Poor attendance, but progress made

Last Sunday’s meeting was poorly attended but progress was made towards the organisation of another “forum” event.

No formal decisions were possible on Sunday as only two members attended the scheduled meeting at the Blackwood Hotel – Shane and Ann. The presence of partners Louise and Tony helped create the impression of a small crowd.

But, thankfully, Moorabool Landcare Network co-ordinator Roger MacRaild came up from Bacchus Marsh and very helpfully guided the discussions.

He offered to help get Blackwood included in an upcoming assault on blackberries. As the group has maps showing the blackberry infestations in Blackwood and Barry’s Reef, these maps have now been forwarded to Roger.

Roger also kindly offered to update our contacts list so we can begin to get an invitation list together for the next forum. It’s been three years since our last one, so many of the previous attendees have moved on.

Network chairman and Port Phillip and Western Port Catchment Management Authority officer Anthony Dufty has since been in touch and has encouraged the group to apply for funding to host the forum. Funding applications close on September 12.

Today (Thursday, August 18), Louise is attending a “round table” event in Bacchus Marsh to liaise with the various authorities and seek support for a future forum.

It’s been three years since our last successful Weeds Forum. Since that time, the group has suffered a decline in membership but is on the cusp of regeneration with significant new interest from local residents.

It is considered that a new forum would have a number of benefits:

* It would bring the various players together for mutual benefit. Feedback in the past has stressed the value that the various agencies have derived from the opportunity to compare notes and co-ordinate their efforts;

* It would become the launch pad of new projects and initiatives; and

* It would be a rapid and effective “induction” for new BBRLG members to be educated about the often-complex roles and responsibilities of the myriad government agencies involved.

These are high-level thoughts, as group the has not officially met to discuss or endorse such a pre-emptive funding application. We have no date, no invitation list and no agenda. However, having conducted a couple of these in the past, we know what works and what doesn’t.

The format of the last forum was a series of specific issues of immediate concern.

The subject matter for the new forum would not be hard to devise. And it would be even easier, if the forum was widened beyond weeds.

I am suggesting it be a “Land Forum” because a couple of the top-of-the-head subjects to be include might be the controlled burning program and pest animals (rabbits and wasps). It’s interesting to see from the 2013 minutes, that some issues remain unresolved – e.g local laws to control non-prescribed weeds.

In terms of timing, I can’t see us being ready to roll much before the end of the financial year. Blackwood Hall would be the venue. I’m not sure of the costs. Hall hire and catering are the obvious expenses.

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