The Otway region has several endemic species, endangered or vulnerable fauna and some rare and significant vegetation communities, recognised in the Biodiversity 2037 Plan, which helps to justify how we protect and conserve in Victoria.
How does Parks Vic monitor and control pest plants and animals in the Great Otway National Park (GONP)?
Pest Animals. Foxes, deer, pigs, and cats are all of great concern. It is important to monitor location to get a clearer picture of where they are in the Otways but, unlike pest plants, we have significant trouble mapping the occurrence of these animals as they tend not to stand still! The public can be of great help by reporting on apps such as Feralscan. (See link below.) Camera traps are our other weapon of choice.
The map above shows camera locations that we use in the Great Otway National Park. Feral animals in the Great Otway National Park compete directly with our fauna and prey on our small mammals. These cameras are used as part of the Otway Ark Project which is Parks Victoria’s predator control program. To control foxes, we have designated bait stations throughout the landscape where we lay PAPP or 1080 poison. For pigs and deer, we haven’t yet established any widespread control. However, we will target populations on a case by case basis.
What about feral cats? We are still waiting for a viable bait to be available. Added to this, we are unable to dedicate the hours to trap feral cats, as it has been proven to have limited success in our landscape. Cats are a major issue in the Otways, and we hope that we have better news on feral cat control soon.
The Surf Coast Shire has an excellent website that provides information on the cat curfew within Surf Coast townships (between 8 pm and 6 am). Roaming cats can be reported on 5261 0600.
Cat cages are available for hire at https://www.surfcoast.vic.gov.au/Community/Pets-and-animals/Cats.
Pest Plants. The Anglesea Heath is a highly disturbed ecosystem that has a unique set of weeds, further encouraged by population and development. We manage these challenges through the following programs:
Otway Eden—our long-term weed program, is focused on new and emerging weeds in high priority areas. These priority areas (see map) are Carlisle Heath, Jancourt, Cape Otway and The Anglesea Heath. On a local level this project helps us to keep the heath in a good shape.
Otway Eden priority areas
Biodiversity on-ground actions—this program is focused on the public land/private land interface and also on weeds of national significance such as, Boneseed, Bluebell Creeper, Bridal Creeper, and Sallow Wattle. The project has been particularly successful in being able to treat large amounts of Bluebell Creeper in the Gherang area.
Biodiversity response planning—set up to undertake control of large woody weeds and transformer weeds (those invasive weeds with the capacity to change the ecology of an area), the program is focused on improving diversity and protecting significant areas from impacts such as weeds, predators, or exotic browsers such as deer. We have already had some successes in the National Park at the back of Lorne, where we have been able to treat large amounts of Sweet Pittosporum. We hope to also help ANGAIR in cleaning areas around Anglesea with this funding. There are also a number of new and emerging weeds such as:
Melaleuca armillaris – Honey Myrtle
Melaleuca diosmifolia - Green Honey Myrtle
Moraea flaccida – Cape Tulip
Hakea elliptica – Oval Hakea
Hakea drupacea – Sweet Hakea
Banksia ericifolia – Orange Glory
Eremophila glabra – Emu Bush
Gastrolobium celsianum – Swan River Pea
Anigozanthos flavidus – Kangaroo Paw
Psoralea pinnata – Blue Psoralea
Kennedia nigricans – Black Coral Pea
Galenia pubescens – Blanket Weed
Leucanthemum vulgare – Ox-eye Daisy
Disa bracteata – South African Weed Orchid
Many of these plants are sold widely in any nursery as ‘drought tolerant native species’. They are highly adaptive to our conditions, often from Western Australia or South Africa, and have a significant impact on the diversity of our plant community.
Other web sites of interest:
https://www.climatewatch.org.au/ New citizen science program where an area is measured for change of time. We are happy to support any suggestions in the park estate.
https://www.environment.vic.gov.au/biodiversity/biodiversity-plan Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning strategy and plan for protection of biodiversity in Victoria.
https://www.feralscan.org.au/ This is a project to map and record the occurrence of pest animals in the landscape. Please participate and add to this page if you see any pest animal activity.
https://www.environment.vic.gov.au/biodiversity/victorian-biodiversity-atlas/vba-go/ Victorian Biodiversity Atlas where you can report and record occurrence of all biodiversity (please use).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJD-of1TUCM Otway Ark project video which helps explain the project.
Matt Russell, Park Ranger
Freesia refracta and Freesia alba X F. leichtlinii are declared weeds in the Surf Coast Shire because they spread easily and threaten to invade bushland. Freesias are perennial herbs that die back in summer and produce new foliage in winter. The highly fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers appearing in spring are white to cream and pink with yellow markings, shaded purple on outer surface. Each plant has at least two corms, one below the other, thus requiring deep digging to remove them.
More details about how to control this weed can be found in the archive of Weeds of the Month.
There are a number of wonderful local Friends Groups that provide ANGAIR members and the community with opportunities for involvement.