President’s report

In football terms, we’ve had some brilliant passages of play this year but haven’t made the finals because of injury.

The group has achieved some good outcomes but we’ve lost most of our star players. It’s hard to play the game when you can’t make up the numbers.

Our driving force Pat Liffman has hung up her boots, recognising that (as much as the spirit is willing) the body won’t allow one to maintain one’s rage once you are living in your ninth decade.

It was Pat who revived Landcare several years ago and the group is eternally indebted to her for her passion, her insights and her vast knowledge.

We have also this year lost John Davies from the group. John knows everything there is to know about our local environment at a very details level. However, he has operated as a one-man Landcare Group in the past and, hopefully, he will continue to do great work in a solo role.

Other members have left the Blackwood township but remain involved. We recognise that it is difficult to be connected when geography says otherwise.

I know myself that when I am in town and see the weeds on the roadsides I am totally motivated but, by midweek, Blackwood is out of sight and out of mind.

Victories

So, first to our victories.

Our annual Weed Forums have been well regarded by the industry stakeholders who have attended over the past few years. For the government agency professionals, we have been able to supply the platform for them to be able to speak freely and openly about their limitations but, more importantly, we have provided an environment in which they have been able to co-ordinate their efforts.

Although we have not hosted a Weeds Forum in 2014, I think it’s fair to say that the multi-agency effort against weeds downstream of the bridge funded by Melbourne Water would not have happened without our Weed Forum initiative.

Our group was successful in attracting an $18,000 grant (as well as an administrative grant) which will be combined with Melbourne Water funding for Parks Victoria and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

Parks Victoria is co-ordinating this effort and our thanks go to Peter Box for taking on this role.

We were also successful in attracting a $3000 community grant from the Moorabool Shire Council for the construction of our Wilbur the Weed sculpture which resides in the main street near the Blackwood Merchant.

Wilbur will hopefully act as a constant reminder to all residents of our obligation to keep the town free of problem weeds.

If we can manage to control the weeds in the townships, then the surrounding forests will remain safe. Unfortunately, the converse is also true … if we fail to control weeds in the townships, the forest will be lost.

Our thanks go to artist Matthew Harding for his inspiring piece and also to Trentham real estate agent John Fitzgerald for allow up to “park” Wilbur in such a prominent spot in Martin St.

Other positives include:

  • Funding of significant out-sourced spraying within the township;
  • Participation in the Easter Parade;
  • Participation in the public debate about controlled burns around the town. Our support of difficult burns close to the townships strengthens the arm of DEPI officers who feel the same way. The relationship between the group and DEPI is very good;
  • Progress has been made towards convincing land owners to strip their holly trees of berries (or, better still, remove these trees);
  • Revising the artwork for a new edition of “Problem Weeds of Blackwood District”. We understand that Shire of Moorabool funds are available for the re-print. This booklet will be made available to new residents via real estate agents;
  • Our bank accounts have been consolidated and are in good shape;
  • Our internal processes for recording, reporting and communicating are in great shape. Thanks to Zoe Ryan for setting up the Drop Box system for storing group documents “in the cloud” so they are available to all the relevant people all the time; and
  • We have a new website (www.blackwoodlandcare.org.au) set up. Material posted to this website automatically feeds the group’s Facebook page and the site is also being used to house email lists and is being used to send group emails to members.

The not-so-good news

As mentioned, the group has struggled lately due to lack of numbers. Apart from losing Pat and John, we’ve had two other members leave town.

To their credit, they remain involved, but it is obviously difficult to remain committed from a distance.

I want, particularly, to pay credit to Zoe Ryan who agreed to come in cold and take on the secretarial role. Zoe has done a terrific job translating group paperwork across to the digital world. Moving to Lyonville and now being a new mum, we understand that her capacity to continue to contribute is limited.

Jono Wilson has also left town and, like Zoe, is still keen to contribute but we need to be realistic about the constraints that geography impose.

My wish is for an influx of new and enthusiastic members to take the reins and take the group forward.

I have enjoyed my time as president but, I too, am constrained by increasing commitments elsewhere.

However, in the absence of nominations at the AGM, the current executive will continue on but in a greatly reduced role.

This “fallback” position will be to continue to operate but without taking on extra work. It will be, if you like, a caretaker-type role until such time as there is a new guard willing and able to make a significant difference in Blackwood and Barry’s Reef.

Shane Scanlan
August, 2014

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *