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An update from the CEO

Nearly all of South Coast NRM’s staff will return to working from our offices from Monday 18 May just over 7 weeks after we intigated home-based work in response to COVID-19. A small number of staff in higher-risk categories will continue to work from home. The positive and pragmatic attitude of our staff has shone through and made both the exit and re-entry to the workplace as simple as moving a whole organisation could possibly be. As a mark of their professionalism, most of our work has continued as schedulled with only minor ajustments to timelines and some deferred activities being required. We’re also really gratefeul for the understanding and goodwill from our partners that have kept us in advised of their work and any impediments that need to be managed.

After liaising with the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (our major funder) we have been advised that we are able to carry forward some activities that have been delayed due to COVID 19. We’ll be in touch with partners as soon as we’ve received formal advice on the details of the change.

South Coast NRM is a partner in a consortia that have a proposed national economic stimulus package focused on the conservation and land management sectors to the Prime Minister recently. If supported the proposed package will provide temporary employment for up to 40,000 Australians affected by COVID-19, with up to 24,000 jobs provided in the first year; provide an immediate economic stimulus to the Australian economy with 90% of funding expended across the first two years; and achieve a suite of practical conservation activities on public and private land including coastal habitat restoration, weed and invasive animal control, river and wetland restoration, bushfire recovery and resilience activities, tree planting and habitat restoration, plastics and marine debris clean up and funding for Indigenous rangers. South Coast NRM identified a range of opportunities within the region based on our local knowledge of establishing temporary work teams and has communicated this to our local MP, Rick Wilson. After meeting with the CEO, Rick was enthusiastic about the opportunities that package could provide and the potential role of South Coast NRM in overseeing this, and he has taken on to lobby and advocate for the program on our behalf.

Establishing drains on farms project

Establishing drains on farms to manage surface and subsurface water can be a very time consuming and costly activity. Drainage design is often complicated and fraught with unforeseen challenges that arise during and post construction. However done properly, farmers can manage soil issues such as erosion and waterlogging with ease and provide effective ways to collect and hold water for use on the farm.

Like many farm practices, new technologies, designs and practices evolve and improve over time. One new drain design that is starting to become more and more common is sub surface drains or tile drains. Whilst not a new technology it has not been commonly used on the south coast of WA.

PHOTO:  courtesy of Drainage Downunder.  

A tile drain is a slotted pipe that is covered by a layer of permeable limestone rubble (although we will be exploring other suitable local materials) up to 2.4 meters in depth. This allows ground water under the surface to be collected and focused away from waterlogged areas. In theory this will reduce waterlogging and improve farm productivity. One thing that isn’t clearly understood is the return on investment on establishing subsurface drainage. That is comparing the total cost of the drain installation and maintenance to the value of increased productivity and environmental benefits.

To answer this, South Coast NRM is partnering with the Grains Research and Development Corporation to explore this very topic in the Esperance Port Zone. Working with a local farmer east of Esperance, we will be establishing a designed network of subsurface drains and monitoring the return on investment over the next few years until December 2023. We will be actively monitoring the drains outflow, crop yield, weeds and diseases and will round it off with a complete economic analysis of the system. This will give us an evidence-based understanding of what a farmer who is considering establishing an underground drainage system can expect. Stirlings to Coast Farmers Group will be implementing a similar demonstration in the Albany port zone and we will be sharing information and resources between each of our projects.

We will keep you informed as we establish the project and share what information we generate as we manage the project. This project has been made possible through investment by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) and South Coast NRM wish to thank them for their support.

Hygiene Champions Long Before COVID-19…

PHOTO: The essential car hygiene kit for Phytophthora Dieback… just like COVID-19, cleaning is also key to controlling the spread of this deadly plant disease.
Long before COVID-19 regulations, many of us were hygiene champions for a different reason - Phytophthora Dieback!  This deadly introduced plant pathogen is the biggest threat to biodiversity in WA from Eneabba to east of Esperance.  Just like COVID-19, being clean is key to controlling Dieback.  START CLEAN, STAY CLEAN as we like to say. 
Dieback is caused by a microscopic organism of the Phytophthora species which lives in the soil and plant roots. It likes warm, moist conditions and can be easily spread when infested soil is moved.  Dieback not only devastates natural areas, but also many plants in our home gardens such as avocado and other fruit varieties.
Hygiene procedures for Phytophthora Dieback easily transfer to COVID-19 hygiene, including the use of methylated spirits to sanitise equipment after you have cleaned/removed the soil.  And just like the COVID-19 hand sanitiser stations you see everywhere, ‘Clean on entry and clean on exit’ applies to Dieback hygiene in natural areas also. 
Following the recent, long awaited rainfall on the South Coast, conditions are perfect for the spread of this deadly plant disease via soil on your car tyres, footwear and camping equipment. So with the new norm of hygiene for COVID-19, you too can help protect our natural areas from Dieback with simple hygiene.   

How you ask?
  • MUD STICKS, DON’T SPREAD IT!
  • Avoid travelling and walking through the bush when it’s wet and muddy
  • Start clean and stay clean
  • Stick to designated roads and tracks
  • Use commercial car wash facilities where possible to avoid taking mud home with you
  • Clean and disinfect footwear & equipment - easy with methylated spirits (70% metho to 30% water ratio), bleach also works.
  • check out the known positive Phytophthora sample points on the free online mapping tool DIDMS at www.dieback.net.au
Every step counts, so keep yours clean.  Just like COVID-19 – vigilance in the face of infection is the key! 😊

South Coast NRM’s Dieback Project is supported by funding from the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program.  For more information, contact South Coast NRM info@southcoastnrm.com.au

Remote camera photos from the Fitz Stirling area

Remote cameras, set up in the Fitz-Stirling corridor, are there to monitor introduced predators. However, it’s heartening to see the many native species that wander by – echidnas, emus, kangaroos, goannas, malleefowl and black-gloved wallabies, among others. We are comparing malleefowl activity in areas with and without introduced predator control, in partnership with the National Malleefowl Recovery Team

Make your own compost bin

The Shire of Esperance have put together this great 2 min video on how to make your own compost bin.

Australia’s Environment in 2019: Scorecard for the South Coast Region

The Australian National University recently released Australia’s Environment in 2019 http://www.ausenv.online. This website contains indicators and annual reports aimed to summarise the changing condition of our natural resources and ecosystems.

Based on analysis and interpretation of a large volume of satellite, station and survey data these reports are available in different forms: National Summary Report, 30min webinar, visual data explorer and environmental scorecards for all regions across Australia.

The link to the environmental scorecard for the South Coast NRM Region is: http://wenfo.org/aer_pdf/NRM_Regions_2017/South%20Coast%20Region.pdf. Funded by the ANU and operating on a not-for-profit basis, the data used in the scorecards can be downloaded in their original or summarised form via the accompanying Australia's Environment Explorer.

State NRM grants now open

Applications are now open for the State NRM Community Stewardship 2020 grants.  

The 2020 Community Stewardship Grants program involves two components:
  1. Small grants • valued between $1,000 - $35,000 • up to 18 months duration
  2. Large grants • intended for more strategic, complex projects • valued between $35,001 and $450,000 • for up to 36 months duration
You can access the guidelines here:  http://www.nrm.wa.gov.au/media/298667/2020_grant_guidelines.pdf

All applications, together with any supporting documentation, must be submitted by 12 noon AWST on Monday 15th June.

RAIN photo competition - now open

The Ravensthorpe Agricultural Initiative Network's (RAIN) annual photo competition is now open!  If you're a resident of the RAIN area you might want to check this out! Entries can be from anywhere within the RAIN service area – this spans from Munglinup to the east, through to Hopetoun on the coast, inland to Varley and out west to Fitzgerald.

There are two sections this round: 
- Our original 'Farm Life' section to capture 2020 seeding and all things on-farm including seasonal issues. 

- We've added an 'Out in Nature' category - images from our region which promote it's unique beauty and diversity. These shots could even be from your own garden. 

Send in your best shots from 2020 and you could win $500 (for each category) to spend at a LOCAL business of your choice - within the Shire of Ravensthorpe boundaries OR Lake King town. The winner of the 'nature' category will feature on the front cover of the Telephone Directory which is soon to be released thanks to the Ravensthorpe Community Resource Centre who have also contributed to the prize pool for this competition.

To enter simply send your best image(s) to rainoffice@westnet.com.au as either an attachment or via Dropbox before COB June 8th with a caption, your name and the category (if not obvious). There is a limit of 5 entries per person.

Winners will be announced by June 12th. Photos can even be taken from your phone so there's no excuses (it's best to submit images via email or dropbox as resolution will be compromised by text or messenger.)
* A condition of entry is that RAIN may use the image for media purposes
** We live in a remote spot but we still remind you to adhere to government recommendations at this time given COVID-19. 
If you would like something included in the next edition of e-news, please email us
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South Coast NRM · 88 Stead Road · Albany, Western Australia 6330 · Australia

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