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Greenwrap - Spring Edition

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Welcome to Autumn

Hopefully everyone got a bit of a break over summer to go and explore Banyule's wealth of green space. With Autumn comes some great activities and events including Arty Farty Festival on the 18th March, also in March are Clean Up Australia day on the 4th and Earth Hour on the 24th. 

Kid's Arty Farty Festival - Sunday 18th March 2018 

At the Sustainable Transport Tent, you can have minor repairs – like broken spokes, flat tyres, dodgy brakes, done to your bicycle for free while you wait.

You can also borrow a bike and helmet, and go on a free guided tour. We’ll have adults and children’s bikes – so try out a quick ride when your family needs a peaceful natural encounter during the festival. Great way to try out cycling if you are thinking of purchasing a bike this year, or getting back into cycling.

Prescribed ecological burn in one of Banyule's floristically diverse bushland reserves

A joint project fostered by Banyule City Council’s Bushland Management Unit, together with the CFA and the Friends of St Helena Bushland Reserve.

A wonderful outcome for improving the floristic biodiversity of one of our nature reserves in Banyule was achieved this summer.

Early evening on 14th December 2017, the CFA together with Banyule City Council’s Bushland Management Unit, conducted a prescribed ecological burn in a small section of St Helena Bushland Reserve in Eltham North.  

St Helena Bushland Reserve is a 2.4 hectare Box Stringy-Bark Woodland located in Eltham North and is comprised of a rich variety of locally indigenous plants, some of which are rare or threatened and of state significance in Victoria.

In order to maintain and enhance its ecological biodiversity this specific vegetation community benefits from spring-summer ecological burning every 15 years.

A similar burn was conducted in another part of the reserve in the summer of 2012. Since then the Bushland Management Unit’s Park Rangers have noticed a significant improvement in the biodiversity of the area.

Banyule’s Bushland Management Unit are a small team of passionate staff who manage over thirty bushland reserves, including the Darebin Creek, Yarra and Plenty River corridors.

If you would like to find out more about Banyule’s Bushland Management Unit, bushland reserves in Banyule or volunteering to assist with achieving conservation outcomes through local friends groups, please contact Banyule City Council on 9490 4222 / enquiries@banyule.vic.gov.au with your query directed to the Bushland Management Unit. In addition, you can search banyule.vic.gov.au for information on parks and Banyule environment groups.

Banyule Gardens for Wildlife pilot kicks off 

Gardens for Wildlife

Ever considered gardening with attracting wildlife to your yard as the goal? Twenty five lucky Banyule residents have, and will take part in Banyule’s inaugural Gardens for Wildlife Pilot Program. The program began with a workshop at VINC nursery in Fairfield (our community partners in the project) on Saturday the 24th February. The workshop was the first step of a 3 step program which includes:

  • A garden visit and assessment for participants
  • Involvement in a collective of Wildlife gardeners through a Facebook group to share ideas
  • Final celebration  - Involvement in a community planting day

The workshop at VINC included:

  • Garden profiling (soil types and moisture, EVC, aspect etc.)
  • Garden preparation (soil, weeds, hard landscaping etc.)
  • Garden design and plant selection
  • Garden assessment bookings
  • Tour of VINC and networking

The Environment team received an overwhelming response to the program, with 57 residents registering in the first 12 hours, so it was hard to limit numbers to 25 people. If the pilot program is successful, we hope to offer it as an on-going program in the future, so don’t despair if you missed out this year – there is clearly a demand for this in the community.

The program is modelled on the successful Gardens for Wildlife program started by Knox City Council, which has had 700 participants over the years. Banyule is now part of the Gardens for Wildlife network across the state.

The program complements our other Wildlife Corridors Program initiatives such as our “Buy 1, Get 1 Free” Voucher system for residents, the Schools Wildlife Corridors program and the nesting box building workshops we run with our “Friends of” groups.

Nature Play Days

Banyule Council presented the sixth instalment of a scheduled seven Nature Play days on Sunday 11th February at Kalparrin Gardens in Greensborough. Approximately 60 residents attended with their children engaged in a range of nature play activities provided by Banyule staff.

Activities ranged from ochre painting on bark with Wesley, an Indigenous artist, water bug identification, building cubbies with sticks, making insect hotels and clay models as well as a “chill out” zone with mats and tee pees. With the rise of digital technology, many children spend a great deal of time looking at screens indoors which research shows can lead to anxiety and depression. Nature play days are designed to re-connect children with nature to help develop their imaginations, build resilience and enable children to benefit from the calming effect nature has on the human psyche. Nature play encourages youngsters to develop curiosity in their natural surroundings, take calculated risks and increase their involvement in robust, outdoor exercise. The next nature play day will be held in the evening on Friday 13th April at Banyule Flats in Viewbank. 

Working with local businesses to feed our worms

Banyule’s Environment Team has been working with the local café tenants in the 1 Flintoff Street building to help ensure their food waste does not end up in landfill. Each day, the café diverts its organic food waste from their daily food preparation to a composting bucket. This is taken by the Environment team to the worm farms at 1 Flintoff to complement the organic waste diverted from the Council’s offices on level 3 and 4 of the 1 Flintoff Street building. Our industrious worms convert the organic waste into castings and “worm wine”, the best and most natural garden fertiliser in the world. This prevents the loss of nutrients from the nutrient cycle.

Council also has an arrangement with the café to keep ceramic mugs under the counter for council staff in case they forget their keep cups, preventing the need for single use, disposable coffee cups. 

Another internal Council sustainability initiative is the “Boomerang Bags” scheme at 1 Flintoff. Council staff are encouraged to use the reusable calico bags if they go shopping in their lunch our, to cut down on the need for single use plastic bags.

Solar Progress in Banyule 

Solar PV generates clean, green energy that reduces Council’s reliance on grid (‘black’) energy, its GHG emissions and the load on the grid during daylight hours.

Council has been installing solar PV (PhotoVoltaic) systems on a range of Council sites since 2015. Since then, a further 464kW of solar PV have been installed on Council’s largest energy consuming sites, as well as a number of smaller sites up to the end of 2017. This included the largest system, a combined 194kW at WaterMarc/1 Flintoff, which may be classified under the Clean Energy Regulator’s criteria as being a Renewable Energy Power Station.

Council’s initiatives in installing solar PV (PhotoVoltaic) systems falls within the Council Plan 2017-2021, being part of Council’s Planet – Environmental Sustainability objectives:

  • 2.3 Lead in planning for, and responding to, climate change.
  • 2.3.2 Review the Energy Plan to work towards zero Council emissions, with a focus on self-generated green energy.

A key initiative is to ‘Install solar panels and consider battery storage technologies’.

Commencing early 2018, another 293kW will be installed across 26 small Council sites (i.e. Child Care Centres, Community Halls, Pre-schools, Senior Citizen Clubs and Maternal & Child Health Care Centres).

This installation will be completed by the end of the 2017/18 financial year and will bring the total installed solar PV on Council owned buildings to 777kW, at a total cost of $1,119,475. Estimated financial savings are around $205,000 per annum and the payback period for solar PV is generally in the region of four to seven years. This depends on individual system size and the amount of energy the system generates.

This work will help reduce Council’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by approximately 1,000 tonnes CO2-e/annum, or 6%, which is good news for the planet!

Bush Crew Diaries

Northern Bush Reserves 

The summer months have seen the decline of annual weeds though our reserves which gives us an opportunity to tackle the perennial species we have. The lack of density from annual weeds means spotting particular problem weeds is a lot easier for us in the summer months.

One particular weed that we focus on over summer is Chilean Needle Grass (Nassella neesiana), which is a weed of National Significance due to its highly invasive nature. Environmentally it reduces biodiversity in grasslands, outcompeting indigenous species, thereby affecting the diversity of fauna also.

It is relatively hard to identify to the untrained eye and can look similar to indigenous Spear Grass (Austrostipa spp.), which creates a separate challenge to land managers. It is controlled through herbicide application and manual removal in urban settings.

Its distribution through machinery, animals and humans is one of the main reasons as to why it is so successful at colonizing certain areas.

We as a Bushcrew are working diligently to eliminate it from local parks and conservation reserves, but much more work needs to be done to understand and control its spread. 

Yarra One - Kylie and Megan

We have a Green Army project working with us through Banyule Flats and Warringal Parklands for 20 weeks. The Green Army, an Australian Government initiative delivered with Conservation Volunteers Australia, is a hands-on, practical environmental action program that supports local environmental and heritage conservation projects across Australia, while helping young people gain employment and develop skills through accredited training.

The Green Army team will contribute to enhance the habitat through the Yarra River corridor by removing weeds and planting indigenous flora. The Green Army will also conduct fauna surveys, fencing, weed mapping and monitoring and community engagement activities.  

Darebin Creek local visits Green Street 

This Eastern Snake-necked Turtle was spotted by local resident Jacqui Doublier in the Darebin Creek in February near Green Street, Ivanhoe, just up from the Darebin Parklands.

Several Green Street residents, the Friends of Darebin Creek, the Darebin Creek Sweepers, the Darebin Parklands Association, Banyule Council and Melbourne Water have been working together for many years to improve the water quality along the creek. Regular indigenous planting days and weed removal has meant that banks have been stabilised preventing erosion, storm water run-off has been filtered, nutrients are absorbed and habitat is created and improved for native animals. The Creek Sweepers regularly remove rubbish, and the turtle clearly appreciates the efforts of all the groups involved!

Long- time Green St resident Chris Tabuteau was thrilled by her neighbour’s sighting. “This is the first time I know of in the 15 years that I have lived here, that there has been a turtle spotted in this particular section of the Darebin Creek,” she said.