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In December, Angair sent a letter of concern to the consultants who are planning major alterations to some of the roads in Anglesea. One big concern is cutting back the Ocean Road near the Surf Club, which will mean removal of some of the Moonah woodland. We are still awaiting a reply.

Why is the removal of environmental weeds from Coastal Moonah Melaleuca lanceolata Woodland in Anglesea–Aireys Inlet so important?

Recently, an excellent scientific paper, ‘A journey through Coastal Moonah Woodland in Victoria’ by Claire Moxham and Vivienne Turner, was published in the October edition of The Victorian Naturalist. The plant community, Coastal Moonah Woodland, occurs on alkaline dune systems within 10 km of the Victorian coast, and is listed as a threatened community under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988.

Remnant stands occur from South Australian border to Portland, from Aireys Inlet to the Bellarine Peninsula, and on the Southern Mornington Peninsula, with adjunct stands occurring on Phillip Island and Wilsons Promontory. The authors estimated that, before European settlement, Coastal Moonah Woodland once occupied 12,978 hectares of coastal limestone in Victoria. Coastal Moonah Woodland currently occupies 980 hectares, about 7.5% of its original distribution. Results from the study showed that remnants west of Portland, which are more remote, have a high cover of moss and canopy. This contrasts with remnants on the Surf Coast, which have a lower cover of moss, and more bare ground, grasses, weeds and shrubs. On the Surf Coast, Coastal Moonah Woodland, previously, would have extended one kilometre inland, and would have dominated the riparian zone close to the sea, for instance at Anglesea. The remnants on the Surf Coast are close to human habitation, and there is increased threat of disturbance and weed invasion. Seaberry Saltbush Rhagodia candolleana, Bower Spinach Tetragonia implexicoma, and Coast Teatree Leptospermum laevigatum are typical coastal disturbance colonizers, and were found in 65% of sites. The authors expressed the opinion that the majority of Coastal Moonah Woodland remnants have high potential for restoration.

During the last two decades, Angair and Anglesea Coast Action have been restoring the Coastal Moonah Woodland communities in Anglesea. Moonah Woodland has been restored near the Motor Yacht Club at Point Roadknight and near the Anglesea Surf Club, but these areas require constant maintenance. Currently Angair is working to restore the Moonah Woodland along the sand dunes at the back beach at Point Roadknight, and part of the extensive Moonah Woodland at the Fairyland Nature Reserve stretching from the Anglesea River to the Art House in Cameron Rd.

Reference: Claire Moxham and Vivienne Turner 2009, ‘A journey through Coastal Moonah Woodland in Victoria’ in The Victorian Naturalist vol. 126(5), pp. 170–179. Available in the Angair Library.

Carl Rayner