising with Dodges Ferry School to include student drawings on the sign. Thanks also to Mel Hill and Angelique Keil who contributed artwork, Salome Rosa who created a beautiful design, Aunty Colleen Mundy and Aunty Cheryl Mundy for helping us with the wording and Angelique who organised the production and mounting and with the PWS team installed the sign for us. Aunty Colleen and one of the students unveiled it at a delightful event when we ‘launched’ the sign in December 2017.  We hope soon to be able to install a second copy of this beautiful sign on the Primrose Sands side of the Carlton River mouth.

I thank Ruth Osbourne, NRM South, for assistance with our NIG grant processes and enthusiastic sharing of our activities on Facebook. The future of NRM South is uncertain as is future funding to support the efforts of community groups working in the environment. The risk is that a wealth of local knowledge, expertise and networks will be lost. 

Working with partners has been and continues to be important to us: Beginning with the land managers of the areas where we work – We are fortunate to have a true champion in Angelique Keil from PWSwho gives enthusiastic and practical support at every opportunity. Thanks Angelique for repainting swing signs for Primrose Sands and Dodges Ferry working bees. I am delighted that we have Fiona Steel from Crown Land Servicespresent at our meeting today. Thanks Fiona for attending and giving us an opportunity to discuss our volunteer efforts to care for the coast on Crown Land and our relationship with Crown Land Services.  Unfortunately one consequence of increased development in Southern Beaches is an increase in illegal activity on Crown Land such as clearing fragile coastal vegetation for views. In the past James Gourlay supported us by sending letters to residents of properties adjacent to the Coastal Reserve. James attended a site visit with SBLC volunteers and this led to several practical outcomes. James is no longer working at CLS and we thank him for his support.

Sorell Council: We continue to manage a number of precious Council Reserves in Southern Beaches for their remnant native vegetation and habitat. Work we have done over the decades means we only have to visit annually to keep these in good shape. Kerry Ford continues to collect rubbish and green waste after our working bees when required. The Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens recently mounted a display of flowering specimens of rare and endangered native orchids including the Critically Endangered Caledonia Saggicolus Sagg spider orchid found in only 2 sites one of these being Parnella Reserve where it was spotted by Chris and Sally Johns and identified by Hans and Annie Wapstra 10 years ago.  A genuinereview of our SC/SBLC joint management plans for these reserves is well overdue. We now have a new Council which includes 3 new Councillors. Perhaps this will create new opportunities to address the impact of increased population and development on our local environment. At present it appears Sorell Council has no effective staff for natural resource management. Council’s street sealing program is increasing the load of nutrients and pollutants being delivered directly to our waterways and robbing native vegetation of much needed run off. We are shocked to discover that Council has installed yet another ugly pipe discharging untreated storm water into Blue Lagoon. There is no excuse for compromising water quality and environment with short sited poor design in these days when water sensitive urban design and storm water harvesting are the norm in adjacent municipalities. 

We are disappointed that Councillors ignored strong scientific evidence of the critical importance of Red Ochre Beach as a feeding site for shore birds and bowed to pressure from the dog lobby relaxing the restrictions on this beach this summer. The increased number and size of dogs on the beach is alarming!

Okines: We continue to work closely with Okines Community House. We meet here at Okines and our Landcare bookshelf makes it easy to share our resources and equipment. Okines provide access to computers, photocopier and other office support which is vital. Thank you to Nat and Karen! 

Our networking with the Community Garden is inspiring and energising. We share ideas, information and contacts. Gabe attended a Landcare meeting and brought us up to speed on recent and planned developments in the garden including the new composting toilets and new plantings. Gabe and Claire use the SBLC water watch equipment in their work with students from DFPS. Last summer garden volunteers helped us to remove every new plant of weedy Cumbungi from the Okines wetland. Only a few new shoots have emerged this spring which is remarkable given that this wetland was completely overtaken by Cumbungi when we made a start with the help of corporate volunteers and Dodges Ferry School students a few years ago. SBLC and Okines Community Garden shared a very successful stall at the DFPS Twilight Fair.

In response to a flood of new arrivals who have brought property in Southern Beaches but have little knowledge of the local environment and with the offer of plants through the ‘15 Trees’ program we used our $500 Community grant from Sorell Council to support community engagement by partnering with Okines Community Garden to present an outstanding event “It’s Our Backyard!”on 4thJune 2018. Sharon has prepared a fabulous report on the event. 

Exciting things continue to happen at Dodges Ferry School. It is wonderful to see the local environment being embraced and nurtured as a focus for learning. Pieta’s leadership, energy, enthusiasm and ‘can do’ attitude are an inspiration. Claire’s Concept Plan has captured ideas for linking the school with its surrounding environment and community areas. Students contributed wonderful artwork for our wetland sign. During Story Telling Week, Gwen read Jeanie Baker’s picture and story book about migratory birds Circle to several classes during their library time and school librarian Sallie Clark mounted a fabulous display about sea horses. SBLC provided an award for environmental work at the Leavers Assembly.

We appreciate the support of our peak body Landcare Tas which advocates for us and keeps us insured, informed, and networking with other groups. Sally and Chris attended the MOB event and reported back. The support we get from Landcare Tas such as the annual LAP grant is more important than ever.

Weeds: We have continued our strategic control of Boneseed e.g. at the Park Beach dune site, Red Ochre Beach and Primrose Sands, our recording and eradication of Sea Spurge at the Carlton River Mouth, Cumbungi control at Okines wetland and Blue Lagoon, Spanish Heath removal in the Carlton Dunes and Blackberry control on China Creek.

Clean up group – see Lorraine’s report

Primrose Sands group and TASMARC – see report from Chris

I particularly acknowledge the core group – Chris (Treasurer and Primrose Sands Group), Marina (Secretary and Public Officer), Sharon (Activity Coordinator), Glenn (meeting chair), Sally, Melinda, Russell, Anne, Lorraine (Clean Up Group ) and Jan.

We face BIG challenges. Cost cutting and frequent restructuring in government organisations at the local, state and national level has led to a collective amnesia about who we are and what we have achieved which often leaves us in the position of having to defend what we have worked so hard to protect and restore. Funding for community coast care and bush care activities has disappeared just at a time when our fragile coastal environment is under huge stress from increased development and population. We began, in 1991, as a small group of individuals with particular passions and areas of interest. We have creatively adapted to political, social, and bureaucratic changes. What we have achieved is truly remarkable. Many people would not know that as they climb the steps after their swim, enjoy their view of the bluff, listen to the birds and rest in the shade of a giant White gum or identify wildflowers and native orchids in a little patch of remnant bush they do so thanks to the efforts of our committed band of volunteers.

We have new and successful means of engaging with the community but our core capacity to manage activities such as field days and working bees is much too lean. This year we had to take a winter break while members of the core group were interstate. We are the ‘go to’ people for information, expertise and background to the local environment in a growing community with lots of new energy and interest in the environment. People have come to us about the threat of an artificial reef, the loss of White Gums, illegal clearing of native vegetation on the coastal reserve and for information about local planting and dune rehabilitation. We have a proud history of meaningful community consultation and have restored significant areas of native bushland limiting impacts on the environment by bringing people along on the journey and making it easy for them to do the right thing. 

Our biggest challenge will be to attract new capacity into our core group which creates, organises and manages opportunities for people to express their love and concern for the local environment in action. 

Gwen Egg – President

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