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There are moments when summer can seem a quiet time in the bush…

Many plants have died off or shriveled back to underground storage organs while many bird species have retreated to moister refuges. But don’t be fooled, summer is full of life if you look hard enough, as this is the most prolific time for most of our invertebrates. Like reptiles, invertebrates are ectotherms, meaning they can’t warm their body temperature like mammals and so rely on outside… Read more »

Is your plant ID accurate?

Part 1. IN LATE 2012 IFFA and the NRM Providers Network carried out an online survey on plant identification skills intended for people working in ecological restoration (ER). The first analysis (on ‘demographics and the importance of plant skills in the respondents’ professional life) highlighted that plant skills are indeed crucial, with an overall rating of 9.3 out of 10. See Indigenotes May 2013 p5.  This article starts to explore ‘How do… Read more »

Reclaiming Green Tape

Green Tape (derogatory) — Time-consuming bureaucratic procedures or regulations relating to environmental concerns. (Source: Wiktionary). A YEAR AGO, the then Federal Opposition coined a new term, marrying green (“environmentally friendly”) and red tape (“bureaucratic regulations”). The newly elected government and state governments have since enthusiastically applied the slogan of cutting ‘green tape’ to justify their efforts to ‘streamline’ environmental protection processes and promote economic development. It made for nice sound bites.1  Last October, Simon Copland, in… Read more »

Interesting times

We’re in interesting times as we are all getting to find out a little more about the new native vegetation regulations and how they are to work.. Offsets in short supply Although the front end of the new system has been slowly swinging into action, i.e. applications are now arriving and being processed by council, the same can’t be said for offset provision. It seems that whilst councils will be able to issue permits that require offsets to be provided to meet the new offset requirements, offset providers are yet to be informed about… Read more »

President’s letter

I regretfully set aside my natural tendency for optimism for this letter. In case you have not heard, in Victoria, biodiversity protection legislation is ‘critically endangered’.  In a pre-Christmas double-pronged attack, the badly flawed new vegetation protection processes (described in the last edition of Indigenotes) have been passed, and for good measure, for any site that still warrants it, DEPI has been shorn of its capacity to… Read more »

Certainly not stewardship

Letter to the editor. Every year the Department of Sustainability and Environment plans a state-wide burn program. The planned burn program for 2012 was 225,000 hectares with 197,149 hectares successfully completed. According to the DSE’s website, the Victorian Government is committing to completing planned burns on 5% of public land – approximately 390,000 hectares. Ecological impacts of fire play a seemingly minor role in the decision making process. The majority of decisions lie with the intent to… Read more »

Certainly not stewardship

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Certainly not stewardship . Every year the Department of Sustainability and Environment plans a state-wide burn program. The planned burn program for 2012 was 225,000 hectares with 197,149 hectares successfully completed. According to the DSE’s website, the Victorian Government is committing to completing planned burns on 5% of public land – approximately 390,000 hectares. Ecological impacts of fire play a seemingly minor role in the decision making process. The majority of decisions lie with the intent to… Read more »

Conservation in a crowded world

Conservation in a crowded world Report of a talk by Richard Fuller from the University of Queensland. Richard Fuller presented some of his research results around the relationship of people and biodiversity at the Burnley Campus of the University of Melbourne on November 23rd. Much of his work has great relevance to Melbourne’s planned expansion and to the design of green spaces in urban areas. Richard started by… Read more »

An insect diary from the suburbs Part 1

G’day Indigephiles. For the last two months I’ve been on a small game safari in the wilds of suburban Heathmont, pushing ever onwards to far corners of Melbourne. In between watching Alby Mangels brown-water rafting down Dandenong Creek and helping Harry Butler* pull his hand out of a hollow log, I’ve started a diary on some of the six legged fauna I’ve discovered out this way.. October 18 At the 100 Acres bushland in Park Orchards, Common Dusky Blue butterflies (Candalides hyacinthina) were very docile in the cold conditions, happily perching on my outstretched finger. The caterpillars of this butterfly feed on Dodder-laurels (Cassytha spp.) October 21 At Hotchkins Ridge (Exeter Ridge) in North Croydon, Spittle Bugs were found under their frothy “cuckoo-spit” shelters on various herbaceous plants – Senecio, Dianella, Dichopogon, Stylidium etc. They were also… Read more »

Hello HeHo

Friend of the Helmeted Honeyeater David Howell writes of the joy of introducing school children to the ‘HeHo’ and the habitat restoration work being done at Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve. He loves to get children involved because they have boundless energy, awareness and great observation skills once shown how to use their inherent senses.. I have been doing talks and plantings over the past several months and below is just a glimpse of a great day spent educating school children about the Friends of the Helmeted Honeyeater. I arrived at the depot shed after dropping off 500 tube stock, 30 Hamilton planters, buckets and other equipment at a convenient fork in the track leading to the planting site. I then checked the toilets were clean and… Read more »

Wildlife No bull

Take a slab of pasture, fold in propagation skills, a handfull of volunteer labour and simmer for twenty years, and you have my recipe for revegetation. I purchased a two acre paddock that was an occasional home to a large bull in Lysterfield South in 1991. I was assured by the real estate agent the adjacent land could never be developed and would ultimately be purchased by the state government to join Churchill Park with Lysterfield Park. The block was elevated and exposed to the southwest in particular, with no vegetation except for scattered patches of… Read more »

Presidents letter

Speaking up for nature. Skillful communication is a tool for saving nature. People who care about nature are often, by ‘nature’ thoughtful and quiet. These qualities help make them fantastic observers and empathic to the lives of the non-human world. Frequently these traits are associated with reticence to speak out in front of a crowd. Our shyness means we are happiest working in the background, doing the essential caretaking of our local … Read more »

Where is the gain?

The State Government’s review of vegetation protection policies is an attempt to undermine current laws. Analysis by Karl Just. When the first European ships pulled up on the shores of Australia, the land that is now the State of Victoria had several characteristics that were to cause it a great deal of trouble over the coming centuries. One of these was the vast extent of grasslands and grassy woodlands that graced its landscapes, from the volcanic and coastal plains to the riverine plains of the north. These lands, after … Read more »

Little Penguin outing

On the first Sunday night in April, IFFA visitors and Earthcare St Kilda volunteers gather at St Kilda Pier for the last of the fortnightly Little Penguin monitoring for this season.. We are received by Zoe Hogg, who has been coordinating the research activities for the last 26 years. As we walk along the pier and pass the public boardwalk, she tells me about the enormous datasets she has obtained with the help of her many volunteers. This year, she has had PhD students run tests on the data with surprising results; Zoe estimated the St Kilda pier population to consist of… Read more »

Butterflies in the suburbs

Native butterflies drift lazily through your backyard on sunny spring and summer days. Ever wondered where they come from? Did some all-powerful super-being create them spontaneously from thin air and drop them in your garden? Why have they come to 27 Smith Street, Elwood? What are they doing?. Butterflies like nectar. Nectar from all kinds of flowers, indigenous and exotic. The carbohydrates contained in this nectar help them to live longer, give them the strength to find a mate and breed successfully, enabling the females to produce lots of viable eggs. So it seems our adult butterflies are happy with many of the plants we serve them up in those crazy, chaotic, jumbled collections of flora we surround… Read more »

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